Continuing on our quest to ferret out all the best family-friendly activities in Buffalo, we’ve got a new winner: the Botanical Gardens! I’d been wanting to poke around here for awhile, and hubby planned a special surprise visit as a treat for the night after Valentine’s Day: an evening exploring the Night Lights. The Night Lights are a light show inside the Botanical Gardens (I believe they’re a seasonal special event, but it could be more frequent than that).
We arrived to find the dome all lit up and glowing green from within. It was bitter cold, so I stood outside in line holding a place for our family while hubby kept Peanut warm and happy in the car. When I got close to the door I called him and they darted up to join me right as I was about to make it through the entrance. Once inside, we were immediately dazzled by the green, sparkling lights darting all over the central dome.
(This picture does not do the dome justice. It’s gorgeous.) We drifted along with the crowd, checking out both the plants and the fun lighting.
Peanut and I were both obsessed with this little rainbow waterfall. I couldn’t help but think of Fancy Nancy; I think this is exactly the sort of event she’d adore. (Adore is fancy for love!) And speaking of adoration, while at the Night Lights, Peanut discovered her new soulmate: the koi pond. (Can a pond be your soulmate? If not, please don’t tell Peanut.) She was completely enamored of the fish swimming through the clear water and darting under and around the lily pads. So much so, that she talked about the pond nonstop all the following week and we decided to make a return visit only seven days later.
Two things: (1) the Botanical Gardens are even more beautiful in the sunlight than they are at night, and (2) darned if it wasn’t blissful to be SO. WARM. We all stripped off our coats immediately and basked in the tropical heat – a nice change from the biting chill outside.
The Botanical Gardens are set up as a series of greenhouses, each one dedicated to a different plant type or habitat. There’s a room filled with ivy, another with dozens of Bonsais and miniature trees, and my favorite (other than the pond, of course!) was the desert room, where I drifted from plant stand to plant stand admiring the succulents and the cacti. (I’d love to have a succulent garden one day, but I don’t know if it could withstand our Buffalo winters unless it was under glass like this one.)
Naturally, we spent a bit of time playing in the “family garden,” which was a room filled with activities for the littles. There was a sandbox, a few plants that the kids could touch, and a couple of tiny lawn mower push toys. Peanut went straight for the lawn mower and set up a few spectacular crashes.
After we spent some time in the family garden, Peanut was clamoring to head back to the pond, so we found our way back there. Grandma and Grandpa had joined us for the outing, and Peanut spent some time showing them her favorite fish.
Peanut and Daddy also befriended a giant ivy dinosaur, as one does, you know.
It’s been a couple of months now, and Peanut still talks about the pond constantly. We read her pond books (In My Pond and Who’s Hiding in the Pond?) daily, and every afternoon when I get her up from her nap, she greets me with the same description of her dreams: “A pond! Fish! Blub blub!” It’s love, people. It’s pond love, between a baby and her pond. (Sung to the tune of “Guy Love” from Scrubs, natch.)
We’ve since been back a third time, this time with Nana and Grandad, and Peanut had just as much fun communing with the koi and walking the little footbridge. On our third visit, she also discovered the sand box in the family garden, and narrowly avoided filling her pants with sand, so that’s fun. ;-) I think it’s safe to say we’ll be going back for a fourth visit ASAP.
Do you have Botanical Gardens in your city? Do you love koi ponds as much as Peanut does?