2012 APGA Conference Host Gardens

by Char Steelman


The many garden paths in central Ohio lead to a variety of impressive and exceptional public gardens. Serving as a principal location for horticulture education and research, as well as a distinctive setting for a wide variety of public gardens, the Columbus area promises to deliver. In addition to being unique and well entrenched in the history of their respective communities, your host gardens for the 2012 APGA conference are nationally recognized.


Just about thirty-five miles east of Columbus are the beautiful and immaculate collections of The Dawes Arboretum. Truly a path well taken! Around every bend a stunning new sight emerges. Over eight miles of hiking trails and a four-mile auto tour help guide you through plant collections, gardens, and natural areas. 

A Japanese Garden, a Conifer Glen, flowering trees and shrubs, Dawes Lake, Dutch Fork Wetlands, and beautiful vistas are just a few of the highlights you’ll discover.

Founded in 1929 by Beman and Bertie Dawes, The Arboretum was inspired by the couple’s love of trees and nature. Today the staff and trustees remain dedicated to increasing visitors' love and knowledge of trees, history and the natural world through beautiful grounds and educational programs held throughout the year.

Encompassing over eighteen hundred acres, The Arboretum has over sixteen thousand recorded plants, forty-five hundred of which are unique names and several make up collections that are included in the North American Plant Collections Consortium (NAPCC).


Follow a path back to Columbus and just a few miles from the center of town, discover Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Built in 1895, this botanical landmark is a premier horticultural and educational institution of exotic plant collections, special exhibitions, and a signature collection of work by glass artist Dale Chihuly. Set within eighty-eight acres of Franklin Park and surrounded by botanical gardens, the Conservatory houses four hundred species of plants from a variety of global climate zones and features a Victorian Palm House.

The Conservatory serves as a venue showcasing national and international artists, and annual exhibits. Be sure to visit the on-site glassblowing studio Hot Shop. And don’t leave too early; evening brings a luminous aura to the Conservatory featuring the dramatic lighting design of James Turrell.

Additionally the Conservatory serves as the national headquarters for the American Community Gardening Association. The program Growing to Green is Columbus' largest organized effort to promote and provide free community resources for community gardening and city beautification. Visit the gardens and become inspired. 

Don’t miss taking in this Columbus landmark. A dynamic and multifaceted institution, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a unique and popular destination for visitors of all ages.


Take the garden path a short distance north of the conference hotel to The Ohio State University (OSU) Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens, a sixty-acre green reserve on the OSU campus within an urban setting. Experience the colorful Learning Gardens, a horticultural learning lab made up of an ever-changing showcase of perennials, annuals, wildflowers, roses, grasses, bulbs, bamboo, and tropical plants. Relax in the Lane Avenue Gardens, a phenology research garden, which includes a hosta collection, an assortment of evergreens, deciduous trees and shrubs, and a Chartres-style labyrinth. 

The Arboretum North houses over one thousand native Ohio trees and shrubs, including the nation’s largest willow tree collection; prairie plants; and a four-acre research lake—truly a place of serenity. For more than two decades, the arboretum at OSU has been a laboratory for learning, a retreat for community sharing, and a place for respite.


Your 2012 APGA hosts, OSU Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and The Dawes Arboretum, are outstanding representatives of the APGA membership, proud to share their magnificent public spaces with you. With so many choices, which garden path will you take? Choose the path that leads straight to Columbus, and seize the opportunity to see for yourself why central Ohio is regarded as a top destination for horticulture and public gardening. See you this summer in the Buckeye state!