March 9-28, 2016: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
February 26-29, 2016: A Weekend in San Antonio
Return to the Index for 2016

March 6, 2016
Dallas Blooms! At the Arboretum


Today, Sunday, Fred and I are going to head over to the Arboretum for Dallas Blooms!, the annual spring celebration. If we don't go now, by the time we return from Florida most of the azaleas will be past their peak, although today we may be a bit early. Fred got back from his Mom's yesterday, and he will be heading home tonight so we can leave for Florida on Tuesday.


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. When Fred and I go there from the house, as we are doing this morning, the northern route is most direct.

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 actually took Mockingbird Lane all the way across town and across the bridge at the top of White Rock Lake to Buckner Boulevard, which we took south to Gaston Avenue. Then we came back southwest to the main Arboretum entrance. We usually make a circular transit of the entire Arboretum each time we visit, and we will do that today. We'll start out by going across the north side of the gardens and back to the Lay Family Garden. We may go in the Rory Meyers Children's Garden but possibly not. We'll return to the entry along the Paseo de Flores, stopping in the test gardens, at the Frog Fountain and the Crepe Myrtle Allee and at the All America Selections Garden before returning to the entry.

So you can follow us on our tour through the Gardens, I'll use the diagram of the Arboretum that is on their website (although I've simplified it a bit by removing a lot of markers for places not important to our visit today). On this diagram, I'll mark the individual named gardens that we visited, which were:

1.   Trammel Crow Entry Plaza
2.   Jonsson Color Garden
3.   A Woman's Garden (Phase 1)
4.   A Woman's Garden (Phase 2)
5.   Boswell Family Garden
6.   Rudchik Red Maple Rill
7.   Alex Camp House
8.   Lay Family Garden
9.   The Test Beds
and the Paseo de Flores

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


At the Trammel Crow Entry Plaza (1)

Opened in 2003, The Trammell Crow Visitor Education Pavilion and Entry Plaza welcomes visitors to the breathtaking surroundings of the Dallas Arboretum.

In the Entry Plaza

In the Entry Plaza

Built with native Texas limestone and wood and copper sheathing, the structures here in the Entry Plaza serve as the gateway to the gardens.

Upon entering, visitors encounter the Scott K. Ginsburg Family Plaza and Junkins Fountain, which are always enveloped by seasonal flora. Today, the stars are the multi-colored tulips, bordered by ornamental kale. You can see a small sampling of them at left.

The Plaza is surrounded by the information booth, classrooms, offices and facilities on your right, and the gift shop, meeting rooms and the cafe on your left. I think that one of the best times of the year for the Plaza is during the Fall Festival, when the entire plaza and the fountain are bordered by gourds and pumpkins of every size and description.

Today, though, its the late winter/early spring flowers that are taking center stage, and the plaza is all the better for it.

You won't see a picture of the Junkins Fountain today; we've photographed it numerous times before. We just headed off to our left, past the cafe, and down the stairs to the Fern Dell and Color Garden. Before we left the plaza, though, I had Fred pose for a series of pictures that I put together into this panorama:


The Margaret Elisabeth Jonsson Color Garden (2)

Designed by Naud Burnett II, the 6.5-acre Margaret Elisabeth Jonsson Color Garden features large, sweeping beds of seasonal flowers and plants. It is located northeast of the entry plaza, down a series of steps and across a bridge at the bottom of the Fern Dell. It has three sections, with a walkway all around the perimeter and two walkways through the middle of the acreage.

From the Trammel Crow Entry Plaza, we turned left (to the west), walked past the cafe and then down a series of steps to the north. This put us at the bottom of the Fern Dell and its artificial stream. The bridge that you can see in the picture at left crosses that stream and puts you at the extreme western end of the Jonsson Color Garden.

It seems that most times, when we come to the Arboretum, we follow the walkway along the north side of the Color Garden; I suppose this is because most of the azaleas are on the north side of that walkway and this is a good way to see them when they are in bloom. We are just a bit early for them at this point, although some of the earliest varieties that were down by the bridge had started to put on their show. The Color Garden is home to more than 2,000 varieties of azaleas, which bloom lavishly in the spring.

We crossed the bridge, and Fred immediately took a picture of me looking back across the bridge towards the entry plaza; you can see that picture here.

At this time of year, "Dallas Blooms!" having just begun, the gardens sport mostly daffodils and tulips, along with the remainder of the pansies and ornamental kale and some other blooms that have made it through the winter.

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We took quite a few pictures of these early spring blooms, and I have put eight of the best of them in a slideshow at right. To move from one picture to the next, just click on the little "forward" and "backward" symbols in the lower corners of each image. You can track your progress through the show with the marker numbers in the upper left of each image. Enjoy the beautiful blooms!

