Sunday, March 31, 2019

My Birthday Trip to Fredrick Meijer Garden

I’m pretty sure everyone now knows that I get to go to Fredrick Meijer gardens for my birthday month each year.  I start looking forward to it at the beginning of February as I am so done with cold and no plants outside by then.   My mom took me this year and I really enjoyed spending the time with her.

While I may not resemble my mom in looks, I didn’t fall too far from the fun, crazy nut tree.

We started out in a long line that meandered through the construction of the new entrance and found that the people next to us in line used to own a greenhouse and were growers.  It was fun talking to them and hearing their story.  They have retired and sold the business, but she still grows plants for personal use.  I encourage you to always talk to people around you, you never know what amazing things you’ll learn.

Of course in order to get to the butterflies you get routed through the rest of the greenhouses and this is not a bad thing in my opinion.  I enjoy seeing all the gardens.  First up was the arid greenhouse and the succulents.  I have learned many of their names and it was fun to identify what I had at home from the labels in the garden.  I also, found a few that I want to add to my collection… if only I had more window space!

This little cactus looks like he is going to tip toe away

I like the lines on the edge


This is an octopus agave (I think) and it looks like it is going to crawl over the rock.

I love the variation on this agave.

Beautiful barrel cactus

The color contrast is gorgeous!

Eeek!  I forgot the name of this one but the flowers are amazing.

The bog greenhouse and the seasonal greenhouse where monarchs are featured are next.  There were a lot of people attending that day.  Even so, if you aimed the camera right, the picture could feel quiet and peaceful even if there were people everywhere.

People, people, people, which is actually good as they are looking at plants and insects!

Come ‘er my sticky friend.  Pitcher plant tentacle reaching for a Sundew in the Bog house.

Monarchs!  The seasonal greenhouse has an exhibit about monarchs among spring flowering plants.  This educational presentation is fun as you hunt for larva and show them to nearby kids who are either delighted or tentative but rarely indifferent.   That is the blessing of nature, it will hopefully always trigger a response.

Hey little buddy…

You are on the wrong leaf!  That is a corn plant! 

I wanted to move him back to a milkweed plant but it is my understanding that the larva will often travel some distance to another place to pupate and this guy probably knows what he is doing.

Munch, munch, munch!

Chrysalis of the Monarch.

The gold “necklace” is beautiful and utterly confounding to me.  Where does the larva store this gold pigment?

Quiet spot in the room with my back to the crowd.

I love redbuds and wondered about the weeping aspect.  Upon a bit of research I learned that it is a naturally occurring trait in this cultivar.  So pretty!

So I usually spend hours hunting down my blue morph photo and take upward of 400 photos.  This year I only took 179 with my new camera.  It was wonderful; my first or second shot was exactly what I wanted, in focus and framed the way I wanted.  Having a camera the functions as intended is absolutely lovely.

Playing with the focus on the zoom and found this “globe” of a papyrus rush across the way in the stream.  

Within minutes of walking into the crowded tropical greenhouse, I found my first blue morph sitting on the sleeve of a really nice guy there with his family.  It was pretty beat up and probably on its last day of life.  I took a picture and talked with him a bit and his family.  Soon after he was ready for the blue morph to move on (he had been patiently holding his arm still for over 15 minutes while everyone took pictures) and he tried to gently put it on a plant.  The blue morph had other plans and flew over to land on ME!  Well, land on my water bottle which meant two things.  I was now the center of attention and because I had my zoom lens on my camera, I couldn’t take a picture of my new friend.

Battered and broken but still beautiful

I became the new roost.  Thankfully my mom got a picture.

Eventually I successfully transferred the morph to a plant and continued my tour, always on the lookout for butterflies and flowers to snap.  Then I saw a morph with wings outstretched posing for me to get several great shots.  I was so excited!  Within the first 30 minutes of entering the butterfly exhibit I had my photo!


Of course the blue morpho is not the only butterfly worth seeing and I love the collection of orchids.  I wandered around enjoying the heat, humidity and nature.  I don’t mind being warm and I had a whole winter’s worth of thawing to do.

Cutie next to the morpho.  This one wasn’t in the butterfly guide. 

I think it is a Zebra Postman, again this one wasn’t in the guide either. 

Sara Longwing on an orchid

Sara Longwing on a different orchid with a Zebra Postman in the back.  

Lady’s Slipper of which some are native to North America

Take me to your leader…

The color combination on this Lady’s Slipper is beautiful.

Orchid blooms are so pretty even if their plants are sometimes strange or ugly looking.

I liked the color contrast here.

My Mom liked the little heart in the wing pattern.

Butterflies are so amazing to me.

There are little birds in the greenhouse and I always look for this little blue guy.

The icing on the cake was when a morph landed on my mom!  She wore a bright red shirt with sequins on purpose to attract butterflies and it worked.

Mom with her beautiful butterfly

Mom with her beautiful butterfly

We attended a lecture on Sculpture gardens that influenced Fred Meijer when he was planning the botanical sculpture garden in the 90s.  While it seems that FMG has always been there, it is a realitively new garden.  The talk was interesting, the presenter who is a professor from Kendall where my sister attended art college, was engaging and the pictures beautiful.  My mom and I agreed that knowing the story behind why the artist created the piece definitely made even “ugly” modern art a bit more palatable.  We still like the more realistic pieces though.

Foliage can be architectural on its own.

We had a lovely dinner in the cafĂ© and window shopped the gift shop.   We window shopped because while the items are gorgeous, the prices can be extravagant too.  However, the plants were perfectly priced and I brought home a cutie.  When he has a baby, ( I dunno why but it feels like a “he” to me)I’ll pot him up for my mom.  It was a wonderful day with a special person at an amazing place.  I am grateful for all 43 years of life.

He needs a terra cotta pot yet, but he seems at home with the other succulents.