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Seeing examples of mature trees (like this “dwarf” weeping cherry) is very valuable for home gardeners. (GoodSeed Farm photo)
Arboretums - Day Trips for Gardeners
Published January 27th, 2019

One big challenge for gardeners is to visualize how plants will look when they grow up. Having a good mental picture of a mature perennial, shrub or tree helps you plant it in the right spot. Seeing mature landscapes in every season also helps you find new and interesting plants for your own garden. Simply looking at your neighbor’s yards won’t show you a big enough variety.

That’s why it’s so interesting and helpful to visit arboretums and botanical gardens. An arboretum is a park-like setting where a large variety of plants is installed for educational purposes. You can see what trees and shrubs look like when they grow up, and visualize which plants would be the best for your own landscape. Each plant is labeled, and combined with other plants that go well together.

Arboretums and show gardens make great day trips, and there are quite a few good ones in southwest Ohio. Here are some favorites:

SPRING GROVE CEMETERY: In addition to being a resting place for the departed, Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati is a world-class arboretum with over 1,200 flowering trees and shrubs. The many ponds throughout the grounds are beautiful places to linger at any time of year. Take an hour and drive through Spring Grove next time you’re in Cincinnati. Admission is free, and you can see quite a bit without ever leaving the comfort of your car. https://www.springgrove.org

CINCINNATI ZOO & BOTANICAL GARDENS: During the summer months, when their impressive show gardens are at their peak, there is a massive display of color throughout the Zoo grounds. Annual flowers and grasses, perennials, trees and shrubs are combined in imaginative ways. The displays serve as a real-life test garden where flowers are evaluated for performance and ease of maintenance.

Every year the Zoo plants over 20,000 annual bedding plants in order to test new varieties. Plants are labeled so you can learn as you explore. There are many interesting grasses, mature shrubs, a butterfly garden, a Japanese shade garden, a mature Bamboo grove and other exhibits. Hardscape walls and pavers, water features, decks, fences and bridges set off the plants. Moving water is everywhere, and lots of shady spots to relax and cool off. The parking areas feature drought-tolerant landscape plantings. https://cincinnatizoo.org/horticulture/

MOUNT AIRY FOREST: The nation’s largest municipal park, Mount Airy has more than one million trees across approximately 1,500 acres. The grounds include rolling hills, valleys, streams, gardens, woods and wildlife, and display magnolias, azaleas, lilacs, dwarf conifers, rhododendrons and perennial gardens. Reflecting the style of Frank Lloyd Wright, the park buildings include picnic shelters and a handicapped accessible treehouse. www.cincinnatiparks.com/mt-airy-forest

CHADWICK ARBORETUM: On the OSU campus in Columbus, Chadwick Arboretum features a mix of constant color throughout the year. OSU has a trial garden for annual flowers, which sorts the really good annual flowers from the merely average. There is a vegetable garden designed for handicapped access and horticultural therapy. Other projects include a “green roof”, literally a rooftop garden providing live insulation winter and summer. Nearby Lane Avenue Gardens is an extensive tree planting with a “labyrinth”; a paved walk similar to a maze but with no wrong turns or dead ends. Arboretum North across the street is the newest section, and features sixty varieties of willow. It is known for good bird-watching despite its location in the heart of Columbus. www.chadwickarboretum.osu.edu.

DAWES ARBORETUM: Begun in 1929, this 1800 acre Columbus arboretum is a showcase of plant collections and educational experiences, including a cypress swamp, Japanese Bonsai Garden, crabapples, conifers, oaks, azaleas and hollies. Drive the five-mile auto route or walk more than eight miles of hiking trails. www.dawesarb.org

COX ARBORETUM: With 189 acres of gardens and nature, Cox Arboretum in Dayton is a hands-on adventure in horticulture. Highlights include The Edible Landscape garden, Butterfly Meadow and House, Shrub Garden with more than 500 different trees & shrubs, Water Garden & Rock Garden, Wildflower Garden, and 3.5 miles of walking trails. www.metroparks.org/Parks/CoxArboretum

WEGERZYN GARDENS: in Southwest Ohio is home to the Wegerzyn Gardens and Horticulture Center, one of the Miami Valley’s Five Rivers Metroparks, features Victorian, English, Federal and Children’s Rose gardens, a boardwalk overlooking rivers and forest, a scenic river bikeway and a learning center. One of the main attractions is the Children’s Discovery Garden, which includes a preschool area, two ponds, individual garden plots, wildlife area, perennial and rock gardens. There is a Reception Lawn amidst a wall of pine trees, and a nature trail. The learning center offers help with home landscaping, gardening and floral craft making. www.metroparks.org/wegerzyn

Steve Boehme is a landscape designer/installer specializing in landscape “makeovers”. “Let’s Grow” is published weekly; column archives are online at goodseedfarm.com. For more information call GoodSeed Farm Landscapes at (937) 587-7021.



