The time for spring has arrived and everyone is looking for a place to find just a bit of the beauty that the new season brings. Take some time to visit one of the five locations below and you will be sure to find the first blooms of spring, and in one case, the first butterflies of the season.
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
1000 E. Beltline Ave. N.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
When it comes to finding spring flowers, or any flowers for that matter, Meijer Gardens is perhaps the best location in the state, if not the region. Located just outside Grand Rapids, it is a bit of a drive for a day trip, but well worth any effort it takes to get there. Being located on one of the main thoroughfares of Grand Rapids, you will be able to find accommodations if you choose and plenty of places to grab a meal. One of the most beautiful and popular early spring events is the “Butterflies are Blooming” exhibit. Over 6,000 tropical butterflies are raised in the conservatory and then released to fly around the 15,000-square-foot Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. If you have never experienced this sort of event, now is your chance.
MSU Hidden Lake Arboretum and Conservatory
6214 Monroe Road
Tipton, MI 49287
Hidden Lake is home to some of the most beautiful and varied collections of plant life you will find in southeastern Michigan. On the grounds there is a collection of dwarf and rare conifers, a beautiful collection of flowers on the Hosta Hillside and much more. The conservatory houses three environments; tropical, arid and temperate, each offering a variety of plants to enjoy. There are guided tours for those who would like the company of a knowledgeable expert. But if you want to just take a self-guided tour, head down any time the gardens are open and enjoy all they have to offer.
University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens
1800 N. Dixboro Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
East of Ann Arbor, you will find the 200-acre U of M Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Conservatory. The grounds offers a variety of plantings, from a children’s garden to herb gardens that you would find at a historic farm. But it is the plantings of beautiful spring and summer flowers that bring people from miles around to walk the trails and pathways of the gardens. In the conservatory, you will find a wide range of different environments along with special shows featuring some of the most beautiful blooms. And inside the main building, there is a small waterfall and a wonderful sculpture of a child. For those who are interested in the future of sustainable energy, there is the U of M energy-efficient home on the grounds which offers a look at what can be done when there is the will to make things a lot more environmentally friendly.
University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum
1610 Washington Heights
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
If you are looking for native spring blooms, Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor should be on your list. Each spring, the 27-bed Peony Garden fills the entry way to the Arb with a colorful explosion of blooms unmatched in the area. There is the Gateway Garden of New World Plants that is filled with plants native to the region, presenting a true picture of the variety of species that originally took root in Michigan. The area is filled with trails that lead through habitats that include old growth hardwoods, flowering brush or a stroll along the bank of the Huron River. Since the Arb is located on the campus of U of M, parking can be a challenge at times so it pays to look over the parking information offered on the Arboretum website and to download the visitor’s guide for the area.
Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
876 Picnic Way (On Belle Isle)
Detroit, MI 48207
Located on Belle Isle, the conservatory is truly a jewel on the island. With over 100,000 square feet of space, you will find varieties of plants that will boggle the mind. There are five separate environments in the building, ranging from a desert room to a tropical rain forest where palm trees reach the ceiling of the dome. The conservatory is also home to one of the largest collection of orchids owned by a municipality in the nation. There are over 600 orchids that came directly from the collection of Ann Scripps Whitcomb, who was a breeder and grower of the beautiful plants.
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Award winning freelance writer and photographer Lawrence DiVizio is based in Southeast Michigan and works to convey in words and images the world around us. His work can be found at Examiner.com.