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Show #21/1608
Five Rivers Metro Parks


Wegerzyn Gardens
THE GUYS FIRST VISIT WEGERZYN GARDENS, one of the horticultural parks that make up Five Rivers Metro Parks. Chris thinks of Wegerzyn as, perhaps, the leftovers of a grand estate. The house fell down and they inherited the gardens. It is a big garden that in 1900 would have been strictly formal, everything clipped in tight. They still have a lot of clipped in tight but have loosened the boundaries at the same time. The beds are full, they're opulent and they spill out onto the pads and make it a lot more fun and a lot more interesting. And it's a lot less maintenance and something anybody, regardless of the size of their yard, could do.

Click here for more info

Arbor Garden
THE ARBOR GARDEN IS NEXT VISITED. What's noteworthy here is this used to be nothing but Roses, Hybrid T's, the usual. But it was in a ditch, the whole garden is low, in fact, it's the lowest point of the garden. Thus black spot was an awful problem. Chris made the determination to take the Roses out and do a big mixed border. They do have Roses in here but they're hardier, tougher and disease resistant sorts that provide a good show, but without the problems. The mixed border has evergreens, perennials, annuals and bulbs. In fact, they have just about everything in this garden. The Lillum, Lilies are stunning, they even stun Chris and he planted them. Lilies today are so vigorous and strong.

Click here for more info

The Garden Green
Next visited is THE GARDEN GREEN and it has an interesting story. An architect came through and mentioned the big panel of lawn which was fairly dull looking and too wide for its length. There was no sense of vista. Thus he put in an allay of trees which was intended to provide a real sense of focus. And it definitely works. The trees draw ones eye to the end. The problem is they planted with Ash trees and if they mature they'll be too big for the space. The other problem is that the Emerald Ash Borer is in Ohio so they will probably lose the tress one of these days regardless. So, they're going to take them out and replace them with a tall upright, narrow growing tree - a Cypress called Shawnee Brave, Taxodium distichum 'Shawnee Brave.'

Click here for more info

Shade Area
The next area is a "SHADE AREA" which is appropriate because we receive a lot of questions on our web site about plants ideal for shade. Chris, too, receives a lot of questions about what to do with shade. This garden was planted in 1 day about 9 years ago. They went for as much color as was possible and there are a lot of things that can grow in shade that are wonderful, interesting plants. There is much more than just texture and green. For example, Helleborus will start blooming in February and they have Tricyrtis that blooms up until frost. And they have many plants that bloom in between, plants like Toad Lilies that bloom in late fall.

Click here for more info

Period Gardens
THE PERIOD GARDENS at Wegerzyn are beautiful. They look first at the Federal Garden, one of three. People can see what historic gardens look like and then get ideas for their own home gardens. This type garden would work well in the back of an apartment or condominium, even a large lot. It doesn't matter the size, this would work. Just change the size depending on your available space. The topiaries are interesting. They're Boxwood hedges which would be typical of the period. The arches are European Beech which is trained over a metal framework and is something one could try at home. Because of their size pruning them is a task but otherwise fairly easy. Richard questions if every gardener could train the trees into an arch. It is a job, but it works. The next garden has an English feel, thus they call it the English Garden. It is based on the English arch, which to Chris, is a feature one would find in many English gardens.

Click here for more info

Children's Garden
The ROOF GARDEN IS SPECTACULAR. It has many unusual plants to make it interesting for kids and adults as well. Water is an important factor in this garden. Kids love the waterfall and the stream. They play there all day long. And they love feeding the fish and looking at the Water Lilies. They have an area where kids can water with little watering cans. And they really gravitate to that feature. The little water pump gets a work out. It's all designed to get children involved.

Click here for more info

Aullwood Gardens
Chris and Richard change locations, going across town to AULLWOOD GARDENS. This was Marie Aull's garden her entire life. She died here several years ago, at the age of 106. This was her life's work. What sums up this garden for Chris is the sign on the front lawn that says - "This is a place where nothing ever happens." To Chris that means that this garden is virtually identical to what it was 33 years ago when he first came through the gate. Oh, it may have lost a few trees or things may have changed a little but it always stays the same - green, peaceful and serene. It's a wonderful place. In fact, Chris remembers the first day he came here. He parked on the street, came in off the road, walked across the lawn which is pretty in itself, followed the path along the stream and came around to the Sycamore area that is like a cathedral. It has big tall Sycamores with no branches till 60 feet up and the beauty is just incredible. The behemoth behind them is the Aullwood Sycamore, an incredible tree. It's huge and it's guessed it was a sapling when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, in 1492.

