Spring’s colors

Nature lovers have a long list of gardens, arboretums to visit

Photo submitted by Luke Messinger Flowering cherry blossom trees in the Japanese Garden at Dawes Arboretum in Columbus draw crowds of all ages in spring.

With the first day of spring still a bit chilly in the Mid-Ohio Valley, locals can look forward to tours of area arboretums and gardens for the first glance at a brighter season.

“As Ohio weather goes, we were tricked a few weeks ago with that 60-degree weather,” said Dawes Arboretum Executive Director Luke Messinger. “We were just a little spoiled but now we’re back to normal and hoping to see the early magnolia and crab apple trees begin to bloom soon with many of the flowering shrubs.”

But if the weather holds, new blooms of perennials and annuals alongside flowering trees will soon fill the air with the fresh scent of spring.

“One of the things I like best is the smell and feeling in the air,” said Erin Smalone, education director for the West Virginia Botanical Garden in Morgantown. “Everything is really waking up and the new plants are everywhere starting to release that scent of a new beginning.”

There is a certain feeling of anticipation that builds this time of year as the birds and other woodland creatures chatter about warmer weather coming.

“The way that trees and animals respond to changes in season you can almost set your calendar to,” explained Messinger. “There’s always something to see and do here at the arboretum and regardless of how fickle the weather gets, we always smile with the sight of people enjoying nature.”

With the promise of higher temperatures on the horizon, spring programming has begun at several parks, arboretums and gardens.

“We are excited about spring and we have a number of walks and events schedules to get out here and really enjoy the season and all that goes on in nature,” said Smalone. “Some of the irises are already beginning to bloom and if you look a bit farther you can see the brookside alders cascading from the trees.”

Daffodils and hellebore are also expected to emerge soon at the garden.

Marilyn Jenkinson, supervisor of the greenhouse and palm room at Oglebay Resort and Parks, said one popular event worth the field trip is the making of a fairy garden.

“We give greenhouse tours and even have two fairy garden workshops coming up on April 13 from 10 a.m. to noon and on May 6 from 10 a.m. to noon,” she explained.

But the wide range in flowers one is bound to see this spring at Oglebay include azaleas, hydrangeas, Adriatic lilies, Easter lilies and geraniums.

Other events popular in the early spring are searching for tadpoles and watching the intricate mating ritual of the American Woodcock.

Both Dawes Arboretum and the West Virginia Botanic Garden are offering evening walks to see the woodcock ritual. Dawes will hold its walk from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday and the Botanic Garden will hold its walk April 8 at 7:30 p.m.

“The ritual goes on around dusk and you’ll see these woodcocks displaying not only an interesting peenting call but the males fly in the air and come down in a spiral dive to impress the females,” explained Smalone. “They do this over and over and if the female finds the dance impressive, they’ll chose to mate with him.”

Other events at Dawes include a foraging-for-wild-edibles hike throughout the arboretum on April 1, two different spring migratory bird walks on April 8 and 15 and other gardening workshops and crafting activities throughout the spring season.

At the West Virginia Botanic Garden, workshops, yoga and garden crafts also fill the spring schedule with a spring wreath workshop first to make an appearance on the calendar March 30.

This weekend will also play host to the Wheeling Polka Festival at Oglebay alongside greenhouse tours.

From Marietta, the drive to Dawes Arboretum is approximately 1.5 hours, the drive to the botanic garden is approximately two hours and the drive to Oglebay Park is approximately 1.5 hours.

Places to go

¯ Adell Durbin Arboretum, Stow.

¯ Adena State Memorial, Chillicothe.

¯ Cleveland Botanical Garden.

¯ Cleveland Multicultural Gardens.

¯ Columbus Park of Roses.

¯ Columbus Zoological Gardens.

¯ Daylily Lane, Baltimore.

¯ Dawes Arboretum, Newark.

¯ Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden, Columbus.

¯ Gardenview Horticultural Park, Strongsville.

¯ German Village Society, Columbus.

¯ Oglebay Resort and Parks, Wheeling.

¯ Ohio State University Chadwick Arboretum, Columbus.

¯ Rockefeller Park Greenhouses, Cleveland.

¯ Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, Akron.

¯ Topiary Garden, Columbus.

¯ West Virginia Botanic Garden, Morgantown.

¯ West Virginia University Core Arboretum, Morgantown.