December 19, 2014: The Museums in Fort Worth
December 13, 2014: The Book Club Christmas Party
Return to the Index for 2014

December 18, 2014
Christmas at the Dallas Arboretum


This weekend, Ron and Prudence and Guy have come up to Dallas for a visit. We have asked Guy to stay with us, while Ron and Prudence stay out near her sister's house in Grapevine. They took us to dinner last night, and today we want to take them to the Dallas Arboretum to see "The Twelve Days of Christmas", an exhibit of twelve carousels- one for each of the days in the popular song. There won't be much blooming, and it is a bit chilly, but the displays are supposed to be fantastic.


Getting to 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. Today, we just took Mockingbird over to 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.

We usually make a circular transit of the entire Arboretum each time we visit, and we are going to do the same today to try to ensure that Ron, Prudence, Guy and Nancy (Karl was at a meeting in Fort Worth) get a chance see everything. I know that is probably not important for you to know where in the gardens each of our pictures were taken, but I always think it is interesting to let you follow along with us on a map or diagram. Below is a large diagram of the Dallas Arboretum. On it, I will mark our general route and the location of the various crousels, along with any other garden features that will help you see where the pictures were taken.


The Gazebo Carousels

One of the reasons for coming over here today was to see the Christmas Gazebo Carousels. There was supposed to be one for each of the "days" in the popular song "The Twelve Days of Christmas". Each of these was, apparently, sponsored (partially paid for) by an individual, group or company. The carousels were sprinkled throughout the gardens, and I did not detect a pattern to where they were. So in this section of today's album page, I want to show you each of them- in narrative, pictures and movies. We'll take them in order- from the "First Day of Christmas" (the partridge in the pear tree) to the "Twelfth Day of Christmas" (the twelve drummers drumming).


The First Day of Christmas: A Partridge in a Pear Tree

This first gazebo was sponsored, as many of them were, by a prominent member of the Dallas Arboretum. (Sometimes, these members chose to remain anonymous.)

For this day of Christmas, the gaily painted gazebo contained an artistic "pear tree" that had gold branches sprinkled with rhinestones, green mirrored leaves, and gold, rhinestone-encrusted pears. The eponymous partridge, intricately-painted and adorned with rhinestones, sits "center stage", perched in the tree. The entire affair- tree and partridge, revolved slowly.

At left is our best picture of this gazebo- mostly because it also contains Nancy, Guy and Fred.

Below is the movie player you can use to watch the movie I made of this first gazebo. You can see the tree turning and hear, faintly in the background, Bing Crosby as he concludes the incremental chorus of "The Twelve Days of Christmas":

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We took two more good pictures here at this first gazego. One was Fred's picture of Nancy, myself and Guy at the gazebo, and the other was Fred's good closeup of the partridge in the pear tree.


The Second Day of Christmas: Two Turtle Doves

This gazebo was sponsored by an anonymous friend of the Dallas Arboretum, and featured two Turtle Doves cuddling on an arrow that pierces a heart-shaped cage suspended from the roof of the structure. The feather-tailed turtle doves were intricately painted and covered with rhinestones. The outer cage of crystal beading was decorated with fleur de lis banding on top and bottom.

The picture at left takes a little explanation. While I was photographing the gazebo, four young women asked me to use their cell phones to take their pictures, which I happily did. I don't know whether it was my idea of one of the girls' to get in the picture myself, but I did have Fred snap a picture of the five of us. It turned out well enough that I decided to use it instead of my more sterile picture of the gazebo. You can use the two clickable thumbnails below to see that picture and a closeup of the two Turtle Doves:

Below, left, is the movie player you can use to watch the movie I made of the two Turtle Doves necking to the accompaniment of Bing Crosby singing his version of "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays". And to the right is a good picture of Nancy and Prudence at the gazebo:

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The Third Day of Christmas: Three French Hens

Sponsored by another Arboretum member, the gazebo for the third day of Christmas reflected the native countryside of the Three French Hens.

White and gold oval French mirrors bolstered Victorian perches for the hens, and the base on which these oval mirrors sat turned slowly. The hens, black-and-white with red accents, sat in gold straw nests.

