September 29, 2014

Midwest Meet-Up at Rotary Botanical Gardens

zowie
One of Rose's favorite Zinnias: 'Zowie! Yellow Flame',
which I'd like to add to my potager garden next year.

In mid-September, I had the pleasure of meeting Rose from Prairie Rose's Garden and her friend, Beckie, at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, Wis.

beckie and rosalie
Beckie (l) and Rose (r), gearing up for our garden tour.

It seemed like old times (for me, at least) even though we'd never met in person before. Some friends are like that--you feel like you've known them forever and that you can pick up where you left off when you meet again.

Anyway, it was a cool day and slightly overcast, but we didn't let that deter us from enjoying the gardens. The Rotary Botanical Gardens are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, and you can read about their fascinating history by clicking on this link. I haven't been to these gardens much, which is embarrasing because Janesville is only about 36 miles from my home.

aerial
Beckie suggested stepping up to the terrace overlook to photograph
this long shot of the European-style gardens, which was a great idea. Thanks, Beckie!

The 20-acre, nonprofit botanic garden has numerous themed gardens, and the first one you see as you exit the visitor center is the English Cottage Garden. As you look across from above, you also can see the Italian Garden, the French Rose Garden, and beyond.

obelisk

The obelisks, arbors, and other hardscapes are great frames for the whimsical mixes of annuals, perennials, and ornamental shrubs.

doors

One of the seasonal displays incorporates the use of doors and windows with a fabulous mix of tall plants.

waterfall

The Japanese Garden--one of the first Rotary gardens built after the founding--has been recognized as one of the top 25 Japanese gardens in North America, by the Roth Journal of Japanese Gardening.

japanese garden

I remarked to Rose and Beckie that I felt calmer when I stepped into this section of the botanical garden, which of course is intentional. The use of foliage, form, and hardscapes is artfully done.

hakone

Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra) flowing out of the crevices of a rock wall. Wow! This is fabulous. It's a big wall and the effect is dramatic.

pond

Looking across the pond at the Japanese Arched Bridge.

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bench1

bench2

Scattered throughout the property are these convenient benches with great quotes aboout gardening.

chairs

Other seating areas invite visitors to sit, relax, and contemplate the beauty.

jefferson

Another highlight is the Thomas Jefferson Collection. One of my favorite gardening friends (you know who you are) is a big fan of Balsam (Impatiens balsamina), which surrounds the sign in a rainbow of colors.

tomato

The Thomas Jefferson collection includes a great sampling of vegetables, flowers, and herbs that our third president favored at Monticello, his Virginia home--including this heirloom Tomato.

sweet pea

Various vining plants, like this Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus 'Painted Lady'), are trained on trellises made of wooden branches, for a lovely effect.

bumble

Thomas Jefferson's vegetables, including this Eggplant, are also favored by the bumblebees.

mixed3

Also scattered throughout the gardens are beautiful mixed plantings of annuals and perennials, with stunning combinations of foliage and blooms of various colors, forms, and heights.

mixed1

mixed2

More benches for enjoying the displays.

butterfly

swamp

It's encouraging to see Milkweeds of various species forming their seedheads for next year's plants, including Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and Swamp Milkweed (A. incarnata).

Other plants that caught my eye included:

feather grass

Korean Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha);

obedient

Variegated Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana 'Variegata');

celosia

And this sweet potted Celosia (C. plumosa 'Fresh Look Gold'), surrounded by various perennials and annuals.

Those are just a few of the highlights. We had a great time, and the Rotary Botanical Gardens were in prime early autumn condition. I'm hoping we can organize more Midwest gardener and blogger meet-ups in the months ahead. Thanks, Rose and Beckie!

44 comments:

  1. I also have experienced meeting fellow bloggers/gardeners for the first time and feeling like old buddies. My theory is that gardeners generally tend to be good nurturing people. This is a wonderful garden. Thanks for sharing it. I like all the wonderful benches with the garden quotes, and I would love to see the Japanese garden!

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    1. Good point, Deb. We probably have the same life-affirming values, and definitely the same hobby! The Japanese Garden was great. It was hard to pick which photos to share--I always take way too many. There's so much to see there. :)

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  2. Dear Beth, how nice that you got to meet another garden blogger and her friend in person and visited a botanical garden together! I guess, for a true gardener and passionate blogger it doesn't get much better than this.
    I have not heard of the Rotary Botanical Gardens up to know and have to say I am thoroughly impressed. I love your overview shot of the European Gardens and the other images are not bad either. They seem to run this botanical garden in a very creative and caring way and also appear to have some money at hand to do so. Thanks for taking us on the tour. Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Thanks, Christina. Yes, it was wonderful to meet Rose and Beckie, and I hope we have more adventures together ahead of us. :) I was impressed, not only with the beauty and creativity of the gardens, but also with how many volunteers were on-site tending the garden that day. Fortunately, they have strong donor and volunteer support and it shows. The city of Janesville seems very proud of the gardens as a tourist attraction, too. Happy to take you along! :)

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  3. I haven't been to Rotary in ages so it was nice to get this overview.the borders with coleus are so dramatic and I love those teuteurs in those bright colors. I always think overcast with a bit of drizzle is best for photos, if not the best for the visitors.

