September 18-26, 2007: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
September 8, 2007: Lunch at Lou Acevedo's
Return to Index for 2007

September 16, 2007
A Visit to the Arboretum


Today, we are spending time with our new friends Steve Friedman and Mario Tarradell. Fred met them a few weeks ago online. We got together for dinner a couple of times and it turns out that they are really quality people. Steve is a respiratory therapist in the burn unit at Parkland Hospital. His job is obviously very scientific and technical. Mario, on the other hand, is a critic for the Dallas Morning News, specializing in music, and so his work is very artistic. This is a good combination, and between the two of them, there is always much to talk about. Mario's work is more visible; after all, he has almost daily bylines in the paper, and so we tend to talk more about what he does. This is also because popular music is something we all relate to. Steve's job is no less interesting, but quite probably a good deal more important. It is harder to talk about since to do so requires a lot of specialized knowledge. But both are interesting.

Steve loves the Arboretum; we found that out the first time we went out to eat. And, of course, that gave him and Fred an instant rapport. So, today, we are going to make our first visit as a group to the Arboretum. It is a beautiful day, actually quite warm for September, and we stopped at the IHOP on Mockingbird for breakfast and then headed over to the botanical garden.

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 needed to get some breakfast on the way, we came across town on Mockingbird from my house.

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.

Today is not a major event day at the Arboretum, and so we aren't going to be wandering all through the gardens taking lots and lots of pictures. In fact, as it turned out, I didn't wander through the gardens much at all. But just for your information, I've included below a current map of the Arboretum, and I've marked the general route the other guys took as well as the place where I relaxed in the warm afternoon and took a short nap! Anyway, from this map 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.

After parking and entering through the Member's Entrance, we were 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.

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 goes over a small waterfall and then under the walkway. 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.

We continued up through the fern garden, coming around the south side of the main grassy area that is surrounded by azaleas. Of course, this is not the time of year for them to bloom, so we bypassed the far side of the lawn. We came out back near the central plaza- kind of a nexus of walkways that take you to all areas of the garden. There was a shady bench here, so we took the opportunity to get a couple of pictures. Naming folks from left to right, here are Steve, Mario and myself and here is a picture of Steve, Fred and Mario.

For some reason (probably the big breakfast) all I wanted to do was take a nap (maybe a "senior moment"?) so, at the risk of being standoffish, I encouraged the other guys to go off and explore while I lay down on the bench and just enjoyed the warm afternoon. Actually, I ended up on the grass behind the bench underneath the tree, but that's neither here nor there. The other three guys went off for 90 minutes or so.

Apparently, they walked back to the end of the garden to the waterfalls and then right back to my spot. This is not a time of the year that the gardens are particularly beautiful; most of the flowers have done their due and are wilted from the summer heat. On the way to the back of the garden, Fred caught a view of some of the sailboats on White Rock Lake. When the guys got to the back of the garden, Fred set up his tripod and took a picture of the three of them with one of the permanent animal sculptures in the background. You can see that picture here.

I think Fred might have thought he'd seen everything in the gardens, but when they were prowling around way back in the shady, tree-covered area of the gardens, he found a rare pine that he hadn't seen before. Apparently, the Dallas Arboretum is one of the few botanical gardens to have one. I have put a thumbnail for the picture Fred took of the informative sign and a thumbnail for a picture of the pine itself below; click on each of them to learn about and view this rare tree:

The guys were back in an hour or so, woke me out of a sound sleep, and we headed off to the exits. Along the way, we passed some really, really giant elephant ears. I wanted Fred to try to get a picture of one of the huge leaves spread out behind my head like a Las Vegas showgirl's headgear, but it didn't come out quite right.

We enjoyed the afternoon at the Arboretum immensely, and look forward to returning with Steve and Mario for some of the more colorful displays in the future.

September 18-26, 2007: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
September 8, 2007: Lunch at Lou Acevedo's
Return to Index for 2007