Glenwood Gardens

I am certainly not up to moving anytime soon. Truth be told, Darryl is still recovering from the move here a year ago and says we are not moving unless we win the lottery hahaha... he's joking, well a little.

It would be hard to find a location in Cincinnati that has as much to offer as where we are now. A few days ago I did visit an area that has some rather impressive perks, including Glenwood Gardens which is a short hop from Glendale, a charming area with great shops, restaurants and beautiful old homes. 

Glenwood Gardens is 335 acres of open prairie, woodlands, streams, ponds, wetlands, paved trails and beautiful gardens. The comfortable and modern facilities, including a gift shop and meeting rooms makes this garden destination more than a park, it is a natural retreat, event center and escape from the noisy city.

It was still a bit early in the spring to explore the gardens, which were just coming to life. The grounds were decked in spring attire; daffodils and flowering trees.  Peepers, or I think that is what the small frogs are called, and the chorus of song birds filled the air.

I come to this park each spring to photograph the spring ephemerals. There is one spot in particular, by the river, that has a nice stand of cut leaf tooth wart, trillium, Dutchman's breeches, trout lilies and blood root. The invasive, horrible, impossible to control lesser celandine is creeping into this little patch of native wonder and I know one day I shall arrive for my early spring windflower fix to find only the yellow faces of the celandine in bloom. That will be a sad day indeed. 


Good Reads: The 20-30 Something Garden Guide, Dee Nash

Straightforward, practical garden advice punctuated with personal garden stories makes The 20-30 Something Garden Guide: A no-fuss, down and dirty Gardening 101 for anyone who wants to grow stuff by Dee Nash a delight to read. 

A gardener with more years under my belt than I want to admit, I am always a bit leery about reading garden books written for the new gardener. I have gardened long enough to know there is always more, so much more, to learn about gardening. However, many my-first-garden-books are ho-hum and a bit on the light side, even for the first time gardener. 

Worry not my new to gardening friends; this book is a far cry from pedestrian! As soon as I dove in I could hear the collective sigh of relief of countless young gardeners. Imagine if you will a young gardener in training. She wants to grow her own food, inspired by all the talk about GMOs, the health benefits of growing your own food, the cost effectiveness of starting seeds and the wonderful, tasty bounty that is promised with a little hard work. But then reality sets in and she is about to throw in the trowel.

Starting plants from seeds? Crop rotation? Warm and cool season plants? Dressing up the edible garden with ornamentals? It's enough to make a freshman gardener head to the grocery store crying uncle!

Fortunately, Dee Nash has put her years of hands-on experience in the garden to paper. Her beautifully written garden advice and how-to is punctuated with personal stories, allowing the reader get to know this garden guru on a new level. The lovely photos and illustrations tie it all together.

If you are new to gardening and desire to grow your own edibles, or you know a new gardener looking for that one book that has it all, you cannot go wrong with The 20-30 Something Garden Guide.


Marian Gardens- Reflecting on the Number Three

Marian gardens and Marian plants honor the Virgin Mary. I have always been drawn to the history of garden design and plants and recently I started reading more about Marian plants, gardens and the life of the Virgin Mary. What I will write about and what I will discover; it is too soon to tell. I approached this new research topic from a scholarly point of view, but already my thoughts and reflections are turning to religion, faith, beliefs and my own spiritual journey. 

Lately I have been thinking about the number, three. In my faith the number three reminds me of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. As we approach Easter, I am reminded of Jesus, his death and rising from the dead after three days. Also, when Jesus was young, for three days he was lost, later to be found by his parents in the temple.

In gardening three is also a significant number. Most plants are best planted in threes. When we have a perennial garden, it is the third year that the garden really shines. And some may say that it is at least three years before we have a clue as to what we are doing in the garden. But like life, faith, and our spiritual journey, we are never done learning and growing in the garden...

The Hauck Botanic Garden and Civic Garden Center of Cincinnati

There really is no bad time to explore a garden, especially one that includes a wonderful selection of older trees and rare trees. Recently I had the opportunity to tour the grounds of the Civic Garden Center as well as the Hauck Botanic Garden with Mr Bennett Dowling of the Civic Garden Center. One should never pass up the chance to walk about a garden, park or arboretum with someone who works the grounds and knows the history of the place and the plants. To hear someone talk with passion and knowledge about garden spaces is a wonderful treat.

If these grounds could talk they would tell the story of not only the trees and gardens, but the history of the neighborhood in which it is nestled. Once the 'burbs'  then the center of commercial and low income housing, hospitals and now more commercial than residential buildings, the grounds, once called Sooty Acres after the many surrounding coal burning factories is a green oasis; a haven for those who need an escape from the busy roads, the chugging buses, service stations and fast food chains. 

