Spring means daffodils and primroses. Summer means herbs and butterflies. Fall means richly colored leaves and ornamental grasses. Throughout the year, Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve's 105 acres of protected landscapes burst with vibrant plant life. By inviting visitors to explore these rich environments, Fernwood hopes to foster greater appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.
Exhibits and Culture * At the Railway Garden, model trains circle around life-like replicas of local buildings and landmarks created from natural materials. * A five-room stick sculpture called Take Five that was designed by Patrick Dougherty stands on display. * Sculpture Fernwood showcases pieces created by local artists that will be featured until September 2015.
The floor-to-ceiling windows that frame Sentiments Bridal & Special Occasion display fashionable formal attire for men and women. Owner Marie Brown stays abreast of the trends, updating the displays regularly so the colors, textiles, and styles suit the season. Brown coordinates dresses for bridal parties, rents tuxes to groomsmen, and designs custom fashions for mothers. Accessories, including hats, shoes, and jewels, complete outfits. Brown's shop also outfits children with miniature garments for special occasions, such as christenings or space-camp graduations.
Rockie Rick left behind the apples, peaches, and cherries of the farm he grew up on to pursue a business degree. But as he worked at different jobs, he realized that he missed working outside and yearned to be his own boss. Seeing southwest Michigan’s wine industry flourish, he bought land and began growing grapes to sell to a winery. Next, he organized bus tours of area wineries, the success of which enabled Rockie to buy more land for a total of 30 acres. In 2011, he and his staff began making wine from their own grapes, crafting the small batches in oak barrels and stainless-steel tanks.
Rockie’s independent streak flourishes at Gravity Winery, from the modern indoor seating area with deep blues, crisp whites, and an industrial steel bar to a wine named after Rockie’s dog, Oliver, who’s known for greeting guests. “We tried to break the mold of what people think of when they go to a winery,” he says. “We figured … let’s be really different.”
Rockie’s favorite wine is an “awesome peppery cabernet France” called The Theory, which sports an image of Sir Isaac Newton on the bottle. During wine flights—Gravity Vineyard’s version of a tasting and the best way for guests to sample a variety of glasses—he pairs it with dark chocolate laden with almonds and sea salt that is made locally by Vineyards Gourmet. The flights feature four wines paired with cheese or chocolate, and guests can savor their chosen flavors inside or on the patios for hilltop views of the nearby lake or vineyard.
Though the knowledgeable staff can expertly pair each wine and easily converse with the staunchest of wine-lovers, Rockie and his staff eschew snobbery. “If you want to drink a big bowl of red cabernet with your fish, great. If that’s what you enjoy, that’s what you should do,” he says. “We don’t want anyone to be intimidated because they like a certain wine over another, or they don’t know the right word to describe it.”:m]]
The potted professionals at Yellow Rose Florist pride themselves in personalized petal creations, crafting signature arrangements from a fresh flower inventory on a daily basis. Personalized bouquets ($50–$196) express affection for loved ones, while wedding and special-event arrangements ($199+) make ideal gifts for the happy couple or the unhappy barbershop quartet. Clients can custom-order arrangements or reference one of the florists' past creations, such as the exotic Bamboo Mojave ($50) or the plucky Yellow Roses ($60). Yellow Rose Florist's selection of potted greenhouse plants in varying sizes makes attentive, polite houseguests.
Verandah Shoe Shop outfits lady toes with more than 20 brands of shoes, including Cole Haan, Emu, and BCBG. Sandal seekers can slip into pairs from Havaianas ($25+), Oka b. ($25+), and Yellow Box ($50+) to feel breezes between foot fingers. Verandah also carries sole gloves by Naughty Monkey, Jessica Simpson, Poetic Licence, Bacio 61, and Nina, as well as a wide selection of jewelry and accessories, which–like hang-gliding lessons and autographed volleyballs–are not included in this deal.
Helmed by fashionable proprietor Vanessa Cooreman Smith, Flourish Boutique helps style seekers flaunt their femininity with tops, skirts, jackets, shoes, and more. Savvy shoppers can wedge their pumpkin smashers into a pair of midnight twinkles glitter platforms ($45), and the dance with me skirt ($36) ensures an attention-grabbing entrance to a party without having to ride in on a giraffe.