Explore 12 Outdoor Structures 



 Photo by Tony Eaton

#1  Gaia's Whispering Hand

Artist: Craig Snyder

Materials: Cedar and steel

Interactive? Yes

Location: West of Prairie Garden in Weeping Tree Collection

Gaia's Whispering Hand breathes the earth's life force into a metaphorical treehouse to intrigue passersby. If we let it, the earth does welcome us into its embrace and will showus great visions.
Trees facinate me. It's always been that way and I love to walk amongst them - I feel so alive and centered. Even though some view a tree as an obstacle or just so much lumber, we are truly connected to them and depend on them for our very survival. In the beginning and the end, it seems we living beings of Gaia's creation aren't so different.
Photo by Tony Eaton.

#2  Double Canopy

Artist: MSR: Thomas Meyer, Mitchell Karr, Veronica McCracken, Emily Gross, Ben Lewis

Materials: Plywood and wood framing, mirrored acrylic, Manila rope and steel fitting

Interactive? Yes

Location: Frerichs Garden for Wildlife

From the outside, the design of Double Canopy will appear to be a woven volume suspended from the tree. Natural materials and emphasis on craft and connection create a structure which reveals more and more interest across scales as vistors investigate closer and closer. Inside this woven form hangs an abstracted, planar form, brightly colored and sugestiveley reflective, it is visible through the outer woven skrim and piques curiosity. As vistors duck under the hanging form they find themselves surounded by faceted mirros - a kalidescope of sky, canopy and self surround them, An unexpectedly abstracted interior experience juxtaposed against a tangible and tactile exterior.

#3  The Birdhouse of Arthur J.E. Wren 

Artist: Simon Sutherland

Materials: Steel, wood, glass, fabric, paper, rope, antiques

Interactive? Yes

Location: Crab Apple Collection

Home is a psychic space that requires care and cultivation...The birdhouse uses curiosity to draw people in...to explore with child-like wonder...to take some time..and savor an intimate moment..The space is a stage with just enough trappings of the world...

Photo by Robert Evans

#4  A Bird's-Eye View 

Artist:  Michael Madson

Materials: Wood, 3/4" steel rebar

Interactive? Yes

Location: Maple Collection

A unique and memorable connection to trees and wildlife....Creating a visitor experience that provides a glimpse to be a bird-sized visitor to a maple tree..regular-size versions of wooden bird feeders...step in to experience a moment of wonder.
Photo by Robert Evans.


#5  Blue Guard 

Artist: Morgan Peterson Jordan Rosenow (MoJo)

Materials: Polyester rope, cedar wood, steel

Interactive? Yes

Location: Maple Collection (behind Bailey Shrub Walk)

Blue Guard is an immersive experience of color, structure and nature. A wooden box frame built around a maple tree is entirely wrapped in blue rope which continues to the elevated floor as a woven hammock. The title, Blue Guard, references the sculptures' similarities to modern tree guards used to protect the bark of young trees. Scaled up, Blue Guard is a space where walls become permiable and visitors are surrounded by blue foliage under a green sky.

Photo by Tony Eaton

#6  Corridor 

Artist: Actual Size Artworks: Gail Simpson & Aristotle Georgiades

Materials: Salvaged Douglas Fir


Location: Elm and Honey Locust Collection (east of Harrison Sculpture Garden) Look Upward)

Bridges have many associations in the collective imagination - ideas about movement, progress, connection, and the human mark upon the landscape are often attached to bridges. They appear in literature and films, architecture and sculpture, mythology and painting. They link one thing to another, for better or worse, and a bridge seems like a poetic metaphor for the way trees and plants form a shared network that ignores human borders.

Photo by Tony Eaton.

Photo by Tony Eaton

#7  Prairie Arcade 

Artist:  Locus Architecture

Materials: Fiberglass rods, wood base and metal hardware

Interactive? Yes

Location:  Below Three-Mile Drive across from the Hedges Collection (bowl area between Poplar and Linden Collection)

The Prairie Arcade is meant to inflame the imagination of a visitor as they consider the idea of moving through abstracted grasses as an animal might. The repetition of the ovoid form is an ecomonical and constructible way to convey an abstract expression of grass shoots emerging from the soil on either side, marking a path and creating a gently moving and ever changing canopy above an observer. By mimicking the relationship between grasses and animals but at a human scale, an analogous environment to the one experienced by small animals is created...imagine the inhabitants of this structure as if you are a field mouse moving through the grass to be sheltered from a watchful hawk above.

Photo by Tony Eaton.

