Chihuly Nights; visiting the Atlanta Botanical Garden after dark

img_2378A few years ago, while we lived in Nashville, we went to an exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s work when it was at The Frist Museum.  It was a wonderful show and we really enjoyed looking at the colors and the shapes of the blown glass pieces.  At the same time, Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art, also in Nashville, was featuring a night time exhibit of additional works, but as luck would have it, we never made it out there.  When I went to Atlanta last month, I learned that the Atlanta Botanical Garden was featuring a night time exhibit and I made sure I did not miss it again!

img_7092Using my camera, I took pictures as we walked around the garden and how I wished I could have used my tripod to get better shots!  The glass works are pretty amazing in daylight but once the sun sets, the lights used in the displays give the glass a completely different appearance.  For one, the colors glow.

img_2380If you have ever visited ABG, you are familiar with the raised walkway that takes you high above the gardens.  In this area, the view was almost magical.

img_7101These white glass pieces almost look like balloons or torpedoes.  Because I was using my camera hand-held, it was hard to really get all of the details.

img_7104This looked like a giant succulent from above and below, it looked as if it was alive.

img_7106The reflection pool really captured the movement of the glass tubes.

img_7110While I could see the tiny blue lights up close, they got lost in the distance.  The entire area glowed orange, as if a campfire was nearby.

img_2382This was one of the exhibits that the camera just couldn’t handle.  Called a Fiori Boat, the large structure in the top pool was floating on the surface of the water with the large glass orbs, known as Niijima Floats.  In the background is the Earth Goddes Sculpture whose hand forms a waterfall.

img_2381Covered in moss and surrounded by water, she was an amazing sight in the dark.

img_7124Water lends itself well to the glass and many of the exhibits were in a water setting.  To really see the difference in the photos from the camera and my cell phone, compare this shot to the next one.

img_2383It would have taken me a lot of time to catch this look with the camera.

img_2385Looks like icicles to me.

img_7142As we prepared to leave, a final sculpture greeted us near the gift shop.  They look like blossoms to me!  Truly art imitating life-garden life to be specific.  Do yourself a favor, while you can visit during the day, buy a ticket to the show and go after dark.   The show closes at the end of the month, hurry, don’t miss it!

Maymont Park, part 2; the mansion tour

IMG_1950When you visit Maymont Park, be sure to sign up for a tour of the mansion.  Seriously, take the tour of the mansion!!!  While many historical homes are open to the public, quite often, they are furnished with replicas or pieces from the time period-sometimes just a few to supplement the collection and other times, the majority of the furnishings fall into this catergory.  This is where Maymont Mansion shines; nearly everything in the house actually belonged to James and Sallie Dooley.  From the painted walls to the light fixtures and table ware and furniture.  Because they did not have any children, they made the decision to leave the mansion and its contents as well as the land around it to the city of Richmond.

The front parlor is set up to receive guests just as Mrs. Dooley might have.  So much of this room glittered with gold; on the walls, on the light fixtures and the room itself was glowing and pink.

IMG_1951The thing that caught my eyes-the ceiling.  All hand painted and all original to the house.

IMG_1952The depth of the details, all hand applied and beautiful.

IMG_1953Throughout the house, not a detail was spared.  In the parlor next to the front parlor, the details were mostly silver in color.  While this light fixture is actually sterling silver, the rest of the details in this room were actually aluminum, a metal which was more precious than platinum in that era.

IMG_6399Of course, my favorite room was the dining room.  The table was set for a formal dinner with the best furnishings they had.

IMG_6400The glasses, the china and the flowers…overly ornate, perhaps but I would love to set a table like this!

IMG_6401To preserve the quality of the furnishings, the lighting is low and it was a challenge to take photos with a hand held camera.

IMG_6402Coveting the glasses is not a sin…

IMG_1955And while my camera was challenged, my cell phone was not!

IMG_6407Standing just outside the dining room, this was the overall view of the table as my camera saw it.

IMG_1954and this is what my cellphone saw.  Same room, same lighting-cell phone cameras are pretty sophisticated!

IMG_6404One of the main features of the house are the Tiffany stained glass windows in the stair well leading to the second floor.  They are 15 feet tall and some of the most beautifully detailed windows I have ever seen.

IMG_6405It was a bright sunny day and the windows glowed with the light.

IMG_6409IMG_6414A visit to the estate just to see the windows is well worth the time!

IMG_6417Some of the few things that did not actually belong to Sallie Dooley are actually clothing such as this dress.  While it is from the time period, it was not hers but it is still a stunning example of the era.

IMG_6421In her bedroom, a trunk of ladies gloves and lingerie was on display.

IMG_1957And then there is her bed.  She had a love of swans and this is the actual bed she slept in.

IMG_6420Obviously hand carved and painted, it is the thing of fairy tales…

IMG_6426Her bedroom was just one of the many rooms in the house that gave you a real sense of who they were.  Please take a trip to Maymont Park and visit the mansion and gardens, you will not regret it!

To read about our walk through the gardens, click here

a visit to Maymont Park in Richmond, part 1

IMG_6378If you have been visiting this blog, you know that I frequently post photos about the places I visit, especially if they have a garden.  In our quest to explore Virginia, my husband and I came across Maymont Park in Richmond.  We were first attracted to the park because of the gardens and the fact that it is an arboretum as well as the mansion tour but the $5 donation is what convinced us to go.  While we do not have a problem paying to visit a site such as this, it can get expensive if you try to go somewhere every week, especially if you must also travel an hour or more each way.  We packed a cooler and hit the road to Richmond during the week to avoid the crowds.

The grounds are extensive and I suggest grabbing a map as you enter.  We followed the trails down hill to the Japanese garden and began taking in the sites.  The Dooleys were serious gardeners and this first photo is a reflecting pond outside a grotto that is carved into the hillside.

IMG_6380Pardon me, I have a thing for reflections and I take photos of them all the time…

IMG_6382As we walked the trail, there was so much to see.  The pond, the plants, the trees and the structures.  The Dooleys spared nothing and built a beautiful landscape.

IMG_6384We ventured out onto this raised walkway over the pond and quickly saw that the pond is full of fish.

IMG_6385Beautiful Koi to be exact and many of them were well over a foot long.

IMG_6389Dragonflies are abundant here as well, and they came in many colors.

IMG_6390Water lilies; how I wish I had a pond or a water feature in my garden that I could fill with water lilies!

IMG_6393Turtles were also abundant.  This is an Eastern Painted Turtle.

IMG_6394So many of the decorations and structures were added by the Dooleys and have managed to stay in tact nearly 90 years after they passed away.

IMG_6395If you take the mansion tour, you will see a photo of this bridge and sculpture in the house.  Do yourself a favor, go to the Japanese garden and walk over the bridge, it is beautiful.

IMG_6443The park itself is huge and I suggest you spend the entire day exploring it.  We took a quick walk through the wildlife area and I spied this little waterfall in an enclosure with Bald Eagles.

IMG_6448At the top of the hill above the Japanese Garden is the Italian Garden.  It is much smaller and easier to get to-no steep hills to climb.

IMG_6452And an Italian Garden is not complete without a pergola and this one is a welcomed relief from the heat of the sun!IMG_6453This garden was so colorful and I wanted to walk through it more but the heat…

IMG_6455Another feature, the Italian Gazebo.  There is so much to see and it must all be done by walking.  Be prepared for that, bring water and wear the right shoes.  We will go back, we want to see the seasons and visit some of the specialty gardens that we did not linger in for long.

We did take the mansion tour, you can read all about that here.  Get out and explore, you will be surprised by what is right in your own backyard.