Green Oases and Botanical Gardens in the Ohio Area

Botanical Gardens, Arboretums, and Green Sites to Visit in Springtime

a lush green ohio botanical garden


Chenoa Baker


Jan 21, 2021

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Hero Image courtesy of Metroparks Toledo.

Put a Spring in Your Step by Visiting Botanical Gardens

The saying goes “April showers bring May flowers.” With the onslaught of all that is going on in the world this year, botanical gardens provide a much-needed oasis. Oases provide a pause, a breath of fresh air, and break up the monotony of everyday life. In Ohio, there are plenty of arboretums and botanical gardens to enjoy. The lush green space is a great way to engage with nature and heal yourself in the process. 

We have carefully illustrated the many reasons to attend botanical gardens in springtime and some of the local favorites in each area of Ohio:

  • Healing Benefits of Botanical Gardens and Arboretums
  • Northern Ohio Lush Greenery
  • Central Ohio Nature Destinations
  • Southern Ohio Garden Sites
Red, yellow, and white tulips close up.
You'll love to walk among the tulips at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, OH, one of our favorite botanical gardens Image courtesy of Experience Columbus.

Benefits of Botanical Gardens

Ohio Gardens Can Provide Mental and Physical Healing!

There are many benefits of going to a botanical garden, such as its positive impact on your mental health and encouraging urge to practice sustainability . Horticulture therapy anyone?  Many patrons of botanical gardens call them their “own personal edens,” places of spiritual recluse, and a place where they “become centered.” In the healing atmosphere of botanical gardens, one becomes bio-introspective which means that they become aware of their surroundings and are more likely to adopt sustainable practices.

The healing power of nature helps patrons through individual and collective trauma. If you would like a quiet time of meditation in the botanical gardens in Ohio or a casual stroll with friends, it does the trick of providing beauty in hard times. 

In the case study at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, they found that forest walks caused production of white blood cells. Additionally, in the UK, they discovered that runs or walks in nature decreases mental-physical tension in the body [Case Study+]. Garden programming and individualized walks are proven to help depression, anxiety, PTSD, and physical ailments.

The treehouse component of Beech Creek Botanical Garden. This a fun edition to the gardens that kids will love to play on.
Have great family fun at the Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio. Image courtesy of Northeast Ohio Family Fun.

Ohio’s Botanical Gardens


Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Reserve

Spring represents a time of rebirth when plants bloom and it shows hope in the regeneration of nature. Enjoy that special time at the Beech Creek Nature Reserve in Stark County, Ohio. The Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Reserve is known for its butterfly garden and summer activities, but some of the spring activities that are available are the many nature playgrounds, hiking trails, and a wildlife observation deck. 

This inexpensive and a gem of a location, as it is rather hidden. This is a favorite of the locals to go for family-friendly fun. Some of the fun workshops that a visitor may experience is guided hikes, bird displays, critters eating, and Art in Bloom.

If the treehouse-looking location does not already exude fun to you, I am not sure what does. From the unique workshops to the full use of the land through programming, this is a great place to take the family to enjoy the ambience of nature in the spring (a visitor even says that it is 95% stroller friendly).

Cleveland Botanical Garden

The Cleveland Botanical Garden is located in the Circle neighborhood of Cleveland. This garden is known for its variety of trees and its work saving the trees in Cleveland. They are a part of The Cleveland Tree Plan, as supported by Cleveland’s Office of Sustainability, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, LAND Studio, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and The Holden Arboretum aims to preserve the biodiversity of trees in the area. This plan includes the storing of rainwater, education of why trees are important, and a reminder of the health benefits of trees.

If you are a tree-hugger, a dendrology expert, care about sustainable activism, or want to learn about trees this place is for you.

Many gardens make up the Cleveland Botanical Garden and each place celebrates the plants and trees from all around the world. The following are a list of gardens that are for strolling, events, instagramable pictures, and for children to play in:

  • Hershey Children’s Garden
  • Inspiration Gardens
  • Japanese Garden
  • Katherine Philipp Geiz Terrace
  • Mary Ann Sears Sweet Rose Garden
  • Paula and David Swetland Topiary Garden
  • Western Reserve Herb Society Herb Garden
  • Woodland Garden

Gardenview Horticultural Park

This sixteen-acre Strongsville, Ohio park is meditative and has many rare plants that seem to engulf you--in the best way possible. It is smaller compared to the large botanical gardens on this list and is more of an intimate setting to experience nature. It started as a professional gardener's land and became incorporated as a public park. In this suburb, Henry Ross, a World War II veteran and horticultural student planted this garden.  The scenery looks like it was taken out of a George Hetzel landscape painting. 

Go down one of the paths or use this place as a great place for taking pictures because this was named in 2016 by CBS Cleveland as of the best places to see flowers in the springtime. See the 2,500 species of unique trees or 500 flowering crabapple varieties.

Toledo Botanical Garden Metropark

Roses are red, violets are blue, if you like flowers, this is the place for you. With the Mattise-like landscape and opulent gardens, visitors know this visceral location as the “museum for plants”. The floral delights to indulge in this spring season at the Toledo Botanical Garden Metropark are fritillaries, lenten roses, daffodils, hyacinths, and virginia bluebells. You do not want to miss this. The assemblage of gardens, jazz performers in the start of the summertime, and the annual Crosby Festival of the Arts makes experiencing the Toledo Botanical Garden a truly special experience.

