July 2-3, 2015: Two Days in Comanche, Texas
June 20, 2015: Debbie Crawford's Retirement Party
Return to the Index for 2015

June 28, 2015
A Visit to the Dallas Arboretum


Today, Fred and I are joining Steve and Mario and two members of our book club, Mike and Charlie, who have driven over from Fort Worth, for lunch and then a walk through the Dallas Arboretum. We ended up having lunch at the Blackeyed Pea down in the crossroads, and then drove over to the Arboretum.



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. Since we had lunch in the crossroads, it made sense to take the route through town and around the south end of White Rock Lake.

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.

From the Blackeyed Pea, we went across the north side of downtown to find Gaston Avenue with took us eastward to Garland Road right at the south end of the lake. Then we headed northeast to the main Arboretum entrance. We usually make a circular transit of the entire Arboretum each time we visit, and we are going to do the same today.

At right is a diagram of the Dallas Arboretum, and you can follow our route through the gardens on it. From the entry, we usually work our way around through the Fern Dell and the Jonsson Color Garden and through the Woman's Garden. That route involves a good bit of walking, and we didn't think that Mike and Charlie wanted to do that much, so we headed down the Paseo del Flores instead.

The Paseo is the main walkway through the gardens, and it took us past the latest attraction, some children's play houses, past the garden restaurant and to the Red Maple Rill- a beautiful, shady area of the gardens, and it was hot enough to day to make it a welcome respite.

We worked our way through the newly-renovated Lay Family Garden and to the extreme east end of the Arboretum where the new Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden has been built. I guess the Arboretum hasn't yet created a new diagram to include it, so it is out of the diagram to the right.

When we were done there, we worked our way back to the Arboretum entrance, following the Paseo del Flores.

With that orientation in mind, we can look at some of the many pictures we took on our visit today.



At the Arboretum Entry

We'd come in two cars, so Steve used his membership for free parking for one of them, and I used our membership for the other. And with our family membership and Steve's individual one, we were able to get all six of us in for free. I must say that our Arboretum membership is very much worth it, year after year.

At the entry, we took a few group pictures and two of them are below. Fred and I switched out at the left, and the remaining folks from the left are Mario, Steve, Mike and Charlie:

The day was very warm, so we decided to take a shorter route through the gardens than our traditional one, and we headed off down the walkway by the education building to the beginning of the Paseo del Flores.

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As we started off, I got in front of the group to make a movie, but I apologize that I apparently didn't give the camera time to focus properly at the beginning, so everyone is a bit fuzzy to start out with. There is a player at left for you to watch the movie if you wish. And below are clickable thumbnails for some of the pictures we took as we walked to the Paseo:



Flower Houses with a Texas Flavor

Just off the Paseo, near the entry complex, there is an area where the Arboretum sites its special and seasonal displays. Here is where the Pumpkin Patch in the Fall is located. But during the year, the structures and the layout change; at the moment, the theme is Fairy Tale Flower Houses with a Texas flair.

The particular structure in the picture at left is a play on the Gingerbread Man; here, its the Jalapeno Man instead. I know the sign in front of the structure is unreadable, so I took a separate picture of it; you can read the "Texasified" fairy tale here.

Another house was Dusty Locks and the Three Bears, and you can read the modified fairy tale here. A third house was Texas Zeke and the Longhorn (based on The Old Woman and Her Pig). You can read the modified fairy tale here.

We took a few more pictures around the fairy tale houses, and there are clickable thumbnails for them below:

In this area of the houses, the Arboretum had gone so far as to construct an artificial stream, perhaps to delineate the area from the adjacent parts of the gardens. We continued walking east along the Paseo del Flores, and presently came to the rose garden just off the walkway. While the rest of the guys went to walk around the rose garden, I took advantage of a shady spot nearby to get out of the sun. While waiting for them, I passed the time observing one of the many garden denizens.

We next came to a relatively new feature of the garden, the fountain and water feature at the top of the Red Maple Rill. From this large fountain and pool, an artificial stream flows down through the shady rill, which is criss-crossed by walkways and bridges down to the collection pool at the bottom. Here are clickable thumbnails for some views of the water feature and the rill:

On the east side of the rill there is another small fountain up on the hill overlooking White Rock lake, and a sculpture nearby. We got back to the flower-bordered Paseo and continued to its eastern end, where there is a new entrance to the Lay Family Garden. Here, I stopped to take a picture of our group.

The Lay Family Garden used to have a narrow entry from the end of the Paseo del Flores, and I think a lot of garden visitors missed it, so recently the small entrance was closed off and two larger ways into this area of the garden- one from the top of the performance lawn and one from the new walkway leading to the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden- have been constructed.

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The Lay Family Garden has been almost completely renovated in the last year or so. It was always a nice garden, but a bit overgrown, and so it has been opened up into a garden with a central lawn and numerous water features. You can play the movie at left to get a good view of this renovated garden.

