June 17-21, 2009: A Trip to New Mexico
May 12 - May 15, 2009: A Visit to Ruckman Haus
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May 23, 2009
A Visit to the Dallas Arboretum


Getting to the Dallas Arboretum

Today, we are spending time with Steve and Mario and their friend Jimmy and making a trip over to the Arboretum. Both Steve and Fred love the Arboretum; we found out about Steve's membership some time ago. Of course, this shared interest ties Steve and Fred together; Mario and I are more blase about the experience. Jimmy is a friend of their who has advanced MS and is wheelchair-bound; he does not get out of his house much, and Steve and Mario try to take him somewhere when they can, and today it is the Arboretum. We are meeting the three of them at the Arboretum just after noon.

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. Today, we headed over to Steve's house first to pick them up, which is just a jog up Audelia from Mockingbird, and then back down Buckner Boulevard to Garland Road and the Arboretum.

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.


Our Route Today

I've used an Arboretum schematic from their web site to illustrate our route today:

We met for lunch at the cafe that is up by the administrative buildings and the entry. After we'd eaten, we took turns guiding Jimmy's wheelchair along the general path that I've outlined on the map. The exact route isn't important; what is important is that Steve and Mario made excellent use of Jimmy's outing to take him through essentially the entire complex.

About halfway through our journey we encountered what seemed to be a wooden pirate ship that kids were playing in and on, and it was then that I discovered that this year's exhibition at the Arboretum is fourteen playhouses representing fourteen children's books. Like the treehouses of a couple of years ago, each playhouse was designed and built by a donor. Once we found the first playhouse, I looked for more (not knowing then how many there were). I took pictures of all of them that I could find, and I will include those pictures as we encounter the playhouses along our path.

At the end of this narrative, I'll include descriptions of the other playhouses that we missed; perhaps on another visit this year I can get photographs of them.

We took lots of pictures, of course, and I'll group those pictures according to the segments drawn (and annotated) on the map above.



We had a really nice lunch at the outdoor cafe near the Arboretum entrance. We are just getting to know Jimmy, who is a travel agent specializing in group travel and meetings. He lives northwest of me about three miles- just off Walnut Hill Lane west of Webb Chapel.

There was good conversation and good food. The only bad thing that happened while we were eating was that I happened to be watching at the exact moment that a grackle from the group that were looking for handouts killed a little starling who'd had the same idea. I guess that's why they call them animals. Click on the thumbnail images at right to see some of the pictures that we took during lunch.

Lunch at the Arboretum

I made one movie during lunch (not a great one, though), just to record who was here.


The Fern Grotto

As we usually do when walking through the Arboretum, we took a turn through the Fern Grotto. It's a shady walkway that leads down along the south side of the main lawn through a misted area with an artificial stream. It is always shady and pleasant. Click on the thumbnail images at left to see some of the pictures we took here in the Grotto.


The Main Lawn

The Main Lawn

The next part of our walk takes us from the Fern Grotto along the north side of the Main Lawn and over to the Women's Garden entrance. The entire lawn was bordered in lovely zinnias and marigolds. Click on the thumbnail images below to see some of the other pictures we took along here:

Near the end of our walk alongside the Main Lawn, we passed by a group of Oriental men and women taking some pictures. The women were so beautifully and colorfully dressed, that I asked them to allow me to take their picture. You can see the resulting image here. I was able to return the favor when they asked me to take the same picture with a couple of their own cameras.

Along the Main Lawn

While Fred and Steve were taking some pictures, I made a short movie of Mario and Jimmy and the Main Lawn here at the Arboretum.

There was a playhouse (actually a play area) that we missed because it was located in the far northwest corner of the gardens. It was called the "Little House on the Prairie," but it wasn't one of the fourteen commissioned playhouses, but one put together by the Arboretum itself. Perhaps on a return visit I can get a picture of it.


