July is a great time to visit Dow Gardens in Midland

It’s always a treat to traipse through Dow Gardens in Midland.

And now, just in time for summer travel to northern Michigan, this 110-acre botanical oasis is even more delightful.

Art in the Garden, a display of 30 glass installations by Lansing artist Craig Mitchell Smith, runs through the end of July.

Designed for specific settings, from wooded paths and bubbling streams to blooming gardens, the art glass pieces glint in the sun and add splashes of color to the verdant grounds.

Installations include blue wisteria, green weeping willow, orange koi, yellow sunflowers, red hollyhocks, purple Japanese iris and a multi-colored piece, “Rembrandt Tulips.”

A piece called “The Rose Wall” is set amidst a sweet-smelling garden showcasing 400 varieties of roses with names such as Earth Song, Elizabeth Taylor, 4th of July and Falstaff.

“Making a Wish” dandelion, a glass puffball gone to seed, hangs above a garden path. Its top is broken and, in a whimsical touch, stray fragments have floated away, caught in nearby trees.

As he has done on previous Sundays, the artist will be on hand at 1 p.m., Sunday (July 17) to install more of his sculptures.

Kids will love Dow Gardens’ Childrens’ Garden which is filled with lines of scarecrows — Darth Vader, Batman and other imaginative characters — created by local children and their families. A charming ABC Garden features teachable moments such as “D” for daisies.

Dow Gardens, open year-round, was developed by Herbert H. Dow, founder of the Dow Chemical Company, on the rolling estate where he lived with his wife, Grace, and family.

Their son, architect Alden B. Dow, added various architectural elements, such as the Sun Bridge, composed of scored concrete. Reflected in the water below, the semi-circular arch and its scored rays bring to mind an image of the sun.

And it’s just one example of the creative genius of Alden Dow, whose nearby residence and workplace, the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, is another don’t-miss stop for visitors to Midland. You can read more about it in my story in today’s Detroit News here

Both the elder Dow and his architect son believed you shouldn’t reveal everything at once, a philosophy apparent in Dow Gardens, where, for example, you may round a bend and come upon a scarlet-colored bridge in a striking geometric pattern.

Admission to Dow Gardens is a bargain: $5 adults, $1 students, free to children 5 and under — or $10 for an annual admission card. The gardens are open daily from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Guided walking tours and special 5-person golf cart tours are offered most days for a small additional fee. Visitors also may tour the historic Herbert and Grace Dow homestead ($7)

For more information, check here
or call (800) 362-4874 or (989)631-2677.

Susan R. Pollack
Globetrotting journalist and former Detroit News staff writer Susan R. Pollack has covered travel since 1985, visiting scores of countries on five continents, 49 states, six Canadian provinces and hundreds of cities, islands and outposts along the way. From Alaska, the Galapagos and New Zealand to South Africa, Thailand and Wales, she has suffered the occasional lost luggage, jetlag and Montezuma’s revenge but still delights in sharing travel adventures with readers. In addition to The Detroit News, her award-winning stories and photos have appeared in major newspapers including the Dallas News, Toronto Star, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Chicago Sun Times; and magazines including Delta Sky, Midwest Living, Long Weekends, Experience Michigan, Jetsetter, Home & Away, Lakeland Boating, Hour Detroit, Prevue Meetings and Group Tour. She has contributed to several books including "Rand McNally 2008 Ultimate NASCAR Road Trip Guide." She also writes for websites including, and