Friday, August 18, 2017

An obsession with Michigan gardens continue with a visit to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

The pond in the Japanese gardens at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
My wife and I always try to make at least one trip a year to Dow Gardens in Midland. We discovered it in college and loved it so much, we always try to go visit each summer.

While Dow Gardens is a small, more intimate setting to visit, one such garden and sculpture park we visited this past weekend was several times the size with plenty to offer.

A bumblebee on a flower in the
Japanese gardens.
Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is located in Grand Rapids Township contains 158 acres of gardens, wetlands and sculptures across its landscape. Named for the man whose family is behind those wonderful 24-hour retail stores across the Midwest, the park opened in 1995. It contains a plethora of sculptures from renowned artists such as Marshall Fredericks, as well as a host of plants from across the globe.

From the time we walk from the parking lot, we're reminded of the beautiful flowers we can expect to see throughout our visit: the gardens surrounding the conservatories and visitor's center is covered with a wash of yellow, white, pink and green.

The American Horse sculpture.
Upon recommendation from several people, we spent plenty of time in the new Japanese gardens, which were not there the last time we visited the park back in 2010. This section is covered in cherry trees, as well as paths surrounding a gorgeous body of water with pavilions and rocks.

This section boasted a rock garden, a Japanese tea house (which was not open when we stopped by) and a variety of flowers around the path. Circling the little lake also revealed small break-offs from the main path, providing a unique view of the pond from a different perspective. I couldn't help but take every one of these spurs to see how the new angle affected the view of the pond and its features.

In addition, the park boasts an impressive sculpture section, including "The American Horse," a 24-foot-tall bronze horse sculpture done by Nina Akamu. Some are definitely more impressive than others, but it's quite the sight when you take the loop.

The wetlands along the boardwalk at the park.
A must-walk is the boardwalk in the back of the park through the wetlands. It's a callback to Michigan's natural beauty, complete with herons, turtles and other wildlife. While there's a buzz from the nearby freeways in the air, you forget you're in the city pretty quickly while walking the boardwalk.

The gardens are open throughout the year, though there is an admission fee to enter. The gardens routinely hold special events throughout the year, in case music or other events are your scene.

If you're in the Grand Rapids area and want to see the flowers and artwork in a beautiful outdoor setting, this is the place to do it.

A Venus Flytrap in the conservatory.

The Grand Rapids Arch.

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