Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Children's Garden: Greenville

Hi there! If you're visiting my blog for the first time in a while, this is my THIRD blog post TODAY about our recent visit to Greenville, SC. If you haven't read the previous two posts, it will all make better sense if you scroll all the way down to the first of the three.

As you now know, the Children's Garden was not the last thing we saw on our trip, but it appealed to me on so many levels I wanted to give it a post of its own. This welcoming column is actually one of the pillars supporting the city street above our heads.

The rest of the columns were similarly decorated. What an impressive and wise use of a space some people might have overlooked!
Some of my pictures are the abundant flowers, herbs, and other plants, but many are the amazing works of art which successfully work to intertwine characters of children's literature, the five senses, and other themes. What's this? Why, Jack's beanstalk!

Each letter stood for a special garden flower.

This brave warrior stands as a tribute to the Cherokee nation that once called these lands home.

And this brave pig stands as a tribute to . . . uh . . . oh yes-- Friendship and Undying Loyalty!
We love you, Wilbur!

JUDY'S BEEN FRAMED!!! By this lovely trellis, that is.
An assortment of woodland creatures adorn this pillar.
One of our favorite sections in the five senses section had three exhibits where visitors could create their own sounds. Here, you could blow across the openings to create the musical scale, since each pipe had a different length (go ahead, try this at home).
This musical turtle was capable of generating four or more musical tones, depending on where you tapped him.
This one would have been fun, but unfortunately the sticks for striking these chimes were locked to a post just out of reach. Bummer.
Recognize the Gingerbread House where the wicked witch lured Hansel and Gretel to their near-destruction? This is what children love!
On a gentler note, Winnie-the-Pooh would calm anyone whose heart was racing at the sight of the witch.
Here's The Tale of Peter Rabbit, with every plant mentioned in Mr. MacGregor's garden.

Oh yes, here's some of what you'd expect to find in a garden!

And now, for my favorite part--The Secret Garden. I never read this book until I was an adult, but I dearly love it now. Most of you have seen one or more of the film versions. I am partial to the Hallmark version, and perhaps I'll watch it again soon.
Before you can enter, you must find the door and the key!

Ah, you're in! The next seven photos are self-explanatory: they give a very brief retelling of this timeless tale. I'm afraid the print may be too small to read in several of them.

Yes, there was "every joy on earth" in the Secret Garden.

As I joked to Judy, Amanda, and Brianna tonight at our little hotdog cookout, it took me longer to do these three blog posts than we actually spent in Greenville. That was only a slight exaggeration! Well, I hope you enjoyed the journey. Greenville was a pleasant surprise for me and I'll look forward to future visits there.

Civil War Cemetery, Rails to Trails, and Three More Parks!

This is the second post about our Greenville trip. If you haven't read the first one, scroll down until you come to it.
We spent the night in a Holiday Inn Express in the old downtown section (and No, that doesn't qualify us for anything in particular). A coupon we had gotten at the S.C. Welcome Center saved us $60 on the room, which was first class. Toss in possibly the best continental breakfast I've seen, and it was a super bargain.
The next morning, before we even pulled out of the motel parking lot, we walked across the street to inspect the Civil War era cemetery. As in many parts of South Carolina, the historic plaques continue to reflect a certain defiance in the aftermath of the south's defeat. Remember, this was the state voted most likely to secede.
Don't know this general's name, but he is the sentinel watching over the graves of many sons of the south in their final resting place.
This was a fitting place to begin the final day of our Memorial Day trip.
You may have a little difficulty deciphering the words of this poet. Many today may even find the words somewhat offensive because they admit only defeat on the battlefield, not any error in purpose. In the context of the times though, these words are as valid an expression of memorial devotion as any present day celebrations.

Back in the car, we sought out and found a "rails to trails" greenway that connects to the rest of Greenville's Swamp Rabbit Trail.

At least 3 old railroad trestles added to the historical ambience of the trail.

As noted in my SFL Nature Trail blog posts, the dreaded Kudzu seeks to reach out and take over this trail and any other place it can gain a foothold (so to speak). The state-of-the-art trail was about 12 feet wide with a four foot rubberized cushioned lane for non-bikers only.

