The Chicago Botanic Gardens open at 7am. This is something I was totally unaware of when we lived in Chicago. During our recent visit, we were staying a short distance away and had some free time in the morning. We decided to go early, have a wander around, get some breakfast there and then go back to the hotel to be ready for the day. We might not have been there spot on 7am but we weren’t much later.
Early morning is a great time to look around. It was a hot weekend that weekend so we were able to enjoy the gardens before they got too hot. We were also able to enjoy them pretty much alone for a lot of the time. The crowds have not shown up yet and the place is occupied by the regulars. In some of the more central parts of the gardens, the groundskeepers are still busy at work sorting things out before the majority of visitors appear.
We wandered around a good portion of the grounds. Heading towards midsummer, even that early in the day is long after the sun comes up so it isn’t the perfect light. It is a lot better than later in the day though so worth taking the camera. With so few people, the chance to get unobstructed shots is worth it in itself. Having not been for a while, the chance to walk the grounds again was a treat as well.
As we wandered around the botanic garden in Balboa Park, I was quite interested in a plant that had branches with an odd oval shape repeated across their surface. I mentioned it to Nancy and she had seen something similar in another part of the garden but that had been cut off. The cross section of the branch was more interesting than the surface apparently.
We spent a short while hunting for where she had seen this before and when we found it, she was proved correct. The outside of the branch had the same pattern as I had seen earlier. The inside was certainly unusual. Rather than try and describe it, I shall just let you take a look for yourselves.
The Botanic Garden in Balboa Park is apparently one of the most popular visitor locations in the city. It isn’t hard to see why since it is densely packed with all manner of vegetation, much of which is beautiful to look at. From tiny plants and delicate orchids to great ferns and palms, there is plenty for the visitor to see. And, there are plenty of visitors! The place has never been quiet whenever I have been there and this visit was certainly no exception.
Not only is it a popular place for people, the local wildlife also seems to like what it has to offer. Birds are flying around at the entrance all the time. I also saw a pretty cool looking caterpillar on a plant just outside the door. I don’t know whether it considered the plant life inside to be tastier and couldn’t get in or whether it was happy munching on what it had. It certainly seemed to be well fed, though.
The garden is not huge so, with everyone squeezed in, it feels pretty busy. Some people are looking at everything, others seem to be just enjoying the overall ambience. For many of the children it seemed to be a chance to see how many of the signs they could ignore by standing on things that weren’t to be stood on or touching things that were not supposed to be touched! I enjoyed the shape and style of the building as much as the plants. It calls out for playing with either a really wide angle lens or a longer lens to compress features. I had to make do with what I had with me.
An enclave away from the main botanic garden is the Redwood Amphitheater. When we arrived, a wedding was underway in this area but, by the time we had finished walking around the main garden, it was open again so we checked it out. While the redwoods in there are still young by sequoia standards, they are certainly not small. The amphitheater itself is rather nice and it does look like a good spot for a wedding. While we were there, a couple was checking it out. Our assumption was that one person was from the botanic garden explaining to them what could be done, one was their wedding planner and the couple was taking all of this in. At least she seemed to be taking it all in. I got the feeling he was along for the ride on this one but probably wasn’t quite as “in” to it as she was. Good luck fella!
We took a trip to the University of California Botanic Gardens at Berkeley to see what the collection included. I will share a bit more about the place in due course but one early stop was in a glasshouse that had a collection of carnivorous plants. They had the obvious Venus fly traps but they had far more of the pitcher plants. Some were in cases but there were a few out in the open and close to your head. I think these things are fascinating plants and they look rather cool. Maybe you won’t agree but here are some for you to judge.
The UC Botanic Garden in Berkeley was beginning to show the signs of fall when we visited. Located in the hills above Berkeley, the climate is probably quite different to other areas nearby. In a previous trip to the area, the clouds were rolling across the hillside making it cold and damp when it was warm and sunny a short distance away. I imagine this impacts what thrives on the hills. Some of the plants were clearly suited to arid conditions. However, there were signs of the trees turning red and brown as fall set in so obviously they have quite a variety of plants as would befit such a garden.
