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Ohio Life

Clary Gardens, Coshocton

Founded in 1907, this spot invites little ones and their parents to learn about and be inspired by the natural world.

Although the temperature hovers at 50 degrees, the students gathered at Clary Gardens in Coshocton are clearly thinking spring. With the help of their parents, 60 preschoolers are keeping their eyes peeled for trillium, trout lily and other wildflowers poking through the moist soil at this time of year in the Children’s Garden.

A dozen teen volunteers from a local high school are planting milkweed seeds that will germinate to become the primary food source and habitat for monarch butterflies. Twenty fourth-graders are ankle-deep in the creek, learning how to identify salamanders, damselflies and crawfish.

“Our hope is that those who visit here become stewards [of the environment], whether it’s using less water in the shower or making it a lifelong habit to recycle plastics,” says Jandi Adams, Clary Gardens executive director.

The seeds of the 20-acre green space took root in 1907 when local florist Elizabeth Clary sought a way to memorialize her late husband Lawrence by purchasing the property that would become Clary Gardens. Over the years, geraniums, weeping redbud and yellow magnolia trees, 30 varieties of roses and tulips were added to the space, which was dedicated as a botanical garden in 2001. The Children’s Garden, which opened in 2017, features wooden balance beams, beanpole tipis and a crawl-through canvas tunnel resembling a caterpillar.

“Our goal was to provide a shaded space where families could linger and kids could play,” Adams says.

Open year-round, Clary Gardens offers more than 20 classes designed for ages 3 through high school. Subjects range from “The Art of Composting ” to the popular “Garden Zombies,” which explores the life of mind-controlling, parasitic insects.

On Earth Day, April 22, Clary Gardens will launch The Universe of Plants, a yearlong celebration of the ecological relationships between living organisms and their surroundings. The day features a wildflower hike and a class on how to identify invasive plants and effective ways for tending backyard gardens.

“Our hope is that visitors leave knowing it’s never too early to develop a deep understanding of the environment and a respect for our Earth,” Adams says. 

588 W. Chestnut St., Coshocton 43812, 740/622-6524, clarygardens.org

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