Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Walk In The Garden

Yesterday I had an extremely rare opportunity. Someone I know actually wanted to go to Olbrich Botanical Gardens! I shouldn't say it that way, but an interest in flora isn't high on the list for most of my friends. A fellow phytophile was visiting and suggested OBG as a destination to visit so I jumped at the opportunity. Following a hearty lunch at a nearby restaurant two guests, my co-conspirator and I stopped by one of Madison's true jewels.

One of the highlights of the trip, as always, was the Thai Pavillion. The only one of its kind in North America, this intricate structure is flanked by reflecting pools and is set in as good a facsimile of a tropical garden as you can find in this area. The pavillion itself has been constructed without any nails or screws and is decorated with beautiful gold leaf details.

The rose garden was also pretty impressive. Coming from me that's quite a complement. I've been to a few rose gardens including Olbrich's old one and frankly they all sucked. They were about the roses and as any good designer knows there are few roses that can stand alone in the landscape. Paths lined with hybrid teas and beds of unaccompanied rugosa cultivars are a thing of the past. Oh, Krishna, please let them be a thing of the past! The Olbrich rose garden is an inspired collection of shrub roses, complementary shrubs and perennials with a heavy Mediterranean vibe. The space is anchored by a tower accessed by stone stairs overlooking a stone paved court surrounding a linear trough receiving simple water jets. Open spaces in the pavers planted with colorful perennials further reduce the formality of the garden. The place was too busy to get decent photos so you'll just have to take my word for it--the place rocked.

We ended our visit with a quick walk through the Bolz Conservatory where a canary posed nicely next to a waterfall. I enjoy my visits to Olbrich, especially in the dead of winter when I can go into the Conservatory and imagine I'm not in a godforsaken frozen hellhole. But it's great to visit on a nice early summer day with friends, too.

1 Responses (Leave a Comment):

Jim Bradeen said...

I'll second the acclaim of OBG! It has gone through an amazing transformation in the past decade or so and has matured into a well-designed, well-executed horticultural garden. Whether you are really into plants or just want to stroll in the sun, it is a great place to spend a few hours.