By Pamela J. Bennett, Horticulture Educator, State Master Gardener Program Director & Associate Professor, Ohio State University Extension
The offices of Ohio State University Extension in Clark County were moved in the spring of 2014 along with the Gateway Learning Gardens. The gardens were moved to the former Snyder Park golf course with the vision of a public garden in Clark County that will be a destination for all. The site is planned to be used for a complete outdoor experience.
Near the clubhouse and the entrance to the gardens will be a high use, high impact garden area called the Springfield
Foundation Feature Garden that will include beautiful displays of perennials, trees and shrubs surrounding a pavilion. The pavilion will be built in 2019 along with the Springfield Foundation Feature Garden. Just behind and encircling the pavilion will be the annual research plots consisting of a vast array of annuals and some perennials that are being tested for their performance in our area. On the north side of the Clubhouse there is a newly-planted bed of Clematis spp. that will be beautiful come next season. From there, you can see the fence around the Early Ohio Settler’s Garden. This garden is filled with plants that would have been planted outside the back door of those who settled
here in the 1800s. In this garden you learn about the different types of plants and their uses. There is an outhouse complete with fragrant flowers as well as the soft-leaved lamb’s ears; during a tour you can learn what these soft fuzzy leaves were used for! Further travel along the path brings one to the whimsical Garden of Eatin’, a modern-day vegetable garden that shows how to design and plant your backyard vegetable garden, incorporating new techniques and ideas. Each year there is a feature vegetable and in 2018 it was peppers. Stop by in 2019 to see the feature vegetable and to learn not only how to grow it but how to use it. The garden has a shed built by one of the Master Gardener Volunteers and there is a patio that is used for cooking demonstrations. Just down from this garden one enters the Hollandia Gardens Association Children’s Garden consisting of an acre of four uniquely-themed areas including the Adventure, Sensory, Nature and Round-about Zones. This garden is being sponsored by the Springfield Kiwanis and will be dedicated in 2019 for their 100th anniversary. As you explore the garden, you pass the OSU Turf Research Plots, one of 11 in the state. Working with OSU staff as well as local professionals, we have several blends of turfgrass that you
can touch and walk on (barefoot is best) to determine what type of lawn you might like. In addition, you will come across the MGV Victory Garden where we raise produce to be donated to the 2nd Harvest Food Bank of Clark and Champaign Counties. This year close to 7,000 pounds was donated. NTPRD has future plans to develop the acreage along Route 4
coming into Springfield into a natural area for plants and wildlife. Future plans also include an outdoor amphitheater; a green roof display; an outdoor kitchen and accessible garden with a variety of demonstrations on how someone with any disability might be able to continue gardening; the Meditative Garden which will be dedicated to those MGVs who have passed as well as any golfers who had memorials on the former golf course; the All-America Selections perennial trials; and the lookout tower which is surrounded by the European classical maze. The gardens are maintained sustainably with the environment in mind. They are used to teach others good gardening practices, including how to minimize the use of pesticides in a garden. There will be a rain garden and cistern to collect water for reuse. We compost all plant materials taken out of the gardens. While the focus of the gardens is teaching, this site will also draw visitors to our community. OSU Extension MGVs, at their former gardens, hosted numerous garden tours and classes, including tour groups from around the world who come to Columbus but want to see what OSU Extension is doing in the communities in
Ohio. The vision for the overall area is to have a high impact, highly active garden area that flows into an active-passive area that eventually draws the visitor to the passive natural areas for bird watching and learning about various ecosystems in this area. The garden will be host to sculptures and various art as well as artifacts from Memorial Hall.