In The Women's Garden

From the Main Lawn, we entered the Women's Garden. While Fred and Steve were off taking some pictures of some of the flora (you can see those pictures here and here), I took a picture of Mario and Jimmy near the top of the long water feature that begins at the entry to the Women's Garden, runs down a long watercourse with multiple small waterfalls and an inlaid mosaic bottom and finally into a large pool near the middle of the garden. I always find it a restful place to stop and sit and dangle my hands in the water.

As we were walking through the Women's Garden, I happened to notice what seems to be a very common sight here in the Arboretum- especially in the spring. It was a bride having her picture taken. I thought this shot was interesting on a number of levels.


The Water Gardens

The Water Gardens is a relatively new area here at the Arboretum. Within this area, there are four or five different water features- pools and streams and fountains. It is criss-crossed by multiple pathways allowing access to all the features, and it is hard to resist climbing on them although you aren't supposed to. Take a look at the pictures we took in this area of the Arboretum by clicking on the thumbnail images below:

I did not know about the playhouses when we were in the Water Gardens, so I missed "Eragon," one of the display playhouses that was located between the gardens and White Rock Lake. Maybe I can get some pictures of it later in the year.


Near the DeGolyer House

As we came up the pathway to the back of the Degolyer House, we happened across the first of the playhouse structures that are the theme this year. This was when I realized that I should have been looking for the structures since our arrival (but, as it turned out, I had only missed a couple so far). So let me show you the first three that we DID take pictures of (#'s 6, 10 and 15 on the schematic above) and also give you the description taken from the marker plaque:

Treasure Island (CSD Architects; #6)
(See full-size picture here)

Jim Hawkins is a young boy who lives at his parents' inn, the Admiral Benbow, near Bristol, England, in the eighteenth century. An old sea captain named Billy Bones dies in the inn after being presented with a black spot, or official pirate verdict of guilt or judgment. Jim is stirred to action by the spot and its mysterious, accurate portent of Billy's death. Hastily, Jim and his mother unlock Billy's sea chest, finding a logbook and map inside.

Peter Pan (HKS Architects; #10) (Selected "Most Sustainable")
(See full-size picture here)

In stifling Edwardian London, Wendy Darling mesmerizes her brothers nightly with bedtime tales of swordplay, swashbuckling and the fearsome Hook.

Hansel and Gretel (Dallas Arboretum; #15)
(See full-size picture here)

Executed by the Arboretum, it is the woodland cottage where Hansel and Gretel are almost baked.

In front of the DeGolyer house now, we decided to head on into the back garden at the Arboretum, and give Jimmy the complete tour. Here is a picture of our group in front of the DeGolyer House.


The Back Garden

We went up the ramp in front of the DeGolyer House into the gardens at the back of the Arboretum. Here, we found a shady spot where our group could rest a moment in the shade before we wandered through this part of the gardens. We ended up at the trio of waterfalls that are always a pleasure to visit, and here is a picture of our group at one of them.

Fred got a number of very nice pictures of some of the flowers in this part of the garden, and if you'll click on the thumbnail images below, you can have a look at them:

I missed two of the playhouses while we were back here in this part of the garden. One was called "Hope for The Flowers," which recalls the children's book in which Stripe, an ambitious young caterpillar, abandons his struggle to reach the top when he meets a lovely yellow butterfly. The other was called "The Bamboo Cutters Daughter," taken from the retelling of the early Heian-period prose work about a supernatural being found by a bamboo cutter and brought up as his daughter. He urges his "daughter" to marry but she sets fantastic quests to her suiters. All fail. Eventually she reveals she is from the Palace of the Moon and departs. Perhaps I can get pictures later.


The Shade Garden

We walked slowly through the Shade Garden, naturally, because it was shady. I stopped beside the walkway so Fred could take my picture. As he snapped it, I could see the look of concern as he quickly took another picture that you can see here. I am recovering nicely, thank you.

We also encountered two more playhouses here:

Thumbelina (Corgan Associates; #11)
(See full-size picture here)

A girl no bigger than her mother's thumb feels all alone in the world knowing she is the only person her size.

