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!

35 comments:

  1. Oh it was a blast. I so enjoyed this look at the mini fling we attended. It is fun to see how each of us looked at the same spaces. I always see in other photos things I didn't notice at the time or it brings to mind something I didn't get a photo of and wish I had. Those long drives are much shortened with a good gab session. :)

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    1. I agree, Lisa, it was such a wonderful day. I love seeing such fantastic gardens in our area, and the great company makes it so much better! At least Siri didn't go along for the ride this year, ha:)

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  2. That was such a wonderful day and it makes me warm just looking at those pictures. I love seeing a place like Olbrich, which I am familiar with, through someone else's eyes. I think I need to find that Eryngium. I remember being taken with it but had forgotten all about it. As for that Calamintha, the one they grow is very specific and does not run or reseed. The one you want is Calamintha nepeta v. nepeta. And we've actually been working on our garden almost 20 years. We had a 10 year plant but kept going!

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    1. Thank you so much, Linda, for the name of the specific cultivar of Calamintha to buy. I have enough re-seeders in my garden already, so I don't want to add one more:) And thanks for correcting me on how long you have been working on your garden: as I sat down to write this post, I realized I didn't remember too many specifics about anything that day. But I do remember how entranced I was by your garden--I hope to do a post sometime before spring showing some of the photos I took of it. Thank you again for sharing it with us!

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  3. Yes, I echo the thoughts of Lisa and Linda. Such a fun day, and it is truly a joy to see gardens we visit and adore through the eyes and cameras of fellow gardeners and plant enthusiasts. Roberta Sladky is the director of Olbrich--it was so kind of her and Susan Carpenter at the Arboretum to share some background information on their facilities. I'm looking forward to Chicago in 2017! Cheers!

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    1. And thank you, Beth, for organizing it all! It was fun going through pictures of such colorful blooms on a gloomy winter day, but the disadvantage is that I had forgotten so much, including names. The only reason I could remember the names of a couple plants here is that I took photos of the i.d. tags:) I really appreciated the info that Roberta and Susan gave us; I was really impressed with the programs at both places.

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  4. What a nice time you ladies spent together! Thanks for the clear pics, Rose and tour of the gardens. I especially liked the teddy bear's picnic!

    Looking forward to seeing some photos of the Japanese garden - what a nice undertaking! My hat off to Linda and her hubby.

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    1. It really is so much fun to share these tours with fellow garden enthusiasts, Wendy. Even if we've just met, there's never a shortage of things to talk about:) Linda's garden was amazing--I hope I can sit down and do a post just on it one of these days.

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  5. Hello Rose! Been away from blogging but now back! Lovely visiting my long time blogging friends again! Thank you for this lovely garden tour! Some of the names I know! Oh my loved the teddy bear sculputured greenery in one photo! Nice to pop by! Hugs

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    1. Isn't that Teddy Bear topiary cute? It was hidden away as we rounded a corner, and I don't think everyone in our group even saw it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. What a wonderful trip! And now I almost feel as if I had been there with you. Thank you for sharing it.

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    1. Thanks, Dorothy. It was nice to go through some colorful flower photos during these cold and gloomy days.

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  7. A virtual tour was really uplifting!
    Those teddies are amazing!
    Maggie x

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Maggie. I do love topiaries like the Teddy bears, but I could never make one of these myself:)

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  8. You have had nice time in such wonderful garden, Rose, haven't you? It's a pleasure to come back to these moments, to recollect your blogging friends. I liked Calamint too, I will find out what zone it is for. Hugs!

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    1. I've enjoyed meeting several blogging friends over the years, Nadezda. Every one of them has been just as nice as they seemed in their blogs,too. Note Linda's comment on the Calamint--I'm definitely looking for the cultivar that doesn't re-seed.

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  9. Wow! What fun to meet up with fellow enthusiasts and tour gardens! Linda's garden looks like a gem. I can't wait until you show it!

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    1. I need to sit down and just do a post about Linda's garden before I forget about it, Tina. Walking into her back yard was like walking into another world--just beautiful!

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  10. What a great place to visit Rose, made even better when there are garden blogging friends to share it with. I've just met up with some to go snowdrop peeping - the perfect antidote to the news and the winter blues :)

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    1. Snowdrop peeping sounds like a great way to lift the spirits, VP!

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  11. Wonderful garden, with joy I walked after him. It can also be I did see the butterfly :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Giga! I am looking forward to more trips like this as soon as it warms up.

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  12. Wow !! Such a wonderful place to visit, Rose !! Nice to watch all these beautiful plant !!
    You had a nice time with friends !!
    Greetings

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    1. Thanks, Ela. Yes, I do enjoy the company of blogging friends as much as seeing the gardens themselves.

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  13. These gardens are beautiful and you have captured them so well. I am glad I came across your blog. It's always nice to see garden bloggers get together and the virtual views are delightful. This is eye candy as there are 15 inches of snow on the ground here on Long Island! Have a great weekend!

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    1. Thanks, Lee. It has been so much fun getting to know Beth, and I'm glad we've been able to get together with other somewhat local bloggers as well. Wow, on the snow! We haven't had more than an inch or two all winter, and I actually miss it.

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  14. Hello Rose
    I think I've timed my visit to your blog very well!
    As I look out of the window the snow is coming down in my part of the UK, and temperature's are quite cool!

    So, it was so lovely to see all of your photo's here of a gorgeous summer and lovely plants and flowers.
    Thank you

    Enjoy your weekend

    All the best Jan

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    1. You may have had more snow than we have had this winter, Jan! It's been a strange winter, and I'd like just one big snowfall before spring comes.

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  15. Judy and I are so sorry we missed this gathering. We used to live in Madison and love Olbrich! This year we have to meet in downtown Chicago to see the Lurie Garden!

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    1. So sorry you missed this, too, Jason. The Lurie sounds like a fabulous place to meet up this summer! I haven't been there in years.

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  16. Such a great tour you took us on with you and the other bloggers. The places and gardens you visited are lovely. It was also a nice idea for those from the Midwest to get together like that. I was wondering where Jason was, but I see in the comment above he missed it.

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    1. It's been fun to meet up with other bloggers on these one-day trips, Donna. I enjoy the Flings, but you really get to know people better in a smaller group like this. Yes, Jason and Judy joined us last year, but finding a time for everyone to get together each year isn't easy.

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  17. I like the idea of getting together with a small group of bloggers. It would be easier to really get to know one another. While Calamintha is part of the mint family, it doesn't spread like mad. In fact it is one of my favourite late summer flowers, and as you noticed, it is really popular with bees. Love the etching on the Thai pavilion and Linda's garden looks amazing! Would like to see more pictures of her garden if you have them. I also liked the Eryngium 'Purple Sheen'. I have only ever seen blue Eryngiums.

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  18. What a wonderful time you had, Rose!! (Jealous, jealous!) :-) And this is the time of year to relish the memories!

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  19. Gorgeous photos. I was particularly smitten with the stream photo. a perfect mixture of conifers, grass and large leaves. the texture is very eye catching. Even though I live in Canada the politics of the states is raising my blood pressure too these days. We must take time for ourselves though to keep our sanity. Gardens are perfect for that.

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