Tag Archive | flowers

A Hidden Gem in Marion

During our visit to Marion, Illinois, a couple of weeks ago we decided to take a chance and visit a place called Mandala Gardens.  I had read a brief review of the Gardens on TripAdvisor which sounded promising but the Mandala Gardens website itself mentioned something about calling ahead, and like many of the side-trips that we make, this one was rather spontaneous.  When we got to the privately owned Gardens early in the morning the gates were closed and I gazed longingly through the bars at what looked like an intriguing vista. I was just about to get back in the car when a lady came out of the adjoining house and walked down to greet us.  I explained that our visit was rather a last-minute idea and were sorry to turn up unannounced but she told us that it wasn’t a problem and ushered us in.

You immediately feel the peace and serenity that emanates from this tranquil setting.  Diana Tigerlily (pictured below) and her husband Greg Reid have lived at the property on North State Street for 20 years and during that time have put a lot of effort into making it the lovely place that it is today. Diana kindly allowed us to wander around and enjoy the Gardens and of course I made the most of this great photo opportunity.  For more on Diana and Greg’s story go to ABOUT

There are several interesting structures to explore at the Gardens one of which is The Infinity Arch created by Thea Alvin.

Another feature, also created by Thea Alvin, is Moongate which stands at the end of the pond. Here at the Gardens Diana holds Yoga practice sessions which are named Blue Heron Yoga and just as I was about to walk around the pond the blue heron, for which these sessions are named, flapped lazily away. Unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to get a shot with the camera but luckily the pond and Moongate were still there.

Looking through Moongate you catch a glimpse of the sandstone labyrinth, a quiet place to meditate, or take a walk through the trees just beyond and return to the garden via the bridge. Both the labyrinth and the bridge are the result of Greg and Diana’s hard work.

 

Back among the flowers, there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the various pieces of artwork than can be found at Mandala Gardens, including Talisman, a metal sculpture by Carey Netherton and some delightful little stained-glass windows which are part of the potting shed.

If you are ever in the Marion area of Illinois, I can highly recommend a visit to Manadala Gardens.  Diana was most welcoming and made us feel right at home.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Layered

The subject for the Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post is layered and my first thought was for some of the many flowers that grow in the gardens of my photo files. Like ladies in their frilly ball gowns, these blooms show off their layered petals to their best advantage.

For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge go to Layered

September at Cantigny

Had I not visited their website beforehand, I might have been disappointed when we arrived at Cantigny Park in Wheaton to find that most of the formal gardens were closed for renovation. As it was, I was prepared and, rather than being let down, was interested to see just what improvements they had already made. The ongoing project named New Leaf includes alterations to the First Division Museum, formal gardens, the McCormick house, parking lots and picnic area but, because they seemed to be working mostly in one part of the park, there were still plenty of places to enjoy on a sunny day.

Luckily the Rose Garden was still intact and even though the sprinklers were going at full blast I was able to get close enough to capture a couple of images.

The Pergola that runs parallel to the Rose Garden was decorated with beautiful hanging baskets and, beside this, the ground beneath the trees in the Allee was covered with masses of fallen chestnuts.  Seeing this always reminds me of when we used to collect ‘conkers’ when we were children. I’m sure that game went the way of the Dodo.

The Idea Garden was looking at its best with a mix of vegetables and colorful flowers including some gorgeous dahlias.

 

There was a nice show of Brazilian sage in the Idea Garden which was attracting the bees and also a hummingbird which obligingly landed on a nearby shrub.

The flowers weren’t the only colorful things in the garden. I’m not sure what the armchair thing was all about but there were several scattered about the Park. As usual, I was too eager to start taking pictures to read the sign and have not, subsequently, been able to find out anything about them. If anyone knows, I’d be happy to hear from you.

 

I look forward to returning to Cantigny next year.  It’s hard to imagine how it could look any more impressive than it already does, but it will be interesting to see what improvements they have made.

For more on Cantigny Park visit http://www.cantigny.org/

September at the Garden

There’s always something beautiful to see at the Chicago Botanic Garden no matter what time of year you go, but September always seems to have something special to offer.  The roses have usually taken on a new lease on life and when I went to the Garden a few days ago they looked gorgeous.

The water lilies too, seemed at the peak of perfection.

 

While I was there, a well-meaning gentleman offered to give me some tips on photography but when I explained that I couldn’t tell an f-stop from a bus stop, never read the camera manual and didn’t usually like to fiddle around changing settings and such, he gave me up as a hopeless case.  It was a kind thought, however, and I thanked him profusely.

This year’s theme, “Brazil in the Garden” provided visitors with plenty of unusual plants and flowers to enjoy, with Bromeliads, orange Canna lilies and Bismarck palms taking center stage.

Even the ducks seemed in a festive mood.

I was about to leave Evening Island when the great bells of the Carillon Tower clanged the two-o-clock hour.

Just time to visit the Plant Evaluation Garden before heading back home.

OWPC – The Bee’s Knees

This week, Jennifer Nichole Wells has chosen insect as the subject for her One Word Photo Challenge. With so many flowers in the garden it’s not surprising that we have quite a number of bees flying around.  Unlike wasps and hornets, bees are a welcome sight and I was happy to capture these few shots for the challenge.

For more on Jennifer’s One Word Photo Challenge go to This Week’s Challenges: August 20 – 26 (OWPC & WW)

How Green Was My Spring Valley

It’s been a while since I last visited Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg and there have been some changes which were noticeable as soon as I arrived.  There is a new children’s playground complete with slides, climbing areas and waterfalls where the kids can have a great time.  I just hope the parents don’t forego the opportunity of taking them around the rest of the facility to see all the wonderful things that nature has to offer, like flowers, animals, birds and other living, breathing things.  There is also a new pond that has been created nearby although it appears to be a work in progress.

With all the rain we’ve had just lately it wasn’t surprising that the place looked so lush and green. I love walking around here! Apart from the forest preserves, this is the closest thing we have to ‘being in the country.’ I think it would be impossible to count all the different plants that flourish in Spring Valley.

The water in the lake was quite high and covered with water lilies which made ideal resting and hiding places for the frogs. Underneath the surface it was teeming with life as frogs, fish and turtles, in a frenzy of activity, made hundreds of little waves in the water.

 

I was pleased to see that the Kid’s Garden was flourishing, with plenty of flowers and vegetables on display.  I think it’s so important to encourage children to take an interest in nature and that is just what the people at Spring Valley are doing so ably.  After all, the future of our world and the environment is in the hands of generations to come. In these troubling times, it would be a sad thing indeed if we did not make the effort to teach them to understand and respect nature and each other.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Ooh, Shiny!

Did I ever tell you the story about this rabbit that I knew?  Well there was this rabbit and one day he decided that he was going to………….oh look, isn’t that a heron over there!

Beautiful birds!  It reminds me of the time I saw one when I was staying in……………Oh for goodness sake? What a racket! You can’t hear yourself think!  Here’s another plane coming in for a landing!

Anyway, what was I saying?  Oh yes, about that rabbit……………..look at those butterflies.  I’ll just see if I can get a picture now the breeze has dropped.

So this rabbit………….watch out! Don’t step on that frog. Wow! That was a close thing!

Now where was I? Oh yes. The rabbit decides that he’s going to…………….I thought I could hear a church bell ringing!  Yes, over there.

Perhaps we could just go in and have a look…………..no, wait a minute. Let’s see those horses in the field over there.

So, getting back to the story about this rabbit…………….I wonder what these flowers are called.

Well, this rabbit takes a chance and hops across……………….ooh, shiny!

It doesn’t take much to distract me.  For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Ooh, Shiny!