I’m currently in the midst of a lengthy and ultimately expensive dental procedure, so what does my husband get me for Valentine’s Day? A large chocolate bar liberally laced with chunks of toffee. He means well, bless him, and we must be doing something right. We’ve been married for just over 46 years! Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!
It was a gloriously warm, sunny day at the end of summer when we went in search of Trolls at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. These trolls weren’t the nasty kind that invade the internet but the ones that hide in the woods. As you will see, we found six of them and saw some other interesting sights along the way.
It would appear that these trolls are not exactly friendly creatures as we soon realized when we came across this car crushed beneath a huge boulder. The perpetrator, a character named Rocky Bardur, was standing just a few yards away.
We came across a whole host of monarch butterflies among the flowers outside the visitor center after which we managed to creep up on troll number two, Sneaky Socks Alexa, who was waiting to spring a deadly trap.
Further along the path, a heron seemed to be pointing the way to Joe the Guardian who was standing on a hill overlooking the expressway.
I must say that going on this Troll Hunt encouraged us to take paths that we have never trodden before, giving us the opportunity to see familiar scenes from a different perspective.
I’m not sure if troll number four found us or we found her. Furry Ema certainly looked like she was up to no good.
Walking across Daffodil Glade, we saw a tree that looked as though a troll had breathed on it. And it wasn’t too long before we came across number five, Niels Bragger, lurking in the woods.
Little Arturs was easy to spot. He was taking a break in Bobolink Meadow. These 15 to 60 foot giants were created from recycled wood by Danish artist Thomas Dambo, and he has done a fantastic job! The Arboretum hopes to keep them on display through to 2019 depending on how they weather. It will be interesting to see how they stand up to a Chicago-style winter..
Just in time, we were able to catch the last few days of this year’s sculpture exhibition, Origami in the Garden, at the Morton Arboretum last month. These beautiful metal sculptures, created by Kevin and Jennifer Box, are modelled after the art of Origami or paper folding and the Arboretum was the perfect backdrop for this amazing artwork.
Not only did we get to enjoy the art but also some nice autumn scenery, even if the colors weren’t as vibrant this year.
In order to replicate the Origami creations, each sculpture goes through a 35-step, 12-week process of casting in bronze, aluminum or steel.
The turtles are real, but the raptor is another of Kevin Box’s clever creations.
This piece, entitled Double Happiness, shows a pair of nesting cranes which often appear in art as the symbol of companionship and happiness in marriage.
These intricately designed birds appear to be flying away from Meadow Lake.
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.
The topic for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is Gardens and do I have the garden pictures!! Wherever we go on our travels we always look out for a pleasant public garden in which to spend some time and over the years we have found a multitude of gorgeous places. Rather than overload the post with too many images, I’ve narrowed it down to just a few of the more memorable gardens that we’ve visited.
Closest to home is the Chicago Botanic Garden and probably my most favorite spot to sit and look at the flowers is the Circle Garden.
The Frederik Meijer Sculpture Garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan, provides a delightful blend of art and nature.
Although the reason we went to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis was chiefly to see the Chinese Lantern Festival, we went back again to take in everything else that the garden had to offer and it was spectacular!
Another place that really impressed us was the garden at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The perfume in the rose garden was heavenly!
Green Bay Botanical Garden in Wisconsin is another one of my favorites. We have spent many hours wandering around here looking at all the beautiful flowers and plants.
Back to Illinois and the gardens at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Immaculately kept, these gardens are a must-see for anyone visiting the area.
Also in Illinois, Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford is a little different in that it doesn’t have a huge display of flowers but makes up for it with tranquil settings amid lush greenery. Make sure you visit the waterfall and perhaps feed the koi fish swimming in the pool.
For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge visit https://ceenphotography.com/2017/05/23/cees-fun-foto-challenge-gardens/
This week, Cee invites us to post images of sculptures, statues or carvings for her Black & White Photo Challenge. I have quite a large number of statues etc. in the photo files but after my recent post about the hawk I thought I would share some rather more light-hearted pictures of birds.
When, even as a young child, a feather on a pillow would give me screaming fits, I find I can tolerate being close to these kinds of birds; sculptures. This piece, entitled Stork-like Bird, made of wood, steel and copper, was sculpted by Thomas Hill.
This display of avian art was captured indoors and outside in the gardens at the Lee Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin, last year.
The Dance, sculpted by Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein, uses saplings and plastic bags to recreate two giant sandhill cranes, a real flight of fancy, while the diminutive Common Redpoll, carved by Josh Guge, is life-like in every detail.
For more on Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2017/01/12/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-sculptures-statues-carvings-2/
As a prelude to our planned visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville last week, we decided to make a side-trip to nearby North Carolina Arboretum.
Set in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, the facility, which is part of the University of North Carolina, was officially designated as an arboretum in 1989, although the idea for an arboretum near Biltmore was originally conceived by famous landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted in 1898.
The arboretum also includes a beautiful botanic garden and since we only had a limited amount of time to look around, we concentrated our efforts on this area.
To view the Quilt Garden to its best advantage you have to stand on the stone overlook. From there you can easily see the patterns laid out in the flower beds, butterflies being the motif at the time of our visit.
On the far side of the garden is Blue Ridge Court which features a pool and a splendid statue of Frederick Law Olmsted, known as the father of American landscape architecture, sculpted by artist Zenos Frudakis, which was unveiled just two months before our visit.
The Baker Exhibit Center includes a greenhouse and indoor display area. Outside, in the gardens, bees and butterflies are definitely encouraged to stop by.
There was a certain amount of restructuring going on in the garden area and parts of it were inaccessible to visitors but there was still quite a lot to see.
I may have been tempted to wander further afield, down one of the many trails in the arboretum, but after I spotted this sign I figured enough was enough!