Amelia and I were planning to just go for our usual walk around the neighborhood, but the minute we stepped outside and felt the warm sun and heard the birds singing, I knew just where I wanted to go: Leach Botanical Garden. It was so quiet and peaceful you'd never guess it is literally just blocks from super busy streets and lots of traffic. I think we were the only people there besides the staff. Everything was lacy green and so peaceful. All we could hear were birds and the gurgling water of Johnson Creek. It's such a beautiful little place.
This garden is former estate of John and Lilla Leach who were, among other things, a pharmacist and a botanist. Originally called Sleepy Hollow, the property was purchased by them in 1931 and donated to the city after their deaths. They lived in the manor house and had the little stone cottage built just across the creek (do you love their outdoor table [the moss-covered thing next to the cottage] and fireplace?) to use during the summer. When Amelia and I were there, the cottage was actually open and being swept out by a volunteer who was spring cleaning (they had literally just opened the bridge to it an hour before, they told me). She invited us in — a very special treat, as it is not often open. It was truly like being in Snow White's cottage — one little room, wooden paned windows looking out onto the green, the water just outside the door, a cobblestone path. I came out and said to the lady who was sweeping outside, "It's really is magical!" and she said, "Oh, I know!" She said her favorite thing to do was to spend a summer evening sitting in the stone circle around the fire. She said that there was mica in the fireplace that sparkles in the firelight. Her eyes were sparkling, too. It was so lovely there. I can only imagine it at sunset, or with an evening fire in the fireplace (unfortunately it closes to the public at 4 p.m.!). I love how the woods are reflected in the glass in the photo of the cottage window.
What a wonderful morning we had. Trillium blooming and ferns unfurling. Walking slower than slow with my girl in the dappled light. She kept pointing and saying "birdie" and "wow!" (which is her word for "flower"). We talked about everything as we wandered. It's not really stroller friendly or very handicapped accessible — most of the trails are quite hilly or very narrow with lots of tree roots and rocks. But the terrace is flat and open and it is a gorgeous spot to just sit quietly and watch. We bought beeswax candles and lavender soap in the gift shop. We didn't go in the manor house but I'd love to go next time. Sweetest little place. What a lovely gift John and Lilla created and left for us all.