An Escape Right Here!
Before I lived in Texas, I kept hearing about The Dallas Arboretum. My husband grew up in Dallas and his aunt (who raised him) always told me how much she enjoyed going there to take in its' surreal beauty ~ whether for a picnic, a walk, or just to sit on a bench and people watch. Each one of our phone chats would end with, "and the next time y'all come, we'll go to the Arboretum, k?"
Aunt Joyce and I had become close in many ways, and our love of gardening and nature was just one more thread that bound us as buddies. Sure enough, upon our next Spring Break trip to the Lonestar state, we packed a picnic at her house a few blocks away and took the kids to this place she kept raving about and had been going to for decades now.
That was one of the times they were renovating their parking lots, so we were detoured to park at Flag Pole Hill and take a shuttle bus to the entrance gate. I knew why weeeee were off school and work, but I could not figure out how all these other mamas boarding all the buses with toddlers and strollers had the time off as well. Later discovered it was Mommy & Me Monday at the Arboretum and it probably wasn't that they had the time, they made time to go!
Being a native Californian, I've seen my share of colorful flora and amazing landscapes. I must say though, after paying our entry, deciding we would start with the trail to the left and work our way through the manicured grounds somewhat counter-clockwise, stepping down those first set of steps to the panoramic view through the Japanese Maple trees of White Rock Lake - I was hooked. Again and again, I kept feeling my breath being taken away by the different layers of natural beauty and the effortless way (although I know it is anything BUT effortless!!!) it all just seemed to flow from one garden to the next.
Sometimes we would stop and read the staked signs naming and describing each plant we were gawking over, and then other times we would just slowly meander and chat while the kiddos ran ahead to play on the next open lawn area. We were in attendance during their annual Dallas Blooms time - a few weeks each Spring they have over 500,000 bulbs making their grand appearance and showing out like armies of soldiers - but having been there multiple times since then, I haven't found a time of year that wasn't worth going! Even in the middle of Winter once, we still got the "show" of actually watching all the hard workers planting those half-million bulbs! It was unbelievable! Their Fall pumpkin performance is another time that if you go, you find yourself rubbing your eyes thinking "Is this even real? Am I dreaming right now?"
I won't say I was skeptical, but what I thought was a plan for a nice little picnic lunch at a park, turned into an all-afternoon event. We couldn't pull ourselves away from the place. From the Crape Myrtle Allée leading to the oversized frog splash pad, to the Woman's Garden, to all the gorgeous statuary, I knew I had found my new Happy Place. I was taking notes (literally!) of different plants I wanted to now incorporate into my own landscape back home or creative ways to border a bed or how a bench placed under a certain tree just felt right.
I get back to The Dallas Arboretum as often as I can and I always encourage our customers to go! I still use it as huge inspiration in plotting my gardens out both at home and at the store, and often refer to this or that area of the 66 acres in describing a plant to someone at Oopsy Daisy contemplating what their purchase will look like in a few years. A "natural resource", if you will.
Once our hours-long lunch was ending, and we were taking one last long gaze over the beauty behind us, I turned to Aunt Joyce and asked, "Is it just me? Why do I feel so choked up by all this?" She looked up at me, already a tear on her cheek and whispered, "I dunno, honey. But me too."