April 4-12, 2007: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
March 10, 2007: Spring Arrives at 7011 Inwood
Return to Index for 2007

April 1, 2007
A Trip to the Arboretum with Tom and John


Today, Sunday, was a beautiful day, warming up nicely for April, and Fred and I thought we would take our friends Tom Harris and John Evans to the Arboretum for the afternoon. Both of them like gardening, and neither is a member of Arboretum himself, so we thought it would be a treat.


The Dallas Arboretum

Getting to the 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 and other factors. We wanted to have some breakfast first, so we took the Mockingbird route so as to pass by the International House of Pancakes which is at Mockingbird and Skillman.

We stopped there and did not have to wait too long to get seated. We had a great breakfast and then headed around the northeast side of White Rock Lake to the main entrance to the Arboretum.

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



Location and "Dallas Blooms"

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.

Every Spring, the Arboretum puts on "Dallas Blooms," a special event timed to coincide with most of the Spring flower blooms. Because Spring came a bit early this year, we have arrived just past the peak of the show, but the gardens were still quite beautiful.

Dallas Blooms is always crowded, and today we had to use our member parking pass to get a policeman to let us in to the main parking lot at a special member's entrance. We found a space easily enough and trooped over to the main entrance.



Organizing this Album Page

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 I will occasionally indicate by a yellow star on the map where certain features were located. 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 always takes lots of pictures of the flora when we come to the Arboretum, and today John took even more. I took a few as well. Rather than put links for all of them through this page, what I'll do is show you medium-sized views of the best of all the floral pictures that we took. They will be arranged in a bordered table, like the one below that has a couple of the first floral pictures I took.

While the pictures you'll see in these tables will be smaller than the full-size images that you'd see if I provided links or thumbnails, I think they will be big enough to get their beauty across to you. Plus you'll find yourself doing a lot less clicking and creating the page will be a lot easier for me. I won't provide labels for the pictures; I have no idea what a lot of the plants are. If you want to know, you can ask the expert (Fred).

For general pictures, though, I will continue my practice of either providing a word link to pull up the picture or providing small thumbnails to perform the same function.


Exploring the Arboretum


The Entrance Plaza


After parking, the four of us walked over to the new Arboretum entrance. A stairway has been built from the parking area down to the entry level, and at this stairway a new waterfall has been constructed, creating an ideal place for a picture of Tom, Fred and John as we are about to enter the Arboretum. After entering through the Member's Entrance, we were in the administration area (#1), 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.

One of the nice things about spending some time in the entry area is that the Arboretum staff bring a wide selection of plants and flowers up to this area for the enjoyment of folks who can't get around the expansive gardens easily. Here are some of the photos we took of these prime specimens while we were here in the entry area:




Through the Fern Garden

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 .

The fern grotto is a very pleasant area, and there is a circular walkway that takes you through it. On one side of the walkway, towards the artificial stream, is the shady area where most of the ferns are. Here is Tom on the fern trail with that shady area to the right in the picture. Behind him, you can see John taking some of the floral pictures below. On the other side of the trail, between the fern grotto and and the entry plaza, there is more sunlight, and, at this time of the year, the azaleas are in bloom. As we were walking along the azalea side of the grotto, Fred happened to snap a photo of John and Tom comparing photographs.

One of the features of the fern garden is the presence of a large number of different kinds of Japanese maple trees. Both Fred and John are very interested in them, and each of them have coincidentally just purchased and planted a variety or two. Here in the fern garden, we find numerous examples of these trees, such as these Japanese maples beside the path. I guess that these particular trees do well in the moist environment of the fern garden, as we saw quite a few maples beside the stream where they were getting the benefit of the misting system.

Walking along the circular trail through the fern garden is always a pleasure; what with the misting system and the heavy shade, it is always cool- even in the heat of summer. This is also one of the places in the gardens where people like to come and sit on one of these benches near the stream, where they can also be bathed in the periodic mist. And, apparently, it's not only the people who are drawn to the cool waters of the artificial stream; I am sure this bird doesn't care that the stream is artificial- just as long as the water is cool.

This circular trail brings you back out alongside the main lawn of the Arboretum which, again at this time of the year, we find the azaleas in bloom. I should point out that we came to Dallas Blooms at what in most years is just the right time, but the early spring this year has meant that the azaleas are past their prime. We continued back along the walkway back almost to our starting point, looking out across the lawn as we walked. Had we not taken the circular loop through the grotto, we would instead have crossed the fern garden bridge that crosses over the stream that runs through the shady fern area. In this picture, the reflection of the azaleas in the water really makes the picture. 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. These misters came on while Fred was snapping pictures of the bridge, and so here you can see the mist underneath the bridge, lending an ethereal quality to the picture.

Here are some of the floral pictures that we took in and around the fern garden:

Just across the bridge from the entry area to the main lawn, there is a new addition to the fern garden- a small "fern house." It's like a little fairytale house covered with ferns and mossy plants, all of them kept lush by a misting system that is built into the walls and the roof of the small house. You can go inside, and most children (and many adults) take the opportunity to do so. The fern house is a nice addition to the fern grotto.




