After touring the state capital, we headed to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens which were featured as one of Horticulture magazine' 10 most inspiring gardens in 2007:
'A place of inspiration and beauty, Olbrich Botanical Gardens graces the shores of Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin, and offers its guests a 16-acre showcase of the best and hardiest plants for Zones 4 and 5. The display gardens at Olbrich—from the formal, sun-drenched herb courtyard to the acres of fragrant hardy roses—show home gardeners that even under the harshest conditions, beautiful plants can be successfully grown and used in innovative designs. Whether strolling past the meadow garden, with its bright dots of color in the spring, or surveying the view from the new That pavilion, visitors are reminded of the vision Michael B. Olbrich set forth as he went about acquiring land for the future gardens: “This park above all others, with a warmth and strength of love—of love of all the working world—should hold out its arms, should invite them into itself, until its naturalness and beauty enter into their lives.”—Carleen Madigan Perkins'
The gardens are free to visitors, with an entry fee to visit the butterfly exhibit in the conservatory.
After a brief introduction to the gardens on the free tram ride (donations welcomed), we headed for the herb gardens first being a n herb group after-all.
"Olbrich's Herb Garden is designed as a series of smaller gardens meant to delight the senses and illustrate the historic and contemporary importance of herbs. Trees and shrubs border the entire garden and capture the herbal fragrances given off by a myriad of herbal plants within the garden. Specialty herb gardens include the courtyard, tea, knot, thyme and sage, medicinal, dye, kitchen, mint and touch and smell gardens."
|Potted fig trees at entry to herb garden|
|Obelisk of vines|
|Obelisk supporting vining plants|
|Note the curly branches woven into the|
|A "sinister" garden bed is included in the herb gardens|
|"Sinister" garden plants|
A fascinating book by Amy Stewart, Wicked Plants, explores many of the possible plants that could be used in creating such a "sinister garden".
"Culling legend and citing science, Stewart's fact-filled, AZ compendium of nature's worst offenders offers practical and tantalizing composite views of toxic, irritating, prickly, and all-around ill-mannered plants." ---Booklist
|Plants for gold and yellow dyes|
|Plants for blue and purple dyes|
|Ceramic bee skep in the herb garden|
|An appealing rustic rain "barrel" with a simple|
rustice rain chain
|Sensitive plant is one of the more intriguing plants|
featured in the "touch and smell" garden
|A bed of mint with taller varities planted in round metal|
containers to prevent rapid spread
|Spheres are scattered among the plantings in the mint garden.|
|A close-up of a dragon fly resting on one of the spheres|
in the bed of mint.
| A large raised sundial is a prominent focal point in the herb|
|A sundial sits at the center of a traditional herb bed design|
with carefully manicured boxwood hedges defining the
edges of the beds.
|We pass beneath an arbor loaded with grapes as we exit|
the herb garden
A prior visit to Olbrich Botanical Gardens with the Outagamie Master Gardeners several years ago had allowed time to take a peak at the herb garden and some of the other gardens.
|As some of my herbie friends pointed out, Russian sage is not|
considered to be a "herb", but it does add color and structure
to this herb bed with it's talll lavender spikes.