Monday, August 8, 2011

Totally Texas -- Dollar days at the Dallas Arboretum

Dallas Arboretum

8525 Garland Road


I arrived in Dallas in 1984. My graduate work was on the root structures of trees so one of my first excursions was to the Dallas Arboretum -- a garden of trees. I didn’t realize that the Arboretum itself had only opened that year on land previously owned by the DeGolyer and Camp families.

One heritage of the gardens on the shores of White Rock Lake was an allee -- a walkway between tree-sized mature crepe myrtles. In traditional garden design, such a garden feature has a destination. And the crepe myrtle allee got with the installation of one of the most whimsical of the Arboretum’s many water features -- the Toad Fountain.

As if seen through the wrong end of a telescope, four enormous toads sit at the corners of the little plaza visible through the allee, each spouting a twenty-foot stream of water.

Kids love them. Love them so much the Arboretum has had to install signs warning people to treat the toads with respect -- no climbing, no drinking the water they squirt from their amphibian lips.

In the sun-drenched North Texas landscape, the fountain is an oasis of coolness as the water sprays lower the psychological (and probably actual) temperatures. Benches around the perimeter of the fountain are arranged so that some are in shade almost any time of the day.

The toads aren’t the only water features by any means at the Arboretum. Serendipitous timing recently brought me to the Palmer Fern Dell just as the misting system went off. The spray was so fine I didn’t get drenched -- only cooled.

And then there are the water walls in the Lay Ornamental Garden. And the nearby series of pools terminating in a pond filled with enormous, gorgeously colored koi fish. And the water lily pools, and Warren’s Bridge across a stream overlooking White Rock Lake. And the Fogelsen Fountain erupting from the large circular pool that marks the end point of the Paseo de Flores. I’m leaving out several, to let you discover them for yourself.

The Arboretum is open daily at this season from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. All that water for only $1 per person (plus parking) during the return of the Arboretum’s dollar days through August 31.

And a special message to my friend Elaine who browsed through the Arboretum gift shop before the recent appearance by author Nicholas Carr -- the shop’s annual clearance sale is this coming weekend, August 12-14. Or she (and you) can shop online at

(Next Monday -- Discovery Channel’s Shark Week has ended, but Totally Texas revels in sharks minus the bloodshed at the Dallas World Aquarium.)

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