Use the player below to watch my movie of the three French hens accompanied by Nat King Cole's recording of "I Saw Three Ships":

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I took a series of closeup views of the hens, and there are clickable thumbnails below for these pictures (even if they are a bit repetitive):


The Fourth Day of Christmas: Four Calling Birds

Sponsored by a Friend of the Dallas Arboretum, this gazebo had four calling birds sitting on filigreed, jeweled, Victorian hanging bird perches within an inner oval cage made of iridescent bead strands. The calling birds were multi-colored, with feather plumes and long tails.

The multi-colored birds were quite pretty, but it was hard to get good pictures of them through the glass, but I did get one good one that you can see here.

I took two other good pictures of this particular gazebo, and you can use the clickable thumbnails below to have a look at them:

I actually made two movies of the four calling birds gazebo, and I realized later that two different Christmas songs were used. One was Bing Crosby's rendition of "Do You Hear What I Hear?", and the other captured a choral version of "Angels We Have Heard on High". You can use the players below to watch both these movies:

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"Do You Hear What I Hear?"
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"Angels We Have Heard on High"


The Fifth Day of Christmas: Five Golden Rings

The sign by this gazebo seemed to indicate that the grandparents of the donor had five golden rings or some such (I didn't quite get the connection), but in any event this gazebo featured a Victorian circus setting.

The circus had a ceiling draped in red and white fabric to mimic a circus tent. The center circus ring had a pedestal with oval mirrors on which a white bear wearing a vest and collar was balancing a spinning gold ring on his nose. The bear was surrounded by four seals wearing ruffled collars; each was seated and balancing a spinning bedazzled gold ring on its nose.

Use the player below to watch my movie of the circus animals twirling their golden rings to the accompaniment of Frank Sinatra's recording of "Jingle Bells":

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Fred got a really good picture of the bears close up, and you can see it here.


The Sixth Day of Christmas: Six Geese A-Laying

This gazebo was again sponsored by one of the Arboretum's prominent members, and inside the six geese were found in a snow-covered forest. Snow-flocked trees of varying sizes were positioned on a mirrored floor that turned. Snow and rhinestone "rocks" were piled high around the edges of the gazebo.

Two geese were sitting on nests, and two others were standing in their nests to reveal golden eggs. The last two geese were nesting in the trees. The geese all had feathered and rhinestoned heads and necks, and feathered bodies.

Of course I made a movie of this gazebo, where the geese are using Bing Crosby's recording of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" to encourage egg production:

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The Seventh Day of Christmas: Seven Swans A-Swimming

Sponsored by an Arboretum member couple, the seven swans floated in a snowy, ice crystal palace. The gazebo featured a frozen pond (again accomplished with a mirrored floor) with a tiered fountain and frozen water and icicles. The swans, six white and one black, sported feathers with small crowns on their heads, and moved serenely around around the fountain.

Use the player below to watch my movie of these beautiful swans swimming on the lake to the tune of Dean Martin's recording of "Winter Wonderland":

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This gazebo was located in the Women's Garden, and Fred got a couple of additional pictures of it that I want to include here:


The Eighth Day of Christmas: Eight Maids A-Milking

Sponsored by two Arboretum members, this gazebo featured a truly spectacular English barn divided into four wedge-shaped stalls. Ihere are four intricately painted cows and four beautifully costumed maids sitting on stools while milking. Also, there was an additional maid in each stall carrying pails.

You should definitely use the player below to watch my movie of the eight maids involved in milking cows to the tune of "We Need a Little Christmas":

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Below are two more pictures that we took as we walked by this particular gazebo:


The Ninth Day of Christmas: Nine Ladies Dancing

This gazebo was given by two member couples in honor of one of their family. In the creation, there are of course nine ladies dancing in a Victorian ballroom. The ladies were costumed in beautiful Victorian beaded gowns and had elegant period hair styles. All of them moved around the gazebo, and four of them made complete turns as they moved around the circuit.

Use the player below to watch my movie of these nine ladies dancing to music from "The Nutcracker":

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This was, I think, my favorite of all the gazebo carousels because of the color and the costumes.

Fred got a nice picture of me admiring the gazebo and taking pictures of it.

