A Stroll Through the Arboretum

It’s been a bit of a bluesy couple of weeks.  Writing has been a bit tough.  I missed posting last Friday. One of our cats ran off. He was a newly adopted, formerly feral boy. We think he might be hiding out in my neighbor’s wild cat colony, but no one has really seen him. So we’re looking, posting, checking with neighbors, and in generally spreading the word, but so far, to no avail.

As well, Spring and Winter are battling it out, per usual, in our neck of the woods; putting a pause on any projects we’ve been working on. 

I’m needing something to take my mind off of things that I can’t control.

So I thought I would do something a little different for this post. I have no deep insights to share or stories to tell.

Instead I thought I’d take a walk through the botanical gardens at the Arboretum and get a fore taste of the life and colors coming our way, soon. These are pictures form last year, but they bring back some nice memories.


The Star Jasmine topped arbor that leads to Kristen’s Garden, one of many hidden places at the Arboretum

The Wilbur D May Arboretum is currently divided into several areas or “phases.” The earliest portion of the of the May Center Complex houses the Museum, the Conifer Grove and the Botanical Garden. The Botanical area has a wide assortment of smaller, themed gardens where you can wander and dream.

The path that leads through Dixie’s Plaza.

This is entering the Arboretum from the Southwest. This little plaza is often used during the summer for those small, intimate weddings. There is a little bridge off to the right where the bride and groom can stand for the nuptials. During the Spring School Tour season, we have games and demonstrations for the kids here, as part of our Walking Through the Great Basin program. The plaza is loaded with Crabapple trees and perennials .

Swallow-tailed Butterfly hanging out on the Showy Milkweed in Burke’s Perennial Garden

Burke’s Garden is probably one on of the prettiest of all of the garden’s at the Arboretum. Other than the Ranch House, it’s the most requested space for weddings at the park. It is filled with birds, butterflies, and all sorts of pollinators throughout the year.

Bachelor’s Buttons in Burke’s Garden
Eastern Red Columbine in Burke’s Garden

First Rose of the season at Burke’s Garden.

And speaking of roses; we have a beautiful Rose Garden tucked just off of the main path walking east through the park.

One of the many pink roses that I can’t name off hand!

And some more pink ones!
More colors of roses that I can’t name!
And lastly, some pure white ones.

I really do love the roses, but unfortunately, I’m allergic. They literally take my breath away, so I admire them from a distance and for a very brief time (Side note: Greg definitely saves money not getting me roses for Valentines Day each year).

The Pyracantha Bushes leading to Songbird Garden.

One of my duties as a volunteer at the Arboretum is hosting our Good Nature walks through the gardens. This has to be one of my favorite things to do. The walks have been on hold for the last year, but we are hoping to restart later this year. In the past we have done everything from Victorian Flower talks, to Pollinator Spying, to Hawk Watching, to telling Nordic fairytales and Oriental legends. We go where our imagination leads us.

Part of a special exhibit at Songbird Garden
A close up of the woven nest

Woven bird close up in Songbird Garden.

This special exhibit was created by the Great Basin Basketweavers Guild.

Originally these were on display at the Nevada State Museum. These pieces include natural materials such as willow branches, alpaca hair, rope, and other fibers.

They are here now to deteriorate and return to the earth. The squirrels and birds steal little bits of them for their own nests. The exhibit is designed to bring the community a little closer to the cyclical nature of life, and the inner peace of knowing all things will be repurposed over time.

Volunteer Sue working at Lear Garden
A garden volunteer’s work bucket, taking a well needed rest.

We have about a dozen regular volunteers who work solely on the gardens. Even though the Arboretum is part of the Washoe County Park System, it’s budget is pretty sparse. The Arboretum growth and maintenance is financed through the May Arboretum Society, the May Foundation grants, donations and volunteer support. I have met some really wonderful folks through volunteering and have learned to be my most creative self.

Media Day at the Reno Balloon Race

One of the fun perks of volunteering is our annual Balloon Race volunteer breakfast. We feast on fruit, bagels and doughnuts, while watching the hot air balloons take off just after dawn.

The elephant and the goldfish were my favorites! Each year though, I find more favorites!

Well, thanks for following me through the Arboretum.

I started smiling abut a third of the way through this, so I’m feeling better, anyway.

See you next time,


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