October 22-31, 2004: Our Fall Trip to Florida
September 18-20, 2004: A Visit With Ted and Judy
Return to Index for 2004

October 3, 2004
A Visit to the Arboretum


It's Fall at the Arboretum, and a nice warm day, so Fred and I have had some breakfast and have come over to the Dallas Arboretum to enjoy the Fall displays. It seems that each year the Arboretum does a different series of displays throughout the gardens, and this year it is gigantic insects constructed of wood. These have been placed strategically throughout the Arboretum, and we hope to see all of them as we tour through the gardens.


The Dallas Arboretum


The Dallas Arboretum is not too far from where I live over on Inwood- I'd guess about six or seven miles as the crow flies (see the map opposite)- but you can't get there as the crow flies because White Rock Lake is in the way. So you can either go through town and wind your way around the south end of the lake or you can take Mockingbird over around the north side of the lake. Which way you go depends on traffic, but, since we were coming from the Original Pancake House on Northwest Highway, we could take that right across town and come into the Arboretum from the same direction as from Mockingbird.

White Rock Lake is where one of the long bike trails is, and we have biked around it numerous times.

In this closer view, you can see the south end of White Rock Lake and you can pick out the bike trail that hugs the lake shore almost all the way around. At the south end is White Rock Lake Dam and spillway, which takes the overflow water and sends it under Garland Road to continue on down to the Trinity River.

The bike path used to cross the top of the dam, but for one reason or another, the bike path was rerouted a year ago, and now it goes through some parkland and playing fields south of the dam, across the spillway, up Garland Road for a ways, and then back north along the lake shore.

You can also see a closer view of the Arboretum in this picture, and can begin to pick out some of the pathways through the gardens.

Finally, in this close-up of the Arboretum itself, you can see most of the major features- including the parking area just off Garland Road, the new administrative buildings, the restaurant and gift shop (all right near the parking lot) and, off in the middle of the gardens, the DeGolyer house (the former residence of the family that donated the land for the Arboretum to the Arboretum Society.

You can also see the maze of pathways that criss-cross the gardens.

I don't suppose it's particularly important that you know exactly where we were in the Arboretum when each picture was taken, but I have obtained a current map of the Arboretum (see below), and for the major stops that we made I'll put a copy of this map and mark with a little blue star where we were at the moment. This way, you can get an idea of the layout of the gardens and have an appreciation for just how far you can wander around. Membership in the Arboretum has been one of the best investments we've made, for it is always a joy to go there.


The Fern Grotto


We entered the Arboretum and turned to walk through the Plaza (where the cafe, gift shop, lecture halls and offices are) towards the walkway down to the Fern Grotto. On the way, we passed some of the flower displays that always grace that area and which change with the seasons.

Then, it was down the walkway to the Fern Grotto and the first of the huge wooden insects. The Fern Grotto has a misting system, since, particularly in the summer, the ferns and other plants have to be kept moist. We arrived just after the misters had gone off and the grotto was full of cool mist to see a huge dragonfly emerging from the mist. The sculpture was positioned squarely over the artificial stream that runs through the grotto. As the mist subsided, the dragonfly appeared, and when the mist had totally evaporated you had an excellent view of the finely-detailed six-foot insect.


The Main Lawn


We walked through the Fern Grotto to the other end, and then out onto the main lawn of the Arboretum. The main lawn is actually two large sections. The western section is surrounded by azaleas on one side and the Fern Grotto on the other; this is Fall, so the azaleas are not blooming. The eastern section has azaleas on one side, and the Women's Garden and DeGolyer House on the other. We didn't go down into the Women's Garden today as there was not much blooming there.

Out on the lawn, the main Fall display consists of mums and ornamental cabbage and other similar cool-weather plants. The mums always make a nice backdrop, and we used them for pictures of each other. Here is one of Fred on the main lawn and here is one that Fred took of me near the DeGolyer House.

Right by the steps up to the DeGolyer House patio was an area planted with ornamental cabbage, and in the center of that planting was the second of the large wooden insects- a huge grasshopper. The grasshopper seemed to be about eight feet long; you could get closer to it than to the dragonfly we saw earlier. The woodworking was really amazing.


The Performance Lawn


The main attraction over on the performance lawn (it is actually an open-air bandshell) were the huge wooden ants. There were two of them, and it was appropriate to put them here because this is where everyone comes for picnics. We took quite a number of pictures of them; here are thumbnails for six of them. Just click on the thumbnails to view the full-size pictures:


The Koi Pond and Waterfall Garden


The back part of the Arboretum is always nice to visit. One of the reasons is the really nice series of waterfalls that has been built here. There are lots of hanging plants and the waterfalls (there are three of them) make beautiful curtains. Together with the plants, its like something you might imagine Babylon to have been.

There is also a series of interconnected ponds here, bordered by horsetails and full of koi or goldfish. Most of them are fairly small, although I know the koi can get quite large. Positioned over the koi pond was the next of the gigantic insects- this one another dragonfly. This one seemed simpler or less ornate than the one in the Fern Grotto. Here's a picture Fred took of me at the koi pond.


The Main Walkway


We left the back garden and followed the main walkway through the center of the Arboretum back towards the entrance plaza. Along the way, there were two of the huge wooden insects. I actually can't tell you what the first one was supposed to be; it didn't look like a spider, but it didn't look like anything else familiar, either. Take a look here and maybe you can figure it out.

There was also a praying mantis in the middle of a mum display, and this insect was really intricate. There are three thumbnails below for the pictures we took of it; click on the thumbnails to see the pictures:

Just near the entrance, Fred spotted a real, live insect going about its business.


There are many other areas to the gardens that we didn't take pictures of today, but in other visits, at different times of the year, you'll see those areas in all their glory.

October 22-31, 2004: Our Fall Trip to Florida
September 18-20, 2004: A Visit With Ted and Judy
Return to Index for 2004