Click here for more info

Cox Arboretum
The guys are off to COX ARBORETUM. Richard can tell from the drive they're in a different part of town. They're in suburbia. This park has open grass areas, big trees and water. It's a beautiful place. Cox Arboretum has been a favorite of Chris' for many years. The newest addition to the Cox landscape is the Samuel Mayman Edible Landscape Garden. It replaces a garden that was here before but quite frankly, Chris can't remember what it looked like. But it didn't look like this. This is a wonderful improvement. He likes the open lawn space. One comes through the gate and sees a garden that runs in a full oval. Then upon further inspection you notice it's full of wonderful edible plants and they look great together. It shows one doesn't need to plant flowers or vegetables in a straight row to get a beautiful effect.

Click here for more info

Riverscape
The guys are off again. This time they're visiting RIVERSCAPE. Previously this park was called Van Cleave Park. It was a bunch of evergreens, a few other trees and a lot of grass. It was totally underused and had no real purpose except it was a mowing site. There was a little monument at one end and a little monument at the other end. They've both been removed, moved elsewhere, thus have been saved. It came to the attention of someone that it would be nice to turn this into something else, so the whole idea of a park along the length of the street and river got started. With the cooperation and financial help of several entities in the Dayton area, this is what was accomplished. This park now has summer, even winter appeal and is now used a lot during the day, and into the evening. It's a very long, linear park. There is a central place for a fountain which is used extensively by the kids and dogs. At either end are benches that are under the shade of trees. It's a great place to eat your lunch, read a book, chat with your girlfriend, whatever. It's a marvelous park. It's also used for big events.

Click here for more info

 

LINKS:

Garden Smart Plant List

Holiday Inn - Dayton Mall

Five Rivers Metro Parks

Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark

Aullwood Garden MetroPark

Cox Arboretum MetroPark

RiverScape MetroPark

Wagner Subaru


Complete transcript of the show.

21/1608.
Dayton, Ohio is very special. It's past and present is filled with inventors and innovators and there is nothing more innovative than Five Rivers Metro Parks.

Most are familiar with the Heartland farmers and know they've been feeding the nation for years. But important products have been manufactured here as well. The area is going through significant change but it's still a wonderful place to live and to visit. Jackie Powell is the President and CEO of the Dayton Montgomery County Visitors Bureau and provides some history of the area.

This is the home of Wilbur and Orville Wright so Dayton has a great aviation heritage. They feel it's the birthplace of aviation as well as representing the future of aerospace technology. Dayton is located at the crossroads of I-70 and I-75 and home to Wright Patterson Air Force Base. As well, Dayton is home to a national park, the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park and the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Dayton hosts many wonderful cultural events and activities and is home to the Dayton Art Institute. Jackie feels it's a wonderful place to live and visit.

Since we're a gardening show Richard wants to know more about the gardens in the area. Jackie feels a visitor to Dayton can, of course, see beautiful gardens at private homes. But, in addition, the Olmstead brothers developed several parks in the community, interesting parks include Hills & Dales Metro Park, Old River Park and Huffman Flying Field. Five Rivers Metro Parks is a crown jewel. It encompasses over 15,000 acres and is beautiful any time of year. Chris Jensen is a great tour guide and plants-person. Richard thanks Jackie and is off to meet Chris.

Chris feels that Dayton is remarkable for its number of parks. The one he is most proud of is Five Rivers Metro Parks which was started in 1963 and is truly magnificent in size and beauty. As mentioned it encompasses 15,000 acres and 25 facilities. It was a citizen's initiative to save green space in the Dayton area that started the whole thing, a lot of that space is along the rivers. Chris will show us four of the horticultural parks today.