Azalea Row

From the fern garden, we continued up around the walkway that is bordered by the main mass of the Arboretum's azaleas (again, a bit past their prime this year). Below is a player for a movie of our group on the walkway between the azalea beds and the main lawn:

As we walked along, there were plenty of opportunities to look at the huge variety of plants that are changed out seasonally along the walk. Here, Tom and I are looking out across the lawn, while John is photographing the dogwoods that, along with azaleas, border the path.

Here are some of the pictures we took of the flowers and plants as we walked along azalea row by the main lawn of the Arboretum:




The Walk to the Women's Garden

The walk to the Women's Garden takes us around the main lawn of the Arboretum, along the azaleas on one side and the seasonal flowers on the other.

Here are some of the pictures John Evans took of the flowers and plants as we walked along towards the Women's Garden:




The Women's Garden

One of the newer additions to the Arboretum is the Women's Garden (named for the organization that spearheaded the fund drive that resulted in its construction, and not for some supposed relationship between women and certain plants). It is a multi-level garden with a series of water features and a reflecting pool on the top level, and then a stairway down to an enclosed contemplative garden below. Here we are at the entrance to the Women's Garden from the main lawn. You can see we are at the top of the first of two water courses that take pumped water down an incline and into a long lap pool where it is recirculated. The reflecting pool stays at a constant level, and is fed separately.

Off to one side after you enter the Women's Garden is, appropriately enough, a a statue of a woman looking out over the gardens. Fred thought the sculpture very interesting, and it is, but it is more than just a statue- it is also a fountain. At the base of the statue a series of four small frogs squirt water into the base of the fountain.

We took the stairs down to the contemplative garden, which is adjacent to the boundary between the Arboretum and White Rock Lake. There is actually a gravel road that goes along this boundary, and today they are having horse-drawn wagons take visitors along the boundary road. The other guys wanted to take a closer look at an interesting twisted tree just outside the contemplative garden, so I waited at the arbor walkway on the other side that leads to another new area of the gardens where there are some new water features.

Today, though, we are following an even newer path between the Women's Garden and White Rock Lake. Here is a view of some of the sailboats on White Rock Lake taken from this vantage point; it was pretty windy and the folks out on these rented boats seemed to be having a lot of fun.




The Waterfalls

In this new area of the Arboretum (which is not yet fully landscaped) they have put in a whole series of new water features, such as this authentic-looking stone cistern that sits at the end of an artificial stream. Just a short ways further on through this as-yet incomplete area, we found yet another new water feature. This one brings water from an area near the reflecting pool, through a very nicely-done stone-bordered channel, down a step waterfall and into a small ledged pool where the pump that carries the water back to the top of the channel is located. Below is a player for my movie of this lovely waterfall:

Here's another view Fred took of the meandering channel, and also a picture of me at the waterfall. This entire area has been very nicely done; since we were here last time, much of the landscaping has been done and the plants and trees are in- including this beautiful Japanese maple. I think there is still some more work to do on pathways and walks, though. Last time we were here, we walked up on the channel to get back to the upper level. This time we had to just walk up the lawn through the trees to get back to the main walkway near the end of the Women's Garden.

John was also snapping pictures, and it turns out that some of the ones he took were, I thought, quite good, not just because I was in them. In any event, I've put thumbnails for three of them below. To view the full-size images, just click on those thumbnails:

Here's another picture of the flowers and plants we found around the area where the new water features were located:




Magnolia Alley

From the area of new water features, a stairway leads back up to the reflecting pool, and then a walkway leads past that, up some more stairs, and then behind the old DeGolyer House. Here, a pleasant, shaded walkway leads down some steps, bordered by some very interesting clay planter pots, past one of my favorite sculptures and into the next section of the gardens. Here there are some trimmed boxwoods and a variety of other plants and flowers.

Then we come to the magnolias. The Arboretum has put a walkway between two rows of magnolia trees, providing a shady connection between the area of the Women's Garden and the area around the Alex Camp House (behind which the performance area is located). It's always a pleasant stroll down the shaded walkway, made more interesting today by the appearance of a local resident today.

At the end of the magnolia walk, I ran across some vines that were climbing up and around a trellis. This vine had some beautiful bunched white flowers, and you can see one of them in the floral picture below.





The Performance Area

Just behind the Alex Camp House, between it and White Rock Lake, there is an amphitheatre that has been constructed to provide a venue for concerts and other types of performances that are held periodically at the Arboretum. It is much like a large bandshell, but there are no seats- just wide lawns where people can sit on blankets and picnic or watch the performance. It is very reminiscent of Ravinia Park just outside Chicago. Today, they had an entertainer, who was playing some music. While we were there, he also started a "hula hoop contest" for kids and adults. There were quite a few people lounging around listening and having lunch. You can use the player below to watch the movie we made here:

I had left the other guys behind temporarily, but here they are, coming across the grass to the spot where I'm standing.




The Alex Camp House (Lake Side)

We headed back towards the back of the Arboretum, following the walkway that leads across the top of the hillside above the performance venue behind the Alex Camp House and to the Back Garden. From here, there are nice views of the lake.

