A Day at the Gardens

IMG_1543This week’s topic is about day trips to local attractions such as zoos, fairs, and carnivals. I haven’t been to any of those in quite a while, but my daughter and family invited me to join them on a recent visit to the botanical gardens in Grand Rapids. The Meijer Gardens are a beautiful oasis on the east end of the city, where 158 acres of rolling landscape are divided into several areas: a children’s garden, a sculpture park, a historic settlement, an amphitheater, a Japanese Garden (I wrote about this area in my post last June), and the glass-enclosed conservatory, where tropical plants abound.


IMG_1534Our first stop was a room called the Education Center. This is a changing interactive exhibit for children. For the last year or so, the theme has been Japan, in honor of the Japanese Garden. A large IMG_1538off-white carpet represents a Zen garden, and child-size rakes are available for children to imitate the monks who rake the sand into perfect patterns. Across the room a miniature teahouse allows children the opportunity to interact with others as they sit at a tiny table. Some of the kids don the kimonos and pretend to enjoy their tea, while others play with little cricket cages, walk across the Japanese-style bridge, or jump from lily pad to lily pad. It’s truly an awesome exhibit.

IMG_1555When the kids had tired of the playroom, we went to the conservatory for the Butterfly Exhibit. Each year during the months of March and April, thousands of cocoons are shipped from all over the world and allowed to hatch inside the conservatory. When I taught second grade, this was an annual field trip so I was familiar with the exhibit. But seeing it with my grandchildren is an altogether different experience. Guests have to go through double doors so that the butterflies don’t escape. Once inside, we walk on the path between tropical plants. There are several butterfly feeding stations, and a small structure houses the cocoons that have yet to hatch. I had a difficult time getting a good picture of the butterflies – so I settled for taking pictures of the kids instead.

IMG_1551If the weather had been nice we might have gone outside to visit some of the amazing sculptures, or gone to the outdoor Children’s Park. But the toddlers were tired and hungry, so we ate in the Garden’s restaurant and went home. I’m sure the family will take some of those in during another visit!

Have you gone on a fun family outing lately?


About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Kiyono/e/B0067PSM5C/
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10 Responses to A Day at the Gardens

  1. Joselyn says:

    We went to the butterfly exhibit this year with the twin’s class. It was so cool. One boy in our group was terrified of them though. You would have thought they were rabid bats. I felt so bad for him. I’d like to go back to the gardens when it is warmer. It was too cold for us to explore much of the outdoor exhibits.


    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Oh no! I’ve never had a student who was afraid of them – and it’s almost impossible to avoid them inside the conservatory. You should take advantage of the Children’s Garden sometime – it’s a really fun area. Also, they used to have a tour (on a tram) that tours all the sculptures, including the DaVinci horse. Or you can do the walking tour.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joselyn says:

        We were able to do the tram. It was really cool. The kids loved the horse. They also noticed something very particular about the horse. I’m sure you can guess. Boys!


  2. We’ve never visited the Meijer Gardens and it sounds lovely. I’m sure I’d especially enjoy the butterflies! Need to put it on my list for a future activity, as it’s only a little over an hour away from us. There really is so much to see in our own state. Thanks for a peek into your day at the Gardens.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      You’re right, Lucy – Michigan has so many beautiful spots. I’m sure you would enjoy a day trip to the Meijer Gardens, especially if the weather is good! Thanks so much for visiting.


  3. jeff7salter says:

    sounds like a cool place. well thought-out, providing a good mix of kid things and those of interest to adults.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      You’re right, Jeff – the place offers so much for every age. I’ve been there at least a dozen times but I don’t get tired of going.


  4. Diane Burton says:

    Love the butterfly exhibit plus all the wonderful gardens. Haven’t been in a while. Thanks for the reminder to go back.


  5. Sounds wonderful for your grandkids , Patty.There are butterflies in a section of the Louisville, zoo, but I have not been there in a number of years.


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