Chris has been gardening his whole life, ever since he was a teenager. Somehow he got himself into retail and the display world in retail specifically which from a design standpoint was lots of fun and creative. He finally loosened the reigns and moved away from that area and started doing garden design work for individuals. When Five Rivers had an opening at Wegerzyn Gardens he jumped at the opportunity. Chris has no formal horticultural training but has lots of experience. He likes to say that if he had a nickel for every plant he's killed over the years he could be in Paris right now having lunch. Richard feels the school of hard knocks is an important one for gardeners.

THE GUYS FIRST VISIT WEGERZYN GARDENS, one of the horticultural parks that make up Five Rivers Metro Parks. Chris thinks of Wegerzyn as, perhaps, the leftovers of a grand estate. The house fell down and they inherited the gardens. It is a big garden that in 1900 would have been strictly formal, everything clipped in tight. They still have a lot of clipped in tight but have loosened the boundaries at the same time. The beds are full, they're opulent and they spill out onto the pads and make it a lot more fun and a lot more interesting. And it's a lot less maintenance and something anybody, regardless of the size of their yard, could do. And that is something they strive to do here - give people ideas on what they can do at home.
Top

THE ARBOR GARDEN IS NEXT VISITED. What's noteworthy here is this used to be nothing but Roses, Hybrid T's, the usual. But it was in a ditch, the whole garden is low, in fact, it's the lowest point of the garden. Thus black spot was an awful problem. Chris made the determination to take the Roses out and do a big mixed border. They do have Roses in here but they're hardier, tougher and disease resistant sorts that provide a good show, but without the problems. The mixed border has evergreens, perennials, annuals and bulbs. In fact, they have just about everything in this garden. The Lillum, Lilies are stunning, they even stun Chris and he planted them. Lilies today are so vigorous and strong. These stand, some of them, up to 7 feet tall, they have dozens of blooms and a wonderful fragrance. They're a plant every gardener should grow at home. Someone told Chris they were too big for their yard, that they had a tiny yard. Chris feels they should put them in anyway, why pass up the opportunity? Plus they have a great fragrance, they're terrific. The Acanthus Bear's breeches are another wonderful plant. It can be a little aggressive and here is taking over more space than initially anticipated but architecturally it's a beautiful plant. It has great foliage and the flowers are something else. But if you brush against them it could be painful, they're spiny, you could come away bleeding. The Cone Flower is a hardy native. This one is Cone Flower Echinacea purpurea 'Razzmatazz.' Chris thinks it looks like the queen Mother's hat and she's going out on a parade. The past few years they've come out with a lot of new cultivars of hardy Cone Flowers that are anything but pink, they now are available in orange, yellow and many other colors. Plus they're fragrant. It's a hardy American native plant that is well worth growing.
Top

Next visited is THE GARDEN GREEN and it has an interesting story. An architect came through and mentioned the big panel of lawn which was fairly dull looking and too wide for its length. There was no sense of vista. Thus he put in an allay of trees which was intended to provide a real sense of focus. And it definitely works. The trees draw ones eye to the end. The problem is they planted with Ash trees and if they mature they'll be too big for the space. The other problem is that the Emerald Ash Borer is in Ohio so they will probably lose the tress one of these days regardless. So, they're going to take them out and replace them with a tall upright, narrow growing tree - a Cypress called Shawnee Brave, Taxodium distichum 'Shawnee Brave.' It should provide that sense of vista and maintain the correct height. It makes sense to replace the Ash trees otherwise to spray for the Borer would be expensive and a spray program would be environmentally unfriendly. It's just easier to start with the right plant.
Top

The next area is a "SHADE AREA" which is appropriate because we receive a lot of questions on our web site about plants ideal for shade. Chris, too, receives a lot of questions about what to do with shade. This garden was planted in 1 day about 9 years ago. They went for as much color as was possible and there are a lot of things that can grow in shade that are wonderful, interesting plants. There is much more than just texture and green. For example, Helleborus will start blooming in February and they have Tricyrtis that blooms up until frost. And they have many plants that bloom in between, plants like Toad Lilies that bloom in late fall.