The Jonsson Color Garden changes dramatically throughout the year. Summer brings a vibrant display of bananas and tapioca plants, while autumn ushers in brightly colored chrysanthemums.

Just after you cross the bridge and begin walking along the north side of the Color Garden, you are passing an area the Arboretum calls "The Waterwise Display". This large, kidney-bean-shaped bed, donated by Region IV of the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, provides a location for home gardeners to learn how to install and manage a low-water landscape- something of prime importance in this part of the country. Here are two views of this display:

The Waterwise Display (looking east)

The Waterwise Display (looking west)

Although we did not walk through it today (it being more of a summer thing), the Palmer Fern Dell lies between serves as a shady respite within the Color Garden, boasting a collection of ferns, camellias, azaleas and many other shade loving perennials and shrubs.

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I think that the Color Garden is always very, very beautiful, but it is no more so than it is during Dallas Blooms!. I only wish that the azaleas bordering the walkway on the north side had been putting on their show.

We took quite a few pictures as we walked around the Jonsson Color Garden, and I have put the best of these in the slideshow at right. To move from one picture to the next, just click on the little "forward" and "backward" symbols in the lower corners of each image. You can track your progress through the show with the marker numbers in the upper left of each image. Enjoy the Jonsson Color Garden!

The individual pictures are pretty, of course, but creating more panoramic views shows the Jonsson Color Garden off to even better advantage. Here are a few such pictures we took or created:

Looking South

Looking West

Looking South

We continued walking along the north side of the Color Garden, wandering off occasionally if we saw some early azaleas blooming or to get a look at White Rock Lake. It was just a bit overcast, but a very nice day for early March.

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I made a movie as we walked along towards the DeGolyer House and A Woman's Garden; you can use the player at left to watch it.

(Click Thumbnails to View)

At left are the last of the pictures we took in the Jonsson Color Garden; we took them at the end of the garden by the DeGolyer House.

A common sight in the Arboretum, pretty much year round, are young girls having photographs made for their Quinceañera. This Spanish tradition, also called "fiesta de quince años", is a celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday, marking the transition from childhood to young womanhood. The celebrations today vary significantly across countries; celebrations in some countries, for example, have taken on more religious overtones than in others. From what we can see, the extent of the celebration is limited only by the family's financial resources. You will see some of these photo shoots in those pictures by the DeGolyer House.


A Woman's Garden (Phase 1) (3)

A Woman's Garden is a gift from the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. This serene and nationally acclaimed Dallas garden features terraced walkways and exceptional views.

One entrance to A Woman's Garden is through the gateway from the Jonsson Color Garden, located at the northwest corner of the DeGolyer House. When you go through this entrance, you are greeted with the view at left into Phase 1 of this 1.8-acre formal garden. This phase was designed in 1997 by landscape architect Morgan Wheelock. A Woman’s Garden is comprised of several smaller outdoor garden "rooms" including the Pecan Parterre and the Poetry Garden which features a sunken garden of roses. The Majestic Allee where visitors can view White Rock Lake just beyond a dramatic reflecting pool.

We always enjoy walking through A Woman's Garden; I like it for its symmetry, which is easy to see when you look in from the Jonsson Color Garden. There are benches to sit and relax and, of course, two commanding water features. Here are some of the pictures we took today in this part of the garden:

(Picture at left)
Everyone has seen pear trees bloom, but peach trees in bloom are less well-known.

(Picture at right)
Another plant not seen very often is Foxglove, from which digitalis is extracted.

Here are more pictures from A Woman's Garden:

(Click Thumbnails to View)


A Woman's Garden (Phase 2) (4)/Boswell Family Garden (5)

In the area east of A Woman's Garden there are a number of named gardens and features, most of them quite small. There are lots of pathways through this area, and we never seem to take the same one twice. Phase 2 of A Woman's Garden, which opened in 2006, has a babbling brook, a lawn and balcony (called "The Pulpit"), a large water feature known as "Orchid Hollow" and "Karen's Gazebo", where you can sit and look out over White Rock Lake. I made a movie of the brook, and we took some other pictures as well; the movie player is at left, below:

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Here are some other of today's pictures from these gardens:

(Click Thumbnails to View)


The Red Maple Rill (6)/Alex Camp House (7)

We walked across the bottom of the Boswell Garden and through Orchid Hollow to come out at the base of the artificial stream that runs from the Paseo de Flores down through the Red Maple Rill.

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I made a movie beginning here at the recirculating pool for the Red Maple Rill and walking almost up to the top of the garden; you can use the player at left to watch it.

The Nancy Rutchik Red Maple Rill is a two-acre garden that boasts a fabulous collection of over 80 varieties of signature Japanese Maples planted along an artificial stream. (Personally, I think the stream is probably the Arboretum's best attraction and certainly its most intricate and engaging water feature.)

