Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Summer Road Trip and Blogging Friends

Every day the news coming out of Washington seems to get worse and worse, and my blood pressure is on an uphill climb.  I could really use some garden therapy!  Nothing like lopping off some dead stems and pulling some weeds to get rid of the frustration of feeling helpless.  But of course, it's much too cold to do anything like that in my garden right now.  Adding to to the doom and gloom are the gray skies which pretty much have been continual lately--sunny days have been few and far between.

Since I can't get out and actually garden, let's do the next best thing--take a virtual tour of some gardens I visited this past summer with a group of fellow Midwest gardeners.

This is the third year that Beth of Plant Postings and I and a few other Midwest blogging friends and gardeners have met up for a day of garden touring.  This year we met in early September at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin. Olbrich contains sixteen acres in the city, just small enough to stroll through the entire garden in the half-day we were there.

We finally had the perfect day--after a scorching hot day the previous year and a cold, rainy day the year before that--with comfortable temperatures and plenty of sunshine to enjoy the variety of garden spaces and diverse plantings.

Before we set off to explore, we were welcomed by the director who gave us a brief history and the mission of the gardens.  Months later, I don't remember her name nor do I remember much about what she told us.  But I do remember being impressed by Olbrich's partnership with the University of Wisconsin and public schools, especially the writing workshops they offer. Can you imagine a better place to sit and be inspired to write?

The Perennial Garden features a mix of conifers, grasses, perennials, and a gentle stream.

One area is devoted mostly to different kinds of grasses.

Although the gardens feature many native plants, tropicals and colorful annuals are also included.

Sometimes a surprise will be waiting around the corner as you walk from one area to another. 

One of the things I enjoy about visiting gardens like this is that I always come away with some new ideas for my own garden.  Annual salvia is one of my favorites, but mixing it with different shades of pink gomphrena, as they did here, adds even more interest.

This Eryngium 'Purple Sheen' also caught my eye.

An unusual plant that also caught all our eyes was this Gomphocarpus Physocarpus, also known as Hairy Balls.  Even if I had the space for this in my garden, I'm not sure I'd want to explain to visitors what it was called:)

One plant I do plan on adding somewhere in my garden this year is Calamint.  You can't tell from this photo but the bees were swarming all over this!  Doing a little research on this plant I discovered it's in the mint family, so I guess I'd better be careful just where I plant it, however, if I don't want it to take over.

The Monarchs were out on this lovely fall day, too, enjoying some tropical milkweed.

The Olbrich Garden is home to the only Thai pavilion in the U.S.  It was a gift from the Thai government to the University of Wisconsin and was built in Thailand, then disassembled and shipped to the U.S. where Thai artisans re-assembled it.

The gold leaf etchings on the ceiling and interior walls are stunning.

The area surrounding the pavilion is planted to resemble an authentic Thai garden.

Of course, visiting a beautiful garden like this is always much more fun when you can share it with other gardening enthusiasts.  Linda of Each Little World and Beth of Plant Postings take a moment to stop in one of the lushly planted gardens.

Friends Beckie and Lisa of Greenbow were my traveling companions and made the drive up to Madison an enjoyable gabfest:)

Blogger Danielle joined our group for the first time this year, and naturally, when gardeners get together, no one is a stranger for very long.  Danielle reminded me not to forget the tactile beauty of plants.

The Olbrich Botanical Gardens is definitely worth a visit if you are in the Madison, Wisconsin area.  After spending the morning here, the six of us had a delicious lunch at a local deli/cafe and spent more time getting acquainted and talking about--what else?--gardening.

After lunch, Linda invited us to see her own garden.  She and her husband have spent the past ten years converting their back yard into a Japanese garden, and all I can say is--Wow!  Their garden deserves more than a few photos here, so I am going to wait till I hopefully have more time to write a whole post about it.  Needless to say, I was entranced by this serene getaway in the middle of suburbia.

Our last stop of the day was at the Wisconsin Arboretum. The Arboretum is concerned with land sustainability and contains the world's oldest restored prairie as well as a small remnant of original prairie.

As a Master Naturalist, Beth volunteers here and introduced us to Susan who is in charge of native plants at the Arboretum.  One of the highlights of our stop here was hearing her talk about the rusty-patched bumblebee, which has recently been put on the Endangered Species list.  This rare bee has been spotted at the Wisconsin Arboretum, one of the few places in the Midwest where it can still be found.

We enjoyed walking the trails through the tall fall-blooming prairie plants, but eventually the mosquitos got the best of us and we decided to call it a day.

I have attended a few of the Garden Bloggers' Flings, which I've thoroughly enjoyed, but these smaller get-togethers are a great way to meet other bloggers within an easy driving distance.  Many thanks to Beth for organizing this day and to Linda for opening her beautiful garden to us.  I'm looking forward to another "Midwest Meet-Up" this summer!