An In-Town Tourist Feature:
…because Adventure begins in the heart and Travel starts at the end of your own driveway.
If not for photography I might run too much. Sadly, when friends refer to rehab projects, I think of ankles and knees. Anything in excess is unhealthy, even “good for your body” things like exercise. Fortunately, photography provides enough outdoor thrills to compensate for an endorphin-less “rest day”.
One of my favorite photo stops is Dawes Arboretum, east of Columbus in Newark, Ohio. Dawes cradles some 1700 acres of botanical beauty. Founded in 1929 by the colorful Beman and Bertie Dawes, the park is free to the public and offers an impressive display of more than 15,000 living plants. Eight miles of trails allow visitors to wander through a cypress swamp, a Japanese garden, a woods and multiple collections of labeled plant specimens. The grounds are well manicured in a non-fussy sort of way. It’s the kind of place one could imagine as his own backyard with enough money, time and the knowledge to make it so.
The serene Japanese garden includes a reflection pool, meditation house and two islands, artfully accessed by stepping stones and arched wooden bridges.
The Bald cypress swamp is other-worldly with pneumatophores or “cypress knees” protruding all over like odd little families wading through the algae coated water.
Collections of conifers, holly, oaks, ginkgoes, magnolias and many more fill the seemingly endless acreage that eventually rolls into Dawes Lake at the southern edge of the park.
The park was a Sunday drive destination for my family when I was a young girl, but as many times as I’ve wandered the grounds there, I still discover something new every time.
This time a deciduous variety of holly, a blooming tulip tree and bench grafted into the trunks of two sturdy trees caused the double-takes. The bench sits within the family cemetery just beyond the Daweswood House Museum and History Center, which I aim to check out next time.
On my last visit we tried identifying as many trees and shrubs as we could without peeking at their labels but found that even the most common tree species have impressive families. Who knew there were so many varieties of ginkgoes?!
That afternoon slipped by as gently and sweetly as the rolling hills around us, and I found plenty of thrills through my camera lens. Should the truly shocking occur this year, a non-stormy/non-freezing Mother’s Day, a picnic at Dawes sounds about perfect.
Updated from June 2, 2008.
The Dawes Arboretum (Newark, Ohio)
1800 acres of botanical beauty to drive and walk through.
Eight miles of trails with labeled specimens.
Collections of holly, azalea, conifers, cypress, bonsai and more.
A 36-foot Outlook Tower and serene Japanese Garden are visitor favorites.
Free to the public.
“Yes” to pets (on leash)
Directions: Take I-70 east from Columbus. Take Newark exit and travel north on Jacksontown Rd. Arboretum entrance will be on left.
Visitor Center: Open Mon-Sat, 8AM-5PM; Sundays and holidays, 1PM-5PM
Address: 7770 Jacksontown Rd. SE; Newark Ohio 43056
Phone: 740-323-2355 or 800-44-DAWES