My first visit here even though have lived in the area for 5 years now. I went with my Mom who was visiting and we thoroughly enjoyed the day. We arrived at 11:00 and left at 3:00.
There were numerous school groups visiting the area, and while they all seemed to enjoy the gardens, the fish in the ponds etc, it created some noise and detracted from the overall peace which the area possesses (not to mention making it difficult for us to take photos). But we were in no hurry and waited for the groups to pass to the next area.
The Japanese garden is beautiful. Can really see the potential for wedding photos etc done here - which they advertise. Numerous benches around the area if one wanted to rest or reflect. A nice pond with bridge, a waterfall and a stream enhance the area.
The Butterfly Pavillion is great. We timed going in here when the school kids were all eating their lunches! We had the place to ourselves for 10 min before a couple of other people came in. There were about 7 different types of butterflies that we saw over and over. Some were easier to take pictures of than others. Lots of beautiful tropical flowering plants and bushes. A small pond with fish. A display of the stages of a butterflies life. It was very, very nice.
We were going to order lunch from the little cafeteria, but the school groups were still taking over all the nice small umbrella tables and we did not care to share the picnic tables which were off to one side and mostly vacant. If we were going to pay for lunch, we wanted a decent table! So we went to the gift store to browse and shop. We went for lunch at 1:00 and had a wonderful sandwich and soup (the soup was Coconut Carrot Curry - fantastic). It was quite pricey ($20 for the two of us both having half orders of the combo meal) so we did not get any beverages and just had the water we had brought with us.
Then off to the other areas of the gardens. Here there was a lot of maintenance being done, so lots of workers and their little work carts around. It is a huge area and definitely would be hard to get it into good shape after winter, plus maintain it. They were weeding plus still planting bedding plants when we went on June 18th. There is a large pond with ducks on it. And other smaller ponds / bridges in other areas. Again numerous benches to sit on. There were a few early flowering plants and bushes, mainly lilacs out at this time. Roses and peonies would be coming out in a week or two. We found a couple of geocaches in the area for added fun.
I would definitely go back, but would time it for when the roses or peonies would be putting on a show, plus all the other summer flowers in bloom. Or in the Fall with the changing colors. I would take a picnic lunch next time and enjoy relaxing on a bench or even take a book to read.
Not sure if I would bring my 4 teenage kids here- the youngest would like the butterflies, but I think they would think the rest kind of boring.
The gift shop was great and got a few things for a couple of upcoming b-days.
Hope this review helps other!
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