When last I wrote, Gentle Reader, I was regaling you with tales of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, where the flowers are now in bloom and spring is in the air (intermittently, anyway). The Arboretum is in the middle of its annual Dallas Blooms festival, which will continue until April 13 (mostly on the weekends), so this is a great time to visit the place and get to know all 66 rolling acres.
You’re going to see quite a few images in this entry — probably more than I’ve ever included in a single entry before. The thing is, the place is big, there’s a lot to see, and I took photos like a madman. What I’m going to include here is just a fraction of the number I took, and I was pretty selective with those. That’s just how incredible the Arboretum is. I’m kicking myself already for not going last year, and I know for a fact I’ll visit later this spring, assuming I can find a way to keep cool. I’ve got to see all those roses in bloom, and the azaleas too.
One thing I didn’t get to last time was the little Texas prairie town display, which includes kid-sized versions of various frontier structures, from homes and businesses to a church. Here’s what it looks like.
In addition to the wood-frame structures, they had a genuine life-sized sod house (not very big), a covered wagon, and a teepee, as immortalized in these two shots.
One thing that I found touching about the Arboretum is the fact that it’s considered the go-to place for brides to be photographed in. That had never occurred to me before my visit. I saw no less than three beautiful brides while I was wandering about, and I’m sure there were others I missed, as I didn’t exactly made a systematic survey of the place. I have no idea if the ladies were married here, but come to think of it, this would be a superlative location for an outdoor ceremony. I did see a few bridesmaids here and there, but not grooms or proud parents. Hell, for all I know, these were photo shoots for Bride magazine. Here’s one lovely lady now:
Now, I make no pretense of being an artiste of any kind, but besides the standard “here-we-are” shots I took of the general proceedings, I tried to get up close and personal with a few good shots of the flowers and plants themselves. This first one is a slightly-aged tulip that’s “blown” — i.e., its petals are starting to droop. At this point, it looks more like a hibiscus or an antique rose. I like the way the blue flowers in the background accent the image.
Next up are a couple of flowers that look like giant poppies, but probably aren’t. There were yellow ones, too, but these were red. Whenever I look at this picture, I can’t help but think of the haunting poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lt. Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian medic who was killed in action toward the end of World War I. This poem is the reason the VFW commemorates the fallen with little artificial poppies.
Here’s another photo I’m fond of, this time an image through the gnarled trees lining one winding path.
I’ve mentioned before how impressed I was by the mix of open park spaces (perfect for picnics), structures, fountains, statuary, fountains, art, and the like. Here are three images of different park areas, all of which included a variety of structures, including, in the last image, a lovely gazebo. The top image shows by far the largest park, at the north end of the Arboretum (I think); the long, rambling building in the background is mostly used for Botanical Society offices.
Then there was this thatched cottage, a smaller replica of the twelve-room house in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, where William Shakespeare’s wife Ann Hathaway once lived. It was thatched with real thatch, over a quarter-million strands of it, by one of the few remaining professional thatchers in the world.
Of course, I’m a sucker for art, too. And fountains. Here’s something that includes both, a water feature consisting of four giant frogs, each set in the corner of a square, spitting water toward the center. Needless to say, the kids love it.
Over near the entrance, as I was completing my tour, I found these last two items. First, there’s the topiary group: here you see two cattle and a huge lone star. There were also a couple of topiary horses, all very well done.
Finally, there’s this: probably my favorite human-made thing in the whole Arboretum, though of course there was so much more I loved. This statue is called “Trash or Treasure?”, and it’s made of a combination of real cardboard, resin, and fiberglass. It just floored me. I don’t have the $8,000 to purchase it, but at least I can give the artist, Karen Garrett, a little free publicity and my kudos.
What you see here, and what I have the time and room to discuss, are all just a small portion of what you’ll find at the Dallas Arboretum. I highly recommend visiting at least once while you’re here, and coming again whenever you can. In the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back.”
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is located at 8525 Garland Road in Dallas. Parking is $5 per vehicle (though you can get valet parking for $10). The facility is open every day from 9 AM-5 PM, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day; but of course you’ll get your greatest value from spring through early fall. The ticket price for adults is $8; for seniors, $7 (65+); $5 for kids up to age 12; and free for kids under 2. Seniors can get in for $5 on Thursdays.
For more information, check out their website at http://www.dallasarboretum.org/.