The Lorax (Shrickel, Rollins & Associates; #13) (Selected Best in Show)
(See full-size pictures here) and here)

The Lorax is a story about the tree loving Lorax and the greedy Onceler. When the Onceler shows up, he notices a forest of truffula trees. He realizes that these natural resources could be profitable by making "THNEEDS" out of them. A thneed is a fine something that all people need. The Onceler, in his greedy state, cuts down all the trees until only one seed is left, and the reader is to decide what should be done with it.


Avenue de Frog

From the Shade Garden we went back out onto the main walkway and along it for a while until we came to the avenue of overhanging crepe myrtles that leads to the quartet of frog fountains. These four fountains shoot streams of water that all meet in the middle of the water feature, and it is an irresistible lure for kids (and some adults). Along the way, I saw that there were three more playhouses in the lawn over to the left of the main walkway, so I tramped across country to take pictures of them, while the other guys wheeled Jimmy back to the main walkway and turned towards the entrance. Here are the three playhouses I took pictures of:

James and the Giant Peach (Perkins & Will; #9)
(See full-size picture here)

A story of fantastic adventure and size, come and play in James's Giant Peach! Experience the tale of his travels across country and sea to find happiness with his friends in their unique vessel."

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (TBG Partners; #7)
(See full-size picture here)

A rhyming book for learner readers, it is a book with a freewheeling plot about a boy and a girl, and the many amazing creatures they have for friends and pets.

Alice in Wonderland (Baez Consulting; #8) (Selected Best Story Interpretation
(See full-size picture here)

Alice stumbles into the world of Wonderland. Will she get home? Not if the Queen of Hearts has her way.


The Display Gardens

When I finished my picture-taking at the last three playhouses, I went back to the main walkway to meet up with the other guys. I made a movie when I caught up with them.

Along the Main Walkway

When I got back to the main walkway, I made a movie of Mario, Fred, Steve and Jimmy coming towards me along the walkway. You may notice in the background the Arboretum's 25th Anniversary display.

The weather was getting a bit threatening, so we were heading back to the entrance when I noticed another group of playhouses near the display gardens that are by the entrance. So I went off the path again to have a look at them:

The Little Prince (Page Southerland Page; #2) (Selected Selected Most Creative)
(See full-size picture here)

Published in 1943, The Little Prince is a fantasy about a pilot, stranded in the Sahara, who meets a small boy from another planet. The boy, who refers to himself as a prince, is on a quest for knowledge.

The Owl and The Pussy Cat (Larson & Pedigo; #3)
(See full-size picture here)

The “Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear is represented as an underwater environment with the sandy sea bed below and the “pea green boat” on the surface above. The boat’s sail is the story’s moon and ring from the poem is in the table above the stone bench.

City Green (La Terra Studio; #4)
(See full-size picture here)

Young Marcy is saddened after the city condemns and demolishes a building in her neighborhood. "Now this block looks like a big smile with one tooth missing," she laments. But as springtime arrives, Marcy's thoughts turn to gardens and flowers.

The Teremok (Urban Design Group; #1)
(See full-size picture here)

A Russian folk tale about the house and animals who take shelter under it’s ever expanding roof. So the playhouse represents the Teremok itself with animal cut-outs in the walls.

Finally, near the entrance I came across a whole area that seemed focused on Impatiens. There was a hut that was covered with them, surrounded by walls that seemed to be made of them. There was even a bench with an Impatiens butterfly behind it. I took a few pictures here, and if you will click on the thumbnails below, you can have a look at them:

This brought our visit to the Arboretum to an end for today. We all made it out the entrance and back to our cars. Mario and Steve took Jimmy back to his house, and Fred and I went on home.

On the way, we happened to pass the first house that Greg owned in Dallas, and Fred took a picture of it just for the record. You can see that picture here.

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June 17-21, 2009: A Trip to New Mexico
May 12 - May 15, 2009: A Visit to Ruckman Haus
Return to Index for 2009