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Road trip to Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus

Written by Doug Oster on .

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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.

chihuly2There 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.'

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

vase

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.

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