Tulips, daffodils and other spring flowers are blooming early at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, thanks to this year's balmy spring. If you want to visit, plan to spend more than last year. As of April 1, the daily admission fee is now $12, up from $9. (Ages 12 and under will still be admitted free.)

The higher price is designed to bring the arboretum's fee in line with other botanical gardens nationwide and other local attractions where you can spend an entire day, such as the Minnesota Zoo and the Children's Museum, according to spokeswoman Barb DeGroot. Higher operating costs and state funding cuts to the University of Minnesota also are a factor.

"I'm sure it will be a challenge for some," DeGroot said of the higher fee. "We're trying to soften the blow" by adding, with each paid admission, a voucher for a free return visit, redeemable within 30 days.

Annual membership fees, which include free admission, have not changed; they remain $45 for individuals, $65 for couples or two adults, and $85 for families and friends.

The arboretum has recently added some enhancements, including a Bog Boardwalk and a maze garden, and will install a new Sculpture Garden this fall. Other planned projects include a northern Chinese garden, a Tree Canopy Walk and Woodland Performance Stage.