Visiting the Smith Garden

The Smith Garden in Oakwood, Ohio, is a gem of tiny garden. Nestled on less than a half acre, this garden delivers a mighty punch of color and texture within its vignettes. Established by Carlton and Jeanette Smith in the 1930’s, the garden is operated by the parks department and extra care is given to the grounds by the Friends of Smith Gardens.

The day I visited was clear and bright, and the lawn was still damp from an earlier rain. The shaded benches in the far back corners beckoned as the heat and humidity began to climb. A winding stream drew my eye to a small pond, complete with obligatory gold fish.

The garden is simple in its design. The repetition of colors and plants and curved beds accentuated by grass paths is the perfect example of how adhering to the basics of garden design produces a successful landscape.
The Smiths designed their garden to offer continuous bloom as well as visual interest in the winter with small trees and shrubs. The attention to detail is impressive. Clean lines, not a weed in sight and the lush beds were full, not unruly. A garden after my own heart!

Nestled within the affluent Oakwood neighborhood, I have a feeling there are many more such gardens, privately owned, to be found. Returning to the garden, on a cooler day and with more time to explore the area, is on my garden wish list. And maybe, I will be lucky to arrive during one of the blanket concerts.


Beautiful Night at Ault Park

I admit, not the most catchy of titles, but it is the truth. After too many days of high heat and humidity, the weather broke for one day. I was not the only one who decided to take advantage of the reprieve and head to the park.

There were runners, walkers, skateboarders, cyclists, kids, newly engaged couples having their picture taken, mature couples holding hands as they walked down the garden paths- the park was a buzz with activity. Nice.


The Stone Garden

My recent trip to NYC was a self-indulgent, complete immersion in all things garden. I spent a lot of time exploring gardens and quite a bit of time looking up at the fabulous architecture. I thought about the way plants and gardens have influenced the arts~ paintings, tapestries and stonework. Inspiration for a garden is everywhere. Everything we see that the garden has inspired can inspire us in kind.

How wonderful it would be to create a garden inspired by the flora carved in stone on the buildings of NYC! In the least, studying the stone garden can open our eyes to new plants we have never considered before.


Is it worth it? Why, yes!

There are moments in every gardener’s life when we ask ourselves, is it worth it? Is it worth fighting the mites, deer, moles, the neighbor’s cat, the evil forces of nature or our restrictive budgets? When these doubts descend upon us, the trowel is tossed in the shed without cleaning, muck boots are dumped on the garage floor still caked in mud and a bee-line is make to the ice-cream, kettle cooked chips, bottle of Merlot….. insert your personal indulgence here.

But in the morning, all is well. The garden has recovered from its foul mood and is showing its colors in the early morning light. Slowly, with each breath of the damp earth, we fall in love with our garden all over again.

Not too long ago I posted a question about the necessity of additional public green spaces in Cincinnati on a networking site. The responses were decidedly on the side of more public green spaces, local crop gardens, even rooftop gardens. There were a few quiet rumbles from those who work with public gardens. They expressed their frustration in finding trash and other signs of misuse in their gardens. I can relate.

Gardening public land does have its downfall. I have found newly planted flowers trampled, cigarette butts in the hosta bed and beer bottles tossed about. It can be disheartening. But there is always far more positives to motivate- to inspire me to do more. I have the privilege to garden in my two favorite places in Cincinnati- Spring Grove Cemetery and Ault Park. That alone still amazes me. And then there are the people I get to meet.

Each time, without fail, when I am at Ault Park, someone thanks me and the other gardeners for our work. I am doing what I love, in an area I treasure and to top it off, I get a few thank yous. That erases the inconsiderate actions of a few.

Here is to those who work in public gardens- there are many thank yous, those you hear and those you don’t. And to those tending your private gardens, raise a glass of Merlot, a bowl of ice-cream or a bag of chips and toast to a job well done!