Friday, April 28, 2017

Olbrich Gardens

I went home to Madison, Wisconsin this past week. It was a family visit that turned into a funeral, but I don't want to dwell on the sad part of the visit too much.

My father and grandparents lived on the east side of Madison (Monona actually), very near Olbrich Gardens. It was a favorite place of my Grandfather Orlan. It's also a place my father, Jim, loved and a place I love too.

The Olbrich Gardens began in the 1950's and has increased in size and scope ever since to include the Bolz Conservatory and wide variety of gardens. There is even a beautiful Thai Pavilion.  

Thai Pavilion
We held my father's "Remembrance" party in the Atrium at the garden and it was perfect. Just a small gathering of friends to remember someone special.

Before the gathering started, I managed to step away and have a private moment for myself in the Bolz Conservatory.

I wandered into the Bolz Conservatory ($2 entrance fee), which is a hot house pyramid full of plants native to tropical and sub-tropical regions. It's a little tropical oasis in the snowy winter. The dome is packed with over 650 different plants. It's like walking around in the jungle.

Upon entering, I was immediately greeted by the fragrance of a beautiful Stanhopea in bloom.

I didn't have a lot of other time to wander the rest of the garden, so I'll have to save that for another time. 

Below is a little visual tour of the inside of the Bolz Conservatory.


Bolz Conservatory
Inside Bolz Conservatory

Etlingera elatior (Torch Ginger)
Chenille plant?

Overlooking the bird feeders

Gongora (Scaphephorus x tricolor)
Goldfish Pond
Kohleria 'Napolean V'

Juanulloa aurantiaca (Goldfinger Plant)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Father Loved Orchids

The morning of April 15th was very strange and I will never forget it.

The most anticipated plant sale of the season, Hortlandia, began that morning. I had been looking forward to it for weeks, even planning a vacation to New Orleans and a trip to Wisconsin to see family around it.

While I was getting dressed, only one arm through my shirt, I received a call from my step-mother. My father had taken a turn for the worse and she needed me to say goodbye to dad over speakerphone.

She wasn't sure how long dad would hang on and there was no way I could make it home in time. I was flying there in just a few days.

Hopefully he heard me say "I love you and you have my permission to go."

My heart wrenched.

The hospice nurse was on her way. Mom would call me as soon as she knew something more.

What do we do?!?

Alan and I were scheduled to pick up a friend to go to the sale.

There was nothing to do but wait for the call.

We got in the car, picked up my coworker and went to the Expo.

I had mixed emotions entering the great hall.

I grabbed a box and dived into the plant mayhem, hoping to take my mind of something happening 1,500 miles away. 

I picked up my first plant, a Cypripedium. I've always wanted one, but they are so expensive, I always tell myself no.

My phone rang. It was mom...

I handed my box to Alan.

Dad was gone...


I teared up and then tried to hold my shit together while Alan and Anita shielded me from the crowd. 

It's hard to plant shop through tears.

I went back to the table with the Cypripediums and picked up another.

My father loved orchids.

He would want me to have two.

Love you dad!

Thanks dad for teaching me how to vegetable garden and for appreciating every single orchid I ever gave you, as a very special gift. No matter how small or how weird.


Dad, Me, Mom and Little Brother.


Hortlandia is now known as the "James Lee Hubbard Memorial Plant Buying Spree". 

I get to buy whatever I want with no thought to price. 

Dad would want it that way.