Dow Gardens (www.dowgardens.org) were initially developed by Herbert H. Dow, founder of Dow Chemical Company, on the estate he shared with his wife, Grace, and their family. Since the 1899 development by Herbert H. Dow of an 8 acre plot of land, the facility has grown to encompass 110 acres of stunning garden landscapes that are nestled within the city limits of Midland, Michigan.
This rose garden is an example of Herbert Dow's original philosophy to "never reveal the gardens' whole beauty at first glance."
There is an interactive Children's Garden where local families can learn the basics of home gardening for the purpose of food production. These homemade scarecrows illustrate the creativity the kiddies can imagine and construct, to scare away any crows that might be trying to "harvest" the children's crops.
In addition to the areas devoted to home gardening, flowers, and ornamental grasses, there are spectacular displays of trees. I especially enjoyed seeing the white bark of this species, contrasting against the vibrant green of the lawn.
Herbert Dow was an early "recycler". Some of the original bridges in the garden that date back to the last century, were made from "clunkers". These were the leftover, nonburnable pieces of coal that had to be removed from the numerous coal-fired furnaces, used in the early days of the Dow Chemical Company. The black stones used to make this bridge are an example of the "clunkers".
Decades later, Alden B. Dow, the famous architect son of Herbert and Grace, added many architectural elements to the Gardens. This Sun Bridge is an example of his design. His intent was for the reflection of the bridge, to unite with the real bridge, to form an image in the eye of the viewer of a round sun, with rays projecting off of it. I see it, do you?!
With all the water features in the garden, there is plenty of work to be done, keeping them clean. On the very hot day that I visited, these workers may have had the "coolest" task of any that we saw!
Since the originator of the gardens was named "Herb", it is only fitting that there is a special section growing plants to be used for food preparation, that, of course, is called the "Herb Garden"! This photo is also a reminder to mention that motorized chairs can be arranged for guests who need them.
This gorgeous weeping willow tree reminded me of a parasol, spreading out to to provide cover for any who seek shelter under its branches. In fact, our guide told us that people are ENCOURAGED to get off the marked paths, and onto the grass. Likewise, they are allowed to bring a picnic with them to enjoy some "al fresco" dining!
There were so many visual delights in the garden, it was hard to pick which ones to share in this blog. I liked this photograph, because it illustrates how it is obvious that the large boulders were artistically placed to provide a pleasing reflection in the water. I guess it could be like the ink blot images, used by psychiatrists to see what is on the mind of their patients. I see a row of vertebrae, making up a spine, laying on its side. What do you see?
Alden Dow designed some Chinese red, multilevel bridges. Two of his "signature" colors are the combination of the complementary colors of red and green. Our guide told us this related to his being raised around the apple orchard of his father, where bright red apples contrasted against bright green tree leaves.
Speaking of red, the Dow Gardens are a popular spot for outings of various "Red Hat Society" groups. If some of the ladies are not able to walk for extended periods, an electric cart can be arranged for their visit.
This is what I would call a real "Bench Mark". There were benches throughout the gardens, but this design is one I had never seen before. It was beautiful!
Herbert Dow met his future bride, Grace Ball, in the 1890's, when she was a teacher at the Post Street School, shown in this photo. They became friends through their mutual participation in the Midland Temperance Society. Some historians think that one reason that Herbert Dow originally invested in this particular piece of property, was its proximity to the Post Street School, and the nearby pine forest where he and Grace "courted".
But Dow Gardens is just one of MANY legacies of the Dow family in Midland, Michigan. Another is the Midland Center for the Arts ( www.mcfta.org ), shown in this photo. Besides the bright red, sculptural format used for their sign, I was so impressed by the MILES of red and white flowers, adjacent to the curb, that lined BOTH sides of the main thoroughfare in Midland.
The overlapping metal circles that cover the front of this Alden B. Dow-designed building, are once again an eye puzzle, to see what image your brain will perceive.
My favorite section of the art gallery was the "Abstracting the Concrete" photography exhibit by Bill Jackson Photography. However, since guests were asked not to photograph that section, I photographed other examples from the Art Gallery, such as these unusual sculptures.
There are several different group venues inside the Midland Center: A 1,500-seat auditorium, a 400-seat theatre, conference rooms, and dining rooms. Once again, Alden B. Dow used his signature red and green color combination to furnish the spaces.
In addition, the Midland Center contains a historical museum, as well as the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art, shown in this photo. Both spaces have numerous interactive exhibits that children will love. And of course, both Dow Gardens and the Midland Center for the Arts have gift shops, stocked with lovely and unique items of all types. The Dow family has certainly lived up to the original meaning of "dower", which means a gift (as in "dowry" and "endowed") I was reminded of one translation of the verse I Peter 4:10 that says "As each one has been endowed with a gift, use it to minister to one another". I am thankful I was able to enjoy the many gifts that the Dow family endowed to the city of Midland, Michigan. If you would like to learn more about these attractions, and many others close by, just click on www.VisitGreatLakesBay.org, to start enjoying miles of (enDOWed) smiles! Tricia