Is This the Garden of Eden?

After living almost three years in Michigan and hearing of the beautiful Dow Gardens, my husband and I decided it was time to check it out.

All the hype we had heard was true – it is an unbelievable place of peace and beauty. My husband commented that this was just a glimpse of what the Garden of Eden must have been. We laughed that we might see Adam and Eve and our daughter who was with us wondered if they would have any clothes on. 🙂

This beautiful place was once the home of Herbert and Grace Dow. They built their home here in 1899. Called “The Pines” the couple raised their family here. Herbert Dow conducted experiments in fruit-growing and developed gardens. Today the home is listed as a National Historic Landmark.

Tours are offered to view the insides of the home where it is furnished with many of the Dow items and gives a good look at what life was like for them. We were not able to take a tour of the home but we did sit on the porch and enjoy the beautiful huge yard with its large expanse of green grass and flowers plantings everywhere.

My husband and our daughter taking a break on the big porch.

Herbert Dow was the founder of Dow Chemical Company and by his death had received over 90 patents for chemical processes, compounds and products. I do not understand all the science behind it, but the Dow Chemical Company website says he devised a new way of extracting the bromine that was trapped in underground brine. The company went on to became one of the world’s major producers of magnesium metal, agricultural chemicals, elemental chlorine, phenol and other dye chemicals. The company also was involved in producing plutonium, the element used in hydrogen bombs (a type of atomic bomb).

Herbert H Dow as a young man and then at age 58

The company has been the subject of several lawsuits for environmental concerns. In 2011 Dow agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at its chemical manufacturing and research complex in Midland, Mich.

Herbert Dow started the gardens as a hobby. He experimented growing different flowers, shrubs and trees seeing what would grow well in the sandy soil. On his death, his wife created The Herbert H and Grace A Dow Foundation. Its charter goals were to improve the lives of Michigan’s people through educational, religious, economic and cultural means. The Foundation gave the estate to Michigan for the community enjoyment. Today the 110-acre Dow Gardens welcomes over 300,000 visitors each year.

There are multiple gardens with 3 miles of accessible hard-surface walks. In the spring over 22,000 bulbs begin to bloom and in the summer over 35,000 annuals provide much color and beauty.

Walking along the path we heard the beautiful sound of running water. Turning a corner we came to a beautiful stream. It was so peaceful we had to stop and just sit and listen to the melodious sounds of the water as it flowed through the peaceful garden.

While we were there we found they had a exhibit of glass gardens by Lansing Michigan artist Craig Mitchell Smith. Mr. Smith creates beautiful floral forms out of glass. His work has been displayed at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and the Epcot Center of Disney World.

My favorite was this one with blue butterflies

There was much more to see including the Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens. This area is 54 acres of woodlands, ponds, meadows and stream. It contains the nation’s longest canopy walk. It is 1400 feet long and reaches up to 40 feet above the ground. There is also a playground for children, two pedestrian bridges and a Cafe. I would have loved to see the forest although I do not think I would have attempted the canopy walk. But my arthritic knees gave out on me and we had to call it a day.

My husband and I plan to go back at some point and check out the forest. If you are ever in mid-Michigan I would highly recommend you include a visit to the Dow Gardens. It is probably as close to the Garden of Eden that we will get in this life.

Just Because

I often get gifts from friends or family members because it is my birthday, or Mother’s Day or Christmas. While I always appreciate that someone thought of me, remembered my special day and took time to purchase something for me, the best gift I just received this week was for no special day.

The person sending me the flowers said it was “just because.”

Each of the roses was a different color – and so beautiful!

I could not decide which color I loved the most. But I am definitely feeling the love!

A Bouquet of Spring

Today it is snowing again.  The snow is once more covering the flowers that I saw peeking out of the ground only yesterday.

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It was exciting to see these beautiful flowers that proclaim winter is almost over.  Now I’m hoping this snow will not harm them and as soon as the temperature climbs above freezing again – which it is supposed to do in a couple of days – they will still be standing to brighten my yard.

These flowers (crocuses) are one of the first to bloom in the spring.  We planted two different colors.  One is the purple seen in the picture above and the other is white with just edges of purple.

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This picture is not from my garden – these have not come up yet.  This is a picture on the bulbs we bought last fall and hopefully what they will look like when the bloom.

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And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring,
And the rose-bud breaks into pink on the climbing briar,
And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire
Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring
.
–Oscar Wilde

 

 

The Making of a Man Cave

Last spring we moved into a beautiful condo.  While my husband loves that he does not have to mow the lawn on those hot summer days or shovel the snow when the bitter wind is blowing, he has found himself with more free time.

