Olbrich Gardens - Madison

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The Royal Sala - Tai Pavillion at Olbrich Gardens - Madison WI
The Royal Sala - Tai Pavillion at Olbrich Gardens - Madison WI


The botanical gardens in Madison Wisconsin is tucked into a corner of Olbrich Park, a lakefront park at the mouth of Starweather Creek. Small cities like Madison are not usually home to outstanding botanical gardens, but Olbrich, small in acreage, has received outsized praise and international awards. It was also included among the top ten most inspirational gardens of North America in Horticulture magazine's 100 year anniversary edition.

The quality of these gardens is uplifting, inspiring, and will race the pulse of plant fans. Plants are center stage at Olbrich, and good design weaves these plants together into a rich and colorful organic tapestry. BTW it is also free to enter the gardens year round.








Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin


It may seem harsh to compare Madison to world class cities like New York and Paris; nonetheless, Madisonians carry themselves with an air of pride - a somewhat secret belief that Madison is world class. And, it is easy to fall in love with Madison - whether you are a visitor or a new resident. Madison is an eco rain barrel overflowing with charm. It's garden-like neighborhoods whisper enchanting tales as you stroll through them between interconnected parkways. The term Madison's Medicine refers to the hazy eyed sense of ease that visitors are lulled into as they walk about Madison. There is much to celebrate. Just as there is the pervasive discord of competing ideologies lurking beneath the veneer of a perfect life in a perfect place.

Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
Olbrich Gardens is one of Madison's perfect places. It is a horticultural museum. The compositions of meandering pathways through woodland flora rival that which Monet or Vermeer could contrive. In spite of the fact that the garden changes from week to week as the seasons march on, each vignette holds onto its form for the moment you observe it as though a still life framed in ornate gold leaf. The opportunity for magazine cover photography beckons from every turn of the cobblestone garden path.

It seems that no ill will could exist in this immaculate and impeccably decorated procession of plazas. Like Eden, the birds, beasts, human beings, and all who arrive in this sacred place live symbiotically in the achievement of divine peace. This is Olbrich. And, by extension this is the ideal of the progressive community of Madison. Progressive by its very definition is an ideal that a community can cultivate and manicure itself, cutting away all that withers, until the perfect community is achieved. And, perhaps no other city in America has come as close to this ideal as has Madison.


Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
This Saturday morning I found myself walking through Olbrich Gardens, trying to repeat a sense of meditation and inspiration that I had found on my walks in New York's Central Park. It began so wonderfully. Butterflies fluttered about the picture perfect clematus which was climbing the stone walls of an overlook tower. Stilled pools reflected blue skies with billowing clouds. Babbling brooks and water fountains gently caressed the pungent floral air. And, in the distance behind some hidden walled garden a beautiful music was being played. I peered around the corner. There seated next to a water fountain was the musician - deeply entranced and meditating. I took out my camera and prepared to take a video of this gentle man and his gentle music to share with you on this blog. And, just as I began to record, a park guard rolled up in a golf cart and put an end to the music playing. I smirked at the humor of the scene.

So, Olbrich is not New York's Central Park. It's not a place where you can catch a free violin concerto while you relax amongst the flowers shaded by lindens. Olbrich is not a park after all; it is a museum - perfectly curated and like Madison somewhat anthropophobic.



Directions and Map




Address for your GPS:3330 Atwood AveMadison, WI 53704
| coordinates: N43.091872, W089.336445 |

From Milwaukee1.25 Hours
From Madisonn/a
From Green Bay2 Hours
From Wausau2 Hours
From Minneapolis4 Hours
From Chicago2.5 Hours



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Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison WI
Olbrich Botanical Gardens - Madison WI


Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin

Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin

Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin

Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin

The Royal Sala - Tai Pavillion at Olbrich Gardens - Madison WI
The Royal Sala - Tai Pavillion at Olbrich Gardens - Madison WI

The Royal Sala - Tai Pavillion at Olbrich Gardens - Madison WI
The Royal Sala - Tai Pavillion at Olbrich Gardens - Madison WI

The Royal Sala - Tai Pavillion at Olbrich Gardens - Madison WI
The Royal Sala - Tai Pavillion at Olbrich Gardens - Madison WI

Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin

Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin

Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin

Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin
Olbrich Gardens - Madison WIsconsin



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