Madison, Wisconsin Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Okay, before you say, “Boring!” and move on to the next blog, please give me a few more minutes of your reading time.

We discovered this on our way back to the south from our summer job in Yellowstone.  There were several stops we picked in order to see states and museums/gardens/parks we may never have the opportunity to see again.  Life is short, we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so why not NOW?  I wanted to visit Door County, WI, but it was much too far out of our way.  The stop in Madison turned out to be an absolutely wonderful choice.

This garden is 100+ years old and probably the most beautiful we have visited.  We have visited many botanical gardens including the National Garden in Washington DC and Central Park in NYC and Biltmore in Ashville, NC, just to name a few of the more famous.

We strolled through 16 acres of outdoor gardens featuring stunning landscapes and Midwest-hardy plants. We visited the tropics in the Bolz Conservatory (the featured picture), filled with exotic plants, flowers, orchids, birds, and a waterfall.  The exterior gardens were free, yes FREE. The conservatory was $2.00 per person.  The weather was perfect.  There is no way you could do this in the deep south in August.

PICTURES FROM OUR STOLL

Dragonfly sclupture

Dragonfly sculpture

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Grapes covering a large pergola

Grapes covering a large pergola

Pear tree trained on a fence

Pear tree trained on a fence

Corkscrew Willow

Corkscrew Willow

Lost in the grass

Lost in the grass

Vintage rear view automobile mirrors planted in the grass

Vintage rear view automobile mirrors planted in the grass

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Glass Sculpture

Glass Sculpture

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Mature water gardens

Mature water gardens

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A pavilion, or sala, is a common structure in Thailand generally used as a shelter from rain and heat. Olbrich’s pavilion is more ornate than most roadside salas in Thailand and represents those found at a temple or on a palace grounds. However, Olbrich’s pavilion is not a religious structure.

The pavilion was a gift to the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the Thai Government and the Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association. UW-Madison has one of the largest Thai student populations of any U.S. college or university.

The Thai Garden surrounding the Pavilion emulates a lush, tropical garden with Wisconsin-hardy plants. Ornamental grasses, some reaching up to 12 feet tall, and several hardy bamboos are essential in creating a tropical look. Large-leafed shrubs and trees are pruned to give them the look of plants in a typical Thai garden.

Glazed water jars and clipped tree art called mai dat, are both common elements of Thai gardens. Mai dat is a traditional horticulture feature in Thai gardens that has been practiced since the 13th century. Olbrich uses large Chinese junipers for the clipped tree art.

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Pavilion reflected

Pavilion reflected

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Pavilion ceiling, REAL gold leaf.

Pavilion ceiling, REAL gold leaf.

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Pavilion reflected

Pavilion reflected

Real Gold Leaf

Real Gold Leaf

peace pond

peace pond

Rich, colorful tropical garden around the Pavilion (how they protect it in the winter is a mystery).

Rich, colorful tropical garden around the Pavilion (how they protect it in the winter is a mystery).

3 thoughts on “Madison, Wisconsin Olbrich Botanical Gardens

  1. Anna says:

    Love your blog! Great work!

  2. Nancy McKay says:

    Just beautiful ! I have never seen it; don’t get down that way. So sorry you didn’t make Door Co., but glad you got to experience WI in August. I haven’t responded to all of your posts but I have read them all. You are on a DREAM TRIP!!!!❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • SonFlower says:

      Our adventure in the minivan has lasted 15+ months. We are now home and getting settled in. I, too, am sorry we didn’t get to Door Co. your posts have made me want to see it. Thank you for your feedback…it is nice to know someone is traveling with us.

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