Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Irish Hills and Hidden Lake Gardens

A while back I went to Hidden Lake Gardens with my friend, Ken.  On the way, we passed through the Irish Hills.  We stopped by the Irish Hills Towers.

The Irish Hills Towers were built in the 1920s as observation platforms back when the Irish Hills were a major tourist destination.  The hill on which the towers were built was owned by two people.  One person sold their land to the Michigan Observation Company who built one of the towers.  The owner of the other half of the hill refused to sell.  Instead, he built his own, taller tower. 

The Michigan Observation Company responded by adding to the top of their tower, making it taller than the second tower.  The owner of the second tower added to his tower, making them the same height.  The Michigan Observation Company told the other owner he continued trying to outdo them, they would they would tear down their tower and replace it with a steel tower that would effectively render his tower useless.  The two towers operated as competing businesses until the 1960s. 

In the 1970s, they were purchased and refurbished.  This is when they attained their current look.  There is a miniature golf course there.  I'm guessing that it was added during this time.

The towers closed at the end of the 2000 tourist season.

 Flowers at the miniature golf course.

Our destination was Hidden Lake Gardens.  Hidden Lake Gardens is operated by Michigan State University.  The site is located in the Irish Hills and covers 755 acres.  Admission is $3/person.  There are a number hiking trails and a couple of nice, scenic drives.  Despite the Nichols Arboretum run by UofM nearby, I prefer Hidden Lake Gardens.. 

A closeup of the previous arrangement outside the conservatory.  While I like Hidden Lake Gardens better than the Arb, the conservatory at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens is much nicer.

The conservatory is is divided into 3 areas, Jungle, Desert and Temperate.  This flower is in the temperate area.

This is in the jungle area.  This flower had water pooled in it.  I was unable to capture it the way I wanted to.

On the way back we stopped by this field of sunflowers just west of Saline, Michigan.  Cars were lined up along the road.

For those of you reading, which do you prefer, this picture or the one above it.

I'd have walked into the field for some better pictures but I was wearing sandals and it looked like there was poison ivy along the edge as well as thistles.  I chose not to tempt fate.  I did like the look of the thistle, though.

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