Category Archives: Gardens of Ohio

Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden seeking volunteers

The Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden in Bexley, Ohio is now seeking volunteers for 2017. Available opportunities include docents for the historic 1920s residence as well as guides and gardeners for the home’s unique and educational gardens.

Ohio’s governors and their families have used the residence at 358 N. Park Avenue as living quarters and as a location for state business and special events since 1957. The home, with its Jacobean revival architecture and extensive garden, is visited by thousands of guests annually.

“During the past several administrations, we have worked with the first ladies of Ohio and the non-partisan Friends of the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden to establish a collection of Ohio art and craftsmanship, including pottery and glass, so we could make the home a showcase of Ohio,” said Residence Curator Mary Alice Mairose. “Many guests also like to know they are standing in a room once visited by dignitaries, including John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Ronald Reagan.”

Docents conduct Tuesday tours of the home most weeks at 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m. Reservations are required at least one week in advance; there is no charge for the tours.

Garden guides lead visitors through the award-winning garden that features formal plantings, including roses and dahlias, and five areas representing Ohio’s diverse glacial history, topography, soil type, geology and plants. (Think bogs, sand dunes and more.)

Mairose is looking for volunteers interested in history, architecture, art and gardening. Those interested in becoming a docent or garden guide should request an application at Background checks, fingerprinting and in-person interviews are mandatory. A three-hour training session, additional reading and tour shadowing are also required. Volunteers are expected to donate at least 12 hours a year.

“We also want to make it fun to volunteer,” said Mairose. “We offer field trips and provide guest speakers to our volunteers, both to enrich the experience of Residence visitors as well as that of the volunteer.” Governor’s gardeners volunteers work with professionals to maintain the educational gardens. Their contributions to the Heritage Garden can vary according to ability, experience and desire.

On some days, 45 to 50 governor’s gardeners are busily weeding, pruning or planting. Last year, volunteers donated more than 2,500 hours. Gardeners receive an orientation, but training is “mostly on the job,” according to Mary Lewis, curator of native plant habitats, research manager and volunteer coordinator.  “All volunteers are important to us,” Lewis said, “and you don’t have to be a Master Gardener to participate. Our volunteers are unique because they take charge of what they are doing and get it done.”

Governor’s gardeners travel to the Residence from about 18 Ohio counties. Gardening clubs across the state are encouraged to participate. For more information about becoming a governor’s gardener, email



Schnormeier Gardens – Gambier, Ohio

Schnormeier Garden Bridge – Image courtesy Schnormeiergardens

Schnormeier Gardens, located in the  gentle rolling hills of Gambier, Ohio, began in 1996. Over the years they have grown to include fifty acres of manicured lawns, ten lakes, a variety of discrete garden areas and several waterfalls.

The Gardens are rarely open to the public, and their annual Open House represents the only opportunity this year to visit and enjoy this remarkable site.

NOTE: Ted and Ann Schnormeier of Gambier, Ohio will open their spectacular private gardens to the public from Thursday, June 2 through Sunday, June 5, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Reservations are not required, however, advance notice of groups arriving by bus would be appreciated. The Gardens are not recommended for those with limited mobility.

Those attending the Open House should start at the Welcome Center, at 8701 Laymon Road. The Welcome Center features a DVD presentation, striking photographs of the Gardens, including aerial photograph, and full-color tour brochures with map. There is ample free parking adjacent to the Welcome Center. Restrooms are available at the Welcome Center and near the Hosta Garden. You are welcome to take photographs. Pets are not permitted.

Tours are self-guided. The property is hilly, and contains manicured lawns, woods, meadows, streams, lakes, footbridges and many beautiful vistas. There are no paved or designated pathways so visitors are encouraged to dress comfortably and to wear walking shores. Visitors are free to wander the entire 75 acres.

The focal point of the property is a spectacular Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home. This private residence was completed in 1994. The interior of the home is not part of the public tour. Other structures on the property include a Japanese teahouse, garden house, Chinese pavilion and arched bridge. Ever-growing collections of unique sculptures are also located on the grounds.

Schnormeier teahouse
Schnormeier Gardens Teahouse – Image courtesy Schnormeiergardens

The gardens have a distinct Asian flavor and feature a variety of plantings rich in color and texture. Rare conifers are plentiful here. Large boulders and stonewalls add dimension and contrast to the landscape. Designed with a bold vision and attention to detail, the gardens offer delightful viewing in any season.



Cox Arboretum – Dayton, Ohio

Cox Arboretum is a beautiful 189-acre facility located near Dayton, Ohio and is a special place for visitors to escape among trees, shrubs, specialty gardens, mature forests, and prairies. Managed and owned by the Five Rivers MetroParks, the arboretum hosts year-round educational programs that teach children and adults about sustainable horticulture, plant science, and conservation. Cox Arboretum MetroPark is also home to a native-Ohio Butterfly House.

Photo of cox arboretum
Cox Arboretum – Image courtesy beesfirstappearance