Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fernwood Botanical Garden - A Hidden Jewel

Back in May, we were on a road trip to The Great Smoky Mountains for a week long vacation. We were almost to the border of our great state of Michigan when I spied the coffee brown highway sign depicting a local tourist attraction. I am always on the look out for those brown highway signs, always looking for new places to explore with my camera. The brown signs hold a promise of something spectacular, unlike the cheap and tawdry billboard signs that advertise cheap and tawdry tourist attractions. As we passed the sign, I grabbed my phone, opened up my Day One Journaling app and wrote down "Check out Fernwood Botanical Garden off US-31 near the Indiana Border". I am much more likely to remember things if I write them down, and the phone is the handiest place of all to record things.

A couple of weeks ago, I come across that journal entry when I was scrolling through vacation notes. I mentioned to my daughter, Mallory, that I wanted to take a trip to Fernwood on one of my adventure days. She begged me to wait until she could go along. Last week she surprised me with a trip to Fernwood as part of my Mother's Day gift, which has loving become known as One More Thing Day. One More Thing Day started back when she was in high school, my husband had given me a new robe for Mother's Day and Mallory's part of the gift was a pedicure. She had typed up this adorable note titled One More Thing, which listed out the pedicure, a picnic lunch and ice cream afterwards. Every year now, all I want is a One More Thing Day, a day she plans out for us and is filled with priceless time together.

Every year begins with a note, listing the places that we are going to go for the day. Instead of reading the note in the car this year, we decided I would read the note at a nearby park.

These are the activities listed on this year's note:

  • a morning chai at your favorite local coffee shop
  • an afternoon wandering the gardens at Fernwood Botanical Garden
  • an evening dinner out at The Stray Dog
We started the morning at a "new favorite" coffee shop of both of ours, Lemonjellos.

Since it was a special day, I decided to deviate from my usual chai latte and trying something new. Mallory raves about the lattes here. I settled on a Chocolate and Blackberry latte and a Chocolate and Raspberry muffin. Chocolate and sweet juicy fruit, how could I go wrong. We spent a leisurely hour sitting at one of the outside cafe tables sipping our lattes, eating our muffins, and discussing life. 

At the top of the ten o'clock hour, our lattes gone and all that remained of the muffins were a few crumbs on the plates, we decided it was time to set off for the gardens. Mallory was a little apprehensive about this part of the day, being a history major she had done some research on the gardens, she found their website a little uninspiring. I think this is the case more often than not for small places with no budget for a full-time, or even part-time website and social media manager. They get by the best they can, with what they have, and what volunteer power they muster. So don't be too quick to judge a book by its cover. 

Fernwood Botanical Garden was a precious jewel waiting to be discovered.

As soon as we entered the gardens, we spied an amazing herb garden. Mallory has been the keeper of our ever expanding herb garden at home this year, so she instantly fell in love with this impressive collection.

Eventually, I was able to tear her away from the herbs so that we could continue to explore. I saw a sign for the Tallgrass Prairie area and led us off in that direction. I love prairies. I think it is all that open space, the colorful wild flowers, and the big blue sky that call to me. 

The TallGrass Prairie also provided a great backdrop for some photos of my beautiful girl.

So many beautiful things to see here. I definitely want to come here in the spring for the lilacs, and in the fall for autumn color. Fernwood is open year round, but I think I will pass on winter. 

There were some trails that we wanted to explore, but those will definitely have to wait until fall, once all the blood sucking mosquitos are dead. 

By this time it was near two o'clock and we were getting hungry and definitely thirsty. We thought we would stop at the cozy on-site cafe for some lemonade and iced tea before hitting the road for our late lunch/early supper at The Stray Dog. Our very friendly waitress seated us outside on the patio, and then proceeded to tell us about the special of the day, a house made veggie burger on a pretzel bun. I love anything on a pretzel bun, so it didn't take too much convincing for us to decide to stay in this lovely, quiet spot for lunch and save The Stray Dog for another day.

It was the best decision of the day. The veggie burger was so good. We finished our lunch by splitting a piece of carrot cake, delicious. Sorry I didn't get a photo of that for you. You will just have to imagine lush carrot cake, with pineapple mixed in, a sweet but not too heavy frosting, with toasted coconut sprinkled on top. The perfect way to end another perfect One More Thing Day.


  1. Sounds absolutely divine - I can not think of a better way to stretch your exploring legs than a "One More Thing" day with your daughter - so special. Allyson is roughly 2 1/2 weeks from leaving for Japan for what will most likely be a minimum of 2 years, so every opportunity together with our kids should be savored.

  2. Love that tradition with your daughter. I am going to put this place on my list to go to with my sister - I know she would love it. Googling now to see exactly where it is :-)

  3. I too would enjoy a visit to Fernwood . . .
    I too might enjoy a fall visit . . . (Less Mosquitos)
    I too like adventure days with my daughter . . .

  4. Wonderful place, wonderful day, wonderful photos, WONDERFUL DAUGHTER! :-)

  5. I am so happy to see a garden in your area. Looks like you had a wonderful day together.

  6. I love One More Thing Day! We often celebrate occasions for weeks or on days other than the "official" days - and your one more thing day is another version of how we can make life special in non-traditional ways. So happy for you both that you had this lovely day together - and the pictures tell the story of very special very ordinary day - where little things mean so very much.

  7. So special that your daughter to takes the time to plan these days and spends a day with mom--the best gift of all!

  8. I look forward to some more photos of this place. Adore the photo of you two. Best selfie ever.

  9. What a sweet day with your sweet daughter. And lovely images to remember it. That last one of you both is terrific!

  10. Sarah what an awesome tradition that you and your daughter have and looks as if you had such a fun day together in this beautiful place! Love your shots!

  11. What a great Mother and Daughter day. The places you visited and the things you ate all look such perfect additions. Take care xx

  12. Another wonderful day together! It's so exciting when you discover a new place, especially one as pretty as this!

  13. looks like the perfect day~and you two....cute as buttons.


Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)