In the star of Texas, should-be cowboys wear business suits and rustle up reams instead of livestock. It’s a bustling metropolis that barely sleeps or pauses for a single breath. Tap. Tap. The patter of individual steps against the concrete sidewalk congregates into a drum-like march. Cars swerve unabashedly and honk without restraint or mercy. But in the constant hustle, I promise, there is a respite – a breathtaking collection of gardens. These aren’t the kinds of botanical gardens that spark images of wedding bells or on the other end, scientists probing needled instruments into the soil. No, the Dallas Arboretum is perfect for a short dive into the pages of a Disney-style fairytale.
Want to know a secret? Promise not to tell? I’m wishing. I’m wishing. For cheap parking. Today. Are you rolling your eyes? Fair enough. Just be warned that I will be bombarding you with more inevitable Snow White references. Anyways, the wishing well (ahem, computer) actually works because we have just gotten a $7 discount on parking. How? Since we purchased our day parking online, it is significantly cheaper than it could have been had we purchased the parking passes on-arrival ($8 compared to $15).
We stroll past the entrance into a burst of colour. The birds are chirping a hum-worthy tune. Squirrels and rabbits plod through the grass, offset by beds of flowers. Statues of prominent historical figures blend into the scenery. We continue our pleasant amble, but this is just too perfect to be true. The thoughts of the huntsman yelling “run” in anguish begin to creep up on us (it might just be me, though).
Far Into The Forest
As a result, we run into a natural walkway that is reminiscent of Snow White’s haunted forest. Crape Myrtle Trees drape over our heads, shadowing hues of blacks and greys together across the paved path. The branches extends outwards like clawed hands scraping each other. The trees in their large, menacing form tower above us. The jarring stature belittles the beauty of the path. But we aren’t going to be stuck in this darkness. There is light at the end of this tunnel (and hopefully a dwarf’s home).
Just Like A Doll’s House
We walk to and fro, looking for some shade, until we stumble upon several buildings. Some are restaurants, but none flaunting charm (then again, these are tourist attraction restaurants. What is to be expected?), except for one that catches our eye. Is this the dwarf’s home? Unfortunately, it is just an administrative building. But honestly, the prettiest one I have ever seen. Sigh. We’ve been walking for ages and the picnic lunch is really calling me. Let’s find a place to eat (I assure you, I didn’t pack any apples).
The Arboretum is bountiful in picnic spots. There are shaded gazebos scattered in a few select nooks. An ample number of sun-faded cushioned chairs as well as tables are generously placed in several lawns. If we wanted, we could even sit cross-legged on the grass before digging into the food. Would you like a cucumber sandwich? How about a slice of gooseberry pie?
As we continue walking, we notice that the attention to detail ever-so-slowly begins to fade. The flower beds are still beautiful and gorgeous beyond compare, but the gardens now lack their distinct taste and gel together. There isn’t a stark contrast between one or the other as was evident in the gardens towards the entrance. The stretch continues in a dream-like haze until we hear the sound of rushing water. It’s new and unusual and we can’t help but expect a very refreshing cove ahead. Let me say, what we see is much more than we expected.
Happily Ever After
This is the last garden we have time for in our visit today (there is an Adventure Children’s Garden ahead that we will skip) – the Lay Family Garden. Think of perennials and wooded plants encasing a 2.2 acre region. Now, within that region, imagine cascading waterfalls against a limestone-walled curve. We are in the midst of immense detail (I can officially say that it is true that all things lost can be found somewhere else). But this isn’t where Snow White’s fairytale-like paradise ends. No, this is just the beginning. We have a whole walk back to uncover new surprises and traverse most of the 66 acres that the Dallas Arboretum is home to. Are you ready?
Address: 8525 Garland Rd, Dallas, TX 75218; Cost: $15 + Parking; Hours: 9AM – 5PM
Outfit of the Eve