October 4-7, 2005: A Visit to Guy in Green Bay
September 8-16, 2005: A Trip to Florida
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September 24, 2005
A Visit to the Dallas Arboretum


Today was a beautiful day, actually quite warm for late September, and so thought to invite Tom Harris and John Evans to go with us to the Arboretum. As it turned out, Tom was at some sort of political meeting or out of town (I forget which), but John was free, so we had some breakfast and then headed over to the Arboretum. They had just gotten set up for their traditional Halloween-themed month, and we thought we'd take a look before all the pumpkins were gone.


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.

Fred enjoys very much taking pictures of various flora in the gardens. Sometimes, he wants to record what something is, so he'll take a picture of the sign and the flower or plant. Other times, it's just the beauty of the specimen that catches his eye. I would like for you to see many of these pictures, so I've grouped them according to the major stops we made and will occasionally put a matrix of thumbnails for you to click on to see the full-sized images. Today, Fred was on a mission to capture as many insects on flowers as he could, so that will be a theme of many of his pictures. Fred is very good at floral and plant pictures, so I hope you will look at a lot of them and enjoy the beauty of both the plant and Fred's artistry in taking the pictures. I have no ideal what most of the plants are, so if you want to know, you will just have to ask the expert.


The Koi Pond


We arrived at the Arboretum shortly after lunch, parked, and came in through the Member's Entrance. This put us in the administration area, where the offices, gift shop, restaurant and some other buildings are.

Here, there are lots of potted and in-ground plants, kind of an introduction to what you will see in the gardens at that particular season. While we were here, I took a picture of John and Fred near the gift shop, and Fred got a picture of the plantings near the restaurant.

There are an infinite number of routes through the gardens, of course, so we just picked one and started off. Our route took us down by the end of the plaza where the restaurant is, and then down into the gardens towards the fern grotto. Here, there is a bridge where the artificial stream that runs through the shady fern area. In the summer, the ferns and other plants suited to shady, moist areas are lush, and there are misters that keep them looking that way.

The small stream ends in a fairly large Koi pond, and we stopped here to take some pictures. Fred got a number of pictures of the Koi fish in the pond, and you can look at the full-sized images by clicking on the thumbnails below:


The Azalea Garden


A little ways past the Koi pond is the azalea garden and the main lawn. This isn't the season for azaleas, so the Arboretum plants more seasonal color to take its place and also relies on some of the plants that do bloom in the Fall to add color to this part of the garden. Here are John and I with some of the Fall-blooming plants in this part of the garden.

Along the way through this part of the garden, Fred was patient enough and lucky enough to catch some of the bees and butterflies doing their work pollinating the plants. Be sure to take a look at both of the full-size images by clicking on the thumbnails below; these are really nice pictures.


The Women's Garden


The Women's Garden is a relatively new addition to the Arboretum; it was completed only a year or so ago, and is now one of the nicest spots in the entire garden. One of the best features of the Women's Garden is the terraced waterfall that leads from the entry to the Women's Garden off the main lawn down into the area where the reflecting pool is. This is the most formal of the fountains in the Arboretum, and it one where quite a few people toss coins in. Here, I'm estimating the current coin value.

Below are a couple of thumbnails that you can click on to see full-size images of some of the plants in the Women's Garden:


The Test Garden and Camp House


Much of the land for the Arboretum was given to Dallas by the DeGolyer Family, who had lived in a large house on this property; you can see that house in the approximate center of the gardens. It is now something of a museum, with many of the furnishings still in it that the DeGolyer's used. There was another house on the property as well- the Camp house- seen here through the trees as we walk towards it from the Women's Garden. It is now used as more of an administrative building, but it is also available for weddings and other functions.

Just near the Camp House there is an island in the main walkway through the gardens that is always nicely planted, and it is always a good spot for a group picture.

A short distance from the Camp house, and towards Garland Road is the Test Garden. Here, as the sign tells you, the Arboretum plants new varieties of various plants and foliage to see how they will do in this area, and in different sun/water conditions. Once the plants have been evaluated, they may be added somewhere in the gardens- in a spot that is appropriate for them. Fred is always interested in what is currently being tested here, because many of the plants are new to him, or they are unusual varieties of plants and flowers with which he is already familiar. It's always a spot where Fred records plants and flowers of interest, and you can see a selection of the pictures he took by clicking on the various thumbnails below:


The Frog Fountains


The "Frog Fountains" are just beside the Test Garden, and are always fun to visit. There are four giant frogs arranged at the corners of a large square, and each of them is shooting a pretty strong stream of water out of its mouth to land in the center of the square.

At that central point there is a large, round sculpture in the middle of a small, controlled fountain that rises and falls on some kind of pre-programmed schedule.

The reason that this fountain is so interesting and fun to visit is that it is almost impossible for even someone my age to resist meddling with the water stream that comes out of the frog- attempting to spray someone nearby or just to see what happens. Actually, what happens is that the adult or kid gets wetter than anyone else nearby. The more adventurous (read: kids) like to try their luck at running through the central area so as to avoid a sudden upsurge in the fountain in the middle.

These pictures don't really do the fountains justice, so be sure to watch Fred's movie of the frog fountains by using the movie player at right.


The Pumpkin Patch


Every year, in the month before Halloween, the Arboretum (or aliens- who knows?) sets up a pumpkin patch. They bring in thousands of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, and they also bring in hundreds of gourds and other similar items.

They arrange the pumpkins in the huge circles that you can see in my movie of the patch; watch it with the movie player at left. They also create circular piles in the center of the circles- piles like the one that Fred and John are standing beside.

I suppose that the main reason the pumpkins are brought in is for the simple reason that people are always amazed to see so many pumpkins in one place at one time. Kids like it, of course, 'cause they only get to see one or two on a porch or perhaps a few in a grocery store. The pumpkins and gourds are so eye-catching, in fact, that the Arboretum sets up a couple of benches around the periphery of the outer circle where visitors can sit and take each other's pictures- just as John has done here for this picture of Fred and I.

This year, though, I noticed that some people were carrying some of the pumpkins away and, when I inquired, I found that there are piles of pumpkins for sale, with the profits going to both the Arboretum itself and to some seasonal charities. I'm told that they sell about a thousand pumpkins each year and that, close to Halloween, they start selling all of them and the pumpkin garden pretty much disappears.

This early in the season, though, we got to see a great many of them, and I even got a chance to try my hand at pumpkin bowling.


The End of our Visit


We'll, we're back to the entrance again after spending almost three hours here. Visiting the Arboretum is always a pleasure, and today's been no exception. Fred took a couple more pictures of some of the blooms near the entrance (click on the thumbnails below), and we headed on home.


October 4-7, 2005: A Visit to Guy in Green Bay
September 8-16, 2005: A Trip to Florida
Return to Index for 2005