Friday, May 23, 2014

Dallas in bloomers

The day is overcast and threatening rain on this muggy school day. So just why are there a bazillion kids and their beleaguered teachers/chaperons at the Dallas Arboretum? Back in the 1990s a committee of Arboretum members, teachers, and researchers came together to discuss how to get children involved in the gardens on more than a superficial level. We’d planned places for kids to dig in the dirt, harvest vegetables and fruits, and
Misting Dragons
perhaps play in a maze. We thought about open spaces for running and screaming, and winding trails among the flowers with simple signs about what they were seeing. Not in our wildest dream did we imagine the
Children’s Adventure Garden. This is a high tech learning area with solar, water and wind energy features (kids and adults can step into the tornado booth), several trails in which docents can lead plant exploration walks, and some covered areas for hands-on activities. There is also a state-of-the-art building with computer driven information to explore.
Sword in the Stone
There are areas for the kids to play, as well. They can run between dragons and pull Excalibur out of a stone in a very simple maze area that leads back into a part of the learning gardens. This is all in addition to the traditional area of the arboretum.

Jackrabbit Sculpture

Wandering through the gardens is still a peaceful experience. The tulips are in bloom, as are the pansies and the
Azaleas
azaleas. There are great views of White Rock Lake and lovely areas to simply sit and enjoy. Waterways weave around of the grounds, some pouring over rocks making a charming accompaniment to the red, lacy Japanese maples. Semi-permanent exhibits are on the grounds; this time
Owl House
of year it is bird houses, some in the shape of birds. And there is a giant peacock holding court over the blooming redbuds and dogwoods. We thought about taking a picnic lunch and sitting among the flowers, but opted for eating at one of the outdoor cafés since the costs are reasonable. Hitting the café at noon meant a wait in line, but when it’s a pleasant day and the view is pretty, who really minds?

Peacock Topiary
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