Now we are truly in winter mode in our gardens, which to us northern gardeners means we look back fondly on summer and forward to spring. One thing I also like to do is remember the fabulous gardens I've been fortunate to visit during the past year. One of those is Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
At the end of June, Mom and I, along with friend Sue, spent about four hours there one glorious, although somewhat rainy afternoon. The good thing about going to a place like Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is that someone like me takes a boatload of pictures that I have to go through when I get home. The bad thing about going to a place like Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is that someone like me takes a boatload of pictures that I have to go through when I get home. If you've never visited these unbelievable gardens, your life as a gardener isn't complete. From their website:
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park opened in April 1995 after 13 years of planning and fundraising by the West Michigan Horticultural Society. In 1990, Frederik and Lena Meijer were asked for their support, and they embraced the concept of a major cultural attraction centering around horticulture and sculpture. The original vision has turned into a top cultural destination within the Midwest region, known internationally for the quality of its art and gardens.
I'm not sure I can adequately describe in words or pictures the scope and beauty of this place. As Michigan's second most-visited tourist attraction (Mackinac Island is the first), in May 2009 it was named on of the "Top 30 Must-See Museums" of the world. I had a very hard time choosing what to tell and what to show here in one blog post. That's why it has taken me so long to finally post this. For every photo you see here, there are five more on my hard drive. I just couldn't stop taking them.
As Mom, Sue and I roamed around the 132 acres of beauty and inspiration, there was just one ooh and ahh moment after another. I could have spent all day and then some, exploring the gardens, conservatory, and sculpture park. It is recommended that you spend at least four hours to see everything and state on their website that it can take up to eight. For me, it could take eighteen.
Here we go...
You don't have to go outside to see beautiful plant life...
The welcome center itself is a work of art. Those are bronze insets in the floor.
Note the Chihuly "chandelier."
The cafeteria ceiling features Chihuly glass in shades of orange...
...as well as gorgeous blues and greens.
Wish I could remember what these fabulous lavender flowers are.
As you enter the gardens from the welcome center, you are greeted by this beautiful water feature.
There are many areas left to be decorated by nature.
I saw my first Cedar Waxwing, up close and personal here!
This smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria) caught the attention of everyone who passed by it.
Why can't I grow my Hakone Grass (Hakonechloa macra) lush and full like this? Oh yeah...seven cats who think it's delicious.
Marguerite Daisy (Argyranthemum frutescens 'Butterfly Yellow')
Clematis tangutica 'Golden Tiara'
Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana)
Michigan's Farm Garden
There is a 1930s style farmstead, with a home that is a three-quarter scale 1880s reproduction of Lena Meijer's childhood farm home.
The garden grows many heirloom vegetables and flowers - open-pollinated for over 50 years.
The barn is original (moved to this location) and over one hundred years old. The windmill is the original from Lena Meijer's family farm.
Scenes from the Conservatory
Frederick Meijer Gardens is home to the largest tropical conservatory in the state of Michigan.
The Tropical Conservatory has colorful birds flying about. In March and April, they are home to the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibit in the nation.
The Arid House
Five Meerkats by Tom Hillis
The Children's Garden
Sculptures in the Children's Garden
Pennisetum glaucum 'Jester '
Here's one annual I'll be growing next year! (Salpiglossis sinuata)
This scarecrow was about a foot tall.
Beautiful (and fragrant!) flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata)
These are the five great lakes and children can start a boat floating from Lake Superior and watch it make its way through all the lakes.
Great use was made of Allium sphaerocephalon. Because of this, I added even more of these to our gardens this fall.
Another fabulous Allium - Allium sphaerocephalon 'Hair'
The Sculpture Park
Male/Female by Jonathan Borofsky
When viewed from a 90-degree angle in either direction, this sculpture appears to be a male.
I, You, She or He by Jaume Plensa
Listening to History by Bill Woodrow
"The American Horse" by Nina Akamu