The Weekend Tourist // A pilgrimage to the arboretum

Someday I hope to be a gardener. They tell me I still have time. I just need a back yard. Then I’ll plant corn, sunflowers and hollyhocks. Everything will be tall. 


Driving through a small town I saw a garden like that once and thought it looked like a giant bouquet all contained behind a white picket fence. In the meantime I diligently water the two pots of petunias on my deck. And make

pilgrimages to the Landscape Arboretum. 


Founded in 1958, the University of Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum provides many functions for researchers, students and the general public. While most of us think of the Arboretum for its wonderful gardens, plenty of research

goes on there, too. In fact, it’s there the Honeycrisp apple was created.


The Oswald Visitor Center contains information on the grounds, a gallery, a lovely restaurant with an outdoor terrace and a fabulous gift shop. Most of the flower gardens are reached easily by foot. Picturesque “rooms” of flowers

with benches and water fountains make this an ideal escape. Something is in bloom all the time. Paths and more rustic trails lead in all directions, so don’t forget to pick up a map. There’s a nice boardwalk through a bog with

cattails and tamarack pines. 


Three Mile Drive meanders throughout the grounds. This is a great way to get an understanding of the importance of horticulture for the University. This part is essentially a museum of trees. It’s easily walkable, too, and there are

pull-out parking areas to get up close with nature. Along the drive are marked areas with birch, oak, crabapples, weeping trees, maples, nut trees and pines. It’s great that the trees get as much attention as the flowers. We sat

under a weeping willow so big and old it had a bench under it and we felt like we were in a circus tent. 


Hmmm . . . can I start a willow in a pot then transplant it when I get a house with a yard? I’ll have to look that up on their plant info helpline. 


Follow the Weekend Tourist on Twitter (@WeekendTourist).



University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska

Open 8 a.m.–8 p.m., or sunset. Admission: $12, free for children 12 and under and U of M students. Free for everyone the third Thursday of the month after 4:30 p.m. For more information, visit


The Arboretum Restaurant, on the second floor of the Oswald Visitors Center, serves sandwiches and cooked-to-order lunches using produce from their own gardens.