While visiting a friend in Southern Michigan we ventured to Grand Rapids to explore the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in early September. We left earlier in the morning during a downpour hoping this was not a sign of things to come for the rest of the day. Fortunately as we neared the gardens the rain stopped, however, the dark clouds remained threatening to rain the rest of the way. We decided that we could always wander around the conservatory areas if the rain began again until it stopped so into the beautifully landscaped gardens we went.
Initially we explored the gardens closer to the conservatory so we could duck in if the rain resumed. Fortunately as the morning progressed, the clouds dissipated and provided a nice day for touring the gardens and sculptures. As the skies lightened and a peak of sun or two shone through, we worked towards the recently opened Japanese gardens.
These are very well designed and landscaped Japanese gardens with many manicured trees and shrubs all surrounding a beautiful pond which include fast moving waterfalls. Many paths have been created to showcase several different Japanese inspired areas which include buildings, bridges, bonsais, a moss garden, and sculptures all layed out in a relaxing arrangement.
One of my favorite areas of the Frederik Meijer gardens for sure. I’ve seen a number of Japanese gardens but they don’t seem to be able to design them to be as relaxing as I think they should be. Most likely they are not arranged in a pleasing manner that fit my interest so nothing against these gardens. Or maybe my appreciation is increasing for these gardens. Either way, the Japanese inspired and designed gardens at Meijer gardens are an enjoyable way to spend several hours taking it all in on a beautiful September morning.
While walking through a couple of people noticed we were being watched. Looking up I found a red tailed hawk paying attention to as many of the patrons as possible waiting for a potential meal scurrying about escaping the people as they explored. Unsuccessful he flew to another area soon after allowing a few photographs.
After completing the Japanese gardens we found ourselves on a boardwalk looking over a wetlands filled with turtles, frogs, and trumpeter swans. Another area to easily lose your thoughts as you watch animals swimming and splashing while taking in the emerging sun. I could have stayed longer but there was more to find.
There are a couple of other gardens to explore but were of less interest to me than those I’ve highlighted such as the Farm Garden which I grew up working on a farm so lacked an appreciation for such a display. The other main attraction is the sculpture garden which includes a number of pieces donated by the Meijers. My appreciation for most sculptures is still undeveloped as I have problems relating to or finding an interesting interpretation for many of them. My focus leads me more to the sculptures created by the forces of nature.
Continuing through the Frederik Meijer Gardens, the sound of rushing water lured me into areas which contained ponds with waterfalls stocked with plants and fish begging for as many moments as you will give sitting on rocks lining the pond. From here you can gaze into the water as fish glide from one area to another hiding under the floating pads from the lilies below. It was a nice break after walking several miles of pathways meandering through each garden.
What started as a cool, rainy morning morphed into a beautiful, sunny day. Reports from the city we started from said it had rained there almost all day. What a fortunate day to drive a short distance and escape that dreary weather. Our time here ended with a stroll through the conservatory which includes tropical and desert areas, both interesting but after a day full of plant viewing I had lost motivation to spend much time in these areas. One of the other nice features is the generous placement of restrooms throughout much of the park when they’re needed. If I was closer to this area I would enjoy re-visiting the Meijer Gardens and watch as it progresses through the season. One of the other nice features is the generous placement of restrooms throughout much of the park.