Sumin Yang of Madison won this year's state Arbor Day art contest showing why Trees are Terrific.
The race to green up
Hope in this season starts running when the sap is tapped and the sweetness flows back into the weather. Those first warm breezes are the perfect time to watch the quick transition as bare branches bud, then flower, then take on leafy greenness; each tree in its own time. What better place to watch the popples go through their paces than an arboretum as each species warms up. Do your own comparisons to see how birches, beeches, hickory and hackberry get ready for the spring show. Traveler asked around and received these recommendations for school forests and nature centers that offer trails where visitors can get tree identification guides and walk the grounds. Start a new tradition and visit one of these sites every year on Arbor Day, the last Friday in April (the 24th this year).
Tri-County School Forest, Plainfield – W12409 on County Road O in Waushara County. Native tree species on the property are identified in a guide that includes a map, picture of each tree type and some basic information about each species. Trail information is posted on signs at the entrance. To arrange a group visit, contact Joe Raboin.
Ledge View Nature Center – W2348 Short Road, Chilton. The center sells a trail guide for $2 that provides commentary for numbered markers along the graveled trails. About two-thirds of the entries identify trees and discuss woodland issues. The center is open dawn to dusk each day, except major holidays. The buildings are staffed starting at 8 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends closing at 4:30 p.m. each day. Email Ledge View Nature Center. Reservations for trips by phone only, (920) 849-7094.
MacKenzie Environmental Education Center – W7303 County Road CS & Q, Poynette. Originally, more than 700 species of trees and shrubs were planted on the grounds adjoining the state pheasant/game farm. Some of the exotic species couldn't handle the soil and climate, but about 120 species remain and are highlighted in a self-guided Arboretum Tree and Shrub Guide to the grounds. They are also noted by GPS waypoint for the tech-savvy visitors. Call (608) 635-8105 or contact educator Ruth Lee.
Mosquito Hill Nature Center – N3880 Rogers Road, New London. A map and small posted signs provide brief descriptions of 43 tree species identified along the trail system. Contact Mary Swifka, (920) 779-6433.
Trees for Tomorrow – 519 Sheridan Street, Eagle River. The tree identification course/trail is available all year to visitors. To arrange a visit, call Maggie Bishop, (715) 479-6456 or email Trees for Tomorrow.
Ice Age Visitor Center – Kettle Moraine State Forest Northern Unit, N1765 Highway G, Campbellsport. On the Moraine Trail near the visitor center, 10 tree species and their human uses are identified on signs. Call the center at (920) 533-8322 or contact Joan Neis for visitor services.
West Salem School Forest – The Outdoor Education Center offers a tree identification guide to the trails at the 130-acre site. To arrange a tour or visit, call or contact Barb Thompson, (715) 786-1662.
Cable Natural History Museum – 13470 County Highway M, Cable. The 1.5-mile Forest Lodge Nature Trail is a self-guided loop. An interpretive booklet for visitors highlights trees and the natural ecosystems through which the trail passes. Contact Cully Shelton, (715) 798-3890, Cable Natural History Museum.
Boerner Botanical Gardens – 9400 Boerner Drive, Hales Corners. A walking guide to the grounds ($1) identifies 24 tree species mixed in with the beautiful gardens. Contact Judy Faja, (414) 525-5602.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum – 1207 Seminole Highway, Madison. Start your walk in the 1,260-acre arboretum on the south edge of Lake Wingra at the visitor center (7 a.m.-10 p.m.) or join one of the scheduled public walks. The Longenecker Gardens adjoining the center has a path that winds past trees and shrubs labeled with common and Latin names. (608) 263-7888.
Let the artist in you bloom. Winners of the Arbor Day Art Contest were announced in mid-March. Here are the contest winners.