On Tuesdays, entrance is free or "pay what it's worth" which is a great option, especially if you just have a short time to visit. However, a membership would be well worth it too so that you could have access to the gardens throughout the week. Additionally, the reciprocity with other botanic gardens and discounts for programs and at area businesses is a plus. They also have various programs at the garden. I list these on my Natural Calendar of Events at Inside Outside Michiana as well.
We noticed these catkins right away knocked to the ground from a nearby tree. While the gardens here are rather manicured (and beautiful!), there are more "natural" spots for nature study beyond what might be on the intended game plan of a botanic garden. My son needed to investigate the issue more. He founds lots of little "points" on the ground nearby that were "sticky". It appears to be an Eastern Cottonwood that is known for sticky buds. He reported that it turned his fingers yellow, too. Soon there will be white, willowy wisps of cotton throughout the area.
We also looked at the bark of a nearby tree to help us with identification. We noticed a big section in the middle with evidence of insect activity. We just came from nature preschool nearby at Woodlawn Nature Center and had been talking about insects today. It was neat to apply it in a new natural setting. Of course, we're always excited to see the elk when we visit. It's such a serene view with the water in the background.
It's hard to see in the background, but Josh, the horticulturist was out working in the gardens. We said hi as I've met him a few times and my son wanted to know what he does. He does all kinds of things at the garden, from planting, ordering, educating, and more. He made an impression on my son as he came up at dinner. "Mom, what's Josh's middle name? Maybe you could call him and find out." I might have to work on that if my son remembers again. The Rotary Club really has put a lot of work to make these gardens happen, starting as an idea in 2002.
As we pass by the waterfall, the whole ambiance changes. We can hear the water flow. How calming!
Magnolias were in bloom! It's strange to think this type of tree has been around since the dinosaurs! We made it to the Adventure Garden!
They love the path through the area. They have to climb and navigate a safe, but still challenging, terrain. The rocks to the right look like they will be a functioning waterfall as it cascades down to the water. We look forward to seeing it. I'm sure our little guy will be mesmerized.
These rocks are meant for climbing! The little guy wasn't right behind us. I found him playing with a puddle of water he found. Simple things!
My older son found the tracks and had to follow those while the younger one was investigating more water.
The colors were beautiful! This would be a great time to take a color walk! We use paint chips from Lowe's with a little window cut out. I punch holes in them and put them on a ring by seasonal colors so we have fresh colors to find each season. It works well for my little ones and my older ones, though the experience is quite different! My son really observes things when he's outside. He found these buds from the magnolias and commented on how soft they were. Great eyes and "feelers"!
My youngest guy also has good eyes. We watched Canada Geese splash down on the nearby pond. Of course, he wanted to investigate! He brought us to the sign for the Children's Garden. (Hindsight: a stroller would help keep him contained. I ended up carrying him a bit to keep him going in the direction I wanted) I look forward to see how this will be developed. It will be another great place for the boys to explore. My older son asked if we could bring a Canada Goose home with us. I'm sure they might not mind at the Gardens, as there was a bit of scat here and there from the geese. However, it may be illegal and is not in the plan for today.
It's such a pleasant walk through the gardens. The weather was perfect. We needed a sip of water as we left. They think this water fountain is pretty cool. The toddler thinks the dog fountain is just his size.
It's nice doing a different activity each time we visit. For my boys, a quick visit is good, though I think it would be a great place to read a book and enjoy the surrounding beauty. I noticed several people walking their dogs there today. The Gardens were alive and active on this beautiful spring day!