Sunday, July 20, 2014

Janesville Rotary Botanical Gardens!!

I'm not a gardening person ... my thumb turned black years ago and I haven't tried anything since.  So the best thing to do is go see someone else's gorgeous garden and ohh and ahh over THEIR flowers!! That's what we did a couple of days ago at the Rotary Botanical Gardens.  Traveling by myself, I probably wouldn't have stopped here, but learned my lesson ... it just might be the most beautiful place you've seen!!

This is the Rotary Botanical Gardens front entrance, so you can imagine what the back looks like.
Once a gravel quarry that looked like this, it has become a showplace due to the hard work of volunteers.  Along the back wall of the building are many before and after pictures that you won't believe.  If I could only do a fraction of that to MY front yard!!
This is what the above view looks like today.  I probably wouldn't use quite so many colorful trellises, but it IS their 25th anniversary, so it's celebration time!!
This looks across the patio to the children's storybook area.  There are actually doors, all painted primary colors, that the kids can walk through and around while they read pages from a storybook ... this one is Wild Things!!  
I love the use of old window casings in the storybook section.  They are just bolted to T-posts!!
Most, if not all of the containers, bridges, trellises and other "architecture" pieces, are all made from scrap, recycled junk and old pipelines.  Pretty inventive of them!!  It was almost as much fun to figure out what it was originally as it was to see how they used it in the garden.
Not being from the Midwest, they had lots of weird flowers and succulents here that I've never seen before.  I've planted hens and chickens with my mom, but have never seen one bloom like this!!  It looks pretty ALIEN to me!!
Then there was this beautiful yellow flower with all black foliage.  In fact, there were LOTS of plants here with black foliage!!  Unfortunately I didn't write down the name of every one, and you know me, I have no clue about plants and flowers.  They're just pretty to photograph!!
There were chipmunks everywhere ... cute little guys probably doing damage to many of the plants.  This guy had a path he followed from one side of the trail to the other, as he carried nuts to a space in these rocks ... probably for his midnight snack!!
Cone flowers were everywhere .. and all were just as gorgeous as these red ones.  I guess we came at just the right time of year, because literally everything was in bloom.
The bees and horse flies were hard at work gathering up every bit of pollen they could.  You call them bumble bees, I call them horse flies!!  
Most areas are maintained by specific volunteers, some of whom were working this day.  I spoke to one about annuals versus perennials.  They do have year-round plants and trees, but most of the flowers are annuals because they bloom continuously, versus perennials blooming once.  They are grown by several commercial vendors in the area, and when purchased by the Rotary, word goes out to the entire town, who comes to plant them in the spring.  In the winter, they die out of course, then there is a big cleanup ... and they start all over again!!
The annuals keep blooming all summer long.  Maybe when I retire from retiring and traveling, I'll try doing the same in MY garden!!
Birds are everywhere ... gathering up stuff!!  Not sure if this was lunch or nesting material!!  I could sit and watch these beauties for hours!!
When I was looking at this one ... and the matching pink ... I thought candy stripe petunia ... but when I looked that up on the internet, it doesn't look the same, so you're guess is as good as mine!!  They even have an Abe Lincoln garden, with all vegetables that he grew or ate, some even from the same seeds he originally grew, along with plaques quoting him.  I didn't know he was pretty much a vegetarian!!
This beautiful recycled wood bridge crosses over the pond left by the gravel plant, as the trail winds around the far side of the 20 acre garden.  
When you get to the day lily section, you'll know it!!  The smell permeates the air like no other!!
In celebrating their 25th year, they purchased lots of these chairs, unpainted.  I'm not sure how they chose the artists, but they have all been hand painted and arranged around the garden.  I doubt you should sit in these ... there are plenty of other benches and chairs where you can sit and enjoy the beauty!  Some look like they were painted by artists, some by kids ... but all are amazing to see!
More lilies ... can't you just smell them?????
My all time favorite of the entire garden ... these gorgeous pink pom pom cone flowers!!  I'm going to see if my black thumb will turn PINK!!!
There were many interesting varieties of coleus in the shady areas.  Isn't Nature cool the way she makes these colorful leaves?
There's every color of the rainbow, including these dramatic blue .... uhmm ... flowers!!!  Gosh I wish I knew the names!!
Another cone flower with the most amazing colors I've seen.  Can you tell I like the cone flowers???
It takes about an hour to walk around the entire garden, including all the different sections, but you could easily spend three hours here.  There was a Paris Rose Garden, Medicinal Herbs, Culinary Herbs, Scottish Highlands, Japanese, Evergreen Forest, English and Scottish Gardens, just to name a few!!  

We got back to the Moose lodge in time for their Friday night Fish Dinner Buffet, and early Saturday morning my Marching Band showed back up for a four hour practice session.  I was really beginning to feel sorry for the poor kids stomping around in the grass, never seeming to get it PERFECT for the band director!!  

One more day here and we'll be gone like the band was at the stroke of noon!!


  1. Thanks for all your nice comments about the gardens Nancy! The are a labor of love for so many volunteers and we appreciate you helping expose this garden to your readers.
    Mark Dwyer
    Director of Horticulture
    Rotary Botanical Gardens

    1. You are so welcome Mark!! It's such an amazing place, words just don't describe it ... actually, neither do pictures. This is one place that needs to be experienced in person!!!