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Observation Island

Observation Island is planted with flowering shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas so that it blooms continuously, mid-April through late July.

Observation Island also offers a spectacular view of the Alden B. Dow Home & Studio. The home and studio was designed by Alden Dow, the fifth child of Herbert and Grace Dow, as his personal residence and workspace. This mid-century modern masterpiece blurs the lines between architecture and nature and exemplifies Alden Dow’s philosophy that “gardens never begin and buildings never end.” Throughout his career, Dow designed churches, schools, civic buildings, and over 70 residences. In 1983, Alden Dow was named architect laureate of Michigan.

Tours can be scheduled by contacting the Alden B. Dow Home & Studio at 989.839.2744. 

While standing in this area you may also notice the stone bridge connecting Observation Island to the Exploration Garden. This is our Clinker Bridge, made from porous, lightweight “clinkers.” These clinkers were a by-product of the chemical process at the Dow Chemical Company. To avoid waste, Herbert Dow used the clinkers as a building material to construct pillars, fences, and 3 clinker bridges throughout Dow Gardens. This is the only surviving example of a clinker bridge that we have on the property today.

Dow Gardens Audio Tour
  1. Visitor Center & Gift Shop
  2. Birch Grove
  3. Boulder Pass & Waterfall
  4. Streamside
  5. Conservatory
  6. Secret Garden
  7. Herb Garden
  8. Sun Bridge
  9. The Pines
  10. The Yew Maze
  11. Willow Wedding Site
  12. Red Bridge Overlook & The Maze
  13. Founders' Circle
  14. The Bumps
  15. Observation Island
  16. Wedding Peninsula
  17. Rhododendron Trail
  18. Children's Garden
  19. Rose Garden & Trial Beds
  20. Rose Garden Bridge
  21. Orange Bridge Overlook & The Snake Creek Floodplain
  22. Orchard
  23. Mini Pines
  24. Wildflower Meadow
  25. Playground
  26. Forest Trails
  27. Covered Bridge
  28. Canopy Walk
  29. Education Center