Natural Beauty at Meijer Gardens’ Christmas and Holiday Traditions


Smell the luscious evergreens in the covered entryway, take in the sights and sounds of the Railway Garden by weaving through the amaryllis, poinsettias, and cedar displays in the Seasonal Display Greenhouse, and enjoy the guest-favorite succulent wreath hanging in the Arid Garden.

You’ll soon discover this year’s Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World focuses on the beauty of natural materials.


During your visit, anticipate a lush palette of horticultural favorites placed along the corridors and especially in the Railway Garden. The Railway Garden is home to more than 30 Grand Rapids landmarks made from earthly elements. From the Civic Theatre made of oak, chestnut and magnolia to the Meyer May House of red ruscus leaves, there’s beauty in every corner of this miniature city-space.


Reflect not only the literal beauty of nature, but also on the authentic and natural elements adorning our collection of Scandinavian trees. These trees showcase generations-old tradition of crafting ornaments from organic materials found on the farm. Sweden’s tree is decorated with woven Julbock, a Christmas icon of the straw goat who carries the bringer of gifts. Explore Finland’s display of the Himmeli, a geometric mobile made of straw believe to ensure good crops and Denmark’s paper ornaments, shaped like a heart to express love and good will.


Learn more about the cultural traditions and natural beauty found this holiday season at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park now until January 5, 2014 during Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World. 

How Well Do You Know Meijer Gardens?

How well do you know Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park?

Try to identify the artist and title of each of these sculptures, which all reside in the Sculpture Park’s permanent collection. Submit your answers by leaving a comment on this post.

HowWellDoYouKnowFMGClaim bragging rights by naming all the pieces correctly!

We’ll share the answers next week. 

#FMGColor Photo Contest

Autumn brings new color and beauty to Meijer Gardens. As the colors change, we want you to capture them!

#FMGColorStarting today through October 31, take pictures of fall beauty at Meijer Gardens and post on Instagram or Twitter (Twitpic) using the hashtag #FMGColor to enter to win admission tickets or tram ride tickets. We’ll randomly select and announce a winner on November 1. Happy Hashtagging!


ArtPrize Exception to Meijer Gardens Photo Policy

As an ArtPrize Exhibition Center, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park will lift its restrictions on photographing works displayed in the sculpture galleries during the Shattered: Contemporary Sculpture in Glass exhibition.

Meijer Gardens normally prohibits photography in the sculpture galleries, in order to provide the best viewing experience for all guests and to protect the intellectual property rights of the exhibiting artists. Because of the unique nature of ArtPrize, and by agreement of the artists in this exhibition—we are pleased to allow photography for personal use during business hours for the full span the exhibition, September 18, 2013 through January 5, 2014.


Graham Caldwell. Large Polychrome, 2011. Iridescent glass and epoxy, 107 x 54 x 15 inches. Photo taken by Meijer Gardens staff.

Meijer Gardens reserves the right to prohibit photography we deem as commercial or professional usage, or interferes with guests’ experiences. Photos of all works provided by the artists will be available on and on Meijer Gardens’ Facebook page. Monopods and tripods are prohibited.

Coinciding with the fifth annual ArtPrize competition, Meijer Gardens’ fall exhibition, Shattered: Contemporary Sculpture in Glass brings together artists from across the globe to break down preconceptions about glass art.

Countdown ‘til School’s Back

Parents and teachers know it’s better to learn by doing rather than watching. That’s where we come in! There are many hands-on activities for children available until the end of August at Meijer Gardens.

Countdown the days until school’s back in session by doing these five Meijer Gardens family-friendly activities.


1. Meet Me at the Fair - Saturday and Sunday August 10 and 11; 1-4 pm
Bring the whole family to join us in our annual Meet Me at the Fair activity this weekend! Children can learn about life on the farm while doing fun activities including, picking vegetables, feeding and petting live animals, and playing traditional fair games at the Michigan Farm Garden.

2. Let’s Keep Moving in the Sculpture Park - Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturdays; $3 adults and $1 kids
The Kids’ Tram Tour is an interactive way of learning combining a variety of easy fitness activities related to our sculpture collection. Designed for kids ages 8 and under and their families, Let’s Keep Moving in the Sculpture is a great way to keep children active while learning about art.

3. Outdoor Artists Studio - Tuesdays at 6 pm IMG_0670
Art can provide skills important in academic success—creativity, confidence and focus. Stop by the Children’s Garden on Tuesday evenings and work with an artist to create miniature clay sculptures or colorful drawings of plants and flowers.