I did take some other pictures as the ladies were making their stately way around the ballroom, and I have put clickable thumbnails below that you can use to see some of these:


The Tenth Day of Christmas: Ten Lords A-Leaping

Sponsored by an Arboretum member couple, this gazebo featured ten ice-skating lords. The illusion of a frozen pond was achieved with a mirrored floor. The lords were dressed in Victorian outerwear and ice skates, and all will be skating. Eight were skating in one outer circle, and the two others were doing pirouettes in the middle.

You should definitely use the player below, right to watch my movie of the ten lords leaping around to the tune of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas":

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I took one close-up picture of the ten lords in this gazebo, and you can have a look at that picture here.


The Eleventh Day of Christmas: Eleven Pipers Piping

Sponsored by a Friend of the Dallas Arboretum, the pipers were dressed as Scottish bagpipe players in red and green tartan plaid. Each piper is playing bagpipes. The ceiling of the gazebo was draped in green and red tartan to match the pipers’ kilts, and a circle of horns adorned with roping and tassels was suspended from the ceiling over the pipe major. The pipers in this gazebo also move- five in each of two separate circles and the pipe major independently.

Use the player below to watch a movie of the eleven pipers piping the tune of "Good King Wenceslas":

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Taking pictures through the glass even on a cloudy day was difficult, even with a "through glass" setting on my little camera. But here are two close-up pictures- one from Fred and one from me:


The Twelfth Day of Christmas: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Sponsored by an Arboretum member, this gazebo with (you guessed it) twelve drummers drumming, used a recording of, I think, Bing Crosby singing "The Little Drummer Boy". The drummers were dressed in white pants with red and gold piping, red jackets and red hats with gold trim. They moved in concentric circles, with one set of six moving clockwise and the other set moving counterclockwise.

I took my own still picture of this gazebo, and you can see it here, but only movies do these gazebo carousels justice, so watch my movie below:

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The DeGolyer House

Fred and I go to the Arboretum fairly frequently, but we rarely go through the DeGolyer House, one of the crown jewels of the Arboretum as a whole. Today, however, with design mavens like Guy, Prudence and Nancy along, we decided to do just that.

E.L. DeGolyer, born in 1886, was, at a young age, one of the leaders in oil and gas exploration, inventing a scientific method for finding oil. He was known as the “father of geophysical exploration,” and he was an incredibly wealthy man before he even finished college.

But business wasn’t his only interest; he owned the Saturday Review of Literature and also amassed one of the world's largest private libraries of books and materials relating to Spanish Colonial America. He met his wife, Nell, at the University of Oklahoma, and in 1939, the couple and their children built a large Spanish Colonial mansion overlooking White Rock Lake in Dallas.

The house boasted many unusual amenities for the time, such as the first air-conditioning in Dallas, large closets, screened-in doors, and drop ceilings. The DeGolyers lived and entertained there the rest of their lives. After the death of Nell DeGolyer in 1972, the couple’s children donated the estate to Southern Methodist University. The city of Dallas later purchased it as part of the site for a new botanical garden.

For a time, the mansion was minimally maintained, but in the 1990s it underwent a significant renovation, including restoration of period furnishings and many of the DeGolyer's possessions. It is now a staple on the Arboretum tour, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, we decided to take the house tour (which is included with our Arboretum membership). There is no guidebook for the house; rather, docents are available to answer questions and provide background on the various rooms. Nor do I have a house diagram (to aid in my normal documentary style here in the photo album). So I will just organize the pictures by room or by section of the house.


Entry and Foyer

The entry to the DeGolyer house is just off the main Arboretum walkway, the Paseo de Flores. Coming in through that front door, you are in the foyer which has doorways going right and left. To the right are the dining room, breakfast room, kitchen, some smaller bedrooms and service rooms, and to the left are the living room and library as well as the DeGolyer's master bedroom suite. In the foyer we came face to face with the first of many Christmas trees that were part of the seasonal decorations throughout the house.


Dining Room

We entered the dining room through the scalloped archway from the foyer. The dining room was set for dinner with some particularly beautiful china, and there were decorations all around the room- over the mantel and at the windows.

