Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bunnies, Beavers and Frogs with Chainsaws... Oh My!

 Ahhhhhhh went the shrieking girl, ribbit, plop went the frog and that was pretty much the theme of our trip to the Hudson Gardens, located Southwest of Denver off of Santa Fe.

We all know my love for the Botanic Gardens... lets face it, it has the most mentions of any other venue we visit regularly here in Denver. Plus, I get to share a lot of pictures of flowers I love. Chris and I had visited the Hudson Gardens a couple of different times before we had kids. The kids had all been to the free trick or treating event on Halloween, but we hadn't toured the gardens as a family ever. We thought it might be a good way to kill an afternoon and it really, really was. Given my love for the Botanic gardens, I'm going to say something shocking. Hudson Gardens was more fun for the kids and might edge out the Botanic gardens a wee bit in my favorites category. Hudson Gardens just seems more accessible to kids. They can walk down by the different ponds, they got to see some wildlife and there was a lot of room to run. At the Botanic gardens I'm always super jumpy my kids are going to fall into the concrete ponds and I'm not going to be able to get them out without damaging some sort of plant life.  Here, I had far less concerns as it just seemed like there was more room to roam. 

 Although there were plenty of great flowers to see, On this overcast day, I really came to see the irises, since they were in full bloom at the time. They were gorgeous, the colors, the size and just the incredible variety they had at the gardens. It's not pictured, but all the different varieties had name plates so you could find the one you like in a catalog. Even the kids had a good time looking at the big flowers and all the colors.

Miniature trains, it was hard to tear Lucas away from this awesome sight.  Hudson Gardens has a wonderful train garden with track that runs through a variety of plants and even a "replica" of old town Littleton. The trains, the tunnels, the little town, he was in heaven. If he could have actually played with the trains and cars and little people he would have never left the area. The train garden was a favorite for all the kids, although Lucas still talks about it a lot.
Down at the end of the garden, near the bike path there is "Monet's Place", with a lovely bridge, of course.
  Next to the bridge is the coolest place ever... a frog pond.
 Frogs, so cool yet so very scary when they jump. The frogs were really awesome, the numbers of tadpoles were astounding and the size of some of the frogs was just unbelievable. I can only imagine the cacaphony of ribbits that must occur in the evening with all those frogs trying to find someone to love. The funniest part was the reaction the kids had to the sudden jumps of the green amphimbians. We had multiple events of shrieking that made it sound like the frogs were mass murderers out on some sort of chainsaw rampage.
But for me, of course, the water lilies were the best part, so pretty and they didn't cause any type of high pitched screaming!
OK, I'll admit it, I'm not a big fan of evergreens. I don't like the texture (mostly sharp and painful), I don't like that other plants won't grow under big evergreens. And I don't like that they overwhelm the small scale plantings of the normal single family home. I really, really hate to see some cute house living in the shadow of some hulking spruce that will eventually fall during a windstorm crushing the house, a neighbor's house or a random car parked on the street. Fifty year old junipers are also another one I hate. Sure they were super cute when you planted them next to the sidewalk, but now they are trying to grab my kids and eat them while you try and cut them back as far as you can, turning them brown in the process. Not brown enough to be dead, on the contrary, the side facing your house is super green and looks great!

However, Hudson Gardens has a section of evergreens that is very well done and always makes me question my evergreen distaste. The garden does a wonderful job of playing with the colors and textures of the evergreens. Of course, the gardens also have enough room for these blocky plants to spread out and play well together. They aren't trying to eat some poor, tiny, cottage in the middle of a neighborhood built on single lots and competing with other plants better suited to the environment.
 One of the most surprising thing to discover at Hudson Gardens was a real, honest to goodness, live beaver, just hanging out in one of the ponds as if we weren't just off of Santa Fe in Littleton. I was quite surpised to see so many different animals on this trip. At one point Dee Dee almost stepped on a garter snake as we were looking at a sculpture. The bunnies were by far the favorite, although I'm guessing the gardeners would love for us to never see a bunny there again. While we were there, the bunnies were busy snacking on new growth in the oval perennial garden.
The kids had a great time and we actually had to drag them out of there, they wanted to stay longer... that hasn't ever happened at the Botanic Gardens.  I'm usually the one getting dragged out of the gates!

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