Morning at The Arb (Chaska, Minnesota) 23-May-2023

Although today was (again ๐Ÿ˜„) warm and sunny, ๐Ÿ˜Ž it was also overshot by smoke coming from the massive wildfires in Canada (plus local smog). Our horizon was opalescent and tinged pinkish.

The air quality index (AQI) at ground level was moderate (68-76), which is good enough for outdoor activities (and way, way lower than what we’d experienced every summer in Southern Oregon).

Still, we must have grown soft thanks to the great air quality we usually have here, such that an AQI over 50 doesn’t seem all that good for doing a lot of hiking.

But a sunny day (especially after last Winter) is too precious to waste indoors. So, we decided to expand our exposure to Minnesota by visiting the well-known Minnesota Landscape Arboretum – known locally, and affectionately, as “The Arb.”

Founded in 1958, today it’s a 1,200-acre (485 ha) public garden just down the road from us in Chaska, Minnesota.

We figured we could do a 3 mile (4.8 km) hike on the Wood Duck and Ridge Trails, have lunch at the Oswald Visitor Center, and wander through the formal gardens without polluting our lungs too much. For bonus points, we’d also visit the gift shop. ๐Ÿ™„


On the Wood Duck Trail
Dryad’s Saddle – it’s been a good year for these elegantly colored mushrooms
Under the greenery on the Wood Duck Trail
Wood Duck Pond, with a pink tinged horizon


Starting on the Ridge Trail
On the boardwalk
Green Heron Pond
Wild Calla
Large-flowered Trillium
Under greenery on the Ridge Trail
Red Columbine
Along the edge of (literally) Lost Pond
Wild Geranium
Heading back to the Visitor Center for lunch


Dicentra canadensis (Squirrel Corn)
Virginia Waterleaf
The waterfall in the Dwarf Conifer Garden
Peony “Athena”
Peony “Elfin Beauty”
Peony “Early Scout”

Aside from a hearty savaging by mosquitos, ๐ŸฆŸ๐ŸฆŸ we had a great half-day at The Arb – actually accomplishing our Plan A of a hike, lunch, gardens, and maple syrup from the gift shop without forced errors, diversions, or cancellations. Close to miraculous! ๐Ÿค”

We’d arrived early when things were fairly quiet. We were thus somewhat amazed when a whole lot of other people – across an age spectrum from 0 to 100+ – started appearing on the trails and in the gardens. And at lunch. And in the gift shop. It must be intense here on summer weekends!

This is an easy place to fall in love with and a lot of people have. ๐Ÿ˜ Since only some of the many plants and wildflowers at The Arb have bloomed yet, we can guess that another visit is somewhere in our future – just not on a weekend. ๐Ÿ˜


9 thoughts on “Morning at The Arb (Chaska, Minnesota) 23-May-2023

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  1. Hi Bruce,ย I’ve been following you for a while and love your posts. The photography, the commentary, the sheer guts you have to do some of the treks you have done. Much respect! (almost hero worship, almost..)ย  I am contemplating copying your Parsnip Lakes hike. If it is a dandy, which it looks like, I’m planning to take friends on it too. However……….. It would seem you have a set of technology tools that make your explorations easier. Would you mind sharing the tech you use, including your camera preferences, for those of us who would like to be as confident as you, trekking through what is essentially cross country game trails?ย ย  With much appreciation. Daniel Flood


  2. Weโ€™ve been affected by some of the wildfires in Alberta too, which has created some hazy skies and interesting sunrises. Glad to hear the air quality was at least moderate for you to still enjoy the outdoors. And how fun to visit the garden after a couple of hikes. Peonies are among some of my favourite flowers.


  3. Oh, peonies are blooming already? Not mine. Love the calla.

    Air quality in northern Rice County is hazardous right now due to a fire at the county landfill. We drove through (and breathed in) the smoke on our way to Northfield yesterday. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  4. We’re not sure why, but this has been a good year so far for that particular species of polypore mushroom. We seen several large ones and found one elsewhere that was bigger than a dinner plate. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ Maybe they like being buried in snow?


  5. Yes, weekdays at The Arb – especially when all the blossoms come out. And, yes, it would be great if those northern wildfires came under control and we avoided a smokey summer. But, sometimes wildfires get so big you can’t put them out and they burn within containment (hopefully) until there’s no fuel left. ๐Ÿ˜ข Hopefully that won’t happen.


  6. So many pretty blossoms. โค๏ธ Love the Arb, but as you said, never go on the weekend. I’m so hoping the smoke from our northern neighbors forest fires soon clears from our skies.


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