There was always a koi pond, but it now is more accessible, and many of the plants that used to grow in the pond (and make the koi hard to see) have been cleaned out. Below are clickable thumbnails for some views of the pond:

Fred got a nice picture of me, Mario and Mike as we came around by the pond, heading towards the new waterfall that has been constructed here in the Lay Garden. It was built to look like a grotto, and indeed you can walk around behind the actual waterfall, along rock walls and columns that are decorated with artificial fossils.

This brought us back out to the new walkway that has been built running alongside the east side of the Lay Garden and around behind it to the children's garden. That's where Fred took the picture at right.

The Lay Garden and grotto are a favorite for photographers (and I don't think we've ever visited the garden without seeing at least one photograph being taken for a Quincenera. You'll see one if you click on the three thumbnails below for the last of our pictures from the Lay Garden:

The east exit from the Lay Garden puts you on the new walkway that leads further east to the Arboretum's newest addition- the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden. Admission to this new area was, at one time, a separate charge- even for Arboretum members, but recently it appears that the Arboretum has included admission to it in the plans of its Members above a certain level. With our Family membership, we were able to get free admission for Charlie and Mike, and Steve's membership got Mario in, wo we were all good.

We showed our wristbands at the entrance gate and came onto the entrance plaza. There is a fountain in the middle in which some children were playing, and we took advantage of the misting system to sit in the shade for a while before heading on into the Adventure Garden.

The Adventure Garden slopes from the entrance down to White Rock Lake, and so the views from just near the fountain are quite nice. It may appear that something was wrong with my camera, but the view at left was actually taken from behind the main waterfall at the top of the garden. The water flows over a glass-ceilinged enclosure and then down in a curtain to the pool below. The distortion you see is because we are actually in the enclosure, behind the waterfall, with the water flowing smoothly over our heads. Here are clickable thumbnails for a couple of pictures that will show you what I mean:

The Children's Adventure Garden is a wonderland for kids. Facing the lake from our position behind the waterfall, there is a play area for very small children in a shady area off to our left. Directly in front of us and down below is the Learning Center, which contains exhibit areas and a planetarium. It is also air-conditioned- very nice on a day like today. Further towards the lake from the Learning Center is the activity area of the garden:

Here, below an elevated walkway is a pool with a great many learning stations and exhibits. Kids can wander through them and go all the way around the little pond. The elevated walkway, which itself has a number of kid-friendly attractions branching off of it, begins at the entrance to the Adventure Garden and ends at the central tower). which has an elevator and stairs leading down to this level of the garden. (The entire garden is wheelchair-accessible.)

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One of the fun things to do is to use the water cannons to shoot a stream out into the pond to turn the various mechanisms that stick up out of the water- kind of like wind gauges. Whether by experience or original design, the cannon, which can be rotated left and right and up and down by the operator, have governors installed that prevent them from shooting water anywhere but into the pond, and the water can't reach the learning stations either. Fred made a movie of me using one of the cannon; you can use the player at right to watch it. And while Mario was doing the same think, I took a picture of him, and you can see it here. Below are clickable thumbnails for some other pictures we took in this area of the garden:

We spent some time walking around the lower level of the Children's Garden; Steve, Mario, Fred and I have been here before, but it was new to Mike and Charlie. When we were done, we took the elevator up to the upper level of the garden's central tower.

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From that vantage point, you can see out across the entire Adventure Garden, as well as all the way across White Rock Lake. It is an impressive view, so I made a movie panning across it. You can use the player at left to watch that movie.

We also took some individual pictures from here, and there are clickable thumbnails below for a few of them:

As I said, the view from here is just tremendous, and so I thought I would try another panoramic view. With my back against the tower core, I took a series of pictures all across my field of view. The view covers somewhere around 270° of arc, I think. You can see it in the scrollable window below:

We walked back to the Adventure Garden entrance along the elevated Texas Trail walkway; it has its own attractions, on little platforms off to the side with bridges to get to them. You can see one of them here. Along this walkway, you can also get a good view of the Learning Center, where kids and adults can work with hands-on materials to learn. There are teenage "naturalists" available to help, and a number of computer terminals set up to allow investigation of garden-related subjects. There is even a small planetarium, and we went in for a while to listen and watch while the operator took us on a tour of the solar system.

Mike and Charlie were impressed, I think, with the Adventure Garden; they had been to the Arboretum itself before, but not in many years. We walked slowly back to the entrance along the Paseo del Flores until we got back to the entry plaze and the various administration buildings. We'd had a good time with Mike and Charlie this afternoon, and in the parking lot we said goodbye to them as they drove directly from there back over to Fort Worth.

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

July 2-3, 2015: Two Days in Comanche, Texas
June 20, 2015: Debbie Crawford's Retirement Party
Return to the Index for 2015