Monday, March 12, 2012
Early Spring Photo Safari - Rotary Gardens
The snowstorm a little over a week ago has melted completely away in my back garden, though a few piles of dirty snow are still melting in parking lots that were plowed. I decided to take advantage of this week's springlike weather - it was sixty degrees when I grabbed my windbreaker and camera - and take a walk in Janesville's Rotary Botanical Gardens before they start charging $5 admission on April 15th. It turned out to be very pleasant, particularly because there wasn't another soul in sight. There wasn't a sound except rustling leaves and robins and woodpeckers making a fuss.
Later in the spring, once the bulbs really start blooming, the place will be packed with people, visitors and volunteers, and there will be events, fund raising walks, weddings, proms. But today I had the very early flowers, scatter beneath trees to myself.
I think of Wisconsin winters as being monotonous as far as color - or lack of it - goes. The gardens do a nice job of providing visual interest even when there are no leaves on the trees. In March the willows have the glowing yellow you see here, and the footbridge adds a shot of color year round. Today I enjoyed the variety of trees for the sculptural effect of their branches, and was delighted at how many birds nests I could see.
The Japanese garden is my favorite throughout the year, with a winding gravel path, a little shelter, a stream and pools of water (not running today), shade in summer, moss, sculptures and a combination of evergreen and deciduous plants. When I was teaching, before access to the gardens was limited and admission charged, I'd grab a thermos of coffee and sit in the garden early in the morning, composing my thoughts. I took this photo through the window of the shelter, and managed to catch the sun before it hid behind the clouds.
I don't know too much about Japanese rock gardens, except that the raked gravel represents water. I think the larger rocks represent mountains.
The gardens have lots of real water too, and plenty of places to sit and watch it. I like to stand on the bridge and look down, and sometimes when I'm luck I see fish or even soft shelled turtles.
This robin tolerated me for a minute before flying noisily away. At that point the sun had disappeared and the wind picked up, so I ended my walk and came back home. After being cooped up for so long, it was good to get outside.