Situated on 1200 acres on the outskirts of Chaska, the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is much more than its original objective as a research center. With 28 gardens to tour, it has been voted USA Today Reader’s Choice for Best Botanical Garden in 2017 and 2019.
Cooks will enjoy a stroll through the Kitchen Herb Garden, home to about 700 annual herb plants. The Cloister Garden (a nod to medieval monastic gardens) hosts herbs traditionally used as cures and salves. Enjoy the variety of fragrances as you proceed to Dyers Garden, a selection of plants used for clothing dye and other adornment items.
While at the Arboretum, walk amongst the Kentucky Coffee Trees up to the Harrison Sculpture Garden featuring international works from Argentina, England, Italy, and Zimbabwe. One figure that is nearly impossible to miss is the “YouBetcha” stick sculpture that can be spotted while parking. The giant piece is the handywork of award-winning artist Patrick Dougherty and is made by hand from saplings. You can also see forty more indoor works of art in the galleries.
To really make the most of a visit to the Arboretum, take advantage of Three-Mile Walk. The path is mostly paved with areas of brick or gravel walkways. Along the way you’ll pass numerous gardens, wetlands and woods as you stroll up to the highest point. Keep an eye out for the many photo-ops you’ll encounter as you go along.
There are also educational opportunities. While they provide more obvious ones about gardening and nature, you can learn about bees, fine arts, or food and wine. Classes for adults are given in person and also online, perfect if you’re not in town. And if you’re looking to keep the kids busy, they have summer activity kits to-go, camps, and classes just for them.
“The Landscape Arboretum is a year-round treasure in Carver County that definitely shouldn’t be missed.”
When you’re looking for the perfect location to host a corporate or social function, their versatile room arrangements and beautiful outdoor spaces make for memorable events. Whether you’re looking for a grand affair or something on a more intimate level, their specialists will help you select the best fit for your occasion.
Though nearly a half million visitors head to “The Arb” annually, one of their primary functions is still research. Located a mile from the entrance, the Horticultural Research Center (HRC) focuses on cold-hardy plant varieties that can thrive in Minnesota’s temperatures. Originally known as The Fruit Breeding Farm, the HRC has introduced 161 new varieties since 1920. In addition to the eleven types of grapes and 34 different trees, shrubs, and grasses, they have developed 28 new apples including the Honeycrisp, Zestar!®, and Rave®.
When you’re planning your trip make sure to give yourself time to shop in the Gift & Garden store. You’ll find souvenirs, books, clothing, and local food products. Speaking of food, don’t forget to enjoy the Café for lunch, a weekend breakfast, or just a glass of wine or beer. The Landscape Arboretum is a year-round treasure in Carver County that definitely shouldn’t be missed.
Roxanne is a freelance writer, fiber artist, and thirty year survivor of the hospitality and tourism industry. She is also a Commissioner on the Economic Development Authority in Watertown, MN.