Gorgeous gardens: 6 sites to find beauty, inspiration and bliss

Looking for ways to get back to nature?

Lush green spaces, landscaped acreage and historic grotto hideaways are inviting places to find natural inspiration.

Here’s a look at six area gardens worth a visit:

Smith Gardens

Smith Gardens in Oakwood was planted in the 1930s by property owners, Carlton and Jeanette Smith, with the intent of having continuous bloom. It is now an Oakwood city park, and the city's horticulturist coordinates its upkeep. In April 1996, Ohio Magazine called Smith Gardens the "finest tiny public garden in Ohio. It's like a secret treasure on an ordinary side street." Staff photo by Jim Witmer
Photo: Jim Witmer

Smith Gardens is an oasis tucked away at the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Walnut Lane in Oakwood. 

In the 1930s, property owners Carlton and Jeanette Smith planted the gardens on less than an acre of land. Today it is a secluded spot to admire plants and flowers and listen to water flowing through a rocky stream. 

The landscape has an assortment of plants that attract butterflies and birds, and a small garden house and pond adds to the picturesque scene. 

More information on Smith Gardens.

Wegerzyn Gardens

Blooming plants and trees at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in Dayton create a frame of color around Sarah Hibner of Dayton and her one-year-old daughter Isabelle as they take a walk through the park Monday. According to Storm Center 7 meteorologist Rich Wirdzek the next couple of days will be in the high 70's. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Photo: Lisa Powell

Five Rivers MetroParks has created wonderful gardens throughout the region, and Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark is one of the highlights. 

The formal gardens are made up of brick pathways, sculpted shrubs and stylized planting beds. 

» RELATED: 7 things you need to try at Five Rivers MetroParks this spring

Within the park, the Children’s Discovery Garden is a whimsical spot for children to discover the joy of plants. The Swamp Forest the Marie Aull Nature Trail are natural wonders. 

More information on Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark

Cox Arboretum

Deb Harris of Washington Township takes a walk through blooming daffodils at Cox Arboretum. There will be plenty of opportunity to get outside during the next few days. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 60s most of the week. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Photo: Lisa Powell

Looking for gardening inspiration? Cox Arboretum MetroPark is not to miss. 

A variety of perennials can be found planted along stone walls, and rock and water gardens create harmony. 

“Conservation Corner,” is seven acres of the park reserved as a “living library” to highlight restoration and land stewardship. Shrublands, wetlands and tall grass prairies are integrated in the space. 

More information on Cox Arboretum MetroPark

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Aullwood Garden

The sound of water through out the gardens provides tranquility at Aullwood Gardens Metro Park in Englewood.Staff Photo by Teesha McClam
Photo: Teesha McClam

Marie  Aull was the “godmother” of the environmental movement in southwestern Ohio, according to Five Rivers MetroParks.

She and her husband John created their own private garden retreat groomed with plants and wildflowers.

The 31-acre park is filled with with native and exotic flowers, a prairie, woods and creek.

For more information on Aullwood Garden

Hartman Rock Garden

Hartman Rock Garden. Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen

Want to visit a different kind of garden? A trip to Hartman Rock Garden in Springfield will fill the bill. 

Harry George “Ben” Hartman began building the rock garden in 1932. He used more than 250,000 stones to create more than 50 structures and figurines. After he died, his wife Mary maintained the garden, calling it “a garden of love.” 

The site, one of the nation’s most revered works of “in situ” folk art, according to the Hartman Rock Garden website, was restored in 2008. 

More information on Hartman Rock Garden

Grotto Gardens

“The year was 1868 shortly after the Civil War, when Frank Mundt became the florist and gardener of the Dayton Soldiers Home,” writes Robert Kincses, trustee of the American Veterans Heritage Center, in his 2013 report tracing the history of the gardens and the current project. ” A veteran who was originally from Germany, he along with the Home architect Mr. Davis and Mrs. Elizabeth Rohrer of Germantown, began the development of the Grotto and gardens in what was then the limestone quarry area.” LISA POWELL / STAFF
Photo: Lisa Powell

» RELATED: Stunning grotto built by Dayton war veterans

» RELATED: How a friend in the statehouse and Civil War veterans built the 150-year-old Dayton VA

The Grotto Gardens at the VA Medical Center were originally designed by Civil War veterans. 

By 1900, the veterans had created 25 acres of ornate gardens and limestone buildings that drew hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the country each year. 

Today, after a restoration program began in 2012, the historic gardens with a natural spring and boathouse are once again a sanctuary.

More information on the Dayton VA Grotto Gardens

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