This week, the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is big, really big! Not only big but beautiful too, as Tina’s wonderful images show, here at BIG Can Be Beautiful Too!. It’s a strange thing but despite my life-long fear of birds, I’ve discovered over the years that I am far less afraid of large birds than I am smaller ones. This enabled me to get surprisingly close to a pair of sandhill cranes in Wausau, Wisconsin recently. They didn’t seem to be afraid of me either so things worked out very nicely.
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/
The topic for the Weekly Photo Challenge is Liquid and comes fortuitously for me as you will see, later in this post. Water can have a very calming effect and, with everything that’s happening in the world today, we could all use a few moments of tranquility to reflect, which is why, instead of heaving seas, raging rivers and tumbling waterfalls, I’ve opted for more peaceful scenes. The first two images were captured in Snowy Range Pass, Wyoming.
The next two pictures were taken at Sylvan Lake and Palisades State Park, South Dakota, perfect places to sit and meditate.
Wisconsin also has some very scenic spots in which to enjoy some relaxation time.
These gently rippling waters lead me to an opportunity to share a link with you that I sincerely hope you will try. My eldest grandson, someone of whom I have written about in several of my previous posts has recently started a podcast called Exit The Echoes. I cannot say enough good things about this young man, who recently became a father for the first time, and I am more than happy to give this new venture a mention here on WordPress. The subject of his latest episode seemed to fit in so well with the pictures that I had in mind for this post, so please, if you can, spare a few minutes of your time to listen to Meditation: Ripples And Echoes and I’m sure you will enjoy his liquid tones.
These last two pictures were taken at Whitefish Point, Michigan and Council Grounds, Wisconsin.
For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Liquid
Those of you who follow my posts regularly are aware that it’s highly unlikely that I will knowingly or willingly go inside anywhere where birds are flying about. I had a suspicion that there might be birds in The Domes at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park but we had made the trip specifically to visit there and thankfully the domes are so huge that, after poking my head round the door to make sure it was safe, it became apparent that any winged inhabitants were, at least for the time being, staying well out of the way.
That’s not to say that I wasn’t very much aware that there were birds nearby. I could hear them. But there was just so much to see and photograph in The Desert Dome that after a while I became a lot less nervous.
The Desert Dome was the last of three conservatories to be completed at Mitchell Park and was opened to the public in 1967. Cacti and succulents from Madagascar, South America, Africa, Mexico and the American Southwest are featured in appropriate settings and the variety of plants in this dome is simply astounding.
Despite keeping a wary eye open for any birds that might be about, there were thankfully no close encounters. Does that mean that I would cheerfully enter an enclosed space where there are birds flying free in the future. It’s extremely unlikely, but never say never.
For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Unlikely
It’s been a long time since we last visited The Domes in Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park, Wisconsin, but with the better weather now upon us, we thought we’d take a drive up there and see how things are doing.
First, a little bit of history and a few facts and figures. The Domes were designed by Milwaukee architect Donald L. Grieb, and the first of the three domes, The Show Dome, was completed in 1964. First lady Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated the facility to the people of Wisconsin in 1965. Each dome is 140ft across and 85ft high and has 2,200 triangular panes of glass. No pesticides are used on the plants inside the domes so beneficial birds, insects and toads are used to keep things under control.
The theme for the Show Dome is changed five times a year and it’s usually closed for about two weeks in order to prepare for each show, so make sure you check ahead of time before you visit to make sure it’s up and running. I didn’t think about that before we left home, but we were lucky in our timing. The current theme is Shakespearean with famous quotes from many of his works dotted around the displays.
The colors were brilliant and the perfume from the lilies was intoxicating! These shows may last anything up to fourteen weeks so they require constant attention. The plants are watered by hand every day and are changed out as needed.
Tucked away, in a shady area of the Show Dome is an interesting piece of history. This stone lion was one of eight animal heads that stood watch over the Mitchell Park Sunken Garden and Water Mirror from 1904 to 1966. I’m glad they managed to save him from demolition. I must say that Mitchell Park itself is looking very run-down now compared to how it looked when we visited many years ago but I imagine keeping The Domes looking as impressive as they do must take a lot of funding and the focus has obviously shifted over the years from the outdoor gardens to these magnificent conservatories.