The Back Garden (that's my own name for the area), is made up of the Koi Ponds, a small circular lawn and surrounding flower beds, some lily ponds, the waterfall building, the bamboo walk, the rose garden and, at this time of year, the shady tulip beds. Coming the way we are, we are entering this area from the back.

Just before we reached the Back Garden, John found some beautiful deep purple petunias in a bed alongside the Alex Camp House.




The Koi Ponds

At the far end of the Arboretum from the entry area is an area that I usually refer to as the "Back Garden." Here, there is a small lawn the size of a putting green, and the lawn is bordered by the performance area, a series of koi ponds, a trellis-like structure with three waterfalls, a rose garden, a shady, tree-covered area, and a hedge that blocks the area from view from the rest of the Arboretum. This area is only open on the one side towards White Rock Lake, and this makes it secluded.

One of the main features of this back garden is the series of lily ponds that have been stocked with koi (Japanese goldfish). Some of them are quite large, and they are very active in all three of the ponds. Use the player below to view a movie of the koi being fed by some of the people at the lower pond:

This area of the gardens is always a pleasure to walk around in. The waterfalls are especially enticing; they are actually walls of water that are part of a larger structure that has plants and vines hanging down from an overhead trellis. Nearby, there are also a number of small, brass animals sprinked about- armadillos, squirrels, rabbits and the occasional snake.




Shade Trees and Tulips

Leaving the koi ponds, we walked through the waterfall building, and I showed Tom and John one of the permanent "tree houses." It is a red bamboo tree house built, appropriately enough, within the large stand of bamboo at the very back of the garden.

We also walked through the rose garden, but there weren't many blooms on the bushes here, so Fred found little of particular interest. Leaving the rose garden, the twisting walkway meanders through a tree-shaded area where, at least at the moment, we found a profusion of tulips.

Here's another view of the tulips in the back garden:




The Alex Camp House (Garden Side)

Last year, the Arboretum invited about twenty designers to build treehouses of various kinds throughout the Arboretum. You may already have seen the pictures we took when we came to see them. Most of them were taken down after the special event, but a few of them have been left permanently. One of the permanent ones is called "Flutterby," and is a fanciful treehouse built around one of the large trees just near the Alex Camp House. It has a circular platform around the tree, and then a framework up above that supports some huge, wood and mesh gossamer wings that turn in the wind. Here, myself, John and Tom are up on the Flutterby treehouse platform.




The Test Beds

We walked in front of the Alex Camp House and over towards the test gardens. Fred always likes to look through the various plants that the Arboretum is evaluating for inclusion in the gardens, and he is usually able to get some cuttings of new plants that he hasn't seen before. The test beds have always been here, but today there is also a new addition. The Arboretum must also be testing some new potted plants, because adjacent to the actual test beds were these test pots. I think that the reason the pots were elevated is that this area of the grounds seemed to have gotten a lot of rain and stayed wet, and I presume that the pots would not have drained properly had they not been up off the ground. Here is another view of the test pots.

Here's another view of some of the flowers in the test beds:




The Frog Fountains

The frog fountains are always a great place to stop when we wander through the Arboretum. As you can see in the frog movie that Fred took (have a look at it with the player below), you can get a perfect idea of why these fountains are so much fun. There are always kids around, and even the adults start to feel that way after a while.



Crepe Myrtle Row

We'd come to the four frog fountains from the back- through the test bed area, and so now we can walk along the avenue of arched crepe myrtles back towards the main walkway through the gardens.

This was such a pretty view, that we all stopped to take some pictures with the crepe myrtle avenue in the background. We got good pictures of, first, Fred and I and then Tom and John.




The Main Promenade

We started walking back to the entrance to the Arboretum, again along the main pathway, looking at the plant and floral displays as we went. Just near the walkway through the crepe myrtles, one of the large circular areas in the walkway had been done in various types of kolias and other foliage to form a collection of floral butterflies. Here is a closeup of one "butterfly" that is made of a dark red kolia and a lime green variety. These arrangements change with the seasons, but they are always fanciful and very well done.

Here are some more of the pictures we took of the flowers and plants that we found as we wandered along the main pathway back towards the Arboretum entrance:

Up towards the front of the gardens, I came across this beautiful shaped tree that I thought was well worth a picture. Another very cute display was found just before we got to the bedding plants near the entry area. In this one, an old VW microbus had been brought in and then covered with all kinds of flowers, giving an entirely new meaning to the 70's term " flower power!". Of course, having a Microbus here wouldn't do; someone also donated a VW Bug and the Arboretum staff have decked it out the same way. I hope these two items will become permanent; they are a lot of fun to look at.




The Entry Garden

We finally worked our way back to the entrance to the Arboretum. Near the entry area, the Arboretum staff always creates a fine display of seasonal color and plants, since they know that not all their members or visitors are capable of wandering through the entire garden. This is always a good place to take pictures, and I've included a selection of these pictures below.


Our visit to the Arboretum today was an enjoyable one. We were sorry that we'd missed the peak of the azaleas, but we HAVE seen them before, and everything else was in bloom.

April 4-12, 2007: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
March 10, 2007: Spring Arrives at 7011 Inwood
Return to Index for 2007