The Civic Garden Center and Hauck Botanic Gardens includes a visitor center with the best garden lending library, meeting rooms, an education center, herb garden, hosta garden, woodland garden, a fabulous green roof, dwarf conifer garden, ancient trees and an organic veggie garden. The Civic Garden Center hosts a series of garden education programs and is instrumental in establishing community gardens throughout Cincinnati.

Most importantly these grounds are a reminder to us that green spaces, quiet spaces, gardens and groves are essential to us all. We cannot live in city cement, roads and buildings alone. We need places of natural beauty. And while it is not the easiest place to access and the neighborhood may make some a bit uneasy at times, this is exactly where such a places belongs. Cities are wonderful places to live, work, learn and play. But the cities that thrive and help their residents live well have balance- they have green spaces.


The Great Ohio Garden Tour: Ault Park

Arbor in the South Garden 
Fair warning! To say I am a bit biased about the next garden I am to introduce you to is a bit of an understatement. I grew up with Ault Park at the foot of my street. When I was young it was my summer day camp, a place to rescue stray dogs and watch the Fourth of July fireworks. When I was older, and had returned to Cincinnati after living in northern Wisconsin for many years, it was the place I set new roots; both personal and garden.

Old postcard of the Pavilion

Ault Park is the gem of the Queen City park system. There are very few parks that can offer what this park has; playgrounds, woodland trails, a stunning Pavilion, a year long list of events from dances to art shows, formal gardens, informal gardens, a great lawn, fireworks and weeping cherries that attract visitors in droves.

Enjoying a picnic lunch in the shade of a massive tree at the park

Welcome to Ault Park
Ault Park is the fourth largest park in Cincinnati with its 223.949 acres. Two roads lead to the park meeting at a circle road that wraps around the gardens and Pavilion. Ault Park is named in memory of Ida May Ault and Levi Addison Ault. Levi was a former Park Commissioner who was prominently active in Cincinnati Parks development. Levi described the land as having, “a million dollar view worthy of a structure of no lesser beauty than the Parthenon." The initial 142-acre tract in 1911 and nine subsequent acquisitions were gifts of the Aults to the City of Cincinnati. A bronze plaque of Levis Addison Ault, designed by the famous Cincinnati sculptor, Clement Barnhorn, is affixed to a glacier boulder of rose granite on the terrace to the south of the Pavilion.
The Brumm Arbor in the Adopt-A-Plot gardens

The Pavilion, which was dedicated in 1930 offers a stunning 360 degree view of the park, Lunken Airport and Hyde Park, including the Observatory when the trees are free of their foliage. The Pavilion is the centerpiece, the heart of the park. From the roof, looking directly out across the park, one has the best view of the grounds designed by George Kesler and later modified by A.D. Taylor. The center lawn is flanked by walkways and trees creating an alley. To the right or north of the main lawn are the adopt-a-pot gardens. The adopt-a–plots are a somewhat newer addition to the park. Magnolias and Taxus create the foundation, the bones of this formal garden area and act as evergreen borders separating the numerous garden plots which are planned, planted and cared for by members of the community. The adopt-a-plots were installed as a way to help revitalize the gardens and park when things had taken a turn for the worse.

Morning light along the secondary walk in the south garden
After years of dances, parries, picnics and warm summer days, the park fell into disrepair. The stunning pavilion was crumbling; the cascading fountain a dry, ruinous trash filled site and thugs, bikers and other unsavory types had turned the once lush garden and grounds into their outdoor clubhouse. At last a few people said enough and took the park back. After much hard work, the formation of the Ault Park Advisory Counsel and countless hours of volunteer work, the Pavilion was restored to its formal glory and the park was once again a place for families to visit- the thugs had to find a new place to trash. Several great stories of generosity and remembrance are woven into the renovation of the park. Monica Nolan raised money for renovation of the cascade in memory of her sister, Nora May Nolan, a Withrow High School teacher, who was key in arranging the annual July 4 band concert and fireworks. In addition, over 150 donors bought balusters for the Pavilion.

Plaque for Mr Ault.

The Smittie Memorial Concert Green, near the Pavilion, was dedicated on June 14, 1987. George G. “Smittie” Smith, a music teacher at Withrow High School for 30 years, led his band at the traditional July 4 celebration. He had given park concerts for 50 years.
Garden Club bench. Today Oakleaf Hydrangea frame this lovey seat. 

A memorial bench of Bedford stone near the Principio Avenue entrance was a gift of the Cincinnati Garden Club.

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Weeping cherries in bloom stop traffic along Observatory