I don’t know much about plants and so cannot name what we saw. Instead, I shall share a few of the views through the gardens which looked particularly nice given the lower angle of the sun as the time of day and year.
In the heart of downtown Oklahoma City is an oasis from the normal bustle of a city in the form of a botanic garden. This is not something on the scale of some of the other botanic gardens I have visited over the years. It is more of a park that has been nicely landscaped. However, it is known as the Myriad Botanic Gardens and it has a glasshouse at its center. This is a cylindrical structure that spans a pond.
I got to the gardens at the end of the day and with limited time before it closed, I didn’t bother to shell out the entrance fee (which did seem a bit steep). Instead, I was more intent on getting some shots as the sun started to set. I wasn’t alone in this idea. There were a few photographers like me wandering around looking for shots and a considerable number that were there professionally shooting individuals and family groups against the various backgrounds the garden had to offer.
Aside from the cylindrical glass structure, there were water features, sculptures, a stage in the round and an open space with a stage at the end for free concerts, one of which was setting up while I was there. A reggae band were getting ready and, as I strolled around, they started their performance so I had a nice bit of background music while I enjoyed the evening which had cooled nicely to the high 90s from the earlier temperatures in the 100s!
While the downtown area of Oklahoma City has not struck me as one that has a lot of people living in it, there was a good sized crowd at the concert as well as those walking around the gardens. It seems to be a popular spot and, being within a couple of blocks of my hotel, it was a pleasant change from the usual hotel environment.
As I have mentioned before, visitors provide a good reason to do things that I might otherwise put off. My sister being in town was a good source of reasons to do stuff! That included a trip to the Botanic Gardens. In a quirk of the weather we have had this spring in Chicago, this turned out to be a sunny day but a cool one with the temperature hanging around in the high 50s. We got into the 80s a couple of days later and then the 40s two days after that. Crazy stuff this year!
The Botanic Gardens are bursting into life in the spring so are a great sight. As with other tourist type trips, a visit in the middle of the day is not ideal photographically since the light is very harsh. However, that wasn’t the point. Enjoying the day was what it was all about and that we certainly did. Plenty of flowers were out in bloom. The trees have suddenly discovered leaves after being bare branched for what seems like forever.
Of course, we weren’t the only genii to have thought this was a good idea. The place was packed. I can’t blame everyone for wanting to be there but they do ruin some of my pictures! What are they thinking? In common with several places we go to, a trip a bit further from the visitor center does thin out the herd a bit. Walking too far is not what some people want to do. Good for me! I am not much of a flower photographer and shooting in the bare sun does not make for great flower shots but I gave a few a go anyway. Most of those will never see the light of day again, though…
The climate on Kauai varies depending on which part of the island you are on. It can be tropical or almost desert like. Some places are drenched with rain almost continuously. The tropical area makes a great place for a tropical botanic garden so that is exactly what is there. The garden is located inland from the entrance so you need to take a shuttle to get into it. Once there, you are free to wander around.
There are some really interesting plant types and the landscaping of the place is very attractive. There were a few other visitors when we were there but it certainly wasn’t busy and we could be pretty much alone as we wandered around. It did rain a little while we were there. This is supposed to be the drier side of the island but I guess we brought the rain with us from the north side of the island. However, the showers were only occasional and we had borrowed umbrellas from the office so we were fine.
Not only were there great trees and plants to check out but we also got to feel what it was like to be surrounded by a plant. Check out this battle between nature and the road!
This is another one of those posts that is about not having your camera with you. We went out to the Botanic Gardens for a walk around since it was a nice day. They have a temporary exhibit in the gardens that is showing butterflies. It is one of those tent structures with double doors so that they can check you don’t have any unwanted guests on your clothing when you leave.
I didn’t have my camera with me but I did have the phone. It would have to do. The butterflies were gorgeous to see. So many varieties and beautiful colors and shapes. It would be even better if the visitors paid a small amount of attention to the rules such as not trying to pick them up but I guess some people are idiots and there is nothing you can do about that.
I want to head back before the display is finished. Whether our schedule will allow that or not, I don’t know. I do hope I can go back. Watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis and inflate its wings was quite incredible!