Northern Ohio road trip: Schoepfle Gardens

When Matt and I are looking for something to do, we often search for botanical gardens in the area. There’s no better way to get inspiration for my own garden than to check out what the pros do. The other day, I ran across Schoepfle Gardens, a 70 acre park that is part of the Lorain County Metro Parks system.

The founder, Otto Schoepfle, sounds like my kind of guy. He had a passion for continued learning throughout his life and according to the information on the Metro Parks site, he went to Europe several times to learn about new plants and then came home to apply what he had learned in his garden.

I imagine Otto as a great lover of nature and this statue of him conveys that perfectly. Look closely to the left and you can see a butterfly flitting above the flowers. It’s as if his outstretched hand is summoning the butterflies and woodland creatures to him.

Otto Schoepfle

Yellow swallowtail on marigolds

Otto lived and worked on the grounds from 1936 until his death in 1992. That’s 56 years of hard work, sweat and dedication. He set up a trust and donated the acreage to the Lorain County Metro Parks in 1969 but he continued to live in the family home, located on the grounds, until his death.

Schoepfle Gardens - Formal Path

Schoepfle Gardens

One of the most impressive specimens on the property is the Dawn Redwood tree.

Schoepfle Gardens redwood tree

According to the placard, the Dawn Redwood was once thought to be extinct. It was rediscovered in China in the 1940s. Otto went to China and brought back two seeds. This tree is from one of those seeds.

Over the years, Otto received help from volunteers in the community and he loved working with local children. In 2007, a music themed children’s garden was added along with a carousel. The horses and animals were refurbished by local artists and are stunning.

Schoepfle Gardens - Carousel

Restored Carousel

 If you live in Ohio and love nature and gardening, Schoepfle Gardens is a must see. If you don’t live near by, you can take a virtual tour, narrated by legendary Cleveland newscaster Leon Bibb, here.

Want to read more about the history of the Dawn Redwood? There’s a short yet fascinating story here courtesy of the good people at dawnredwood.org.

Know of any must see botanical gardens in your own state? Share the website in the comments below. I’m always looking for new inspiration!

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