Friday, September 2, 2011

Japanese Garden

Konos Unit: Honor
Theme: Japan

We're nearing the end of our study on Japan. It's been a lot of fun learning so much about their different culture, architecture, foods, traditions, yet also realizing how much we are alike.

We took a field trip to the Japanese Gardens at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden to see some of the architecture, koi fish, and bonsai trees in person.



Although we've been to the Botanic Garden a bejillion times, this was our first time to visit the Japanese Garden. I can't believe we haven't been here before. It was such a treat!




We started with the Karesansui or Dry Landscape Garden. These are simple gardens with stones, gravel or sand, perhaps a few pruned trees. They are often representations of land and sea and the gravel and sand are usually raked to make patterns.





The children thought it was such an unusual garden and Nicholas hypothesized about the different ways that the gardeners could have made the rake patterns without leaving footprints behind. I was impressed that he noticed that there were no footprints and then came up with ways that this could be done.




The Japanese Garden is so lush and beautiful even in this incredible heat that we've had. There are lots of places to look down over the water and the kids wanted to check out each on of them. They especially enjoyed the carp swimming around in the water.




We've talked a lot about bamboo so it was neat to see bamboo hand rails on along all of the steps. What a simple but authentic little touch.




Rachel was busy checking out a little dead snake. I don't think she realized that it was dead because she was talking sweetly to it.




We discovered this small pagoda.  A pagoda is usually build for a religious purpose.  We just thought they looked really cool.


This picture below was taken from the Waterfall Overlook, another great place to look out at the water.  Oh, what a beautiful place this would be to just sit and read a book or enjoy the sounds of nature.


There are several bridges over the water and, of course, we had to cross each and every one.


We always have fun when we are outdoors.  Rachel is especially thrilled because she discovers so many new sights and sounds.  I like the look of wonder on her face.

There are concrete paths that meander through the gardens with surprises around each bend.  Nicholas led our walk because he just couldn't stand waiting to see what was coming up next.


Another bridge.  This time only Nicholas was crazy bold enough to cross this one.  He loved being able to look down and watch the carp swimming right around his feet.


Nicholas was excited to find some fern.  We had talked about ferns of Japan so it was neat to be able to see how whispy and soft they really are.


Then we stumbled upon the most exciting part of the trip.  There were maybe 40-50 carp in this little area.  It was amazing to see all the brilliant colors and different patterns on these beautiful fish.

As we walked closer to the edge of the water, the fish swam right up to us.  Wow! 


Then we realized why they were swarming us.  Nicholas discovered this little fish feeding station.  You need 1 quarter for a handful of fish food.  Note: brings LOTS of quarters.



Rachel started feeding them first, throwing just a pellet or two in the water at a time.
By now the fish were really excited so when Nicholas threw several fish pellets in at once there was a bit of a fish frenzy!

They were literally crawling all over each other to get those little food pellets!





Rachel made friends with this little turtle.  She talked to it and threw a few food pellets to it.



We ended up feeding tons of fish, 3 ducks, and at least 2 turtles.  It was really fun for all of us!

A mom walked up with her little one in a stroller.  They both walked over to the water and Nicholas shared his fish food with them.  I was so proud of him for his sweet and generous heart.



The colors of fall are just starting to appear.  I bet this place will be even more beautiful in another week or two.


Nicholas found the Moon Viewing Deck.  There really wasn't much to do there so he decided to just chase his little sister around.  Her cackles of laughter led me to believe that she didn't mind it one bit.




Nicholas, my little bug hunter, found this brightly colored bug.  With its orange and black markings, it looks like the perfect bug for Halloween.  We didn't mess with it because those bright colors typically signal danger.  Once we got home, we discovered that it is a large Milkweed Bug.  Milkweed can be poisonous so he may truly be poisonous to something that might eat him.



Even with all of the shade, it was still very hot.  The kids have been loving their Japanese fans.  So Nicholas created this fan from Magnolia leaves.



The scenery here is so peaceful and relaxing that even the squirmy little one was still and quiet for a while...well, at least 2 minutes or so.



Eventually, she had to go shake some wiggles out.


So beautiful!

Even the bird houses are made with Japanese architectural design.



We stopped by the gift store on the way out of the gardens.  I was so excited to see these Japanese red clogs just like the ones we had red about in the book A Pair Of Red Clogs!



We looked at several different bonsai trees.  It's just amazing how old they are yet so small.


The Fort Worth Botanic Garden is located at 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd. in Fort Worth.  Admission to the general grounds are free but the Japanese Garden costs $4.00 for adults on weekends or $4.50 on weekends and holidays.  Children ages 4-12 are $3.00 and children under age 4 are free.

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