Key design elements of the Nancy Rutchik Red Maple Rill include a new entry off the Paseo de Flores and a large gathering plaza that overlooks a re-circulating creek and numerous waterfalls. The picture of the Red Maple Rill was taken from that space, and you can see a picture of me on this plaza at the top of the rill here.

Opened in fall 2011, this charming area also includes a series of paved walkways and a stone bridge connecting the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage to the Magnolia Allee. An especially large weeping Japanese maple, nearly 100 years old, anchors the center of the garden. When we got to the Paseo, we walked over by the Alex Camp House towards the Lay Garden. Beside the pool in front of the house we found a bronze sculpture of Mark Twain. We found out later that this was just one of a series being exhibited in the garden. We saw only some of them today, but returned a month hence with our friends Mario and Steve to see and photograph the rest of them.

The Alex Camp House

Fred Sitting with Mark Twain

There were lots of seasonal plantings all around the Alex Camp House (donated to the Arboretum by the heirs of its former owner), and we took a good many pictures of them. There were particularly nice displays along the walkway back to the Lay Family Garden. At right are some thumbnails that you can click on to see some of the pictures we took of these displays.


The Lay Family Garden (8)

The Lay Family Garden (formally known as the Lay Ornamental Garden) is a 2.2-acre garden filled with hundreds of perennials and woody plants. This garden lies at the northeast end of the Arboretum proper, just to the east of the Alex Camp House; beyond it is the new Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden. Main features are the trio of waterwalls, the lawn and circular water feature, the koi pond and Fossil Falls.

Looking West from the Koi Pond

This view looks across the small lawn in the center of the Lay Garden towards the Alex Camp House- the building in the center of the picture.

The Curtain Waterfalls

This trio of waterfalls has been a staple of the Lay Garden since it opened- although the landscaping has changed.

The recent renovation of the Lay Family Garden changed the traffic flow (in addition to the creation of Fossil Falls). An exit from the Lay Garden to the Rory Meyers Children's Garden needed to be created; this supplemented the walkway that in effect extends the Paseo de Flores (which actually ends in front of the Alex Camp House) all the way to the new Children's Garden. Visitors can go behind Fossil Falls to this new exit. New entrances to the Lay Garden were also made, to replace the kind of convoluted entrance that used to exist. One of these is beside the Alex Camp House and the other comes in off the walkway to the Meyers Garden.

At left you can see the new water feature that was added to the Lay Garden. I call it "Fossil Falls" because embedded in the wall behind the actual waterfall are a number of fossil sea creatures; most of these actually came from the area around Lake Texoma. Visitors can actually walk behind the falls and either continue around the lily pond and koi pond to the Curtain Waterfalls, or they can take the new exit through the hedge and find themselves right beside the entrance to the new Children's Garden.

The former entry to the Lay Garden has now become a pocket garden and more of a destination than a passageway. Here are more pictures from the Lay Family Garden:

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One of the most popular features of the Lay Family Garden has always been the native limestone walls with waterfalls cascading from them; these are directly across the large lagoon for aquatic plants from the grotto falls.

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Walking by these waterfalls, I made one of my many movies of them, and you can use the player at right to watch it.

The waterfalls are certainly neat from the inside of the Lay Garden, but they are even more interesting when viewed from the other side. Part of the renovation of the Lay Garden added a new walkway that actuall goes behind the limestone walls, giving visitors a chance to look through the waterfalls into the Lay Garden itself. In the two pictures below, the left hand picture is a view looking through one of these waterfalls into the garden; the other is a view of that same waterfall looking out from the garden:

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While we were back behind the waterfalls, I happened to notice a beautiful redbud in full bloom, and I just had to photograph it. You can see that picture here.

We ran across a second of the life-size bronze sculptures here in the Lay Family Garden- this one of Albert Einstein. I sat down beside him so that Fred could take the picture at left.

The Arboretum has encouraged garden designers to add water features; the Lay Garden has four waterfalls, the pond for aquatic plants, a stream with three weirs and a Koi pond. Here are some additional pictures we in the Lay Garden- including one looking down into the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden:

From the Lay Family Garden, we walked back out to the circle in front of the Alex Camp House to head down the Paseo de Flores back towards the Arboretum entrance.


The Arboretum's Test Beds (9)

The Dallas Arboretum has two areas where plants are tested (and where starts of various varieties are grown). At many botanical gardens, these areas are not open to the public, but here in Dallas they are. One such area is just south of the Paseo de Flores and somewhat west of the Alex Camp House, and we almost always make a stop there.

