by Laura Kocum
on Friday, February 26th, 2016 at 6:45am.
Snow is melting, air is warming, and buds are showing up on some of the trees. Forecasts for the next week or so show warmer temps, and spring fever is hitting. But at the end of February, is it really safe to assume winter is over? Plenty of gardeners are hoping so. More than 18,000 people showed up at Wisconsin Public Television's 24th Annual Garden Expo earlier this month. Seminars for all things garden related started the planning. And now- there are opportunities to apply this knowledge beyond your own backyard.
This weekend, the University of Wisconsin Arboretum is hosting a free "end of winter" walking tour. Trained naturalists will join guests to explore the arboretum and identify the signs of spring. The hour long tour is a gentle walk, designed for all ages. To help spot the signs of spring, show up before the tour begins at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. This is one of many walks offered at the Arboretum. "The main goal is to get people out enjoying and learning about the Arboretum and the plants and animals that live here, gaining a deeper appreciation of ecosystems, natural seasonal cycles, and the connections between humans and nature," says Susan Day, communications coordinator at the Arboretum.
If you're more of a "hands-on" explorer, stop in Saturday, and join the weekly Ecological Restoration Work Party. This regular event invites the community to help maintain the Arboretum and prepare plants for healthy spring growth. These work days are hosted the first four Saturdays of each month. Volunteers meet at 9 a.m. and work until Noon. Expert arborists work with volunteers to make the Arboretum healthy through each season. Walk-ins are welcome, but the Arboretum appreciates advance notice if you're bringing a group. The location rotates each week, and a schedule is posted on the Arboretum's website.
Sunday evening you can join the UW Space Place at the Arboretum. They are bringing telescopes, and will invite guests to watch the sunset, explore the night sky, and learn more about the changes both on earth and up above. This free program begins at 5:30 p.m.
The UW Arboretum provides a wealth of information and experiences for every season. And as the ground begins to thaw, and plants start to wake up, their programs will include things like pruning, exploring wildlife, and weather and climate topics. Whether winter is really over, or we're just searching for signs to get us through, the Arboretum is an excellent place to enjoy the outdoors, and appreciate the beauty within Madison.