It’s here! It’s almost here? Though the day before publication, it’s snowing outside my window, I know spring flowers aren’t far away. Spring in Minneapolis is all the more welcome after a long, cold winter. There’s a number of great places to see spring blooms in the city. Gardens throughout the Minneapolis Parks system offer flowers, history, sculpture, community hubs and more. Read on for the some of the best places to welcome spring in Minneapolis.
Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary
1 Theodore Wirth Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Part of Theodore Wirth Regional Park
Garden season: April 15–October 15
Weekends only October 16–31
Garden hours: Tuesday–Sunday 7:30am–6pm
Thursday open until 8pm, from April 15–September 1
The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary is a 15-acre native plant reserve with over 500 plant and 130 bird species, plus guided and self-guided tour trails. It is an essential stop during spring in Minneapolis. Founded in 1907 as a preserve for native plants, it is the oldest public wildflower garden in the United States. 60,000 annual visitors enjoy spectacular seasonal displays of native wildflowers in woodland, wetland and prairie areas. Each area creates a different habitat that fosters different types of plants, animals and birds.
The narrow, winding trails of the garden lead you through a variety of habitats in hilly terrain. There are a number of routes to choose from, for a shorter or longer walk. The total trail length is a bit over one mile. Need more exercise? After enjoying the garden, head out to the larger Theodore Wirth park for a longer hike.
Nestled in the garden is the Martha Crone Visitor Shelter. Natural history displays, reference materials and friendly staff and volunteers wait there to help with your garden-related questions.
Peak display times for spring and early summer
April and May offer peak display times for woodland wildflowers such as bloodroot, wild ginger, trillium, bluebells, and trout lilies. Come back in June and July for wetland wildflowers like showy lady’s-slippers (the Minnesota state flower!), native irises, and cardinal flowers.
Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden Contact Info
Interested in homes in this area? Neighborhood: Bryn-Mawr
Lyndale Park Gardens
4124 Roseway Road
Minneapolis, MN 55409
Garden Hours: 7:30 am–10 pm
Park Hours: 6 am–midnight
On the Northeast shore of Lake Harriet, you’ll find one of the jewels of the Minneapolis Parks System and my personal favorite. A must-see during spring in Minneapolis! Lyndale Park Gardens includes four themed gardens. Come back in a few weeks to visit the Rose Garden, a fragrant oasis during the summer months. Peak season for roses here is late June to late September. Now in spring, visit the Annual-Perennial Garden then head over to the Peace Garden and the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden. Top it all off with a walk around beautiful Lake Harriet.
The gardens offer wonderful spring blooms all season long, from daffodils to tulips. I love the ethereal blossoms from the many spring-flowering trees in the park area south of the perennial border. I try to come every week during spring in Minneapolis and there’s always something new blooming. There are spectacular annual spring plantings as well.
The city moved the Phelps (Turtle) fountain to this spot in 1962. As a result, this garden was born. Two long perennial borders create the edges of the garden, with six annual beds in between. The colorful seasonal displays in the annual beds are breathtaking. The perennial borders are my favorites, though. I love to come at different times of year to catch the peak bloom of different perennials. The walkway leading to the road where you cross to the Peace Garden has a spectacular display of peonies in May.
Lyndale Park Peace Garden
Right across the street from the annual and perennial border gardens is a gorgeous Japanese-style garden, the Peace Garden. The Peace Garden is especially beautiful in the early spring, when many of the rock garden plants bloom. In fact, the Rock Garden was its original name. Gorgeous light-colored, irregularly-shaped ancient rocks form the bones of the garden. The rocks create a perfect micro-climate for alpine plants and dwarf conifers.
What to do in the Peace Garden
Stroll across the Peace Garden Bridge. Installed in October 2009, the bridge replaced the original cedar footbridge. Decorative copper sasi blocks and inlaid Minnesota granite are highlights. According to Japanese tradition, evil spirits walk only in straight lines, so the bridge follows a zigzag pattern. The bridge also features granite peace stones from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The stones come from the 1945 atomic bomb blast rubble. Artist Kinji Akagawa and architect Jerry Allan, a professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, designed the bridge.
Contemplate the Spirit of Peace, a bronze sculpture by local artist Caprice Glaser. Dedicated in 2006, the sculpture is an official International Peace Site. Information plaques atop stones around the walking path show how to make a peace crane. The word “peace” is engraved at the base of the stones in 23 languages. The sculpture illustrates how to fold a peace crane in the ancient craft of origami. It is part of an international tradition honoring Sadako Saski, a girl from Hiroshima who developed cancer from radiation after the atomic bomb. According to Japanese legend, a person who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish. Sadako folded over one thousand cranes before her death at age 12.
Wander the Pathway to Peace, a series of seven stone sculptures connecting the East Harriet neighborhood with the Peace Garden. Each sculpture displays words representing the community’s feelings about the meaning of peace.
Next to the Peace Garden, the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden features native plant species and cultivars chosen for their ability to attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. MPRB works with children interested in gardening, and received the All-America Selections Exemplary Education Award in 2009.
Perennials in the Perennial and Border Garden garden are tested over several seasons for hardiness, disease resistance and other characteristics. The meandering border begins near King’s Highway and follows the wood line down towards the Peace Garden.
Lyndale Gardens Contact Info
Interested in homes in this area? Neighborhood: East Harriet
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Minneapolis neighborhoods in this post: Bryn-Mawr, East Harriet