My wife decided the only way she could stop me from working on my birthday was to separate me from my computer. We headed west to Columbus Sunday morning for a 30 hour whirlwind trip that was highlighted by a stop at the Franklin Park Conservatory & Chihuly Collection in Columbus.
This place is a bargain at $11 for adults, it took us at least three hours to see the place and I could of stayed for most of the day. It's a wonderful day trip and a must for any gardener.
Let's start with the Dale Chihuly glass. The collection at the conservatory is spectacular. The pieces in the photo above were brilliantly displayed as a skylight on top of a dark walk through. Whoever thought of showing the glass this way is a genius, truly breathtaking.
There were amazing peices at every turn and it was showcased in a way that made the glass fit with the plants.
I always enjoy when there are trial gardens on display for the public, lots of new varieties to check out. One of the standouts was a petunia from Ball called 'Phantom.'
It's black with a cool looking yellow star pattern. Another plant that caught my eye was zinnia 'Double Zahara Fire,' from PanAmerican Seed. I love doubles and this one looked fine after being baked in the sun all summer, no powdery mildew either.
The gardens at Franklin Park Conservatory are incredible, both inside and out. If you go, be sure to get over to the Community Garden Campus. It's about a five minute walk from the conservatory and I would have missed it without a recommendation from the person who runs the gift shop. It's a couple acres of wonderful gardens, compost area, rose garden, herb garden, handicapped accessible garden and more.
At the gift shop, there was a little glass room filled with discount merchandise. Of course, I could resist and since it was my birthday I was walking out of here with something nice. I got two 'Lady in Red' ferns at half price ($6) in one gallon pots and two really nice pots that I haggled down to below half price.
But the best birthday present might be coming. At the conservatory's Hot Shop, you can watch artists blow glass. Bryan Fumo made a beautiful orange and white vase for a crowd of onlookers. So up at the gift shop I wondered if I could buy what he made. The glass has to sit for 24 hours after being blown, so as long as it turns out, they'll sell me the vase. I think it's cool to get something made on my birthday.
I can't wait for another excuse to visit these gardens again. I'm just scratching the surface in the description. A visit to Franklin Park Conservatory is an inspirational treat for any gardener.