This week we travel south down I-90 from Madison to Janesville, Wisconsin to the beautiful and peaceful Rotary Botanical Gardens. My involvement with the Gardens was through a photography friend who worked there and hosted a couple of photo shoots at the Gardens. Later on I was asked to teach a youth photography class so made a couple of stops at the Garden to scope out things for a photo scavenger hunt. What I find interesting about gardens such as Rotary is that visitors can go back at different times during the year and see something new and completely different. I hope you enjoy my brief descriptions and photos from the Gardens.
First, a little background and history of the Rotary Botanical Gardens. The twenty-acre garden contains over 24 garden styles, thousands of plant varieties, and a number of water features. These gardens are built on the site of an abandoned quarry and like a lot of great ideas got it’s start from the foresight of a local citizen who had the idea to clean up this blighted site and turn it into a botanical garden for the community to enjoy. He solicited the local Rotary clubs to sponsor this project and fortunately they agreed to not only lend their labor but also help to raise funds for the cleanup and design. They trucked in new dirt, created a pond with the assistance of the Wisconsin DNR, and over the years added new garden types. A building on the site was renovated through the efforts of workers from the General Motors plant that has meeting rooms, educational exhibits and a very nice gift shop. Rotary Gardens opened to the public in 1989 and attracts thousands of visitors each year. The Gardens host symposiums and educational events for youth and adults and produce several events that draw in visitors from the Janesville area and beyond. The holiday light show is particularly well attended and impressive. The Gardens host weddings, anniversary celebrations, birthday parties and other events. Passing tour buses often find their way to the Gardens as they are located near the Interstate. There is a small entrance fee ($7.00 for adults) and parking is free.
Now on to more photos. Some of you might know that I’m a photography judge at county fairs primarily in central and southern Wisconsin. I judge mostly the youth department but occasionally judge the adult open class photos. I can’t tell you how many photos I’ve seen of the Japanese bridge from Rotary Gardens. With it’s reddish color and reflections in the water it’s very picturesque. Guess what, I have my interpretations too! I think you’ll agree it’s an outstanding feature in the gardens.
Across the pond, the Observation Pier is also popular with photographers especially in the late afternoon light.
Please note in the above photo, the Zig Zag Bridge, is another nice feature for photographers, this one with the Japanese bridge in the background.
Near the pond is a Japanese Garden with a koi pond, a waterfall, rocky features, and beautiful plants.
Walking around the Gardens, visitors can see a Scottish Garden, a Sunken Garden, a Shade Garden, and a Gazebo Garden. Here are some photos from my walks through these gardens.
Since I was there both in the early spring and late fall different plants were showing their glory.
A stroll around the Italian and English Gardens featured the trimmed hedges and statues one would expect to see in these gardens in Europe.
A couple of my favorite photos were taken close to the Education and Environmental Center. These colorful Adirondack chairs in the afternoon are especially appealing to me.
Behind the chairs in the French Formal Rose Garden contains another of my favorites, the pergola. This photo was taken in the fall when the roses were not in bloom. I like the look of the curved, leading lines against the color in the trees and blue skies.
Also nearby is the Terrace where visitors can relax and enjoy the quiet, absorb the beautiful environment and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee.
During my visits, I’m always looking out for signs of creatures that live and thrive in the gardens. While this butterfly can’t fly, it’s made of steel, it added beauty and interest to the gardens!
That concludes my tour of Rotary Gardens. If you are in the Janesville area and have an hour or two, these gardens are well worth the time. I know that I’ll make another visit soon and certainly shoot more photos.
Until next week, travel safe.