Friday, October 14, 2016

Columbia's Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens

My family thought it rather strange when they received a text from me which said that John and I were at a zoo.  It does seem like a strange place to be when our business in Columbia was to take care of my brother's estate.  However, it was Sunday and official offices were closed.  It was finally a sunny day and not a time to tour museums (all were closed anyway because of Matthew).  The zoo parking lot was almost full.  A staff worker at the zoo said that this was a record attendance for them for this time of the year.  Many evacuees from other parts of the state were still in town, not planning on returning to their homes until Monday.
We came to the zoo because of the botanical gardens located within the park.  Walking by the Koala Knockabout though, we just had to stop and look at a pair of koalas.  It seemed that they were a baby with its mama.  She can not be seen in the picture above because she is gripping the tree on the other side.  I was just happy to get the picture of her baby- so cute!
To get to the gardens it was necessary to take a tram.  Ordinarily it would have been possible for us to hike along the Saluda Rver trail to the gardens, but it was closed because the storm knocked tree limbs and other brush over the path.  If we could have taken it we would have seen the ruins of a old mill, as well as the granite abutments of a covered bridge which the Confederates burned to stop General Sherman's army during the Civil War.
Within the gardens is a formal garden with a main canal which divides the garden in half with fountains.  In this walled garden is a labyrinth of "secret" garden rooms.  Pictured below is the knot and textured garden.  It is the most formal area within the walled garden and highlights a combination of textured plants.
  My favorite part of the formal gardens is called a Purple Wall, something quite different which I have not seen in other botanical gardens.  The plants here feature one color primarily.
 Lastly I have to mention another unusual area of the gardens which is called, appropriately enough, the Animal Garden.  Here plants are displayed which have animal names- names like lamb's ear, shrimp plant, elephant ears, pelican flower, fleabane and beebalm.  Guess you get the idea.  Pictured below is the bamboo zebra plant.

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