Here at the Arboretum, the test beds are for both in-ground and potted plants, and the beds are five long rows of flowers of various types, organized by type and by color. Above them are hanging pots, and off in their own area are the pots as you might see along a walkway or on a patio. Of course, with so many plants, the area is a riot of color almost all year round, and Fred always likes to stop to see if there are varieties of flowers he is unfamiliar with. Here are some of the pictures we took of the test beds today:

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Adjacent to the long test beds are some rectangular ones where more shrub-like plants and flowers are tested; some of these beds are in shade so that quality can be evaluated as well. The Arboretum is quite good about labeling everything, so if Fred finds something he likes he can jot it down for further investigation. The labeling probably also helps some other Arboretum visitors know what's good and bad to eat.

Everything was so colorful today that Fred and I (well, mostly I) took a great many pictures. We took pictures of the beds and of the individual flowers in them, and you can see that there was a wide range of bright colors and flower types. I have put some of the best of today's pictures in the two slide shows below. Enjoy the beauty of the Arboretum today!

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The Paseo de Flores (10)

From the test beds, our stroll back to the Arboretum entrance followed the Paseo de Flores- the main walkway through the Gardens. There are always floral displays along the Paseo, and one can take detours to the DeGolyer House and the Trial Gardens.

Along the Paseo de Flores

Commonly referred to as simply The Paseo, the Lyda bunker Hunt Paseo de Flores is a meandering pathway serves as the central walkway of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

Designed by Luis Santana, the path begins at the Trammell Crow Visitor Education Pavilion and concludes near Fogelson Fountain, which was donated by the late Greer Garson in memory of her husband, Buddy, in front of the Alex Camp House. An extension of the walkway leads around the southeast side of the Lay Family Garden to reach the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden. Along The Paseo, visitors can stop for photo opportunities and fun at the Magnolia Glade, the Crape Myrtle Allee, the Toad Corners Fountain, the Shadow Garden and the Pecan Grove.

There is a lot to do and see along the Paseo. There are food kiosks and two cafes, the DeGolyer House and other facilities. Near the Entry Pavilion is another set of trial gardens.

Tulips (and an interloper) Along the Paseo de Flores

Of course, at this time of year, both sides of the Paseo are lined with flowers. Today, it was often tulips, but there were also beds of other flowers as well. And the Arboretum did an amazing job of floral color‑coordination. Here are some of the beautiful floral displays we encountered on our walk along the Paseo:

(Click Thumbnails to View)

As we were walking back along the Paseo, we encountered two more of the bronze sculptures, and when I got back to the information desk I got a map for the rest of them, which we will return to see sometime soon.

Fred and Abe Lincoln

Me and George Washington

As it turned out, not only were there bronze sculptures scattered throughout the garden, but there were performers scheduled as well, although we only encountered one.

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The one performer we encountered was right by the Lincoln bronze at the west end of the DeGolyer House, and I stopped to make a short movie while we were waiting for President Lincoln to become available for a photo op. You can use the movie player at left to watch that movie.

The sculptures were all very interesting. Here is President Washington without anyone sitting next to him, and you can also see a close-up view of just his bust here. And here are a few more pictures we took along the Paseo:

(Click Thumbnails to View)

Just before you get back to the Trammel Crow Pavilion, you pass another set of test gardens on the left. These beds are part of a nationwide network of trial gardens run by All-America Selections.

In North Texas, there are many environmental challenges that make selecting the right plants crucial to successful gardening. Although most catalogs and books provide information about plant requirements, many of these descriptions are based on growing experience in northern states. Dallas has weather conditions that require resilient plants. Our winters can be mild, but we occasionally experience sudden sharp drops in temperature. We ask a lot of our ornamental plants, as they must also tolerate periods of too much rain or no rain at all and extreme temperatures in the summer.

The Trial Gardens at the Dallas Arboretum were created for the purpose of expanding its research efforts and providing information to the public. The focus of the trial program is to grow and evaluate many different plants in the drastic climate of the Metroplex and North Central Texas. Information generated from the trials is provided to commercial plant producers, retailers and home gardeners. Between 3,000 and 5,000 plants are trialed yearly from over 150 plant breeding companies.

The trial garden is part of the All-America Selections program; a non-profit organization encourages gardens in different areas of the country to undertake these programs, and the information gleaned is shared through that organization with garden clubs, garden centers and the public.

Just before we left the Arboretum, I picked up a map of the eight bronze sculptures so we could visit the rest of them next time, and we made a stop in the gift shop. They were selling scaled down bronze miniatures of some of the sculptures, including this one of Henri Matisse. Since Prudence likes art, I thought of getting it for her for Christmas this year, but the $6000 price tag was just a bit too daunting. We enjoyed our visit to Dallas Blooms!, and we plan to return sometime after our trip to Florida next week to catch the rest of the sculptures and to see if the azaleas are in full bloom.

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

March 9-28, 2016: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
February 26-29, 2016: A Weekend in San Antonio
Return to the Index for 2016