There are 307 weekly columns.

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Published June, 15th 2015

Amur Maple Can Be a Problem Solver
Published September, 11th 2017

Arboretums - Day Trips for Gardeners
Published January, 27th 2019

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Published January, 8th 2010

Soil – Drying Out Wet Soils
Published May, 2nd 2016

Soils - How to Improve Them
Published April, 4th 2016

Spring - Time to Play in the Dirt!
Published February, 17th 2014

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Published January, 8th 2010

Spring Housecleaning For Your Landscape
Published January, 8th 2010

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Spruce Decline
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St. Patrick’s Is Onion Day
Published March, 9th 2015

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Published May, 20th 2018

Stone Mulch Pros & Cons
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Published August, 5th 2018

Stone Mulch vs Wood Mulch
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Published May, 28th 2012

Strawberry Success Tips
Published April, 25th 2012

Strawberry Success Tips
Published March, 27th 2017

Sugar Pie Pumpkins Make the Best Pumpkin Pie
Published September, 29th 2015

Sweet Potatoes - Timing & Tips
Published April, 29th 2012

Time to Plant Sweet Potatoes
Published May, 15th 2013

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Published May, 23rd 2011

Tomato Blight - How to Avoid It
Published May, 2nd 2010

Tomatoes and Viviparity
Published August, 29th 2016

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Published August, 31st 2015

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Published August, 26th 2013

Tree Planting Questions & Answers
Published October, 7th 2019

Tree Staking Tips
Published June, 9th 2019

Tree Transplanting Tips
Published October, 21st 2018

Trees - Avoid “Row Run” Trees
Published August, 11th 2016

Trees - Choosing Driveway Trees
Published January, 8th 2010

Trees - Choosing the Right One
Published October, 11th 2010

Trees - Fall is the Best Time to Plant Trees
Published October, 28th 2018

Trees - Fixing Defects I
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Trees - In Search Of The Dwarf
Published January, 8th 2010

Trees - Managing Volunteers
Published October, 13th 2015

Trees - Mulch Circles
Published August, 4th 2015

Trees - Shade Saves Dollars
Published June, 14th 2016

Trees - Shopping For Quality
Published October, 18th 2010

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Published September, 19th 2010

Trees - What is a Red Maple Tree?
Published July, 21st 2014

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Published January, 8th 2010

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Published June, 23rd 2015

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Published August, 1st 2017

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Published June, 5th 2017

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Published July, 15th 2018

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Published October, 26th 2013

Trees – Growing Them Takes Many Steps
Published December, 4th 2017

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Published September, 26th 2016

Trees – Protection During Construction
Published August, 25th 2019

Trees – Topping is Harmful
Published April, 9th 2017

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Published August, 26th 2018

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Published December, 9th 2019

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Published October, 29th 2017

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Vegetable Relish & Home Canning
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Walnut Trees for Profit
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Published January, 8th 2010

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Published August, 7th 2017

Watering Plants – How, When & Why
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Watering Plants Properly
Published January, 8th 2010

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Published April, 29th 2018

Weeds - Prevention & Control
Published January, 8th 2010

Weeping Cherry Trees
Published May, 6th 0218

Weeping Cherry Trees
Published May, 6th 2018

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When, Where, How and Why to Water
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Windbreak Plantings – How and Why
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Winter Can Be Hard on Trees
Published January, 8th 2018

Winter Hardiness - What Does It Mean?
Published February, 3rd 2014

Winter Housekeeping for Trees
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Winter is Good for Most Plants
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Winter Protection For Roses
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Winter Reading For Gardeners
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Wisteria Tips & Tricks
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Woodland Management
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You Can’t Fool a Tree
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