Click on the thumbnail images below to see some of pictures that we took in the dining room:

I made a movie here in the dining room to show you around; you can use the player at left, below, to watch it. And next to that movie player is a picture of one of the incredible miniature displays that we found throughout the house:

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Breakfast Room

Mr. DeGolyer called this room his "pub room". It is a typical English style with beamed ceiling, herringbone brickwork in the flooring and a bull's-eye glass window. The small shelf around the top of the walls originally held pewter, silver and china pieces.

This room, like all the others in the house, had its own Christmas display- a combination of "Christmas Morning" and caroling.

We went back through the foyer, past the Christmas tree and into the living room.


The Living Room

The living room was decorated to the nines for Christmas, and the main Christmas tree was in a corner near the entry from the foyer. Underneath the front window, above the fireplace and on seemingly every tabletop there was a display of some sort.

There was a woman playing the piano softly in the corner, which certainly added to the ambience in the room. If you would like to see some other pictures of the living room and the decorations in it, just click on the thumbnail images below:

I also made a movie as I walked through the living room from end to end, and you can use the player below to watch it:

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The Library

DeGolyer collected books on Spanish Colonial America, but his library had room for many more books than that.

There were, of course, a great many places to sit and read a book, either in one of the old chairs by the bookshelves or in the overstuffed chairs and couches that were found throughout the huge room. My guess is that the room was somewhere between sixty and eighty feet long. By one window there was a large bronze horse sculpture- donated back to the house from some of the DeGolyer children.

This room, too, had a great many Christmas decorations. After being in a few of the rooms by now, it seemed that most of the decorations featured large groups of miniature figures, and the displays in this room were no exception. Click on the thumbnails below to see some of these displays:

If you happen to be a fan of Christmas decorations, you can look at more of them from the DeGolyer House library; just click on the thumbnail images below:


The Private Sitting Room

Adjacent to the library was the wing of the house containing the master bedroom and bath as well as a private sitting room that was part of this suite. We next walked through the sitting room of that suite.

The private sitting room was a cozy room, and I would imagine that the Degolyer's spent a lot of time here. It was furnished, a docent told us, not with the actual furniture pieces owned by the DeGolyers but with pieces similar to those that appeared in old pictures to be in the room. The room had plenty of windows and a fireplace- a very nice room all in all.

As in just about every other room in the house, this room was full of tabletop decorations- lots more of those scenes with miniature people in various holiday activities. The displays were quite detailed, and I got some closeup pictures of some of the miniature items. Click on the thumbnails below to see some of the decorations in this room:


The Master Bedroom

We next moved into the master bedroom, again furnished with pieces similar to those used by the DeGolyers. The docent told us that a few of the smaller pieces, and some of the items in the closets, were actually owned by the couple. The obvious oddity in the master bedroom, and one that dates it, is the presence of twin beds for Mr. and Mrs. DeGolyer.

Those of us who grew up in the fifties can remember that all television couples- from the Ricardos to the Cleavers and every couple in between- had twin beds in their bedrooms. (Perhaps that's right in line with my own parents.) It wasn't long before things began to change (recall the huge king-size bed shared by Suzanne Pleshette and Bob Newhart), and certainly by the nineties we didn't just get realistic depictions of the large beds shared by couples but actually pretty graphic depictions of what the large play areas were used for. But this was long after the DeGolyer's heyday in the house.

Here are clickable thumbnails for some of the other pictures we took in the master bedroom and bath:

Closets aren't usually standout destinations on home tours (I don't think we saw one closet in all the houses we toured in Newport a few years back, or in the Biltmore Mansion a couple of years before that), but we did stick our heads into the DeGolyer's closet. It looked as if they were one of the first customers of California Closets. The girls found the clothing items in the closets interesting, and that's why I ended up with pictures of Prudence and Nancy standing there.

The master bedroom was our last stop in the DeGolyer house; we left the house to continue our tour through the Arboretum searching out the Twelve Days of Christmas gazebos.


In the Arboretum Gardens

Well, you've seen the Christmas Gazebos, and we've taken a short tour of the DeGolyer House. What remains are the pictures we took as we were walking through the actual gardens. It's winter, of course, so there is not a lot blooming, but still we followed our usual path through the gardens.