Zoar Gardens

Zoar Gardens emerged as a community-based historical preservation project. That really distinguishes these gardens compared to some of the other botanical gardens on this list. These gardens are based on gardens that the town settlers in 1817 established. Zoar inhabitants help to maintain them and honor the historical heritage of the area. Locals even use this location as a popular place for prom and senior photos.

Since Zoar gardens are in a historical German area, one may see horse-drawn carriages, German-inspired food, and craft festivals around Christmas time to show the culture and historical ethnic enclave that this garden represents within the community.

This depicts the Palm House, the historic Victorian era greenhouse. Its many windows and pointed roof architecture makes this an attraction.
The Franklin Park Conservatory entices all visitors because of its historic garden origins and educational programming. Image courtesy of Franklin Park Observatory.


Franklin Park Conservatory

This is one of the most well-known botanical gardens in the Columbus area and the state in general. What makes this conservatory unique is that it is adjacent to the 1895 John F. Wolfe Palm House and its amount of glass architecture and art. The roots of this conservatory are in the Victorian-era City Beautiful Movement, which transformed urban settings into having public parks and gardens for everyone to enjoy. The Palm House is the oldest part of the conservatory, which has 43 endangered or threatened species on view. 

Within its 83,000 square feet of glasshouses and the Chihuly collection, there is a lot of glass beauty that is stunning. This place merges the beauty of nature and glass-making together in a beautiful way. The vibrant and plant-shaped glass installations add to the calming aura of the conservatory. After these artworks were installed in 2003, attendance continues to increase. People who believe in the intersection of art and nature would truly love this artwork.

Franklin Park Conservatory attracts all ages with nature-themed exhibitions, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden, and educational programming. They have many classes, community outreach, lessons on plant stewardship, camps, school programs, and Girl Scout-related activities. 

Even during COVID-19, the conservatory found a way to virtually bring the beauty of outdoors in the home. Staff members talk about their favorite plants, there are virtual exhibitions, classes to take from home, and virtual tours. One way to take advantage of the virtual material is to align it with a homeschool or virtual public school lesson for kids. The horticultural educational programming available showcases some concepts that are compatible with common core standards. Therefore, it is an extra incentive to use these virtual materials because in all actuality, they are educational and informative.

Northern Ohio resident Abigail Kneuss, who currently is a sophomore in college, raves about attending this Columbus favorite. She says,“it's amazing, their butterfly exhibit is always really fun.” This truly is a testament to the value that the conservatory has for all ages.

Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum

If you find yourself in Clintonville, Columbus, Ohio, this arboretum is a great place to visit. It is a pause in the urban environment of Columbus. While this excursion is not as formal as some of the other botanical gardens and arboretums on this list, it lends to a self-guided walk in historic Clintonville.

The signage of native trees and maps will guide you along the path of a beautiful ravine positioned next to the Olentangy River. There are many reasons to get to know the ecological surroundings in Columbus. In this dendrologist’s playground (that is a tree expert), there are many species that when you breathe out they inhale your carbon exhalations, these trees collect rainwater for the surrounding area, and reduce run-off. These trees do a service to all and it is only fair to get to know these do-gooders in your area.

Elaborate butterfly garden with a path of lush greenery and butterfly sculptures.
Enjoy the exotic butterflies at Krohn Conservatory butterfly garden in Cincinnati, Ohio. Image courtesy of Cincinnati Parks.


Krohn Conservatory

Transport yourself to the beautiful location of Bali. Are you there in your mind? Krohn Conservatory plans to bring this lush vacation destination to Ohio through their Butterflies of Bali show with Balinese art decorations. Bali has over 350 types of butterflies and Krohn Observatory will showcase some of these diverse varieties.

Besides elaborate butterfly displays, Krohn Conservatory possess Art Deco architectural wonders and 3,500 species of plants. Observe, enjoy, and cherish the landscapes of the desert, tropical rainforests, woodland forests, and savannahs. Not a “daisy” will go by that you will not think about this lush paradise after visiting.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

This Cincinnati staple offers a smorgasbord of multisensory experiences for all visitors. There will be lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! This Zoo and botanical gardens offers a full view of nature by showing the symbiotic relationships that animals and plants cultivate. 

Not only are the relationships between plants and animals important, but the human stewardship of these resources is important, as well. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden promotes agroecological and sustainable practices. Right before your eyes the process of photosynthesis, pollination of plants by honeybees, and the rebirth of new animal babies takes place. One example of how visitors engage in sustainable ideas is through buying zoo brand plants to grow at home. These seedlings are an effort to get people to participate in the pollinator challenge to honor the pollinators of the world

Additionally, the wide variety of gardens encourage green-thinking. Notable gardens include the conifer gardens, edible and aquaponics gardens that showcase new sustainable technologies, endangered species garden that encourages contemplating the future of preserving plant life, rain garden, pollinator garden that showcases the work of the pollinators we often forget, green roof, and green garden that operates on renewable sources of energy

Even during the season of COVID, the Zoo brings videos of animal babies and animals to welcome into your Zoom video. If you are not convinced to go to this zoo and botanical garden by these words, then what in the “carnation” do you lose by this experience?

Learn More About Ohio Magical Botanical Gardens

Remember the hope that you have as reflected in nature. Nature regenerates the body, mind, soul, and spirit in some incredible ways. Choose to take an ecological adventure to enjoy these benefits. Tell us your favorite botanical garden and how it has affected your Ohio springtime experience.

May 20, 2020
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