Traditional snow protection in The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden

Dave Rettig, Horticulture Lead

As the snow blooms across the branches of the pines in Michigan, the winter beauty is matched by the threatening weight placed on the branches. This winter, we built our first Yukitsuri in The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden. The purpose of the Yukitsuri or “snow protection” is to hold up the branches of aesthetically pruned pines to prevent cracking and breaking under snow load.

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A Yukitsuri protecting the delicate branches of one of the pine trees in The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden.

In order to pay homage to the tradition, and create the marriage between form and  function, we reached out for some expert advice from Naoaki Donuma of Yoshoen Corporation in Niigata, Japan. We first met during the 2016 NAJGA conference at the Morikami Japanese Gardens and Museum. After spending the day touring the art museums and gardens of the area, we became fast friends and have been able to have an exchange on winter techniques in the Japanese garden. This project grew into a
culmination of the international and the local.

The bamboo pole was locally harvested at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park from the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory during the winter of 2018 and then dried for one year. Intricate and ornate ropework binds the bamboo to the pine. Together, the rope and bamboo function to protect the branches through the winter season and add a graceful signifier to the season of the garden. The respect paid to the natural materials of the Yukitsuri express not just a reverence for the materials used, but also a reverence for the nature and cycle of the season of the garden.

New and Expanded Parking Lots

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In December of 2018 the first portion (approximately one-third) of our new parking lot and urban gardens opened to the public. If you have visited recently, this is the parking lot being built in front of the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater.

As you prepare your visit for this year’s Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition, please take a minute to become familiar with our temporary parking lot situation.

The below diagram illustrates the new parking layout. The second third of the new parking lot is scheduled to be ready June 1, 2019. Until then, we deeply appreciate your patience and cooperation. When you arrive for your visit, please follow posted signage and be prepared for about a five minute walk along our temporary entrance. Wheelchairs are available near the amphitheater parking lot (pictured below).

The expansion and redesign of our parking lot and urban gardens will double the number of parking spaces located within a one-to-two minute walk of our new Welcome Center entrance. This new configuration will offer additional accessible parking spaces near the entrance, increase the number of parking spaces overall, and add new urban and rain gardens to control water runoff—honoring our commitment to be good stewards of our environment.

We are exceedingly fortunate to be expanding with new and better facilities as part of our Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love campaign.

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The community impact of Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming

The annual Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition at Meijer Gardens is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation. Tropical butterflies from around the world fly freely in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory every March and April.

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Butterflies Are Blooming is the busiest time of the year for school field trips. More than 8,000 area students from 210 schools will visit this exhibition! Students experience the exciting environment of the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory while learning about butterfly life cycles and the unique adaptations that allow butterflies to survive and thrive. We offer a selection of self-guided activity sheets that teachers and chaperones can use to engage students in learning as they walk through the exhibition. Our 45-minute classroom activities, held within the new Covenant Learning Center, are a popular option, allowing students to delve deeper into understanding butterflies through hands-on activities. Educators interested in bringing their students to Meijer Gardens can explore all of our year-round options for school groups on our website.

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The Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory, photo by Dean VanDis

In addition to offering educational experiences to our visitors, Butterflies Are Blooming also contributes to the economic growth of our West Michigan community. According to a recent Economic Impact Study conducted by Grand Valley State University, people who visit Meijer Gardens contribute to $75.2 million economic output annually. Visitors from outside Kent county directly spend $19.6 million at businesses around Kent County annually. The study also found 86% of the visitor spending is the result spending by individuals that do not live in Kent County, and those nonresidents spent an average of $129 per group at other businesses in Kent County during their visit to Meijer Gardens.

 

This exhibition is possible thanks to the tremendous support of our partners:

Howard Miller Company
Foremost Graphics Group
The Meijer Foundation
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Foundation
Botanic and Sculpture Societies of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs / Art Works / National Endowment for the Arts

Media Partners:
Star 105.7
Blue Lake Public Radio

Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition explores light and shadow

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Photo by William J Hebert

Whether frolicking in the sun or feeding in the shade, the butterflies of spring’s most anticipated exhibition put on a remarkable show as they play in the light and shadows of our tropical paradise.

