We lucked out and caught the tail end of fall season at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The Kansas suburb of Kansas City has a beautiful nature center.
We picked a beautiful day to take a walk through the 300-acre park. About 85 percent of the arboretum is set aside to preserve and development of eight ecosystems. The rest of the area is devoted to the visitors center, gardens and trails.
We had an enjoyable time walking the paved path through the area. We were immediately greeted by a display of fall gourds near the entrance.
The visitors center has a variety of vegetation surrounding it. Mums and other flowers were nearing the end of their run, but still beautiful.
Trees offered us a look at different types of leaves we hadn’t seen before. It’s always fun to see new things.
Two attractions immediately caught our eyes as we started to walk through the arboretum. The first was the beautiful pond. We knew we’d enjoy the visit as soon as saw it.
The second item was a willow tree standing over a small walk bridge. As we looked around, I noticed a sculpture of a man painting. It turns out that the scene is referred to as the Monet Garden. The statue represents Monet painting a beautiful scene.
So, as we strolled along the pond, we let the beauty of the scenery soak in. Trees holding on to their leaves for as long as possible lined the pathway. Statues were spotted along the walk.
I saw a small wooden object floating in the water with a large turtle on it. I thought it was an art piece. As I approached the shoreline, it was clearly a real turtle, just taking in the sun on a warm day. He had a stoic profile. His claws, on the other hand, scared the crud out of me.
Later, we found a couple of small statues, Jazz 1 and Jazz 2. They presented a woman dancing among nature. They are among 12 sculptures located around the arboretum.
The arboretum is home to a Train Garden. The area has a caboose and railroad crossing sign on display. In addition, kids can play with toys in the sand while the adults relax on a train-designed bench. A model train display runs on most weekend days when the temperature is above 50 degrees. There are plans to expand the train area.
We walked on, eventually ending up in the Legacy Garden. The garden offers a look at plants that could have been seen at early Kansas homes. Just outside the entrance is a model tree display. Carved houses are located inside the trunk of an old tree. Nice exhibit.
We came upon a spot with large green balls on the ground. We looked up and saw more hanging from trees. It turns out they were hedge apples. They’re not really good for anything. A myth says they are good for insect repellent. This theory has pretty much been disproved. However, squirrels love them for the seeds.
The hedge apples grow on Osage-orange trees. The trees has a sturdy trunk and build, which is good for serving as fence posts or even bows (as in and arrows).
So, while we thought we were just going to enjoy a walk and take in the views of late Fall, we actually learned a few things about nature. It’s always fun to learn new things.
I have the belief that a walk through the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens would be enjoyable regardless of the season. We recommend visiting. The $3 per person admission fee is well worth it.
For more information on the arboretum, please visit http://www.opkansas.org/things-to-see-and-do/arboretum-and-botanical-gardens/.