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May 16, 2008 / Bo Mackison

Spring Walk through Olbrich Gardens

A late afternoon excursion to one of Madison’s urban green spaces to indulge in Spring and her beauty, the Olbrich Botanical Gardens is always a treat – especially when it is sunny and 65 degrees. ( I kept remembering the snowy winter days I spent photographing white and gray subjects from November until mid-April!)

Sixteen acres of displays provide an unusual garden perspective – a Midwestern interpretation of garden design, which at Olbrich takes on the dimensions of a stunning art form.

Garden Brick Patio

The entrance to the Gardens, the prairie-style Donors’ Arbor, provides access to ten specialty gardens – a few examples are the Herb Garden, Eunice Fisher Hosta Garden, Atrium Shade Garden, and Thai Pavilion and Garden. The botanical gardens and adjoining Bolz Tropical Conservatory have been prominently featured in the Seeded Earth including a winter post on the Thai Pavilion.

Reflection under the Lussier Bridge

The Lussier footbridge connects the woodland Wildflower Garden to the left with the Alpine Rock Garden. In the summer, the pond is filled with aquatic flowering plants.

Iron Trellis

Attractive iron ‘sculptures’ provide background for the hardy rose shrubs just now leafing in the Rose Garden. The garden has been designed to highlight the shrub roses instead of formal garden roses that require chemicals to control disease and pests plus many gardening hours to cover each plant prior to the winter season for survival in Wisconsin.

Meadow Garden

The Meadow Garden offers paths for strolling, benches for relaxing, flowering trees for admiring. It is dotted with innumerable spring bulbs and demonstrates a no-mow alternative to the typical urban grass-scape which requires high maintenance and way too much time. It is planted with drought-resistant fescue grasses which require only two mows a year. My kind of lawn!

Wherever you find yourself within the spaces of Olbrich Gardens, there is always a choice of pathways to take you to new delights. From the tall native grasses in the Perennial Garden to the brightly colored spring bulbs in the Meadow Garden to the tiny conifers in the Alpine Rock Garden, Olbrich inspires all visitors-dedicated gardeners and casual wanderers alike- with its grand showcasing of Wisconsin and its botanical wonders.


  1. Gandalf / May 16 2008 7:44 am

    What a wonderful mini-tour of this park. The bridge pix is really magnificent – Wow!!!!

    The last shot reminds me of Lord of Rings – As Bilbo tells Frodo you need to watch out for roads when you walk out your door. You never know where they’ll take you. “The path goes ever on ….”

  2. HeyJules / May 16 2008 8:54 am

    Beautiful! Makes me want to head back out to my local garden!

  3. montucky / May 16 2008 9:48 am

    What a beautiful place that must be to visit!

  4. Anna Surface / May 16 2008 10:43 am

    All of these are lovely captures and I like the shadows and lines. My favorite is the The Lussier footbridge with the awesome reflection in the pond. 🙂

  5. amelia / May 16 2008 6:11 pm

    Your trees are all in flowering. pretty.

  6. ybonesy / May 16 2008 10:52 pm

    What a wonderful resource for folks in your community.

  7. visuallens / May 17 2008 2:17 am

    Beautiful! I always find great photos from you, beautiful flowers, gardens, blue sky, green trees.The 4 seasons make so much variety in photography. I am envious and thinking of going to my own local Orchid Garden one day to try out.

  8. ankush / Jun 11 2008 12:49 pm

    amazing colors!
    wonderful shots!!!

  9. Steve Miner / Feb 7 2009 4:50 am

    Great pictures!
    I am the editor of a quarterly publication for a non profit Wisconsin association. I would like to use one of the pictures above as the cover of our spring publication. Do I have your permission? Please see last quarter’s publication at

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