Tag Archive | architecture

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

We kicked off a recent mini-vacation up north with a visit to Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin.  Although smaller than many of the gardens we’ve visited, it covers about 16 acres, it packs a lot of interest into some beautifully maintained areas such as the English-style Sunken Garden, the oldest part of Olbrich Gardens, with its 80ft-long reflecting pool.


Flowers are all very nice but the boys were looking for something a little more exciting and they found it when they discovered a toad in an ornamental pool in the Rose Garden.

Leaving the toad to continue its sojourn in the Rose Garden we moved on to explore the Rock Garden where we got in touch with nature, and the Herb Garden where we recognized many familiar names.

The highlight of the gardens, for me at least, was the Thai Pavilion and Garden. The pavilion was a gift to the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the Thai Government and the Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association

The pavilion was built in Thailand, disassembled, shipped to the US and reconstructed at the Gardens. No touching! All the gold that you see on the building is gold leaf applied to plantation-grown teak and will not stand up to constant handling (and there is someone there to make sure that you don’t.)


 

This beautiful structure is surrounded by gardens that are designed to resemble those that you would see in Thailand, featuring ornamental grasses, bamboo and large-leafed plants and shrubs.



I can highly recommend a visit to Olbrich Botanical Gardens.  Admission to the outdoor gardens is free, with a minimal fee for visiting the adjoining Bolz Conservatory. For more information on the Gardens go to http://www.olbrich.org/

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The Nature of Glensheen

Earlier this autumn we traveled up north to visit Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Minnesota.  Despite the fact that the sun decided to hide behind the clouds for much of the time, there were still a few good opportunities for outside photos.  The garden was, understandably, past it’s best, but you could get a sense of how beautiful it would look when everything was in flower.  I could definitely understand why our guide said it was a popular venue for weddings, despite the rather macabre history of the house.

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Glensheen sits right on the shores of Lake Superior and, depending on the weather, the view from the beach can look rather forbidding or quite inviting.

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Walking through the grounds, which originally covered 22 acres but have now been reduced to 12, we came across a bridge that led to precisely nowhere.

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The view from the bridge was quite interesting, however.  The Congdon family wanted to preserve as much of the natural beauty of the property as possible and if you look from one side of the bridge you can see the house framed by trees and from the other side you can see down to the lake.

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The landscaping was carried out some time between 1905 and 1908 by Charles Wellford Leavitt who designed the estate to be self sufficient, incorporating a large vegetable garden, greenhouse, orchard, cow barn and water reservoir in the plans. Glensheen is well worth a visit not only for the very interesting tour of the house but also the garden and grounds.

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The Conservatory At Biltmore

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Everything about the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina is on a lavish scale and the conservatory, although not as large as some, is packed with every variety of hothouse plant imaginable.

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Designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, the conservatory provided flowers and plants for Biltmore House during the Vanderbilt family’s time there.

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The orchid room is filled with exotic blooms in gorgeous colors.

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Many of the plants were familiar to us but there were others that we had never seen before.

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So many different colors, shapes and textures at every turn.

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And quiet places to sit and enjoy the surroundings.

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From weird to wonderful, every nook and cranny was filled with plants to delight the eye and capture the imagination. Nature is amazing, isn’t it!

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The conservatory at Biltmore has something of interest for everyone.

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