Soon, thousands of butterflies will spread their wings to soar and delight as they take over the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. This year marks our 24th annual butterfly exhibition, and we couldn’t be more excited about what’s in store. Butterflies from Africa, Asia, Central and South America will soon call our tropical paradise home, with more than 60 species of butterflies inhabiting our five-story tall glass peaks, abloom with tropical bromeliads, orchids, orange plume flower, pentas and flowering vines like queen’s wreath and bleeding heart.

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New this year: our Observation Station

As you stroll, watch the interplay of light and shadow on the forest floor. Observe butterflies as they glide or rest in the shadows and fly busily through patches of sunlight. Notice a rich carpet of foliage punctuated by bright red, orange, and chartreuse plantings, creating an irresistible backdrop of color for observing the butterflies. Find the beguiling longwings, great mormon swallowtails, giant charaxes and translucent paper kites as they swoop and sip on savory nectar plants. See how the light catches the iridescent wings of the common morpho, emerald swallowtail and blue wing.

Be sure to stop by the sleek, all new Observation Station where nearly 1,000
butterflies emerge weekly from their delicate chrysalids to take their first flight with us.
Because we receive a variety of species each week, the exhibition continually changes, so
visit often and at different times of the day. Don’t forget to check for monarch caterpillars as they munch on milkweed in the Grace Jarecki Seasonal Display Greenhouse.

Visitors of all ages will enjoy the beauty of the tropical butterflies, and will learn all about the life cycle of a butterfly, from caterpillar to the butterfly’s first flight. More than 8,000 area students from 210 schools will experience this exhibition!

When you plan your visit, consider including must-see events like Tuesday Night
Lights, Night of the Butterflies member parties and outdoor children’s activities in the
Lena Meijer Children’s Garden. Stop by the Information Desk for exact dates and times.
We look forward to exploring with you.

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Photo by Tara Fletcher

This exhibition is possible thanks to the tremendous support of our partners:

Howard Miller Company
Foremost Graphics Group
The Meijer Foundation
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Foundation
Botanic and Sculpture Societies of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs / Art Works / National Endowment for the Arts

Media Partners:
Star 105.7
Blue Lake Public Radio

January 18, Expansion Update

As we settle into the cold, here is a recap of what has been accomplished this third week of 2019! Re-bar work, footings and walls have continued in the courtyard level of the Welcome Center. The walls of the Garden Pavilion continue upward with re-bar and wall forms. The Concessions upper level is getting prepped for interior stud work and electrical rough ins. The north planter of the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater Plaza has been formed, and the granite facade work has also made progress. Prep of the west walls for the Meijer-Shedleski Picnic Pavilion have started. Excavation of former lot B continues with storm piping and electrical moving along.

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Parking lots – excavation of former parking lot B

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Meijer-Shedleski Picnic Pavilion – West wall forms

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Amphitheater plaza planters, concessions granite facade hanging

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Welcome Center – re-bar and form work for upper level walls

January 4, 2019 Expansion Update

As we set changes and challenges for ourselves in this new year, there are lots of changes happening this first week of January at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park! Here is a look at what happened in our Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love expansion project:

  • The concrete floor in the Garden Pavilion was poured on Thursday, January 3, using nearly 60,000 yards of concrete.
  • The structural steel for the roof has arrived for the Concessions building and installation is underway.
  • Prep work has also started for the granite facade of the Concessions building.
  • The entry to the Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden continues as we wait for the installation of the terrazzo flooring
  • Footings and walls continue for the Picnic Pavilion
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Welcome Center – Re-bar work for lower level walls and new concrete floor

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Concessions Building – Upper level steel work and prep for granite facade

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Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden – entry and terrazzo floor supplies

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Picnic Pavilion – Footings and walls for the Picnic Pavilion and duct bank progress

2018 Expansion Highlights

As we close out 2018, it’s a wonderful opportunity to look back and reflect on all that has happened this year with our Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love expansion project. We successfully remodeled the Steve & Amy Van Andel sponsor seating and expanded the lawn section of the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater. We are in process of rebuilding a new and improved concessions building. We built the new Peter C. & Emajean Cook Transportation Center. We were able to successfully complete and open the Covenant Learning Center and look forward to when the Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden is open to the public. We relocated the main visitor entrance and started construction on the new Welcome Center. We also completed the new Catering Kitchen.

Below are some of the before and after pictures of the change that has happened over the course of 2018!

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Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater

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Concessions building

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Welcome Center

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Peter C. & Emajean Cook Transportation Center

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Covenant Learning Center

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Padnos Rooftop Sculpture Garden

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PNC Portico and Cook Entry