My friend Marsha and I had been planning this trip to Columbus, our state capital, for several months now. It didn't start out being on the calendar for June, but different life events prevented us from making the trip until now. That's usually how it is with Marsha and me - we live about 13 miles from each other, yet we only manage to see each other every other month. If we're lucky.
We left Marsha's house around 9:30 and traveled in the TRVL BUG down US 33 to the heart of Columbus, home of beautiful Franklin Park and the Franklin Park Conservatory. The grounds, which encompass 93 acres, have an interesting history:
- 1852 - the first county fair was held
- 1874 - became the official site of the Ohio State Fair
- 1880 - General Sherman gave his "War, it is all hell" speech to a reunion of Civil War veterans
- 1886 - The Ohio State Fair location was moved and Franklin Park was abandoned
- 1895 - The original glass conservatory, modeled after the Glass Palace at The Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, was constructed and opened to the public
- 1927-1929 - Animals were kept in the basement of the Conservatory, and later became part of the first Columbus Zoo
- 1992 - From April until October, AmeriFlora 92 was held on the grounds
- 1994 - The Conservatory became the first in the nation to showcase a seasonal butterfly exhibition: Blooms & Butterflies
- 2003-2004 - The Conservatory was host to a display of Dale Chihuly's works and purchased nearly the entire collection, making the Conservatory the only public botanical garden in the world to house a permanent signature Chihuly collection
I'd seen the original "Chihuly at The Conservatory" exhibit in 2004 and instantly became a fan. At that time, they were selling limited edition Chihuly prints and I bought two, intending to use them in Jenna's room, which we were redecorating at the time. Where are they now? Still in their tubes.
Our first stop, once we entered the conservatory, was the gift shop. Priorities, you know. There weren't many people in there at all, including the two shop employees, and we oohed and ahhed over the wonderful items they had for sale and squealed and giggled as we played with the cute toys they had for kids. Big kids have fun with them, too.
They had triangular prism boxes that we had fun with and then I got an idea to put one in front of my camera lens, just to see if I could take a picture through it:
We both purchased a few things, then hurried over to the Tropical Rainforest, where at 1:00 they were releasing butterflies that had emerged overnight. A docent gave a little information about each butterfly as she released it.
The variety of species fluttering about in that room was quite impressive, not to mention the brilliant colors and markings on some of them. We spent quite a bit of time in there, snapping photo after photo and trying to capture digital images of the beauties. They seemed to taunt us by landing on a flower perch, posing seductively, only to flit away just as we were ready to release the shutter.
The results of my efforts:
I didn't label each butterfly, because I don't know what most of them are, so if anyone knows the name for any of these, I'd appreciate you sharing your knowledge!
While wandering around, I noticed this butterfly hanging upside down, being very still, so I took its picture. I then went around to the other side and took a picture of it from that direction. The difference is amazing, isn't it?
After checking ourselves for hitchhikers, we left the rain forest to explore other areas of the conservatory, as well as stroll around the grounds. The effects of too little rain could be seen here, too, in ragged blooms, small blooms and the lack of blooms.
The hot, dry weather brought out another negative - Japanese Beetles.
We saw them everywhere on just about everything outside. They definitely have a Japanese Beetle issue here and I wonder what they do for control, or if they do anything. With a property this size, I would think it would be quite difficult.
There is a beautiful tribute garden, in the form of a red ribbon of begonias at the foot of a 14-foot bronze sculpture entitled Reach Out. It was done in 1992 by Alfred Tibor, a local sculptor and Holocaust survivor who emigrated to the US in 1957 from Hungary. If you look closely, you can see the hands in the sculpture, right in front of the tree:
As I was getting ready to take a picture of the sculpture itself, I noticed a fluffy white cloud making its way across the sky, so I waited just a bit to take my picture so the hands could 'hold' the cloud.
We walked back into the conservatory to gather up our treasures that we'd purchased at the gift shop and we made a little detour into a room for kids that emphasized recycling. On one wall, there was a mural of butterflies and flowers made of recycled lids.
On opposite end walls, artist Michelle Stitzlein's found object butterfly art was featured and was constructed entirely of recycled materials. Piano keys, chair casters, pop bottle caps, and glass insulators are just a few of the things she used.
There is an extensive collection of orchids housed in the conservatory, though the majority of them are not in bloom at the moment.
Next stop was Oakland Nurseries. I'd researched online to find a nice nursery for us to visit, and this was well worth the stop. They have three stores in the Columbus area and we checked out the Dublin location. Click on the photo below and look closely at the sign that's hanging on the front of their store . . .
Twenty per cent off everything in the store. Oh boy. We could be in big trouble here. But we were good girls and neither of us bought much of anything. Not that we didn't see LOTS of things that tempted us, because we surely did, especially with the reduced prices to sweeten the deal. But we both have children with upcoming weddings, so we can't have everything we want. They sure had some lovely hydrangeas.
I didn't get out of there without buying a hat, though. It is a fairly well-known fact among my family and friends that I have an unusually large head. Thus, I generally can't wear hats because they don't fit and when I find one that does, I look either silly or downright ugly in it. But I found a gardening hat here that actually looked ... well ... good.
After we left the nursery, we stopped at Coldwater Creek, which was just around the corner and was a brand new store of theirs, opened for the first day on Tuesday. I was looking for a dress that I'd seen in their catalog that was a real possibility for me to wear for Jenna's wedding and I wanted to try it on in the store, if possible. They had it, it fit, I liked it, and it was sixty per cent off!
I found a couple of other things, too, and as a grand opening bonus, I got a freshwater pearl necklace and earring set valued at $69.99 for no additional charge. Lovely! As we were leaving the store, the manager said to Marsha, "You're not walking out of here with nothing, are you?" to which Marsha replied, "Yeah, I guess so." The manager walked over and handed her a necklace and earring set, too! Marsha gave her a hug and thanked her. Actually, Marsha probably earned that set, because you know how it is when two women go shopping together - you're bad for each other in a way that men just don't 'get'. Marsha was much worse for me than I was for her this time, though. That free jewelry set was her commission for the sale.
Home was a two plus-hour drive away, but it went by very fast, because Marsha and I never run out of things to talk about. I think it would be this way even if we saw each other every other day instead of every other month. Being with girlfriends is so much fun!