That being said, unfortunately, the future of The Domes seems uncertain. The park’s website has a page dedicated to forthcoming plans and it would seem that they are asking everyone to keep an open mind as far as options for going forward with regard to repairing and rebuilding, which, reading between the lines, doesn’t sound too promising. So I would urge you to visit The Domes now and enjoy this amazing facility and, if possible, show your support for one of Milwaukee’s most beautiful attractions.
More on what’s under the other two domes in an upcoming post.
Sunrise and Sunset. To be quite honest I haven’t seen too many of either, especially the sunrise, or at least, not photogenic ones. And it seems like we’ve been given this topic as a challenge so many times that I’ve exhausted my supply of images on that subject. Luckily, the few that I have seen have been well documented and although I have used these scenes before, each of the following views is slightly different from the pictures I have shown previously.
Included in this selection; sunset from our garden – sunset in Oglesby, Illinois – sunrise on the road in Nebraska – sunset over a smoky Salt Lake City after the wildfires in California – sunrise in Lowell, Indiana – sunrise from Mackinaw City, Michigan – sunset from Mackinaw City, Michigan and sunrise (or sometime a little after) in Ashland, Wisconsin.
For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Rise/Set
We rarely go to places where there is total silence. In our immediate area, if there isn’t the sound of airplanes passing overhead then you can hear busy traffic on a nearby road or trains hooting and clanging as they make their way along the tracks. So it makes a welcome break to go anywhere where the only thing you can hear is the wind rustling through the leaves or the birds twittering in the trees. That, for us, is comparative silence. Here are just a few of the places where we have enjoyed such a respite from the daily clatter of life.
Wasatch National Forest near Alta in Utah.
Antelope Island near Salt Lake City in Utah.
Off-season at Heritage Hill State Historical Park in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Snowy Range scenic byway in Laramie, Wyoming.
For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Silence
This week, Krista has suggested the subject Weathered for the Weekly Photo Challenge and looking through the photo files I found several interesting subjects in Wisconsin that had been exposed to the elements to good effect.
The side of a barn at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle.
A weathered gravestone in St Michael’s Cemetery.
Remnants of the old lumber steamer ‘Mueller’ on display at George K Pinney County Park Harbor of Refuge.
Rocks at the Dells of Eau Claire in Plover, worn smooth by weather, water from the falls and the feet of thousands of visitors who have scrambled over them, have been dated at about 1.8 billion years old according to Wikipedia.
For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Weathered
Not to be confused with the Wisconsin Dells which are 100 miles south of Plover, the Dells of the Eau Claire County Park in Marathon County, Wisconsin, are spectacular. Divided in two by the Eau Claire River, the Dells offer an abundance of beautiful scenic views and plenty of opportunities for nature photography.
We spent the day wandering along woodland trails and clambering over rocks some of which have been dated at about 1.8 billion years old.
Our granddaughter likes to help find things for me to photograph and did an excellent job of spotting several interesting fungi, a toad and a caterpillar. In fact she had me taking pictures of practically every leaf, mushroom, acorn and pinecone that we came across. Thank goodness for digital photography! I don’t know how many rolls of film I would have used, otherwise.
There are several spots along the river where, if you are agile enough, you can climb onto the rocks that jut out into the water. It’s amazing what you can do if you want to get a picture badly enough!
I can highly recommend a visit to this park if you are ever in the Plover area of Wisconsin. I think you’ll find it well worthwhile.
Nancy Merrill has suggested Moving Waters as the theme for her Photo A Week Challenge this week and, looking through the archives, I realized I had quite a few images that might fit the bill.
Pictured above, Copper Falls State Park near Mellen in northern Wisconsin.
A fish ladder on the Grand River in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park near Paradise, Michigan.
The fountains at Brookfield Zoo, Illinois. A refreshing sight on a hot day.
For more on Nancy’s A Photo A Week Challenge go to A Photo a Week: Moving Waters