Creating a Life of Plenty

A Magical Place

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If you are fortunate enough to live in Columbus, many of you probably already know about it, but for those readers who don’t it will be new. If you visit the central Ohio area, a visit the Franklin Park Conservatory should definitely be on your itinerary!
On Memorial Day (observed), We decided to take a break in the afternoon from our garden and yard chores to visit FPC and be inspired by the truly magical place. I am in heaven everytime I walk through those doors because I know I will find inspiration, knowledge and a visually stunning experience that changes everytime I go.
We were fortunate enough to catch the last few days of a botanically ispired art exhibit. Partners in Life and Art, an exhibition featuring the work of artists Paul and Amy Hamilton, transformed the Conservatory’s Atrium gallery into a showcase of Amy’s sculptural headpieces and Paul’s still life paintings.
Paul is well known for his exquisite landscape paintings that depict the outdoors, free from contemporary landmarks. A devoted plein air painter, his work reveals his obvious delight in nature. Made with great skill and sensitivity, his representational paintings capture space, light, and atmosphere, inviting the viewer to experience an environment quite removed from the gallery wall. This exhibit continues until Sunday May 31st, so if you have a moment, check it out!
Next, we turned our attention to the outdoor grounds. I am always thrilled with the pereneal and annual plantings at Franklin Park. The formal hedges and the scattered plantings always provide a unique juxtaposition that I find thrilling.
One of the reasons for our visit was to check out the community garden space. Community gardening is catching fire in central Ohio and around the nation. Urban dwellers without proper space to have a plot garden can rent or in some instances use for free, plots of dedicated land to grow vegetables for their tables.
Franklin Park participates in Community gardening through a partnership with the Metro Parks, Scotts Miracle Gro and other sponsors to provide land and education for community gardening. This is a passion of mine so I was thrilled to check it out and bring back pictures for the blog. Check out the photo album of our visit on facebook here
There are so many benefits to Community gardening. Statistics and studies show that community gardening:
· Encourages self-sufficiency
· Contributes to the education and socialization of youth
· Creates opportunities for multicultural understanding
· Provides ecological awareness
· Fosters intergenerational opportunities
· Improves family nutrition and increases community food security
· Promotes biodiversity
· Meets social and recreational needs
· Offers gardening opportunities to people with disabilities
· Provides vocational training and work experiences
· Enhances neighborhood safety and beauty
· Builds coalitions among groups dedicated to community revitalization

Community gardens began to develop in the United States in the late 1930s and 40s. Families were asked by the federal government to plant their own community, or “victory”, gardens during and following World War II. Since the start of victory gardens, community gardens have developed into a fun, inexpensive, and healthy way for people to grow their own produce and flowers.Today, an estimated 18,000 community gardens operate in both rural and urban areas nationwide. While many grow for their families and neighbors, many gardens also donate to local food pantries and homeless shelters.Take a look at some Central Ohio Community Gardens.
For more information about community gardening please contact:

Franklin Park Conservatory
Attn: Bill Dawson,
Growing to Green Coordinator,
1777 East Broad Street,
Columbus Ohio 43203
614.645.5952

We also stopped by the last day or so of the Iris judging beds to see the new varieties of Irises. We have several in our yard, but we are looking at diversifying the colors so this was a great inspirational stop. We talked with the caretaker of the temporary bed and she explained the differences in each Iris, some growing and transplanting tips that were invaluable.

We always tour the permanent collections at the conservatory as well. The Conservatory houses 400 species of plants from a variety of global climate zones and features the historic John F. Wolfe Palm House where more than 45 species of palms are represented amongst more than 120 individual specimens. I love the different climates that are reproduced within the conservatory and all of the great information on native plants, growing habits and environmental information. I learn something new every time I go.
The Conservatory has fun and information for people of all ages and all knowledge levels. Check out the Palm House artisitic light installation and the gift shop for more fun! For more information on Franklin Park Conservatory, vist http://www.fpconservatory.org/

Happy Gardening!

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