A Closer Look at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

yellow orchid
“He taught both in scientific words and with dirt-stained hands….” – Jane McKinnon

After looking for fairies at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum this weekend, we explored the rest of the visitor buildings. We admired the photography on display, poked around the library and investigated the stinky aroma coming from the conservatory. It turned out that their Voodoo Lily was blooming and the smell was anything but floral.

Looking at all of the flowers, I wondered who we had to thank for the arboretum? Fortunately a little googling gave me the answer.

spotted orchid

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is the Upper Midwest’s largest public garden and is open 363 days a year. Part of the University of Minnesota, the earliest grounds were established in 1907 as the Horticultural Research Center. They developed cold-hardy crops and we have them to thank for our beloved Honeycrisp apples (among many other plants).


In 1945, a young Leon C. Snyder moved to Minnesota with his wife and began his career at the university as an extension horticulturalist, eventually becoming head of the Department. Several years later in 1956, the Minnesota State Horticultural Society and the Men’s Garden Club of Minneapolis came forward with the goal of establishing an arboretum. Through local garden clubs, the funds were raised and within two years, 160 acres of land was purchased and the arboretum opened in 1958 with Dr. Snyder as director.

white orchid

Under Dr. Snyder’s leadership, the horticulture department at the University of Minnesota had doubled in faculty when he eventually stepped down to focus full-time on the arboretum. While finding time to stop and smell the roses, he also managed to write a weekly column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, answered gardening questions on WCCO radio, led garden tours, traveled the world and raised a family with his wife.

bird of paradise

Dr. Snyder acted as director of the arboretum from its opening in 1958 until 1976, expanding its size and research capabilities and lucky for us, its facilities for visitors. Since it was established, the arboretum has grown to 1,137 acres and is the largest, most diverse and most complete horticultural site in Minnesota with more than 5,000 varieties of plants.

white orchid

The Leon C. Snyder Education and Resource Building, dedicated in 1974, contains both the Anderson Horticultural Library and the Meyer-Deats Conservatory where these lovely flowers were photographed.


2 thoughts on “A Closer Look at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum”

  1. Morning to you,

    Curiosity got me….what type of bug in that on the attached image? It reminds me of some type of crab, scorpion or space alien :>

    Beautiful shot…have a great day….


    1. Good question, Watson! I thought it was fascinating and assumed it was a friendly bug. Later on, I worried that I had snapped the picture of the bug that would destroy the entire conservatory…. Thanks for following!


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