Richard likes the tree choices. The Cornus kousa is phenomenal. One of its most exciting features is that in the fall it provides a whole other bonus color wheel because it turns pink. The white parts turn pink. It's dramatic and interesting. To feed the plants they use compost and nothing but organic fertilizers and a little bit of mulch. They've been using strictly organic fertilizers for several years and it's made a difference.
Top

THE PERIOD GARDENS at Wegerzyn are beautiful. They look first at the Federal Garden, one of three. People can see what historic gardens look like and then get ideas for their own home gardens. This type garden would work well in the back of an apartment or condominium, even a large lot. It doesn't matter the size, this would work. Just change the size depending on your available space. The topiaries are interesting. They're Boxwood hedges which would be typical of the period. The arches are European Beech which is trained over a metal framework and is something one could try at home. Because of their size pruning them is a task but otherwise fairly easy. Richard questions if every gardener could train the trees into an arch. It is a job, but it works. The next garden has an English feel, thus they call it the English Garden. It is based on the English arch, which to Chris, is a feature one would find in many English gardens. This garden started out as an herb garden with plants mentioned by Shakespeare but was a little messy for a formal space. They then changed it largely to perennials but didn't get a good enough season of color flow with perennials so have now changed it to an annual garden. For several years they've changed the theme. This year it's a white and green scheme. They did a black and silver several years ago, next year it might be pink and orange. Who knows?

Richard thinks it's a great choice of annuals but they appear to be leaning a bit. These gardens are on the east side of the garden, shaded by the swamp wood forest and they only get full sun after about mid-day. So the beds tend to lean. They removed some branches of an Oak tree so the gardens would get more light and the bed is already doing better than last year.

This bed has some great looking annuals but also some natives. The two bench arbors have a different native Wisteria on them. Most don't know there are native Wisterias. They're familiar with the Japanese and the Chinese which will eat your house in 5 years. These are vigorous but not to that degree and they're native and quite lovely. They're very nice plants, more sustainable and much more environmentally friendly.

The Victorian Garden is beautiful. But, what makes it a Victorian garden? The reproduction benches are one important part. The star in the center, planted out with bedding plants, is another important aspect. Plus the borders circle the oval sidewalk. And they have victorian plants, like the Cleome. It is a great choice and recedes, as well. The Ageratum, found in the star, is another good plant. The evergreens provide a Victorian feel, a nice dark feeling, especially in the shade. The Victorians loved shrubberies and they've done their best to get that idea across.

This garden is in the sun, but on the other side that garden in more in the shade. The plants look similar but the plants there love the sun. This garden, too, is sunny only for the full afternoon so they need to utilize appropriate plants.

Richard feels one of the most important things we can do as responsible citizens is to give our kids a love of nature and an appreciation of gardening. And they have certainly done that in their Children's Garden. The entrance gate is welcoming, very inviting for kids. Chris is pleased that a friend commissioned the gate for the garden. He tells visitors that this iron gate is the best way to grow Equisetum because it's terribly invasive in the garden. This area is named after Chris, which makes it doubly impressive.
Top

THE ROOF GARDEN IS SPECTACULAR. It has many unusual plants to make it interesting for kids and adults as well. Water is an important factor in this garden. Kids love the waterfall and the stream. They play there all day long. And they love feeding the fish and looking at the Water Lilies. They have an area where kids can water with little watering cans. And they really gravitate to that feature. The little water pump gets a work out. It's all designed to get children involved.

There are a lot of miniature spaces, a lot of small spaces for kids to enjoy. They keep the areas small so kids will feel comfortable and not overwhelmed. The area impacts all senses - hearing, smell, touch, taste, sight, everything.

They have children's garden clubs in the summer. The kids actually plant their own plants. They get down on their hands and knees to plant and to harvest their own crops. They find that a really interesting experience. Richard calls this edutainment because there is a lot of learning going on, but it's in a fun setting.
Top

