Frederik Meijer Garden, A Cure for Spring Fever
The month of April in Michigan was unseasonably cold and wet this year. To cure my spring fever, a trip to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculptor Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA) provided a temporary relief from the drab weather! The popular tourist attraction didn’t disappoint. I was pleased to see large planters filled with traditional Spring arrivals in bright colors and the conservatory was warm and sunny with perfect humidity!
Meijer Gardens History in Brief
Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculputre Park is a 132 acre botanical garden and outdoor sculpture park located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. In its conception, fifteen years of planning became a realistic venture when in 1991 the West Michigan Horticultural Society approached Frederik Meijer about donating a parcel of land owned by Meijer, Inc. The company owns and operates the Midwest grocery chain department stores in competition with Walmarts. The first store was founded during the Great Depression by Hendrik Meijer, a Dutch-American, who’s first employees included his grocery bagger son, Frederik, at the age of fourteen. The land for the gardens is but one of Frederik's many generous contributions to the region.
The distinctive signature of the park and gardens satisfies Meijer’s goal to unite the visual art of humankind and the visual art or nature. It has quickly become Michigan’s second largest tourist attraction with 600,000 visitors annually, and is funded almost entirely by private donations.
The Tropical Conservatory
Highlight of the now famous tourist site is Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory. It features a rocky landscape housing plants from around the world. Visitors set their eyes on coconut palms from the Pacific, exotic orchids from Central and South America, bamboo and banana trees from Asia and fig trees from India! During March through April the facility features the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibit in the United States.
What is a Bromeliad
The most well known bromeliad is the pineapple. But this tropical plant family contains a wide variety including some very un-pineapple-like members such as Spanish Moss, which is neither Spanish nor a moss. Other members resemble yuccas or aloes while still others look like green, leafy grasses.
All bromeliads are composed around a base of leaves that spiral to form a rosette which may overlap tightly to form a water reservoir. This central cup also collects whatever leaf litter and insects happen to land in it.
A distinct feature of bromelaids is they can grow in a variety of situations, from the sunny beaches to the shady forest floor. Some can grow on rocks, trees and other plants. This capability to take their nutrition and moisture from the atmosphere has earned these bromeliads the name "Air Plants".
Bromeliads only flower a single time. Once the plant stops producing its flower, it will not make new leaves. It will, however, produce new plantlets called "offsets". These plants will feed off the mother plant until they are large enough to set roots of their own and survive as a separate plant. The mother may sometimes survive a generation or two before finally dying off.
The Common Morpho
The Common Morpho belongs to the family of Brush-footed butterflies. Insects, including butterflies, have six legs, but the front legs of brush-footed butterflies are reduced to small brushes. The common Morpho has iridescent powder blue wings when opened and a camouflage pattern on the underside. Unlike many of the other butterflies I saw during my visit, the Morpho immediately closes its wings soon as it lands on a leaf, seldom opening them. Either way, it is beautiful!
The Small Postman from Central and South America belongs to the family of "Longwing" butterflies. They are named for their long, narrow shaped wings. They taste terrible to predators and warn them with bright colors and distinctive patterns.
Other Meijer Gardens Attractions
The other main attraction is The Sculpture Program showcasing three temporary exhibitions annually. Among numerous permanent sculptures, one outstanding feature is the three story "The American Horse" created in homage to Leonardo da Vinci’s original commission by the Duke of Milan. There are also selected works by world renowned sculptors, Rodin and Degas, as well as more contemporary sculptors.
The facility hosts various garden themes including the Children’s Garden Center, the Woodland Shade Garden, the Michigan Farm Garden and many displays highlighting Victorian and seasonal gardens. There are nature trails meandering throughout acres of natural wetlands, woodlands and meadows.
Additional attractions include an outdoor amphitheater with summer concerts, a horticulture and sculpture library, and a Christmas exhibit embracing cultures of more than 40 countries with 300,000 twinkling lights.
Meijer Gardens Website
Please enjoy this photographic tour of florals displayed at Meijer Gardens and cure your own spring fever; and remember warmer days are ahead!
Chihuly glass sculptors enhance the gardens and indoor settings!
The Glass Sculptor Genius
I first heard of Chihuly last summer when I visited the Krasl Art Museum in St. Joe, Michigan where I grew up. One of his exquisite glass chandeliers was showcased in the foyer. I must have starred at it for five minutes. It was so beautiful and a verifiable wonder.
Chihuly’s lifelong affinity for glasshouses has grown into a series of exhibitions within botanical settings including several pieces exhibited at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculptor Park. His work is included in more than two hundred museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including ten honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
This is a world class video well worth seeing!
- Kathi Mirto Artwork Collection: Florals
Browse through images in Kathi Mirto's Florals collection. Gorgeous flower portraits with minimal enhancements!
© 2011 Kathi