With our family memberships, we were all able to get in to the Arboretum for free; that membership is probably the best private facility membership we have ever gotten. We paused in the entry plaza to have a look around (including taking a look at some of the ceramics for sale &in the gift shop).

There are always some seasonal displays around the entry area, as I am sure lots of members who come frequently just come to have lunch in the restaurant and maybe take a short walk out to the Jonnson Color Garden (the main lawn). We took a few first pictures here at the entry, and there are clickable thumbnails below for some of these:

From the entry plaza, we followed our usual route around to the north to cross the bridge at the bottom of the Fern Dell to come out onto the west end of the three-lobed Color Garden (main lawn). We walked around the north border of the Color Garden, stopping at a couple of the gazebos that were located there, and stopping also by some of the seasonal plantings where Fred got a nice picture of Prudence. Fred also got a couple of nice pictures of Nancy and Prudence; these are below:

It was after that that we went to take the tour of the DeGolyer House, and when we were done there, we came around to the west side of the house to the pergola that overlooks the main lawn.

The pergola has a set of broad slate steps that lead down to the color garden around the main lawn, and you can see, in the picture at right, three of the Christmas gazebos. Here, the walkway leads around the east end of the color garden to one of the entrances to the Woman's Garden. Along this walkway, I got a couple of nice pictures of Prudence and also of Nancy and Prudence.

We walked around to the main entrance to the Woman's Garden, and you can see in that picture that there was another gazebo there that we visited. The Woman's Garden is located just north of the DeGolyer House, and the windows of the living room (seen here just above us) look out on this garden and White Rock Lake to the north.

We left the Woman's Garden by the east end, and at this point we are north of the east side of the DeGolyer House where there is a very pleasant shade garden with a couple of sculptures and fountains. Fred took an interesting picture of one of the fountains and sculptures, and you can see that picture here.

At the base of the Red Maple Rill, there is a relatively new water feature where the water that flows down through the Rill collects in a very pretty rock-lined pond (and is presumably pumped back up to the top of the Rill. It is always a nice place to stop and relax- particularly in the summer, when it becomes one of the most photographed sites in the gardens.

Today was cold, and did not show off the water feature to its best advantage, but we did take a few pictures. If you'd like to see them, just click on the thumbnails below:

We wound our way around to the McCasland Sunken Garden, another popular spot for amateur photographers. I have a zillion photographs of the sculpture here, and added a nice one of Nancy and Prudence to my collection. And here are two more good pictures taken at each end of the sunken garden:

Then we walked from the sunken garden over to the Red Maple Rill. The stream that runs down the Rill is crossed by a bridge half-way up, and we took the walkway to the top of the Rill. Near the top of the Rill, we came across a new water feature- a series of fountains and waterfalls that feed the top of the Red Maple Rill.

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I didn't recall having seen this water feature before, but then the Arboretum has been undergoing a lot of expansion lately. I made a movie of this new water feature, and you can use the movie player at left to watch it.

From here, we made our way back to the entry, stopping at some of the gazebos along the way. In addition to the pictures of the gazebos that you've already seen, here are clickable thumbnails for some of the other pictures we took on the way back to the entrance plaza:

We had a good time walking through the Arboretum, and the gazebos constructed for the Twelve Days of Christmas were beautiful and pretty amazing. We were all a bit chilled, and so we stopped at a local coffeehouse at Loma Linda Center for something hot to drink and a snack to go with it.

We asked Guy to stay with us tonight, since we'd be meeting up with Prudence, Nancy, Ron and Karl for a visit to the museums in Fort Worth tomorrow. So we were dropped off back at my house so Guy could get settled in and we could relax before driving out to Grapevine for dinner with everyone else. We were back out there about seven, meeting everyone else (Karl was still at his meetings) at a steak restaurant near Nancy's house for dinner. We had a great time; the food was excellent and the company very pleasant. I took a couple of pictures of our party and stitched them together into this widescreen view:

Then the three of us returned home, with plans to meet up for breakfast in the morning before our drive over to Fort Worth.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.

December 19, 2014: The Museums in Fort Worth
December 13, 2014: The Book Club Christmas Party
Return to the Index for 2014