In our old home we had a beautiful hosta garden with over 200 hostas along with roses, lilies, cone flowers and so much more!  In our new home we do have room for a few flowers and he has enjoyed planting some this summer with plans for more come spring.  However, with the much smaller lawn we have it will never be enough to keep him busy.

 

Giving this free time he has returned to an earlier love – painting.  When he was younger he painted but always ended up giving his paintings to friends who expressed that they liked a particular one.  When I married him he told me about his earlier painting but he had nothing to show me.

I was pleasantly surprised when he began painting again.  In the small house we rented when we first downsized from our home before buying the condo there was little room for him to paint.  With the purchase of our condo I took over the second bedroom and filled it with my books, my music and my computer.  My poor husband still had no room to paint.

He decided to make himself a studio/painting room in our unfinished basement.  Hard at work on the room he has added his favorite “big” chair and a game table so it has become more than just a place to paint.  Every man needs a man cave and he now has one.  While he still has painting and trim work to do, he is almost ready for a game night with friends.

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Game table all ready for a game of checkers with friends

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He has his easy chair and a TV ready to hook up

What is great is that he now has plenty of work for not only painting but can also display some of his work.

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Painting table with a new canvas ready for his next project

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His creation series – I had a hard job getting a good shot of this – but it is based on Genesis 1 and 2

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Here’s a better picture of his Creation Series taken at a showing of his work at the local Clinton County Art Gallery

He also loves maps and has some terrific antique maps of London and Paris that he had no where to display.  Now he can put them up on the walls of his studio/mancave and enjoy.

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I was feeling a little guilty taking the extra room for my space, so now I can better enjoy my area knowing my husband has a space all his own to enjoy.

One of the reasons we bought the condo was to get everything on one floor for me.  I had a knee replacement that did not go well and arthritis in the other knee so stairs are difficult for me.   With this new space I think I may be going up and down stairs again.  As he has completed steps in this decorating I have been called to check it out.  Putting up paneling, painting the floor, putting down rugs, putting up lights – all have required my inspection.  Now he is talking about me coming down stairs to sit in his easy chair and read or blog while he paints.

I have to remind him it is a “man-cave” and women are not allowed.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welkom to Tulip Time

My husband and I recently visited Holland Michigan on our first trip checking out the lighthouses in Michigan.

While we enjoyed seeing “Big Red” the real treat was enjoying all the beautiful tulips around town.  The weekend before had been their annual Tulip Time Festival.  For almost 90 years this annual event has featured over 5 million tulips blooming everywhere you look in the city.  Tulip Time has been given many different  accolades including being named the nation’s Best Flower Festival, America’s Best Small Town Festival and the 2017-2018 Tulip Festival of the Year.

We waited until the weekend after the festival to avoid all the crowds but still catch the tulips while in bloom.  We were not disappointed.

Over the years millions of people have gathered to enjoy this display of beauty.  There is also much to celebrate of the Dutch heritage with traditional garb and dance, watching the artists create wooden shoes from a block of wood and the beautiful  blue Delft dishware.

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We visited Nelis’ Dutch Village, a perfect place for families.  Along with the thousands of tulips, there were kid-friendly rides, an ice cream shop and Dutch dancers performing every half hour.  After watching the Klompen Dancers, families could stay and learn some of the Dutch dance steps themselves.

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If you go, you must get some of their fudge.  So delicious!

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Our second stop was Windmill Island Gardens.  Situated on the edge of downtown Holland, the gardens have the only working Dutch windmill in the USA.  Named “De Zwaan” (the Swan) this windmill was brought over from the Netherlands in 1964.

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Tours are given of the working windmill and you can purchase flour and other grain products.  The windmill is 125 feet tall from the ground to the top of the blades and they say the view from the fourth floor is spectacular.  I would have loved to climb to the top but with my arthritic knees, I chose to remain on the ground.  I can only imagine what the view from the top must be looking down on all the thousands of tulips.

We loved seeing the workers in their native Dutch costumes.

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The gardens also had so many beautiful flowering trees and canals.  My husband and I walked and snapped pictures until we had to stop because my legs were swollen from all the walking.  Coming home, I had to use pain meds and ice to get relief, but for all the beauty of God’s creation, it was well worth it.

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Reflecting back on all the beauty, I was reminded of how awesome a creator God is.  He could have made one flower, but he made such a multitude of different flowers and trees.  He could have made tulips all red, but look at what he created – just for us to enjoy.

If you ever wonder to Michigan in the spring, you must check out Holland Michigan.

Besides the beauty of the flowers and trees, the downtown area has so many neat shops and coffee bars.  Throughout the downtown area you will find many statues.

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Beautiful classical and marching tunes were playing at this statute

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Missed the flag in this picture but a great statute showing honor to our flag

Tulip time in Holland Michigan will be one of my favorite road trip memories.