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    1. I know--I'm embarrassed that I don't get down there more often. I go to Olbrich quite a bit and need to do another post about it soon--maybe next spring. Olbrich almost seems like hallowed ground to me, since I've been going there since my kids were little. Anyway, Rotary is great, too. I've had mixed success with the overcast vs. sunny conditions. The best light (for me) seems to be dappled sun and oblique light, but of course it depends on the photo subject, too.

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  4. That's a really beautiful garden! Both of flowers and foliage are so stunning! Great design. How lucky I am, if I could visiting this garden. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Yes, it's really pleasant, and I need to get back there more often. I know there are fabulous botanical gardens and nature sanctuaries around the world, so we're all blessed when we're able to visit them. Thanks for your kind comments, Endah. :)

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  5. That was a wonderful tour! So many different designs and types of gardens. You got some really great pictures. The English garden made my heart skip a beat! Thanks so much for sharing.....

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    1. Thanks! I took way too many pictures, so it was hard to pick. There's so much to see there. I really enjoyed all the gardens, but for some reason I had more landscape shots of the European and Japanese gardens. All of the areas are beautiful, though. Thanks for coming along for the virtual tour. :)

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  6. Thank you for inviting us, Beth, and for introducing us to this beautiful garden! I was so impressed by all the different gardens and how well it was tended. I hope people in the area take advantage of visiting the Rotary Garden, because it really is a jewel. I've been so busy lately that I haven't had time to get a post together about our visit but I intend to one of these days. So wonderful to meet you--I think I may have talked your ear off, but with gardeners, there's never a shortage of things to talk about:) I hope we can make this a yearly or semi-annual outing and that others in the area will be able to join us next time. A great day in spite of the chilly temps!

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    1. Rose, it was truly my pleasure. What a fun day! It took me a while to organize and select my photos, too. With so much to focus on, it's so hard to narrow it down! So funny what you said about talking my ear off--I felt the same way about myself! That must mean we were sharing the conversation. ;-) You are so right--we could have talked for hours! The lunch was nearly as fun as the gardens! Yes, let's do this again, soon, and invite others. Cheers!

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  7. What a great idea for a meet up and add this spot to my list for a must see when I come to visit. I am still keeping that idea on the front burner Beth. This is an amazing place.

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    1. Yes, it was great fun! We really have quite a few amazing gardens and natural areas near our home. Looking forward to your visit! Wisconsin will welcome you. ;-)

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  8. Wonderful Post! Love the brightly colored tuteurs (I think that is the right spelling-:))

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    1. I think you're right, Susie. Is a tuteur the same thing as an obelisk? Perhaps the French word for it? The ones at the Rotary gardens are very pretty in their brightly painted colors.

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  9. So sorry I missed this. And do you know I've driven through Janesville a million times but have never seen the Rotary Garden? What about Klehm's Farm for the next time? Maybe go when the peonies are blooming?

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    1. We missed you and Judy, Jason. One of these days we'll actually meet. Yes, Klehm's Farm (in late May? East of Janesville? Or Rockford? I think there are two Klehm's) sounds great. I'd also like to check out Rockford's Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens. We could do both! Let's get a group going and plan ahead.

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    2. The Klehm's I'm thinking of is near Rockford.

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  10. What a lovely garden! And in such great shape at the end of summer!

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    1. Yes, good point. It looks great even though plants elsewhere are starting to fade. I think they have a great grounds crew/volunteers. :)

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  11. Its wonderful, isn't it, to meet up with people you only know online and find you are indeed "proper" friends. Lots of bright colours in that garden, though my favourite thing is that hakonechloa growing out of the wall. I fell in love with Korean Feather Reed Grass this summer and planted some in my front garden, its a real beauty.

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    1. Yes, it's fabulous to meet friends face-to-face, Janet! It would be great to meet you one day! I have to say, when I saw that wall of grass and stone in the Japanese garden, I swooned! It creates a calming movement that pictures just can't show. I discovered Korean Feather Reed Grass at Kew in London and fell in love. My photo here doesn't really show the effect of the sun on the seed heads and the grass--but you know it. It's a magical effect, isn't it?

