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The Cleveland Botanical Garden: A Delight For Your Senses

by Nikki Tilley July 24, 2016

The Cleveland Botanical Garden: A Delight For Your Senses

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By Nikki Tiley (Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)

On a recent visit with my team at Gardening Know How, we took some time to explore the nearby Cleveland Botanical Garden located in northeast Ohio. Founded in 1930, today the Garden is a vast, sprawling 10 acres of seasonal bliss. It not only includes thousands of plants and various garden types to explore, but they host events and outreach programs throughout the Greater Cleveland area.

On their website, it is mentioned: “When you arrive at the Garden, you know right away that you’re in a beautiful place…” – and with good reason. I was literally in awe of the eye-popping spring color, and the striking array of plants, in general, all offering their own textural interest throughout every corner of the landscape.

clevelandbot1Knot Garden
We started our trek in the Herb Garden and immediately the intoxicating aromas filled the air. Not only beautiful to see but it truly is “heralded as one of the most significant herb gardens in America,” and there’s little wonder why. This garden goes well beyond your everyday kitchen herbs like parsley or basil. You’ll find everything from dye garden plants to medicinal herbs and fabulous knot gardens of yesteryear.

From there we entered the Rose Garden, and oh my goodness! Just as with the herb garden, the scents alone were majestic, not to mention all the different types of roses, their colors intricately woven together like a warm quilt lovingly pieced together from grandmother. The Topiary Garden enhanced that magical feeling, whisking you away into another world almost and bringing the kid out of you, especially as you wander through the shrub tunnel which transports you into a child-like wonderland. And speaking of kids, the Children’s Garden may be a fun, hands-on exploration for them, but I found it equally so as an adult (what can I say, I’m still a child at heart). At every turn there was something new, and plants that exploited all the senses. A nature-filled learning platform in and of itself.

We went along the trails of the White Oak Walk, with all its grandeur, which led us through my absolute favorite part of this adventure (and I think my traveling companions would agree) – the Inspiration Gardens, where one’s imagination can literally run wild. I love to reuse things, especially in the garden, and boy did I get some ideas here. While it’s always nice to see others implementing the familiar “redneck” décor that abounds here in the South where I’m from, like tire and toilet bowl planters, I was certainly taken aback by such lively additions as the toaster, file cabinet and grill creatively used to house different types of plants.

clevelandbot2Kitchen Garden
clevelandbot3Woodland Garden

The Kitchen Garden was filled with every food lover’s dream plant for cooking galore. Here we also got to explore various types of gardens like the Butterfly Garden, Shade Garden and Rain Garden among others. All magnificent and inspiring – every gardener’s paradise come true, or anyone that enjoys nature. And, of course, what could be more natural than a stroll through the winding Woodland Garden. The various trees, shrubs and other plants scattered throughout instantly carries one away from all the chaotic stresses of everyday life, if only for a little while, but long enough to take it all in, savoring every last bit like that first cup of morning brew.

The entire experience was almost like a journey back in time, and as many of my ancestors had once lived in this area, I imagined how it would have looked much the same to them as they, too, peered up through the towering tree canopies or followed along the exact rippling stream as we did all these years later. And if that wasn’t peaceful enough, the tranquil waterfalls, wildflowers and hostas throughout the garden made the landscape come alive with natural beauty. Even the chipmunks seemed to approve as they popped in and out of every nook and cranny imaginable, and the birds chimed in as well with soothing songs all their own.

The endless number of plants found tucked throughout the Perennial Border left me wanting even more, as I tried to mentally keep tabs on all the different varieties to add in my own garden back home – my wish list is still growing. The Restorative Garden is everything it says it is and more. Trust me when I say you will definitely come out of this place feeling relaxed. Onward through the gardens you enter the Japanese Garden and past this the Sunken Garden, both of which leave you just as serene – mind, body and soul all coming together as one. This is certainly my kind of meditation spot.
clevelandbot4Japanese Garden

Circling back toward the entrance once again, and passing the Terrace filled with a myriad of plantings and reflecting pool decorated with aquatic flora, like water lilies and papyrus, we entered the Glasshouse. And it doesn’t get more exotic than this. Here you’ll find a faraway world full of butterflies, reptiles, birds and unusual plants (another love of mine) of the Madagascar desert and Costa Rica rainforest. This is definitely the place to go for anything “otherworldly” and beautiful.

I must admit much of my time was spent snapping tons of pictures (over 300 but who’s counting – many of these will be shared via our Instagram page). While I’ve visited many a garden in my day, I have to say that this one had a little bit of everything for everyone, young and old. The garden is open year round (closed on Mondays) and is free to members, and children under three. Cost for adults is $11 and kids 3-12 can visit for $6. If you’re anywhere in the Cleveland area, this Garden is certainly worth a visit and will definitely delight all the senses along your journey.

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