Chris and Richard change locations, going across town to AULLWOOD GARDENS. This was Marie Aull's garden her entire life. She died here several years ago, at the age of 106. This was her life's work. What sums up this garden for Chris is the sign on the front lawn that says - "This is a place where nothing ever happens." To Chris that means that this garden is virtually identical to what it was 33 years ago when he first came through the gate. Oh, it may have lost a few trees or things may have changed a little but it always stays the same - green, peaceful and serene. It's a wonderful place. In fact, Chris remembers the first day he came here. He parked on the street, came in off the road, walked across the lawn which is pretty in itself, followed the path along the stream and came around to the Sycamore area that is like a cathedral. It has big tall Sycamores with no branches till 60 feet up and the beauty is just incredible. The behemoth behind them is the Aullwood Sycamore, an incredible tree. It's huge and it's guessed it was a sapling when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, in 1492. It is certainly one of the bigger old grove forest trees left in the area. This space, to Richard, says that a natural garden, a woodland garden, can be just as attractive, just as beautiful as a garden that's well planned, then planted.
Top

The guys are off to COX ARBORETUM. Richard can tell from the drive they're in a different part of town. They're in suburbia. This park has open grass areas, big trees and water. It's a beautiful place. Cox Arboretum has been a favorite of Chris' for many years. The newest addition to the Cox landscape is the Samuel Mayman Edible Landscape Garden. It replaces a garden that was here before but quite frankly, Chris can't remember what it looked like. But it didn't look like this. This is a wonderful improvement. He likes the open lawn space. One comes through the gate and sees a garden that runs in a full oval. Then upon further inspection you notice it's full of wonderful edible plants and they look great together. It shows one doesn't need to plant flowers or vegetables in a straight row to get a beautiful effect. Importantly, the whole design can be made much more compact for the average gardener if they don't have this much space. It's pretty and productive.
Top

The guys are off again. This time they're visiting RIVERSCAPE. Previously this park was called Van Cleave Park. It was a bunch of evergreens, a few other trees and a lot of grass. It was totally underused and had no real purpose except it was a mowing site. There was a little monument at one end and a little monument at the other end. They've both been removed, moved elsewhere, thus have been saved. It came to the attention of someone that it would be nice to turn this into something else, so the whole idea of a park along the length of the street and river got started. With the cooperation and financial help of several entities in the Dayton area, this is what was accomplished. This park now has summer, even winter appeal and is now used a lot during the day, and into the evening. It's a very long, linear park. There is a central place for a fountain which is used extensively by the kids and dogs. At either end are benches that are under the shade of trees. It's a great place to eat your lunch, read a book, chat with your girlfriend, whatever. It's a marvelous park. It's also used for big events. They can have 50,000 people downtown to use this park for concerts, etc. And remember, this was a space that never was used by anyone in years past.

Interestingly, people are careful not to abuse the park. They are respectful of the whole park. Chris has been here when there was a huge crowd, still everyone did their best not to step into a bed. He thinks it's because people come here and like what they see. They see plants they've never seen before and appreciate that fact. They think of it as their own. It's like - Why make a mess of this? Everyone is wonderful about it.

The plants are unusual. One that draws a lot of questions is the Brookmansia with its big hanging yellow flowers. It's on a sort of monthly cycle, they get very big and at night smell wonderful and people really notice them. They also have plants that offer great fall color. All the tropicals are incredible. The tropicals provide a relaxed, informal feeling and they go well with the water. Chris likes to provide people a show. They could put in Zinnias but these are so much more fun. They're dramatic.

Chris offers some gardening advice. He feels everyone should follow their bliss, their gut. Do what they want to do, whether in their garden or in life. He knew he wanted to do this work when he was 16 and it took him until he was 50 to get started. It shows one can start something like this any time in your life. It's been great for Chris. He loves it. And it might be the same for others.

Chris' passion for gardening shows. And the gardens have been outstanding. Thanks Chris. We hope many in our audience will have the opportunity to visit Five Rivers Metro Parks. We've learned a lot.
Top

LINKS:

Garden Smart Plant List

Holiday Inn - Dayton Mall

Five Rivers Metro Parks

Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark

Aullwood Garden MetroPark

Cox Arboretum MetroPark

RiverScape MetroPark

Wagner Subaru

 
FEATURED ARTICLE
GardenSMART Featured Article
AAS GREAT PEPPERS FOR 2017

By All-America Selections, Photos courtesy of AAS

Peppers, whether hot or sweet, are a popular vegetable to grow in home gardens. Continuing our series of great new plant introductions from All-America Selections, these are some of the winners in the "Edible/Vegetable category." Here are the new peppers that made the cut. Read more...


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