Garden on Steroids

“Want to see garden?” Ketut, the master of understatement, asked. We had just finished up a quick errand and I was planning to get back to my neglected writing. But who can resist a lovely garden as long as it belongs to someone else? I grew up pulling weeds, picking beans, shelling peas and not loving it. I revisited gardening once as an adult and quickly realized I did not inherit my father’s green thumb. “Sure,” was my immediate reply and off we went.

A few miles down the road Ketut pulled into a parking area and I read the sign, Botanic Garden Ubud. Of course I started laughing. My assumption versus Ketut’s reality is always off by about 180 degrees. I thought we might stroll for a few minutes through a temple garden or a pretty landscape. But the extravaganza of flora and fauna that awaited me was beyond my imagining. Two hours and thirty minutes later we emerged from an adventure that neither of us had anticipated. There were stone paths through groves of bamboo. There were steep staircases beside a bottomless river gorge. There was a temple meditation area and deep in the heart of that jungle garden, a rainforest. I think I must have said, “Oh wow!” a thousand times. So, want to see a garden?  Come with me!

The journey begins in the Orchid House where some ordinary, and some very rare orchids are raised for sale commercially.

The Orchid House

The Orchid House

The Orchid House

The Orchid House

Leaving The Orchid House

We left the Orchid House and descended a broad staircase into incredible layers of green.

The Path and Benches

Here and there a bench, free-form and organic, offered a place to rest and gaze. The path surfaces varied from tight, smooth pebbles to lumpy rock, to asphalt, to dirt and in one area, beautiful mosaic. You want to wear hiking sandals for optimum enjoyment of the walk.

Heliconia Hill


The Fern Garden

Entrance to Meditation Area

The Bamboo Grove

More of The Bamboo Grove

Small Waterfall Approaching Deep Gorge and Rainforest

The photos of the rainforest do not come close to doing justice to the magnificence. There was a river somewhere far below the dense jungle growth. All I could see through the layers was blackness.

Rainforest and River Gorge

Mother-in-law’s Tongue

I had to photograph this for my mother. She has a pot of Mother-in-law’s Tongue (I’m sure the name comes from the fact that the leaf is sharp and pointed!) in her living room that is from a plant that my grandmother brought with her on the boat from Norway in the early 1900’s.

Rainforest, green upon green upon green!

Approach to Lotus Ponds

Mosaic Lotus Motif in Path

The Maze

It was much darker than it looks. Don’t go in if you are even slightly claustrophobic. The paths twist and turn and YOU WILL GET LOST! I thought I was on my way out, turned a corner…dead end. It’s a good way to get the heart rate elevated without strenuous exercise.

The Palm Hill

Sculpture Garden and view of Orchid Houses

As we emerged from the intense density of jungle into this airy, open space at the end of the trail I had just a momentary flash of what it might have been like for those first adventurers. They wouldn’t have had the luxury of paths. Nor would they have had the little signs to tell them what they were looking at. There would have been no bamboo rail to warn them of the edge of the cliff that drops into nothingness. There might have been snakes. I was jolted back into the now by Ketut. “Go home?” he asked. “Yes, go home. This was a good adventure Ketut!” (We like that word.) He laughed then said, “What you want to eat?”

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