Celebrating Summer at Lauritzen Gardens

I couldn’t sleep last night, so I turned on the TV and flipped through channel after channel until I came to a studio set decked out in Christmas trees, snowmen, multi-colored fairy lights, and poinsettia boughs.  It was QVC, and two women were on the screen demonstrating how to use festive, Christmas-themed draw-string gift bags as an alternative to wrapping paper.  As I watched, I actually began to feel a chill in the air.  In the small, dark hours of the morning, and in that hazy state between sleep and full consciousness, I forgot for a moment that it was July, that I had been at the pool just hours earlier, and that oppressive, weighty heat and humidity had settled on Kansas City like a burden.    QVC’s “Christmas in July” sale was in full swing, and the parade of products went on and on: tabletop angels, red and green mercury glass candle sticks, Lenox ornaments.  

Before I came-to and remembered summer, I actually felt—what was it?  Dread?  Disappointment?   Something blah.  Don’t  get me wrong—I love Christmas.  But summer is my time to thrive, and I want to live it in full measure;  I don’t want it curbed or rushed.   I can’t get enough of the heat (well, I could do without the humidity).  I can’t get enough of the hot, sharp colors of summer:   limey green, sky blue, yellow.   The dappled light on the floor of the pool.  The cool, navy tones to be found in the shade of a tree.  I can’t get enough of the sounds: the chirps of birds, the whoosh of a breeze through the leaves (close your eyes and it sounds like ocean waves), the sound of people mowing lawns in the distance, the gentle tinkle of ice cubes in a glass.  I even like that obnoxious, pulsing, mechanical drone of the cicadas—simply because that’s summer .   Winter is for nesting and snuggling up.  Summer, though, is for hitting the road and exploring the world without wearing a jacket.

I love the mystery built into a well-designed botanical garden. What’s behind this door? It’s so much fun to let your imagination run free.  I took this at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska.

It’s my love of all things summer that attracts me to botanical gardens.  I live on a golf course, and have very little yard of my own in which to plant things.  I have plantings around my patio and in a pot by my front door, but that’s it.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I was never a great gardener, even when I did have a yard!  But I love gardens.  The bigger, the  better, so I can lose myself in them.   My imagination goes wild; I study the colors, I follow every winding path.  It’s one of the ways I recharge.   The best gardens also have events throughout the year, so a visit can yield unexpected adventures.   Last year I was in Atlanta on business, for example, and on a free evening I went to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, where they had an illuminated exhibit of Chihuly glass sculptures throughout the park.  What a treat!  

Atlanta Botanical Garden
Chihuly in the Garden 2016, Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photo from Curbed Atlanta.

Closer to home, the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha beckons.  They, too, have events throughout the year, but even on a normal, ordinary day, the settings are spectacular.  Omaha is about a three-hour drive from home, but, like the famous zoo only blocks away, Lauritzen Gardens is always worth the effort.  I visited earlier this week, and while the weather was touch-and-go and kept me guessing all day, it was all lovely, as usual.

Lilies at Lauritzen. Limestone walls and structures can be found throughout the park. On this latest visit I learned that the limestone came from the Flint Hills of Kansas!
Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha
The entrance to my favorite garden at Lauritzen: The Victorian Garden. Oh, can’t you just see Queen Victoria swishing her skirt through this gate?  Sigh.
Inside the Victorian Garden.
Honestly, I could sit here all day. This is the view I think of when I am stressing out.  D E C O M P R E S S.
Look at that white sky. It had been raining that morning, so the temperature was fairly cool for July, mid-70s. I actually like overcast skies for picture taking in a garden, because it allows the color of the flowers to really pop.
Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha
This was taken in the Rose Garden.  I was at the park about three hours, and in that time the sky cleared a bit and the heat and humidity set in.  Bring it on!
This is a detail shot of antique grillwork in front of the herb garden deep into the park. The grill was made in Italy.
This is the entrance to the Chinese Garden. The carved wooden gate was a gift from Omaha’s sister city in China (I can’t remember the name!)
This shot is from deep in the park. I’m standing in the Herb Garden looking out on the Chinese Garden.  Here you can see the Italian grill piece in its entirety.  Wow, what a view.

Lauritzen has two really awesome events coming up that I would love to attend.  The first is “Leashes at Lauritzen,” August 7,  September 4, and October 2, which is an opportunity for visitors to walk the grounds with their dogs and mingle with other dog/garden lovers.  I would really like to take Olive, but she’s such a shy dog, I’m not sure she would be comfortable there with other dogs.  The second—and I am absolutely sick that I am going to have to miss this—is their Antique and Garden Show, which is September 15-17.  I have a conflict that week.  I found out, though, that the Antique show is an annual event, and takes place every September.  It’s already on my calendar for next year!

Summer is half over, and I want to hang on to every minute with an iron grip.  Maybe QVC has a “Summer in January” event?…

Until next time…

Jennifer Passariello