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    2. It would be great to meet up one of these days! And yes, it is a really magical grass when backlit, am really looking forward to mine being good sized clumps.

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  12. What an interesting post. This garden looks wonderful. I love the idea of growing grasses out of the rocks. I just wish I had some nice big rocks.
    I love the grass, Calamogrostis brachytricha it looks good for ages in Autumn. I grow it with Asters.

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    1. I have a huge rock wall--in the shade like this one. But it's already planted with Sedums, and I don't have the heart to rip them out. If I have another rock wall, I think I'll plant Hakone Grass! I'll bet your Feather Reed Grass looks great with the Asters!

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  13. Oh my - what an amazing garden just a hop, skip and jump away from my hometown in Fort Atkinson! Had I known about this beautiful place growing up, I probably would have begged my parents to take me, since I've had a love for gardening since about the 3rd grade. Now that I'm all grown up and living in Texas, I'm enjoying gardening at my own home with a nice long growing season (I miss the Midwest fall, but not so much the winter). I'll definitely have to check this place out next time I head back to visit my family in Southeastern WI.

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    1. Ah, you grew up in Fort! Nice town. My parents live very near there--in Whitewater. I would have to agree with you about the fall/winter thing here in Wisconsin. I don't mind a little winter, but it sure does drag on... Yes, you would enjoy the Rotary gardens!

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  14. Great photo of the Hakone grass, Beth!

    I tried growing it here, but sadly I think it needs cooler and/or shadier sites than I can provide.

    It looks happy as a clam in Wisconsin and I saw some great plantings of hakone grass in Germany and the Netherlands during a recent trip there.

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    1. Thanks, Aaron. I was thinking the photo can't do the "wall of grass" justice. The entire wall was grass, and it was lightly waving in the wind--a wonderful effect! Yes, it does seem to like the climate here. I'm moving more and more to native plants, but gosh that Hakone Grass looks great!

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  15. How fun. Sounds like perfect weather for garden viewing to me! Better than sweltering in the heat. What a gorgeous Botanical Garden too. I love all the added color from the tuteurs & doors. So cool. Every gardener I've ever met feels like a friend. You never have to search for something to talk about, that's for sure!

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    1. Well, it turned out to be fine. A little chilly, but we were distracted by the beautiful plants and our discussions. Plus, we found a great restaurant for a warm lunch afterward. ;-) I would have to agree about gardeners--wonderful, caring people.

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  16. Oh my goodness there is so much to absorb in this post...those benches...swoon. I've never seen that done before. Gorgeous. Do you allow pinning onto Pinterest?

    And the plants, so many ideas.

    Jen

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    1. Yes, of course, pinning is fine! I need to spend more time on Pinterest. I've been away from it for a while. Love it, though, and such a great way to get ideas!

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  17. How lovely that you have met another fellow blogger! And what a lovely garden, with such a great mix of formal and informal planting. And I loved the green door! I have wanted to have a door like that in a garden for years, I just haven’t had a big enough garden for it – just a door, not necessarily leading anywhere. Fabulous. And I loved the benches with the quotes, and the Japanese garden was stunning with the bridge. Thanks for letting us tag along!

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    1. Yes, I'm fortunate to have met some wonderful people through blogging--including you, Helene! I can see how one of those doors would look great in your garden--maybe a mini-door at some point along the path? The planting style in this public garden reminded me of your garden and others. You would like this place, Helene. Thanks for joining the virtual tour!

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  18. Wow, the Hakonechloa seeping out of the rock crevices is absolutely brilliant. I need to grow Balsam Impatiens. These are lovely. The seeds of milkweed are so cool, aren't they? What a fun outing.

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    1. Isn't that combination of grass/rocks wonderful?! I really want to try that sometime. Yes, the Milkweed seeds are fabulous. Soon I'll be harvesting my own, which is quite fun. :) Do you grow the Balsam plants, Grace?

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  19. What a garden! The view from the terrace is amazing!

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    1. Yes, it's a great view. I'll have to remember that next time I visit there. Maybe I'll try to get a different angle. :)

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  20. Thanks for this virtual return to Rotary Gardens. It's been years since I was last there, and half of the gardens were under water that year due to excessive rains and flooding. My faves were the English Cottage and Japanese Gardens.

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    1. Great place, and it's not far away. I know what you mean--I haven't gone there much either, and I really need to visit more in the future. So many garden destinations, so little time...

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  21. It is so lovely to have gardens like those nearby, it is a shame that we don't have very well maintained gardens like those here. It is so difficult for a country with high population rate growth. I love those colors for the cosmos, which i wonder why we don't see here.

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    1. Oh, I love Cosmos in any color. Such a perfect plant! I do feel fortunate to have some lovely gardens nearby.

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