Ok, here we go… *cracks knuckles* Gird your loins, people, this is going to be a long one. Well worth it though.
When Husband and I met, we were both working in the Huntsville, Alabama area. 8 or so months later we were planning a wedding. I will tell you right now it was nothing resembling a church wedding, nor had anything to do with the usual church wedding things, so we wanted an outdoor venue, but something that guests in their finery could navigate sans muddy shoes and clothing tears. The Huntsville Botanical Garden was not such an obvious choice…even though it had been open for over a decade, we’d never previously visited.
It only took one visit to settle that, though. The aquatic garden was newly open, didn’t have very many mature plantings around it, but it was completely gorgeous, and we were married there on May 1, 1996.
As you can see we had a TERRIBLE wedding photographer. It’s like he shot everything with a frickin’ Holga! I still regret not sticking my foot up his…ahem. Onward!
The Garden was a regular visit for us after that, every month or so after the kids were born we’d schlep them over, from stroller rides to the times they were old enough to run around on their little legs, we took them there to soak in the pretty, and learn what we so much appreciated about nature and growing things.
When we journeyed back to the North Alabama area last month to vacation at my parents’ newly-purchased retirement place, a visit to the HSVBG was a given.
It was extraordinarily hot the day we visited, hotter than it gets down here in central Florida, so we did skip the vegetable and herb gardens (sorry!), but hopefully we’ve given you enough other interesting snapshots to pique your interest into a visit if you’re ever in the area. I must apologize for the lack of ID on some of the photos, as I said it was bloody hot, and in most cases, the plantings simply weren’t labeled.
The old entrance to the main garden:
Dry streambed, miniature train area and gorgeous laceleaf maple specimen behind:
Rock garden with perimeter plantings:
The pergola over the outside cafe dining area behind the new entrance/Gazebo gift shop…the latter of which is a dangerous place indeed:
The new (to us) Bonsai Display Garden was a most welcome surprise:
The butterfly house:
Path around the back of the butterfly house:
Butterfly house and learning center entrance:
Children’s garden birdhouse:
Children’s garden rainbow:
Children’s garden path and fountain:
Gazebo behind the children’s garden:
Stream inside the butterfly house:
No actual butterfly pictures, sorry, brought the wrong lens for that.
Butterfly house fountain:
Knockout roses and columns:
The woodland path we cut through on the way to the daylily garden (which is why we missed the herbs/veggies). Blessed, BLESSED shade!
Japanese lantern and bridge:
Footbridge among the ferns:
Another lantern among the ferns and laceleaf maples:
Oak-leaf hydrangea, which is the state wildflower of Alabama.
I had never fully appreciated it until seeing it used as deciduous tree underplantings along the outside of woodland area:
The daylily garden is more impressive in spring, but it put on quite the show for us anyway:
The path to the end of the Dogwood trail, where resides the 100 year old dogwood tree.
Laceleaf maple with underplantings of dahlias and petunias.
A closeup on this lovely tree as we drew nearer:
And then, the 100 year old dogwood itself:
Of course we’re months late for the blooming season but it is still a magnificent tree. You can walk underneath the canopy, even give it a hug, as the Girlchild did.
This is the path up to the rest of the Dogwood trail. We skipped this area too, as we’d already lost about 5lbs each in water weight and it wasn’t dogwood-blooming season:
And finally, the aquatic garden:
In all our visits, this is the best it has ever looked. The plantings in the pond are a perfect sampling of various water plants, and the copper crane fountains are a beautiful accent:
Adjacent to the aquatic garden is an entrance to the woodland trail, and we gratefully took advantage of the shade:
Path winding through the trees:
Back to the footbridge, maples, ferns and lanterns:
Did I mention the ferns?
Long shot of the huge willow by the bridge leading to the butterfly house:
The gates leading to the long entrance to the aquatic garden:
Crepe myrtle-lined path back to the main entrance:
They’ve done a really spectacular job with underplantings this year:
The other side of the dry streambed, back at the front of the garden:
And there you have it, a virtual visit to one of the best regional botanic gardens I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit…and be married in! The complete HSVBG picture set is viewable under our Flickr account here, it includes alternate views of some areas and plenty of individual plant closeups.
For the further curious, a video tour of the HSVBG is available here. Enjoy!