Minnesota Landscape Arboretum 2021

The location was created in 1907 to study cold weather hardy plants like HoneyCrisp apples and azaleas, which had economic value. It formally became an arboretum in 1958 with the total acquisition of 160 acres, and it has grown over the years to include 1200 acres with 5000 varieties of plants (almost all of them Minnesota winter tolerant).

Various groomed and managed areas and ornate gardens make this place quite the delight in the growing season in Minnesota.

The Arrival

Driving west through Chaska on State Highway 5 from Interstate 494, past Prince's Paisley Park where it turns into a 2 lane road. It can back up a ways from people trying to turn left into the arboretum.

Entrance

During covid, it's all pre-purchased tickets, and the entrance gate is a ways down the entry road. After check-in, there are large parking areas to your right, and as of right now, plenty of spaces to park. I have been other times when it was a challenge and you end up way down a side road on the edge to park.

Groomed and Floral Areas

Near the main buildings, there are many paths around flowers and ornate trees that bloom in the spring.
Like it was designed to be a perfect view
Inside the main building, a big huge, unused area of ceiling Gardening and, well, mainly gardening stuff
Flowers abound They are even way out along the drive In the formal English style, fountains are key
The main groomed area is noted by paved paths
Also, a very popular place for weddings and the pre-wedding shoots Waterfalls are a key point of the landscaping too This is just the start, it goes much farther down

Woods

Down in the lower areas from the main building is a natural area of woods that hasn't been managed as heavily as the rest of the grounds. More primal and natural than the rest of the grounds, several trails and a stream run through it.
Untouched and yes, it is Minnesota, there are mosquitos here

Trees!

The main point of an arboretum is trees! So many trees that are native to Minnesota able to withstand the winters here. There is a long drive with stops for various tree groupings that goes over the majority of the site.
As you go around the drive, the first inviting area with parking features trees commonly used in one's yard At the highest point to park on the drive, more ornamentals, but primarily very large bushes and a huge collection of crab apple blooming trees (sadly this was the off year for that) A newer area, the Chinese pond.  Not nearly as hand shaped as a Japanese one
The drive winds This was a great resource for me and my search for a hardy, straight growing, and aesthetically pleasing hedge for my house
Also there is now a growing sculpture garden being integrated to the hills and woods

Summary

A stunningly large area of plant life but it can be strangely difficult to get away from the crowds on weekends. Best in the spring when everything is blooming (but you have to play with MN spring weather which varies from 45 to 85 on any given day) or the fall when the leaf colors come out.

The main area is always mobbed and at non-covid times has a cafe open. Weekdays this place is almost deserted, and if you have the flexibility, a great time to go. I try to go here at least once a year.
While I believe it's technically not allowed, I've never had a problem with wine at my picnic here Don't forget to check out the craft vendors near the main building for those interested in such things