When I imagine architecture – my mind conjures images of coliseums, towering buildings, and flying buttresses. The image of water fails to seep into my mind. But in Fort Worth, there is an urban park, where water is the main architectural aid. These 1974 engineering masterpieces by New York architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee are simply awe-inspiring. Come on, see for yourself, as we go off exploring Fort Worth on a budget (and a tiny one at that).
The first pool that we see is titled the “Active Pool”. This is a terraced concrete structure with heavy streams of water cascading into a pentagonal segment at the bottom. There are small disjointed steps that approach the end of the expanse. The concrete that forms the structure is broken into rectangular blocks and slightly parted, adding to the juxtaposing elements of unity and separation within the structure.
The second piece is not a pool at all, but a terraced concrete slab, titled “Mountain”. Here, street performances play idyllic country tunes on their guitars and a mime focuses on entertaining a group of children. As we climb up towards the top, we notice the contrast between the “Active Pool” and the “Mountain”. While both are terraced, the mountain is focused on ascent and the “Active Pool” focuses on descent. The “Mountain” also shows the impact of water on a structure. The lack of rushing streams diminishes the power of the structure.
As we amble further along the park, we see the “Aerating Pool”. This is fundamentally different from the other structures as it features rows of springs of water in a shallow pool. The misty spray is carried by the wind and is refreshingly cool in the Texan sun. The last pool is my favourite. It’s the “Meditation Pool”. This is a quiet, serene shallow pool surrounded by towering oaks that peak well above the walls. The play of small and large in this environment gives an Alice in Wonderland feel. There is something magical about the serenity.
Next stop, the botanical gardens. While I’m not an avid gardener, I do love strolling through botanical gardens because geez, all those gorgeous flowers give me all the same bubbly feelings as an excellent romantic comedy. Not that I watch a lot of them. Just the Austen-y ones. I may or may not have a Jane Austen story fetish.
But anyways, if you live around the area or are just visiting, it’s definitely worth taking the time to check it out (it’s free, so there is no excuse not to go). For all intents and walking purposes, the gardens are over a hundred acres, so definitely block off the entire day or at least half a day to fully enjoy the vast variety of native and exotic plants.
Just the entrance to the Botanical Gardens is gorgeous. Minimalistic but lavish enough to make a statement. If we go down to the hall to the left, there is a conservatory. The conservatory features an array of foreign plants – from exotic orchids to interesting tropical species, but for now, we’ll be heading straight outside.
The first thing we see is a mini-market. Local people, braving the heat, are selling hand woven baskets and richly coloured pottery. There is even a small seed sale. As we continue walking, we see several native plants set in beds and multiple flower garnished gazebos. There is a fairy-tale like beauty to this place and hence why it is such a popular wedding photography destination.
Following the pathway, we arrive at the Texas Native Forest Boardwalk. This elevated wooden bridge connects to all other segments of the Gardens and displays the diversity of Texas plant-life. The trees tower above and shroud the bridge, adding a hint of shade. Set under the canopy are multiple wooden benches and seats, making this area ideal for a lunch-time picnic.
As we reach the end of the bridge, there is a subtle scent of sweet flowers wafting through the breeze. The scented garden features a smorgasbord of plants with a succulent odor. Like the rest of the garden, the scented garden is set amongst unique sets of statuary. The Fort Worth Botanical Gardens are simply a treat of nature.
Travel Tip: If you are willing to stretch your budget a little, the Japanese Tea Garden and Observatory can also be viewed for $5.
Know of any more free things to do in Fort Worth? Comment down below and tell me.