Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Spring Walk at Wellfield Botanic Gardens

Tuesdays at Wellfield Botanic Gardens are free, or "pay what it's worth"-donations are gratefully accepted. We were nearby waiting for a child, so thought we'd take a stroll since it was so nice outside.

We always have to check out the elk--it's neat there are three beautiful, nature-inspired ones in a single area. An older brother tried to force a younger one to pose for a picture--that just doesn't really happen at 1 1/2!


As we walked, we noticed that spring was just awakening. For the most part at this very moment (though I'm sure it is changing daily), there are just a few pockets of color. They are exquisite and merit close inspection!

There is an interpretive display area focusing on the gardens and water! Very interesting to my young son!

What a great reminder of the importance of water. Wellfield's connection to water is very evident throughout the gardens. I feel privileged to live in an area with such abundant water after living in areas out west where water was truly at a premium. While we have plenty, I know it is still important to conserve and protect what we have. There is a river nearby in the north part of Elkhart that is currently being looked at as a sewage discharge site on the Michigan side. This affects the water downstream. Here is a recent article (including links to others) about the situation. 

Plants are starting to pop up. With the cooler, longer winter, I wonder how long plants have been pushed back from previous years. We went on an Easter Nature Walk there last year. It seems like the plants look pretty similar though it's a two week difference or so. It was great to take a walk outside in a pretty place! The landscaping, sculptures, and nature make for an excellent experience.

The water is present in so many ways! I really like that the pathways are wide for the main path of the garden. With four boys, it can seem a little daunting to take my boys to a place with "pretty" plants where they have to stay on the trails. However, this wide path is a perfect place to stretch their legs a bit and act like boys. There is a different set of skills and behaviors to use at the gardens and it's okay for them to be exposed to this. In fact, I think it's a necessary part of learning how to interact with the world. We have different expectations for behavior in different areas. The gardens give us a backdrop to teach those values of beauty and appropriate behavior to them. 

We're really excited about the Adventure Garden! I love the entryway. The winding paths and whimsical shrubs are fun for all ages. The boys were immediately drawn to the path to the left with the rocks and mulch. These are intentional appropriate risks as they explore the area and respect the environment they are in. 

The path winds down by the water. I love that we can actually go out on top of the water! 

There is a serious of large rocks just after the water. I will say my boys naturally found these the perfect stepping stones. I wasn't sure if this was the intent, so sent an email to a contact I have at Wellfield. Whew! We're okay! They are meant for climbing, which makes a big plus for the area. I look forward to understanding more how the area will be used as more plants arrive and such. 

There are small details, like the tracks in the path, that make this a neat place to discover!

The path winds down to the water. A large sycamore tree is growing there. My son found these balls on the ground and thought they were very curious. I noticed the nearby tree with the white trunk and remembered the sycamore. I looked it up once we returned home (though maybe I need to try some apps for that) to verify I had the right tree. The ball proved ripe for exploration! My younger son wanted to bring some to nature preschool! He knows we have brought in cattail, milkweed, and other items for exploration. They are some of the funnest days! One thing that is neat about the gardens is there are so many textures throughout the area. What a great tactile and visual experience!

There is construction going on in various areas. This looks like it will be very pretty! 

Passing by the river, the sound of the rushing water immediately drew the boys in. They automatically were drawn to the water and the musical sensation of it rushing by. 

A red-winged blackbird came to say hello when we were right near this spot. The edges of water are good places to look for wildlife!

Another area of construction is in the back--I'm not sure of the plans, but have been impressed with everything else they have done there, so am confident it will be beautiful as well! 

The top of the hill was a great vantage point to see the water and gardens. The splashes of color are nice!

There is even a bench to stay and sit for a while! The boys tried to get the toddler to pose again, but it was not happening!

The path later was adorned with tributes to loved ones. I liked this scripture with the reference to flowers--so fitting for the area. 

Plants were starting to push up through the ground. I am sure there will be daily changes as we move into spring! 

Yellows were part of the scene. 

Purples, too! 

Before leaving, we noted all the birds on a nearby tree. We saw red-bellied woodpeckers, chickadee, a nuthatch, etc. The boys knew them all from watching them at our bird feeders. It's neat to see them up close and personal! Honestly, the music in the background of the birds was lovely throughout our walk. We only spent 30-45 minutes there, but had a nice stroll through the gardens! 

As soon as we entered, the boys were mesmerized with the water fountain--they thought it was really cool. We even got to talk about the doggy bowl down at the bottom! I like that there is a practical way to fill up water bottles--that's a great feature!  

Check out these other posts about Wellfield Botanic Gardens: