With Peter Moe at the Arboretum

Peter Moe, new Director of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, officially takes the reigns on September 16th, 2016, and takes me for a tour of the Arboretum in a pretty fancy golf cart on August 25th.

Pete began working at the Arboretum in 1973 as a Student Gardener and even lived on site for a year.  The old cabin that he called home still stands at the Arboretum.

“There’s Indian Pipe!” declared Pete.  “It’s one of the few plants that has no chlorophyll.” 

This white parasitic plant pops up and grows — rather eerily, as you can see — in shady woods with rich soil and decaying plant material.

This bronze sculpture, entitled “Swimmers,” by artist Paul Granlund, is part of an expansive sculpture garden at the Arboretum.

What inspired these artists?  “The wonders of nature — wind, water, animals, plants, myths, and stories about our human place in it.”  Approximately 25 pieces feature 20th and 21st century artists from Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom, and the United States.

During our stop at the Sculpture Garden, Pete made arrangements to delay his next appointment.

Thank you, Pete, for your generosity to me and the Victoria Gazette.

Several workers were taking advantage of the day’s sunshine to continue construction of a new Chinese Garden.  Climate in the northern part of China is comparable to that of Minnesota.

We saw The Red Barn in the distance, which was in the Williams family before it became part of the Arboretum family.  “And next to it you can see the Bee Center,” said Pete, “where we will be teaching the value of pollinators.  Did you know that 30% of groceries in our food stores require pollinators?”  The new Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center will celebrate its grand opening in September.

“We have around 200 summer employees and maybe 100 year round employees plus many part time people,” said Pete.  “And we have about 20,000 Arboretum memberships.”  Some of the members have last names like Dayton, Ordway, McMillan, and Cargill.

Everyone stops at the Gatehouse before entering the grounds of the Arboretum, but as people leave we just drive on by, slowly, and I take one final picture.  Congratulations, Pete, on your big job and thank you again for your time and tour.

This is a Red Oak that was the biggest tree on the Arboretum property until it was struck by lightning in 2001.  “Now we have the stump, and we’ve planted Red Oak trees all around it to shade and protect this property,” said Pete.  The Red Oaks are part of the Pillsbury Shade Tree Exhibit given to the Arboretum by Mrs. Eleanor Pillsbury on her 100th birthday.

“Alfred and Ingrid Harrison donated their art collection to the University of Minnesota.  They and the University saw this location at the Arboretum as the best and most spacious place for their exhibit,” said Pete.

We arranged in advance to meet in the Arboretum’s Visitor Center at 1:00 p.m.  On the way, I encountered an artistic rendering of the Trumpet Plant in front of the Visitor Center.  The sign says that the slippery footing at the pitcher’s rim of the plant causes insects to fall through the funnel shaped leaves to the bottom where they drown and are digested.

This is the entrance to the Visitor Center.

Landscaping at the MN Landscape Arboretum is amazing in almost every direction.

Eye-popping sculptures and horticulture artwork continued inside.  This is a rendering of the Venus Flytrap.  The specialized leaves snap shut when stimulated by prey.  It can take up to ten days for the trap to digest the prey and reopen.

Unassuming, and seemingly oblivious to the fact that people were milling all around us, meeting for lunch, visiting the gift center, and asking questions at the desk, Pete sat comfortably in one of the upholstered couches and answered my questions as though he had all the time in the world.  I knew he didn’t.  Then we took off in the golf cart.

When he walked through the door, I recognized Pete immediately, from his days as a Victoria Lion.  We shook hands and I said, “You look just like yourself.”  He replied, “So do you.”

As we drove past a plot of lilac trees, Pete said, “We have to remember the old plants, too.  I bet you had lilac trees growing up at your home.”  We did!

Pete didn’t need signs to know where he was going.

But they’re helpful to others visiting the Arboretum which is more than 1,200 acres in size.

This familiar fountain is located in front of the Snyder Building.

The Snyder Building was named for Dr. Leon Snyder, the very first Director of the MN Landscape Arboretum, from 1970 to 1976.

Dr. Snyder wrote a monthly column for the Victoria Gazette in the 1980’s, and he and his wife Vera and I were members together of the Shoots Lake Garden Club.  The Snyders lived on the east side of Schutz Lake.  Many of us lived on the west side of Schutz Lake.

I remember meeting with Dr. Snyder in this building, and I feel as though I visited him in this office with the bay window.  Now I’m privileged to have spent time with Peter Moe, the Arboretum’s 5th Director.

As I walked back toward the Visitor Center, I couldn’t help but take another picture of the Trumpet Plant, this time with the sky as a backdrop.

Looks like I’m driving a mini-car, compared to the SUV’s that I parked between.  Actually, I was taking a picture of the unusual evergreen tree in front of me.

This is one of several parking lots and they always seem to get full, even at special times in the winter.