Educational and Demonstration Areas

Hedge collection
Hedge display. Photo by Mark MacLennan

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Bee Lawn Demonstration

The Arboretum Bee Lawn is located on Three-Mile drive just before the Hedge Collection parking lot. It is marked with a sign and the 5 individual plots are labeled. About half way around the drive, you will pass the Service Drive (sign indicating no entry except to Arboretum Staff), look for the Bee Lawn sign as you make the next turn heading east. There is a small pull off area just after the Bee Lawn, or park at the Hedge Collection parking lot about 1,000 feet ahead.  The Bee Lawn is open and accessible any time the Arboretum is open.  

Garden for Wildlife

Garden for Wildlife

From butterflies to bullfrogs, the Johanna Frerichs Garden for Wildlife is a working laboratory designed to demonstrate the most effective ways to attract birds, insects, mammals to the backyard by providing food, shelter, and a reproductive habitat.

Green Play Yard

Green Play Yard

Located by the Marion Andrus Learning Center, the Green Play Yard is both a wonderful play destination for young families and a rich "idea place" for preschools, childcare centers and family backyards.  Its plantings and natural play features show how to bring 'nearby nature' to daily life for our youngest ones, at an age when they are growing and changing quickly and the impact is significant.

Green Roof

Green Roof

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Green Roof is part of the “Harvest the Rain” exhibit located in the Margot picnic shelter area, just north of the main parking lot. This previously ordinary picnic shelter now sprouts a colorful array of plants in an effort to highlight a growing trend in water runoff management. The green roof was installed at the Arboretum in the spring of 2009. This innovative roofing material demonstrates an increasingly popular method of water management and how it can be good for the environment, the home, and the landscape.

Hedge Display

Hedge Collection

Though not always in style, hedges, both sheared and unsheared, are an extremely useful way to use plants.  Though our hedges are all woody plants (trees and shrubs) hedges they can be made of herbaceous plants as well (annual and perennial).  Hedges can block unsightly views, direct views, define exterior spaces, and can even be used to create a maze!

Though some of our hedges are made from flowering shrubs, unless the plant blooms on old wood you will invariably prune off the flower buds.  An easier way to create a hedge is to find a shrub that grows to the height you need, plant it close together and watch the hedge materialize after a few years with next to no pruning (an informal hedge).  We have 31 genera, 57 species and 44 cultivars in this collection.

Interested in learning more?  Visit Mary Meyer's "Hedges: A Brief History and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Hedge Collection"

Rain Gardens

Rain Gardens

Don’t all gardens collect rain?  Of course, but these particular gardens collect parking lot runoff and allow it to settle into the planted swales.  It’s a great way to remove our rainwater from hard surfaces instead of allowing it into the storm sewer and flooding and polluting our streams and wetlands.  The parking lots have no curbs so all water runs to the swale.  The plants are mostly native and must be able to withstand drought since they are planted in 6 inches of sandy loam over 2 feet of sand!  Further, they must also be able to withstand short term flooding during heavy storms.

Shade Tree Exhibit & Treehouse

The Pillsbury Shade Tree Exhibit was given by Mrs. Eleanor (Jutie) Pillsbury to express her love of trees and the commitment was made on her 100th birthday! The setting is in the old Southern Tree Collection site, so in addition to the exhibit trees there are Anise Magnolia (Magnolia salicifolia), Sourgum (Nyssa sylvatica) and Yellowood (Cladrastus lutea) among others.

The exhibit is designed to give the user the questions they need to ask before planting a tree in their yard or along their street. There are 12 exhibits:

  • Shade Quality-  Sit in a chair under light shade or under a dark shade tree to decide what you like.
  • Growth.  Note the “Birthday Pole” which marks the growth over 5-year increments of fast and slow growing trees.  (Generally slower growing trees such as oaks and sugar maples produce longer lived and sturdier trees).
  • Sensory Qualities- The rustle of the aspen leaves, the flowers of the catalpa, etc.
  • Shape- All are best, rounded, conical, spreading, upright.  It just depends on what you need.
  • Shade and Temperature- The two playhouses, one in the shade and one in sun almost always demonstrate a 10o F difference in temperature.
  • Alerts to Disease Damage- Some trees are more disease resistant, others need to be doctored,  and then again one needs to give care not to damage your trees.
  • Method of Planting.  From bare root to balled and burlapped, containerized, and tree spade, there is little difference over time.  A small bare root tree will catch up to a large tree-spaded tree as it revives from shock.
  • Messiness- All trees “shed” and are messy to some degree but some are “messier” than others.  Even humans “shed”.
  • Where to Plant- The best place to plant for summer shade and winter warmth is west and southwest of your home.
  • Color-  What is the summer color – dark green, bluish green, etc.  What of the fall color of leaves, winter bark texture and color and spring budbreak color.  Also, consider blooms – even a maple can be quite stunning in bloom.
  • Tree Identification- Test your knowledge of trees by looking at leaves.
  • What Happened Here- In 2001 A severe lightening strike hit the old red oak (Quercus rubra) that housed the tree house. Since that tree was destroyed a circle of young red oaks was planted around the tree house. In 30 years or so the tree house will again be “in the trees”.

In all the exhibit contains 40 different species or cultivars of trees. It also has a delightful tree house around the trunk of an old red oak (Quercus rubra) which was struck by lightening on July 23rd 2001 and the trunk is all that remains.  A new circle of red oak will one day enclose the space around the tree house and it will be well hidden in the tree branches.

Children are always attracted to the collection of small play houses in the Shade Tree Exhibit. There are plenty of signs to read describing the different trees. Sit under each tree, and decide which one provides the ideal amount of shade. This is also a great spot for a family picnic. Getting there: Three-Mile Walk goes right through the Shade Tree Exhibit, and there’s also a parking lot for the exhibit on Three-Mile Drive.

Wall Teaching Garden

Wall Family Teaching Garden

The Wall Family Teaching Garden consists of a series of raised beds in an enclosed area off the Teaching Classroom.  It is planted with herbs, vegetables and annual flowers and the fence area contains annual vines.

Weeping Trees


Weeping Collection

Some Arboretum collections are not generic but are planted by characteristic.  The weeping tree collection consists of varieties or cultivars of 16 genera and 15 species and a total of 25 specimens.  Some of the more dramatic weeping trees are the white pines (mentioned under pine collection), Red Jade weeping crabapple (Malus ‘Red Jade') and Uncle Fogy weeping pine (Pinus banksiana ‘Uncle Fogy") an Arboretum introduction.  Most common of all weeping trees are the weeping willows.