Monday, December 14, 2009

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park - A Summer Visit

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... well as gorgeous blues and greens.

I love this!

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 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.

Asiatic Lily

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

There are over 160 sculptures on the grounds of Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. I've identified those that I can. Other identifications are welcomed and will be added as received.

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

Spider by Louise Bourgeois

Aria by Alexander Liberman

Disc in the Form of a Desert Rose by Arnaldo Pomodoro

"The American Horse" by Nina Akamu

For the best description of what the gardens and sculpture park have to offer, I'll refer you to their website.

Fellow blogger, Monica (Garden Faerie), has also posted about her visit to the gardens during this holiday season. Be sure to have a look!


Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Kylee, love your summer take on the gardens. Also love how we have very few photos in common! I've now linked to your entry. :)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What wonderful relief from this dull grey day. Your photos are remarkable. I love the watering can display. I am surprised that there is a monkey tree there. I wonder if they take it inside during winter? The Great Lakes exhibitis a good teaching tool. Gosh you could learn the lakes and not even know you were learning. It looks like such fun.The hourse at the end looks more like the Trojan Horse than the American Horse. Every large garden should have a horse in it. This post just made my day seem so bright.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Forgot to mention, I love cedar waxwings and had never seen one until this year, either, but not at Meijer. Did you happen to pick up their brochure "Take Flight with Birds"? it shows what birds are likely to hang out where int he gardens (incl. the conservatory).

Shawna Lee Coronado said...

Oh. My. God. The most beautiful gardens ever. I love the photo of your mother against the ivy. Makes me think of her smiling face and kind heart. :-)


Shawna Coronado

Nutty Gnome said...

Thank you for taking us on such a fantastic tour - I love those 5 meerKats!

I planted a smoke tree this spring - I hope mine ends up as glorious as that one :)

garden girl said...

What a wonderful place Kyle - another garden to add to the long list for future visits! Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos!

Melanie J Watts said...

lovely photos, nice change from the snowey frozen landscape outside my window. It would be fun to visit those gardens one day.

Andrew said...

And now that I've seen a monkey puzzle tree growing in Michigan, you know I'm going to have to find some way to grow one here. :-) Thanks for all the photos.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

What a great place to visit. Thanks for sharing it. I liked that watering can art work and oh my, that Chihuly!

Stone Art's Blog said...

Lovley pictures, looks like a fun place. I love sculpture gardens, what fun places thay are, its like being a kind again. Nice blog:)

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