Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Lake denton, WI - Events of Tuesday, July 26, 2011
We are both big fans of botanical bardens, so when Margery found Olbrich Botanical Gardens about an hour southeast of Lake Delton in Madison, WI, we decided to take a day trip to check it out.
Michael Olbrich was a lawyer living in Madison who had a vision to establish a park for the benefit of Madison's citizens. In the 1920s, Olbrich bought land at the northeastern end of Lake Monona and began working with the city on plans for a park, the centerpiece of which was to be a botanical garden. When Olbrich died in 1929, the city continued with his plans and named the park in Olbrich's honor. The botanical gardens weren't added to the park until 1952.
We arrived at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens around 11:00 AM, and it was already quite crowded. In spite of the fact that school is out, there were three or four school busses there (day camp charters perhaps?). In addition to the outdoor gardens, there is the Boltz Conservatory which features "Bloomin' Butterflies" from July 13 through August 7 where there are free-flying butterflies among the tropical plants. Most of the kids were in the conservatory to see the butterflies. Since the conservatory was crowded (there was a long line waiting to get in), since it was hot and humid in the conservatory, since the conservatory costs $5 during Bloomin' Butterflies (admission to the conservatory at other times is only $1), and since the gardens are free, we decided to skip the conservatory and just visit the gardens.
The gardens are beautiful. The photo below shows an attractive seating area near the visitor center.
Just because most of the kids were in the conservatory didn't mean the gardens themselves weren't crowded, too. We arrived right behind a large tour bus, and ran into their guided tour right at the first garden path. We bypassed the group and ducked into the shade garden, but they caught up to us.
We tried a another couple of garden areas along the main path, but every time we stopped for photos, the bus tour caught up with us. We finally headed down a side trail to the Rock Garden, and the bus tour went straight. Horray! The Rock Garden features Alpine plants, conifers and a waterfall.
We followed the narrow path to the top of the "mountain"...
...where we found a robin bathing in the pool at the top of the waterfall.
With the bus tour now well ahead of us, we could continue enjoying the garden at our own pace. The paths that connect the different garden areas are lined with gorgeous views of blooming plants and contrasting textures of foliage.
A small side path led to two Adirondack chairs, which made for an attractive vignette with the soft, ornamental grass and the bright daylilies.
The daylilies were in full bloom. You can see them blooming in some of the above photos, and below is a closer view of just a few of the many varieties we saw.
We just about caught up with the bus tour again, so we made a left into the Perennial Garden where an artificial stream wound through the landscape.
From the Perrennial Garden, we headed to the Thai Pavillion. The Thai Pavilion was a gift from the Thai government to the Thai Chapter of the University of Wisconsin Alumni Association, who, in turn, gave the pavilion to the city to be put on display in Olbrich Botanical Gardens. This is the only pavilion of its type in the continental United States.
The garden behind the pavilion was lush and beautiful.
From the Thai Pavilion, we went on the the Rose Garden. The roses were well past their peak, but the Rose Garden still has plenty to see like an attractive limestone fountain that was enhanced by planters full of annuals.
Another feature of the Rose Garden is a prairie-style viewing tower...
...where you can get nice views of the Rose Garden and the fountain in front of the tower.
We passed through the Event Garden on our way back to the visitor center. This is where weddings and other special events are held.
We also passed by some huge hibiscus...
...and topiary bears having a picnic lunch.
We really enjoyed our visit to Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Below are just a few of the beautiful flowers we saw.
The Olbrich Botanical Gardens are very well designed and the plantings are beautiful. Ane the best thing is it was free.
We stopped at Qdoba in Madison for lunch on our way back to the motor home. We then had a couple of days without any sightseeing scheduled, which was a good thing because we had a little rain. We took advantage of the break to download and catalog photographs and to catch up on our blog. From Lake Delton, we headed to the upper peninsula of Michigan.