Madison is more than just Wisconsin’s capital. It is a center of culture and learning. One highlight overlooked by too many visitors is the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, near Lake Monona.
There are actually ten different gardens, every one of them beautiful in its own way. Some of the garden names are self-explanatory. It’s easy to figure out what you’ll find in the rose garden, the rock garden, and the hosta garden, for example. The serenity garden focuses mostly on mood. The event garden is apparently named for all the wedding ceremonies that take place there. With so many options, it is difficult to decide where to spend the most time. In fact, one day isn’t enough to explore the lovely paths and admire the flowers, plants and scenery. If possible, plan to spend at least two days and let the beauty and serenity of the gardens sink in.
The Thai Pavilion, the centerpiece of its own garden area, is a compact masterpiece of oriental architecture. A gift from Thai alumni of the University of Wisconsin, it is only one of four such structures located outside of Thailand. Construction by artisans from Thailand took six weeks. The building, which contains no nails or screws, is covered with intricately decorated gold leaf. While the building as a whole is beautiful, close examination reveals exquisite details and patterns. The garden surrounding the pavilion and its layout are designed to harmonize with the building. The emphasis is on form and structure rather than color. The garden contains several delightful small sculptures surrounded by greenery.