My mother-in-law has come for a week-long visit from the eastern shore of Maryland and I have kept her very busy with various activities. One of my plans before she arrived was to take her to Schedel Gardens in Elmore, OH. They have a mansion tour you can take on Wednesdays and Fridays but when I called to make our reservation for the tour, I was told the tour guide would be off that Friday, so no mansion tour. Schedel costs $10 per person just for access to the gardens, and when I looked up the directions for how to get there, it looked a bit complicated and included having to use the Ohio Turnpike. All this had me looking for an alternative outing for the two of us.
Toledo Botanical Gardens are lovely, and free, but I had already taken her there in the past and wanted something new. I got the brilliant idea to search for a botanical garden in Ann Arbor and found Matthaei Botanical Gardens which is run by the University of Michigan in conjunction with the city of Ann Arbor. Admission is free – with just a nominal cost to park ($1.40 per hour with a $5 maximum) – and best of all getting there was easy! Actually, it was funny because Matthaei is located on Dixboro Road, which happens to be one of our alternative routes if we are going up north and traffic is backed up around the 23/14 split at Ann Arbor, so I knew exactly where I was going! (Funny to think I passed it by on multiple occasions and never new it was there!)
We were blessed with a lovely day for meandering around the gardens. It was a bit breezy and cool, with occasional clouds fighting with the sun for dominance of the sky. We started off our visit at the Visitor’s Center and Conservatory. The Conservatory has a Tropical House, a Temperate House and a Desert House. I was anxious to get plenty of photos with my new camera!
I guess next time I go to a garden to do photography, I will have to carry paper and pen to write down the names of the flowers I photograph! I experimented with some macro-photography. This was one of my favorites.
This is another of my favorite macro shots.
Mom and I were fascinated with this agave that had grown right through the conservatory glass ceiling.
Oh, and I almost forgot about the koi pond! I was happy my photos turned out – somewhat! 🙂
After the Conservatory we wandered out to the Bonsai and Penjing Garden. I experimented with things I had been reading about in the photo books, such a frame-in-frame and leading lines, but the sun was directly overhead by this time and so I didn’t achieve the exact effect I was hoping for.
The Perennial Garden was so lovely but I was disappointed by the results of my photos – the color was not as vibrant as it was in real life, although a few of my efforts were pretty good. My mother-in-law used her iphone to take a picture of me taking pictures.
Gaffield Children’s Garden was next. I loved the ivy-covered tunnel entrance to the Children’s Garden. Even though I am now well “over the hill”, I enjoyed the Children’s Garden very much. What a great place to take kids! There are plenty of places where they can play in the dirt and run free in this area. I wish I had known about this place when my children were little!
Outside the Children’s Garden was the MiSo house – an all solar powered home. It looked very interesting but unfortunately you can only tour the MiSo house on certain days, and it was not open on the day we were there.
The Botanical Gardens are filled with lovely sculptures and artwork. Well, and some that are “interesting”.
We wandered back through the Great Lakes Gardens and stopped under this pergola for a rest and to enjoy the water features of the Gateway Garden. My mother-in-law took my camera to shoot a couple photos of me.
I had packed us a simple picnic lunch which we enjoyed near the Willow Pond. There wasn’t much to see in the way of bird activity except for a pair of mallards, a whole lot of Canadian geese with their goslings, and red-winged black birds. But I think this would be a very good birding spot during spring migration.
Matthaei has several walking trails throughout the grounds but we only walked the short trail around the Willow Pond when we finished our lunch. These were the biggest Queen Anne’s Lace I have ever seen in my life, but you don’t really get the sense of how large they are from the photo.
We topped off our visit with another stop in the Visitor’s Center and the gift shop, stopping to take a couple of photos of the mosaics that adorn the front walk-way.
Then I took several photos of the beautiful flower garden in front of the Visitor’s Center which was filled with a colorful array of peonies.
If you are in the Ann Arbor area and looking for a nice outing, I encourage you to check out Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Also, click here to visit their web site which is filled with information about the Gardens (there is also the Nichols Arboretum closer to the U of M campus) and their many educational programs.
Mom and I thoroughly enjoyed our day and I am anxious to go back again! I’m sorry if I put too many photos in this post, this is only a fraction of what I took that day! 🙂