The Great Outdoors
By Babs Rodriguez
Cooler weather beckons us outside as North Texas gardens segue into late fall and the holiday season. Get your fix of color at Fort Worth’s annual Japanese festival, make merry at the Dallas Arboretum as it dresses up for Christmas and enjoy the seasonal running of the trains at Clark Gardens.
FORT WORTH BOTANIC GARDENS
The Turning of the maples
The Zen of an authentically designed and perfectly maintained Japanese garden is welcome anytime, but a bounty of glowing maple trees amplifies the appeal in autumn. Visitors to the Fall Japanese Festival within the Fort Worth Botanic Garden’s walled retreat will find the enclave further enlivened by a weekend of arts and culture demonstrations (being held outside the Japanese Garden gates to allow for social distancing). The golden trees alone are worth a visit, but the festival’s weekend performances amp things up with not one but two taiko drumming groups, karate experts with all the right moves and a sleek and flashy performance by master swordsman G.K. Sugai. Displays of the miniature worlds of bonsai trees from the Fort Worth Bonsai Society are fascinating, and the artistry of origami and calligraphy on show creates an appetite for the origami jewelry, anime plush figures and crafts made with vintage kimonos offered for sale. Speaking of appetites, authentic bites prepared by the Fort Worth Japanese Society are joined by a lineup of food trucks of all stripes. Japanese games make it even easier to join the fun at the annual event, which is a favorite outing for families. Note that the Botanic Garden steward, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, is ensuring the event meets pandemic safety requirements.
Nov. 7-8; festival tickets are included with the price of Botanic Garden admission, $12 for adults, $6 for ages 6 to 15. All tickets must be bought online at fwbg.org/events/2020/11/7/japanese-fall-festival-2020. Members receive free entry but also must register in advance. 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-463-4160, fwbg.org
Always a visual wonder, the Dallas Arboretum lighted for the season is a special treat. Daylong activities include strolling among 25-foot Victorian-style gazebos representing the 12 Days of Christmas and visiting with Santa, plus shopping, live entertainment and nibbles. After dark, more than 1 million lights shift the mood for a magical nighttime experience.
Nov. 7-Dec. 31, $12-$17. Timed tickets (for a four-hour slot) and parking must be reserved online at reservations.dallasarboretum.org, or call 214-515-6615. 8525 Garland Road
The running of the trains
The 50 acres of colorful and richly varied plantings in a landscape that includes ponds, lakes and all the critters and waterfowl those features invite — plus the bonus of strutting peacocks — is worth a visit any day. The gardens, 3 miles east of Mineral Wells and just north of Weatherford, are open daily in spring and fall, and by appointment in summer and winter months. See the website for details. The reward for a visit this month is the chance to enjoy the seasonal running of G-scale model trains from Clark Station; the smooth, looping journey of the vintage trains indoors and out along 700 feet of track is hypnotic. Three different trains weave over a 7-foot trestle, along a waterfall and through miniature towns made of plant materials.
Daily through Nov. 29 (unless it’s raining), $7-$9 for adults; $5 for ages 4 to 12. 567 Maddux Road, Weatherford, 940-682-4856, Clarkgardens.org