You know that song “Sisters” from White Christmas? You know… “Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters…” This has become the theme song for my sisters and me. I’m the second of five kids, and four of us are sisters. My brother is smack dab in the middle. And he loves it. Right, Nate?
Anyway, these devoted sisters of mine recently planned a trip to visit our youngest sister who is currently at The Ohio State University. This trip included something for everyone – a football game for the football fans among us (I went. And I enjoyed it. And I also read a book during all of the time outs…), delicious food for the food fans (that would be all of us) and plenty of plants for me. And actually, if I can speak for everyone, I think we all enjoyed our time outside.
One of those plant places we visited was the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. When my sister Megan (the one at OSU) first suggested it as a place we could visit I was really excited about that idea, but wasn’t sure if my other sisters would be on board. Lucky for me, they were!
The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is situated within Franklin Park about 2 miles from downtown Columbus, Ohio. It began in 1895 when the City of Columbus built a Victorian-style glass greenhouse, now known as the John F. Wolfe Palm House, and has since grown to the conservatory and gardens of today: the Conservatory (glass greenhouses focusing on 4 distinct biomes), the courtyards, the John F. Wolfe Palm House, the 28 acres of botanical gardens, and the 4-acre community garden campus. The only part of the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens that we didn’t visit was the community garden campus. But, from what the pamphlet says, it sounds like a great place: a living classroom, community garden plots, idea center for home gardening, etc.
Like many botanical gardens, the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens have temporary and/or seasonal displays. We were able to enjoy the Topiaries at the Conservatory, the Bonsai Display, and the Harvest Blooms on our visit in mid-October.
The topiaries were found throughout the gardens and conservatory spaces and were something fun to look for as we moved from one part of the garden to another.
The Bonsai Display included hardy evergreen and deciduous trees out on the Bonsai Courtyard, and also tropical tree species displayed inside. I’ve said for a long time now, that I’d like to learn bonsai. If I would have started when I first said it (probably 12 years ago) I could have quite a nice piece by now. I just don’t know if I’m patient enough for it, though.
The Harvest Blooms were also found throughout the garden: stacks of pumpkins and gourds, ornamental kale, and vibrant mums.
Inside the Conservatory Building are four distinct glasshouses, or biomes. Each showcasing a different environment: the American Southwest/Desert, the Himalayan Mountains, the Tropical Rainforest, and the Pacific Island Water Garden. What a great way to experience the world’s beauty and diversity all in one place!
Though we loved the Conservatory and enjoyed the views of the John F. Wolfe Palm House from the Grand Mallway gardens, by far our favorite place to explore was the Scott’s Miracle Gro Foundation Children’s Garden. If you have kids, or are just a kid at heart, this children’s garden was one of the– if not the – best I’ve seen. Full of active and interactive experiences from smelling and touching the herbs in the sensory garden, to climbing on the giant hammock at The Canopy Walk, to building a fairy house in My Ohio Woods, or hearing a story at the Learning Pavilion, it was definitely an engaging place to explore and play.
When I was perusing the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens website, I came across their vision statement:
A world that celebrates nature as essential to the human experience.
I think they are living up to their part in creating that world.