We had never noticed that the flowers of the Catalpa tree look like tiny lilies. The one in our back yard has never bloomed so profusely.
Near the turn-around point the trail led under this still-used trestle. I wish a train had gone overhead while we were there.
Our next stop, The Children's Garden, deserves and will have a special blog post of its own, so for now we'll skip ahead to The Rock Garden, a park about a mile's drive away.
This park is a small one in an old residential neighborhood. It is serene and inviting. This waterfall greets you when you enter.
The stream splits this idyllic park symetrically, with greenery and nice rock formations on both sides.
By now, are you getting the impression Judy and I got, that Greenville is committed to open green spaces for its residents?
A kind lady who knew something about cameras took our picture on this stone bridge.
Typical of the wonderful sculptures that were on every hand in all the parks. What is more enchanting than enjoying the great outdoors with a good book and your best friend--human or otherwise?
We drove a short few blocks to our final Greenville park, Cleveland Park. It is the largest and includes the city zoo (which we didn't have time to visit this trip). It has its own special character and is more sprawling than the others. But like the others, it has plenty of stone bridges!
This is the same Reedy River that tumbled down the rocks just a mile away. Here, it levels out and begins to meander away toward the flatlands to the east.
It was fitting on this Memorial Day trip that our last sight was this Korean war era F-86 Sabre Jet. If you dont' see the black iron fencing around it, it looks like its either coming in for a landing or strafing the enemy!
The next post backs up a little to tell about the Children's Garden we visited earlier this morning.

Falls Park in Greenville, SC

Ever since Judy, Jennifer, and Amanda had a "girls only" excursion to Greenville, SC in March, Judy has been dying for me to go there with her. Since our calendars were clear following Memorial Day Monday, we headed from Atlanta to Greenville on I-85. What wonderful things awaited us.

Judy correctly predicted that I would LOVE Falls Park, gorgeously landscaped around the Reedy River on the site of the old textile mills of the 19th and 20th centuries.

After anticipating a long walk from our car, we lucked into a parking place on the bridge directly over the river. Our walking would be inside the park!

The park, part of a well-planned downtown revival, is bordered by all sorts of businesses and retail shops, but they all blend in nicely.

The Swamp Rabbit Trail, which meanders from one end of the old downtown to the other, is named after the old railroad which served the historic mills.

Here's Judy in an overlook of Reedy River before we began hiking in earnest.

We couldn't put off the inevitable-- crossing this bridge. It was a beautiful piece of architecture, but some of you know I don't love high places. I believe the bridge is unique in that it is supported by only the two columns, both on the same side! Some of you physics or architecture buffs may correct me. Even though the bridge was concrete, the constantly curving surface vibrated eerily and had a surface irregular enough to give a sensation of being slightly off-balance. Or was it just me?

It didn't take as much courage as going over Niagara Falls in a barrell, but I shivered to see a dad toting his little boy on his shoulders. Crossing was more than worthwhile as you can see in the upcoming views.

Don't scenes like this make you wish you could just snap your fingers and be there?
There was an endless variety of little nooks for families and couples to have their own little "personal space."

In this ampitheater Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" has been performed most nights, but there was no show on Memorial Day Monday. Just as well-- we had enough to do during our short stay.

As you'll repeatedly see, I can't resist photos of beautiful rockwork. Where could this tunnel lead?

Open space parks offer a great venue for budding musical talents to test their "star power."

I couldn't resist snapping the gnarled root system of this determined tree.

The rules were few in this family-friendly Eden, and you could tell everyone was doing their part to take care of this special place.

There were countless places which afforded views of the river, falls, and bridge.

Thanks to Amanda, once again, for cluing me in on the camera's self-timer option.

While signs did warn of certain risks, there were few off-limits areas.

When we thought we had happened upon a holiday concert in this skeleton of an old textile factory, we realized it was in actuality a holiday wedding! Cool!

Everywhere there were interactive items for imaginative play.

In my next post about the Greenville trip you'll see the end of Day 1 and all of Day 2.