|Beautiful wooden archways at the Rose Garden.|
The first thing you notice when you visit the gardens is the beautiful, peaceful atmosphere. Everything is done to perfection - from thoughtfully planted flowers, shrubs and trees, to strategically placed benches in the shade, to rest stops with bathroom facilities, water and vending snacks. But overall, the most poignant feature of this beautiful place was the peace.
|Inside the Secret Garden|
We hardly saw a soul during the 4 or 5 hours we spent there, with an occasional group passing us or visible across a large expanse of lawn. This is probably because we were not there during a festival or special event, and the 55 acres is so expansive, and the walkways and trees planted so well, that we felt like we had the entire place to ourselves.
We went on a Friday morning, June 7th, and arrived there about 11am. I was a little worried about the heat, because it was going to be 90 degrees by mid-day yesterday. However, there were so many trees and bushes providing shade, that my worries proved to be unfounded. We carried a water bottle with us, which I would highly recommend. There are drinking fountains here and there along the way where you can fill them up, as well as a few stops with vending machines stocked with ice cold drinks.
Entrance to the Secret Garden - just like the movie!
We even saw a red-breasted bird hopping around, just like the one that helps Mary find the secret door!
|The beautiful white stone fountain pool is the centerpiece of the Secret Garden.|
|I loved the little details like this gorgeous rock-hewn bench.|
The entire way is paved, so you can bring a stroller for children, or you can rent a golf cart or electric wheelchair for a small fee. There are a few places where you can't go with the golf carts, but you can get to nearly every place there without wearing yourself out too much. We opted for walking, and I am so grateful my health is to a place where I could do that. We would walk and look for awhile, then we'd sit and talk. We had an inspiring book with us (Battle Ready by Steve Farrar), so we did some reading and dreaming about the future, and just enjoyed being together.
|This was one of the most stunning garden replicas. I don't recall the name, but it was like a huge staircase of stone-hewn bathtub fountains, pouring into each other all the way down the hillside. Incredible.|
|Beautiful perspective of the sun streaming through the trees, thanks to my foggy lens. ;)|
Admission cost us $12 each, and you can stay in there as long as you want. On weekdays, it's only $10, and it's $2 less every day for children and seniors. You can also opt to purchase a yearly membership which gives you access to the entire gardens area anytime you'd like. There are other benefits of membership including discounts and free admission to the other Thanksgiving Point venues such as the Museum of Anient Life, the MegaPlex Theatre, the gardening and cooking classes, the cafes and restaurants and gift shops. Depending on how far you are from the Point, membership could be a great option, even for the gardens alone, because there are so many places where you could go and just sit and read, or work, or just listen to the beautiful sounds of nature. You can get more information about memberships here: https://www.thanksgivingpoint.org/membership/reneworbuy
|Merry-Go Round with flower-filled horses. The sculptures hold a growing soil of some kind, and the plants grow out of it on all sides. I bet these look spectacular as they fill out during the summer.|
The gardens had plenty of wildlife, too - from the fish at Koi View Pier, to the birds hopping to and fro, and one poor little goose who found himself on the wrong side of the fence and couldn't figure out how to get in! When we were in the Secret Garden, we saw a mother bird feeding her chicks in a little nest just a few feet from the bench where we were sitting. It was such a delight.
|The fish all gather around waiting for visitors to toss them some food pellets which are available in little machines for a quarter. Other fish feed off moss along the banks of the pond in other areas.|
|The waterfall was stunning! So much water, and all recycled with pumps & motors. . . incredible.|
The largest sculpture was of Jesus Christ walking on the water. The waves are all billowing up and look treacherous and dangerous. And yet He stands there with the wind blowing his hair and robe, looking majestic and in control. What a peaceful perspective, giving us peace, hope and confidence to make it through the trials we are facing in our life right now.
|The winds and the waves shall obey His will. . . Peace, Be Still.|
|Christ bearing the cross - and the weight of the world upon his shoulders. Interestingly, when you walked up close and looked up into his face, he looked calm, serene and majestic.|
The entire day was amazing. Lonny noted that being there was almost a temple-like experience, filling our minds and hearts with peace. Occasionally we would pass someone walking one way or the other along the pathways, but for the most part, it was like we were enjoying this incredible paradise on our own, hearing only the sounds of nature and our own inspired conversations. It was a dream day.
I am so grateful to all the people who conceived the plan for this wonderful place, gathered donations, inspired one another, and made it into reality. It's truly a gift paradise in the middle of the desert.
|The picture just doesn't do it justice - but this is a view from the top of the hill by the vistor's center. You can eat in the restaurant here and enjoy and incredible view. It's almost like being back east - it's so green!|
|Notice on the west side, you can see the "untouched land" outside of the gardens just over the treetops - it's so much browner and desolate, with only desert vegetation - an incredible contrast!|
|We were so happy to have a nice lady agree to take a picture for us! Trying to take them ourselves just wasn't working!|
A Dream Day. . . Thank you Lonny!