Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park opened in 1995 and has grown to become the state's largest tropical conservatory. Visitors can walk through this botanic garden which is full of many exotic and rare species among indoor and outdoor sculpture galleries. There are also a number of nature trails that connect the complex to the surrounding woodlands and a wetland boardwalk. There is also a Michigan farmhouse garden with interpretive signage and the latest addition, a Japanese Garden.
Frederick Meijer Gardens and
Sculpture Park is a sprawling 158-acre park
in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The park opened to the public in April 1995.
However, its history begins 13 years earlier, when the West Michigan
Horticultural Society began making plans and fundraising for a garden and park
in Grand Rapids. In 1990, the Society
approached Fred and Lena Meijer (the owners of Meijer’s supermarkets) for their
support. The Meijers enthusiastically agreed, offering to include some of their
own sculpture collection in the park.
Though originally planned as a
small cultural attraction centered around horticulture, the Park is now world
renowned for its gardens and sculptures. Meijer Garden’s sprawling 158-acre
main campus now includes Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory, five indoor
themed gardens, a large children’s garden, a sprawling Japanese garden, several
nature trails, a boardwalk trail, a permanent sculpture collection, several
indoor sculpture and art galleries, an amphitheater (that hosts a summer
concert series), a library, café, gift shop, classrooms, and meetings rooms.
The entire campus is also barrier free and handicap accessible.
The Lena Meijer Tropical
Conservatory, the largest of its kind in Michigan, is an incredible five-story,
15,000 square-foot facility “featuring rock landscapes, a waterfall and a
variety of exotic plant selections. The conservatory houses tropical plants
from around the world, including fig trees from India, exotic orchids from
Central and South America, Asiatic bamboo and banana plants” (“Meijer
Gardens”). The other indoor themed gardens include a carnivorous plant garden,
an arid climate garden (featuring several cacti species), a Victorian garden,
and a rotating, seasonal garden.
Meijer Gardens features several
internally-acclaimed sculptures in its permanent sculpture collection. These
include works by Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder,
Louise Bourgeois, and Richard Serra. A few of it’s most well-known sculptures
include Roxy Paine’s Neuron, Rodine’s
Eve, Nina Akamu’s The American Horse, Claes Oldenburg’s Plantoir, Andy Goldsworthy’s Grand Rapids Arch, and Zhang Huan’s Long Island Buddha.
In 2015, the park opened the
Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Gardens on its main campus. This garden was
designed by Hoichi Kurisu and the firm Kurisu International. The new Japanese
garden includes several new permanent sculptures, large ponds and waterfalls,
an authentic Japanese teahouse, a zen-style garden, and a bonsai garden. The
horticulture in the garden includes several species from Japan, including
Japanese Maples, Japanese Flowering Cherries, Yellow Grove Bamboo, and 100
different types of moss. It also includes several species native to Michigan, such
as Serviceberry (a tree that has small white flowers in the Spring, small red
fruits in the Summer, and an orange-red color in the Fall).
Meijer Gardens also includes the
Michigan Farm Garden. This garden includes an 1880s era farmhouse, designed to
be a three-quarter scale model of Lena Meijer’s childhood home. Next to this
house is the original windmill from Lena’s home, restored to its original
beauty. The farm also has an heirloom vegetable garden, where heirloom species
of several vegetables are grown, including carrots, pumpkins, cabbages, and
lettuce. These vegetables are used in the café onsite. Finally, this garden
also includes a barn awarded the “2005 Barn of the Year” Award by the Michigan
Barn Preservation Network. Next to this area is also the final resting place of
Fred and Lena Meijer.
Finally, Meijer Gardens is well
known for two seasonal events. Every spring (March-April), the Garden has a
butterfly exhibition in the tropical conservatory that features thousands of
tropical butterflies from Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. These
butterflies fly freely around the conservatory. Every winter (end of November
through the beginning of Janurary), the Gardens have a Christmas tree
exhibition that features more than 40 Christmas Trees.
Since opening in 1995, Meijer
Gardens has welcomed more than 10 million visitors.