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Explore Ohio’s best gardens

The year 2020 has been unlike any other year. Filled with sadness, fear, the unexpected and so many other emotions. The thing that has really helped me through this has been the ability to be outdoors.

I got things accomplished in our gardens, things I had thought about doing for years. I took time to really see and better appreciate the wonders of nature. Nature does not stop when winter comes, but it does change so drastically.

I need to plan ahead for the spring and summer to come. I need more nature; it feeds my soul.

This year, I plan to visit more of Ohio’s outstanding gardens. I have visited many before but am looking forward to seeing how things have changed since my last visit.

Here are a few suggestions to research as you dream your way through winter. You can get more information online or through the library.

In central Ohio, there’s the Franklin Conservatory in Columbus, and the Ohio Governor’s Mansion and Heritage Gardens include a tour of Ohio’s ecological systems — very interesting. You must book ahead for tours.

There is also an interesting topiary garden in Columbus. Dawes Arboretum in Newark has a 4-mile driving tour and a Japanese garden.

At Kingwood Center Gardens in Mansfield, peacocks and ducks roam the grounds, and there are spectacular gardens.

Secrest Arboretum in Wooster is wonderful — beautiful displays. It is an Ohio State University research center with an impressive crabapple bloom of more than 600 trees to drive through each spring.

Head northwest to Toledo and visit the Toledo Botanical Garden — really nice. Toledo has a nice zoo, too.

Now go east and closer to us, the Stan Hywet Hall in Akron is a must visit. The gardens and home are amazing.

Just north is the Cleveland Botanical Garden, where you can see butterfly garden and the glass house. The garden is located in University Circle, home to several museums.

Dip south and visit Holden Arboretum in Kirkland — simply amazing. The varieties of plants are vast. They have a canopy walk that is a must-do activity.

In southwest Ohio, Krohn Conservatory just outside of Cincinnati is said to have 3,500 plant species.

There’s the Cox and Woodland Arboretums in Dayton.

Then, there’s the famed Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. This is one of the oldest zoos and gardens in the USA. It has been at least 40 years since we have been there, so I know there have been many changes. So I visited it recently through the website. WOW! I’m definitely planning a trip in 2021. Not a bad drive with a few gardening friends.

And when it is open, be sure to visit and support Fellows Riverside Gardens in Youngstown. It is amazing to have this beautiful garden in our backyard.

I am sure you may have favorite places that should have made this list. There is so much to see and do in our diversified state, so much of Mother Nature’s amazing work to behold. Do some research. Make a plan. And as soon as we can, get out there and do it. You will be glad you did and enjoy time with those whom you are missing these days.

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