Monthly Archives: October 2013

OIlbrich Gardens a Spectacular Retreat in Madison’s Atwood Neighborhood

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A palatial rose garden, a Thai pavilion, an English garden, a pebble garden retreat……there are sights and smells around every corner.  You can wander all afternoon and never be bored.  Each area is another world onto itself.  Olbrich Gardens is not a hike but a walk of discovery through a world of well maintained gardens.  You will be amazed at the variety and beauty of the botanical garden.

Olbrich Gardens is easy to get to.  From Middleton take Hwy 12 & 18 East. Exit onto Monona Drive. Take Monona Drive around Lake Monona to Olbrich Botanical Gardens; approximately 4 miles. (Monona Drive becomes Atwood Avenue as it curves around Lake Monona.) Olbrich Garens is on your right as Atwood Avenue opens to the East end of Lake Monona.

There are 16 acres of  gardens and an indoor, tropical conservatory at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.  Among the places to visit in the outdoor gardens is the Thai Pavilion and Garden.  Olbrich’s Thai Pavilion allows you to step outside of Madison and into a foreign land. Outside of Thailand, this is the only Thai pavilion surrounded by a garden in the US. There is a reflection pond filled with large smooth pebbles.


A gold Thai pavilion that towers over the gardens.  As you walk to the garden you pass over a bridge that ushers you to a garden of foreign plants and spectacular flowers.



There are a wide variety of roses in the Rose Garden, which opened in 2005.  Olbrich’s rose garden a playful mixture of Midwest shrub roses and perennials. When in bloom you can smell the perfume in the air.  The colors are spectacular and each rose is a wonder on itself.


You can also find other specialty gardens within Olbrich Garden.  There is the Perennial Garden, Sunken Garden, and Herb Garden to name but a few. Olbrich’s outdoor gardens are open daily, year-round.

With in the gardens is the Bolz Conservatory, a 50-foot-high glass pyramid that contains a diverse collection of tropical plants,  free-flying birds, and blooming orchids. You can see plants such as banana, coffee, and vanilla. There are ordheids , Carnivorous plants, lush tropical rubber trees.  And if you are in the gardens July and August there is a butterfly exhibit.

In June the Peonies are in bloom.  As you walk through the arbor and into the garden there the peonies blossoming with colossal flowers of every color and size.  The perfume envelops your nose as you get close to the bushes.  Brilliant pinks and red petals surround golden centers laid with pollen.

It is fascinating how they can prune the peonies so that the blossoms are spaced around the bush.  These plants have been meticulously maintained. Also in June there are many bulb plants that are throughout the gardens.

As summer progresses you can find the roses blooming in the rose garden.  Many plants are at their peak and the looks and smells are spectacular.

During the fall the colors change and the leaves on many trees are amber, yellow, orange and red.  The best time to visit the garden is your favorite season.  You can call ahead to find out what is blooming ar special events.  The Olbrich’s outdoor gardens are open daily, year-round as well as the Bolz Conservatory.  I visit the gardens several times a year.  It is a wonderful place of discovery in natures beauty.