4. Squirmy Worms - Fridays at 11 am
The little ones interested in creepy crawlers? On Fridays at 11 am, kids can investigate the science of worm bins and composting in the Children’s Garden. They can examine worms in a compost bin, find out what food scraps worms eat, and go on a worm hunt for artificial worms hidden in the garden.

LMCG Topiary Frog5. Search & Find and Family Sculpture Hunt - Sundays 2 pm
Critical thinking skills can be developed in kids of all ages. Enjoy Search & Find in the Children’s Garden for the young ones, then go on to the Family Sculpture Hunt in the Sculpture Park (ask for copies of both at the Children’s Garden Information Center).

With these exciting educational activities here at Meijer Gardens, kids will be ready to go back to school before doors even open!

What’s New, Bamboo?

The Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory has more than 150 tropical plants in its permanent plant collection. Until recently, many of the plants were original to the conservatory since its opening in 1995.

Removed last month, the yellow groove bamboo or Bambusa vulgaris “vittata” made way for another bamboo species. Why? There were a few reasons…

Bamboo 2013 (64)

Bambusa ‘vittata’ is a timber bamboo in its native region. Timber bamboos grow very tall, very straight, and the stems (or culms) are thick-walled, making them extremely useful for building purposes. The height of timber bamboos can easily reach over 70 feet. As a spreading bamboo, new culms sometimes grown several feet from the previous ones; creating unwanted growth in an already limited area.


Over time, pruning the larger culms became a necessity. The canopy needed to be opened up to allow for sunlight and airflow, and the larger culms were growing into the overhead structure of the Conservatory. It became apparent that the best thing to do was to remove the yellow groove bamboo.

Removing the bamboo required the professional services of Bartlett Tree Services as they cut each culm, one by one, over the course of a day. Frederik Meijer Gardens’ Horticulture staff dug up the roots and tended the soil before new bamboo was planted.


The new bamboo, Bambusa multiplex or “Thai Beauty,” was chosen by Horticulturist Lucinda Grover for its clumping growth habit. This means the new culms will not spread outward, but emerge from the base of the plant. Native to Thailand, this bamboo’s leaves are small, giving a more graceful and airy appearance. “Thai Beauty” only reaches around 35 feet and features culms in a deep olive green color.

See if you can spot the“Thai Beauty” bamboo as you enter the Tropical Conservatory during your next visit!

Bamboo 2013 (55)

A Pathway to the Past: Zhang Huan Memory Doors

The threshold between the past and the present can be seen in Chinese artist Zhang Huan’s Memory Doors Series featured this summer in the Frederik Meijer Gardens exhibition, “Looking East, Facing West: The World of Zhang Huan.”


Panorama of exhibition galleries courtesy of Chuck Heiney.

The Memory Door Series includes “Buddha” and “Figure of Country Buddha,” two unique pieces made of silkscreen collages embedded into carved wooden doors. These discarded doors were originally from farms in the rural areas of the Shanxi Province and with the help of woodcarvers from Dongyang, Huan based the relief carvings on images found in his very own collection of photographs and magazines. Huan hoped that by employing Chinese craftsmen instead of artists to help him complete the carvings, he would foster the idea of keeping traditional Chinese craftsmanship alive, and at the same time, explore new creative outlets and practices of their expert skills.


“Buddah” by Zhang Haun. Photo found on Google Images.

The enlarged photographs used by Huan are dated anywhere between 1950 and 1980. He first created then superimposed the photo collages, marrying the photographs with the carved landscapes on the doors. He uses the doors as a way to tell stories about the ever-changing conditions in China, which allows viewers to be transcended to a different time and place in Chinese history and heritage.


“Figure of Country Buddha” by Zhang Huan. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Although the juxtaposition of carvings and photographs may be what draws the audience into the mind of Huan, the doors themselves are also full of historical symbolism. These traditional wooden doors were salvaged by Huan himself from rural areas across China after being discarded in favor of new, Western-style doors. To Huan, the metal doors were the next step in the modernization of Chinese culture, and he saw the tattered, beat-up antique doors as inspiration, which became a foundation for the Memory Door Series.

Take a walk back in time by exploring Zhang Huan’s Memory Door Series at Meijer Gardens. “Looking East, Facing West: The World of Zhang Huan” continues through August 2