Photo by Robert Evans

#8  From a Bird's Nest 

Artist: Dunde Nursery: Jordan Lockman

Materials: Sticks, wood, concrete, PVC, mirrors and metal

Interactive? Yes

Location: Near Maze Garden

In this case I was thinking a representation of a birds nest and have a specially crafted periscope to get us up into the tree canopy. The viewer into the periscope will be a bird viewing the world from above while being safe on the ground. This will give us a bird's-nest view of the Arboretum. This exhibit will allow for a resting spot for adults and a toy box for the young and young at heart as they visit the Arboretum.

Photo by Robert Evans.

Photo by Tony Eaton

#9  In The Tall Grass 

Artist: LBrickhouse Architects, Lake Country Builders

Materials: Wood, steel and fieldstone

Interactive? Yes

Location: Ornamental Grasses Collection

Inspired by the native prairie grasses of Minnesota, this treehouse would be positioned amongst the tall grasses, providing a respite to sit and gaze at the desired framed viewed beyond. Constructed of wood and steel (left to rust), this self-supporting folly has two fieldstone steps leading you inside. A semicircular bench provides a pleasant place to read a book or listen to the wind through the metal slats.

Photo by Tony Eaton.

Photo by Robert Evans

#10  Upside Down Tree House 

Artist: Bruce Lemke

Materials: Wood and rope


Location: Below Ornamental Grasses Collection

James Rand as a child was obsessed with tree houses – it seemed that every waking hour was spent thinking about, designing and building tree houses. Sadly, his enthusiasm did not always translate into high-quality, usable tree houses.
Throughout his adolescent years, James' preoccupation with tree houses never dimmed. He spent a number of years at the University of Minnesota and although he didn't get a degree in tree house design he did graduate with some kind of diploma. His education proved to be the missing part in his quest for a great tree house. His latest design, reproduced here, incorporated regular tree house materials and proved to be a stable design. Unfortunately, when Jim and his friends built the tree house with his detailed drawings the plans were read upside down.
Photo by Robert Evans.


#11  The Underground Fortress: Protecting the Tree Underground With the support of the Davey Tree Companies 

Artist: Robert Cline and University of Minnesota Extension

Materials: Cedar and repurposed lumber, wood chips, field stones, fabric banners

Interactive? Yes.

Location: Oak and nut tree collection

"The Underground Fortress", is an effort to respect both the primacy of just one of the Arboretum's trees while sharing the knowledge of how to protect other trees in a casual, fun and reflective manner. The concept of "Underground" is to promote that there is so much of a tree below ground. The concept of "Fortress" is to promote protecting that part of the tree that is underground. Together, "Underground" and "Fortress" recall a timeless place of safety and protection in our imaginations. Spatially, the concept is to encourage people to enter the "Fortress" they may first see as for their own protection and to then have them realize that the tree is what is protected in this "Fortress".   With support from University of Minnesota Extension

Photo by Robert Evans

#12  Oculus 

Artist: Cunningham Group Architects, Haptic Design Lab

Materials: Wood, steel and bungee cord

Interactive? Yes.

Location: Oak & Nut Tree Collection

Lying on your back, gazing up through leaves of trees filtering the sunlit sky above is a transcendent experience. The Oculus tree house design aims to re-imagine the treehouse with an innovative oculus framing the tree/sky experience. There will be two structures enabling adults and children to choose their experience: climb into a softly rocking tree house, mimicking the wind through the trees, or gradually enter a static, solid platform from which to gaze up into trees. The treehouses are visually engaging sculpturally from afar and interactive as you approach.

Photo by Robert Evans.


Arboretum Grand Trees

#A  American Elm Tree

Artist: Mother Nature and Arboretum Marketing & Communications

Materials: Organic and various (popsicle sticks, paper and imagination)

Interactive? Most definitely 

Location: Near Knot Garden (adjacent to Herb Garden)

Explore the whimsy of fairy gardens (and elves) at work. Watch for messages or leave a note.  Be awed by a tree that is older than the Arboretum (more than 60+ years old)!


#B   Under the Oak 

Artist: Mother Nature and Arboretum Education

Materials: Organic and natural materials

Interactive? Yes, absolutely!

Location: Next to Andrus Learning Center

Come to play in nature...for all ages. Be awed by the Arboretum's oldest tree, a bur oak 250+ years old. A second play area, the Green Play Yard, is especially for infants, toddlers and preschoolers and their families.


#C  Haggerty Pine Walk Extension 

Artist:  Inspired by Mother Nature and a collaboration with the Arboretum, consultant designers and builders, and the Haggerty family.

Materials: Pine and various materials

Interactive? Yes, must walk-through to enjoy.

Location: Pine Collection

An award-winning interpretive station describing the cycle of life and journey from seedling to towering trees. Set in the beauty of a nationally certified pine collection.