Tag Archive | gardens

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Places People Visit

This week, Cee is looking for colorful pictures of places people visit for her Fun Foto Challenge, so yesterday I took a trip to my favorite place to visit, The Chicago Botanic Garden, to see what I could find. Last year, more than one million people visited the Garden which has 50,000 members, one of the largest memberships of any U.S. botanic garden.


Despite the cooler temperatures there were still a good number of visitors at the garden yesterday, all of us enjoying the sun and making the most of these last nice days before winter finally sets in.

With more than 380 acres to traverse, it would probably take most visitors an entire day, if not more, to see absolutely everything that the garden has to offer. There are, after all, more than 2.6 million living plants in the garden.



Here are a few more facts and figures that are worth bearing in mind while visiting the Garden. The Chicago Botanic Garden opened to the public just over 40 years ago. There are 27 separate gardens and 4 natural areas situated on or around nine islands with 6 miles of lake shoreline. There are 9 laboratories inside the Plant Conservation Science Center and the Garden is one of only 17 public gardens to be accredited by the American Association of Museums.



 

The Garden grounds are open from 8am to 5pm during the winter. There is a $25 parking fee on weekdays and $30 on weekends so if you live in the area and are likely to go there more than once a year I can strongly recommend purchasing a membership which gives you free parking.



For more information on The Chicago Botanic Garden visit their website at The Chicago Botanic Garden.  And for more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Places People Visit.

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Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

During our recent trip to Minnesota we were pleasantly surprised when we made a last-minute decision to visit Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in Saint Paul.  The conservatory was our main focus but when we realized that the zoo was right next door, we thought, “why not.” The fact that there was no admission fee for either place made a visit there even more enticing.


Besides the splendid plant collections inside the conservatory, there was a beautiful Japanese Garden and a spectacular show of water lilies outside the Visitor Center.

Although the zoo may not be as large as some, it had an amazing collection of animals in natural enclosures that allowed for some nice close-up photography opportunities.



 

 

 

Both the zoo and conservatory are operated by the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department and are open year-round.

I can highly recommend a visit to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. It’s a great place for family fun as it also includes a small amusement park and carousel.



Square in September – Floral Pink

I couldn’t let Becky’s September Squares go by without submitting a few pink flower pictures so I’ll get it out of my system now and do it all in one go. Two from the Chicago Botanic Garden, two from my garden and one from Cantigny Park in Wheaton.



For more on Becky’s Square in September Photo Challenge go to Hello September!

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/

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Garden Reflections

Reflecting on the subject for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week I found a few images from the Chicago Botanic Garden that I thought would fit the bill.



For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to Mirror images or reflections

Dazzled, Breathless and Giddy

There are a few words that best describe the effect that the San Antonio Botanic Garden had on me and one of those words is dazzled! With the sun beating down and the glowing colors of the flowers that crowded the beds on that June afternoon, I was well and truly dazzled!


I was breathless! I don’t know if it was the 100 degree heat or just the overwhelming splendour of the garden that took my breath away but yes, I was definitely breathless!


 

I felt giddy, like a kid who’d just been given carte blanche at the local toy store. I felt like laughing and singing and crying just from the joy of being there. Yes, I certainly felt giddy!





And I felt grateful! Grateful to be alive and to have the opportunity to see this beautiful place and rejoice in the wonders of nature.



San Antonio Botanical Garden

You somehow get the feeling, as soon as you walk through the entrance to the San Antonio Botanical Garden, that you’re in for a treat. Despite it probably being the hottest day of our trip to Texas, we couldn’t pass up the chance to see this magnificent display of plants and flowers, especially since it was on our Chicago Botanic Garden membership reciprocal list.


Just the sheer novelty of seeing cacti growing outside rather than in a greenhouse was well worth braving the scorching temperatures.  The Garden covers some 40 plus acres and was first opened to the public in 1980.

The Garden is a remarkable place to see nature in all its diverse splendor and makes a wonderful living classroom in which to learn about the conservation of these magnificent plants and their natural habitat in what can sometimes be a harsh and unforgiving climate.


Every turn in the path provided a new and awesome landscape, so strange to our eyes, accustomed as we are to our usual bill of fare here in the Midwest. “Look but don’t touch” was definitely the order of the day when it came to many of these prickly characters.

 

We took in this view overlooking the city of San Antonio on our way down the path to even more garden delights that I look forward to sharing with you in the next post.

I add this interesting little footnote regarding wildlife; I had hoped to see lots of lizards and suchlike running around the Garden, especially in the more natural areas, but surprisingly we didn’t come across anything which was a bit of a disappointment.  The only lizard we saw during our trip to Texas was this one, I suppose you could call him a lounge lizard, basking on a chair by the pool back in Houston.