Tag Archives: gardens

Detour to Dawes Arboretum

Pink peony by Daweswood House; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

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”.

The Dawes Arboretum Visitor Information and Map

Kentucky coffee trees with farm field; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

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.

Japanese Garden; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

The serene Japanese garden includes a reflection pool, meditation house and two islands, artfully accessed by stepping stones and arched wooden bridges.

Bald cypress swamp; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

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 view from an observation tower just beyond allows one to decipher the “secret message” in the hedge planting at the park’s southern tip: “Dawes Arboretum.”Japanese Umbrella tree; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

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.

Tulip bloom on tulip tree; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

Tree bench at Dawes Memorial; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

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.

Yellow flowering shrub; Dawes Arboretum; Newark, Ohio

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 Visitor Information and Map

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.
Picnicking permitted.
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
Admission: Free!

View Larger Map


In-Town Tourist: Splashes at Inniswood

Bridges, stream side trails, waterfalls: these are the elements that add fun to the merely beautiful.  Inniswood Metro Park has all of these as well as a farmyard water wheel and trough that are pure cooling recreation.  The truth is that none of us really outgrow the need to splash in water on a hot day.  Sultry summer weather = a beach vacation for many. We may have to settle for a fast fan or air conditioned office, but given the choice, I think most of us prefer to lean a little closer into a cooling spray.

Columbus Things To Do


In-Town Tourist: Inniswood Metro Park

“This is one of the regular parks?”  My daughter Hannah knows most of our area parks for their running trails and frisbee golf courses.  While we’ve wandered through Inniswood Metro Park many times, this was the first time my daughter had noticed metro on the entrance sign.

Most of our area parks here in central Ohio are geared to recreational activity:  hiking, running, biking, birdwatching, fishing and canoeing or kayaking.  Inniswood by contrast, sprawls with cultivated gardens, lush expanses of lawn and woods, and contains kid-friendly creative content such as a “secret garden”, a farm (with a watering trough to splash around in) and a tree house playground.  I always support our park funding at election time, and Inniswood is an inspiring example of tax dollars well spent.

A favored local destination, Inniswood’s nooks and niches have been the focus of many an afternoon’s exploration for us.  A few years ago my youngest son and I found some thrills catching and releasing frogs in one of the Inniswood ponds (until management posted a sign expressly forbidding the activity, oops…).  The secret garden, a quiet stone ruins splayed by twining vines and embedded with jeweled marbles, elicits both romance and mystery.  A story walk maze draws visitors from sentence to sentence, tile to tile, reading and walking to the legend’s end: a statued depiction of the story’s main characters.  The tree house playground includes an elevated walkway with swaying bridges and, of course, a tree house for children and very small(!) adults to explore.

Always familiar but ever changing from one season’s colors into the next, Inniswood Metro Park is a  year round festival of nature.  There’s nothing regular about it at all.

Columbus Things To Do

Coming up:  Kid friendly fun at Inniswood, Drifting down the Colorado River in Glen Canyon, Boston, Frank Lloyd Wright designs in Ohio…


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