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Cultural Gardens are Rare Treasure

On May 7, the Westlake Garden Club sponsored a bus tour of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.  Forty-five attendees enjoyed a wonderfully planned day and Mother Nature contributed sunshine and warm weather.  Below is an excerpt from an article that Regina McCarthy wrote for the Westlake Bay Village Observer. 


Located in Rockefeller Park, a 254-acre expanse of land John D. Rockefeller donated to the city in 1896, the first garden was created in 1916 as a tribute to William Shakespeare.  Ten years later, the Hebrew Garden became the first “culture” garden and the Shakespeare Garden was renamed the British Garden.  Following the Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided funding for 13 new gardens.

Currently there are 29 established gardens, with more in the planning stages.  Each garden displays its ethnic culture in its own way.  Some use interpretations of architecture and garden design principles from that country, while others contain statues, busts and plaques honoring that country’s poets, composers, philosophers, writers and artists.

Of particular interest was what appeared to be a relatively unremarkable slope of grass and trees; but we learned the soil underneath was brought to Cleveland from 40 separate countries and mixed together to symbolize a mutual understanding across cultures.  Another was column shaft from the Roman Forum topped with a bust of the poet Virgil in the Italian Garden.

Following lunch in Little Italy, we visited the historic Rockefeller Greenhouse, established in 1905, situated on four acres of land at the park’s northeast corner.  Tulips and irises were blooming outside, with ferns and exotic plants inside.  Rockefeller Park includes two separate entries on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places: one for its architecturally historic bridges, and one for its Cultural Gardens.  I recommend taking the time to visit the only gardens of its kind in the world.

Westlake Garden Club Plants a Tree for Arbor Day

Members of the garden club, Mayor Clough and City Hall officials were present on Friday, April 26 at Founders' Walk at Clague Park for the planting of a tree to celebrate Arbor Day. The garden club has been involved in helping Westlake maintain the honor of being a Tree City for over 20 years. This year a concolor fir was planted on the north side of the Founders' Walk to mirror the one planted on the south side last year. Kathy Molner once again presided over the ceremony with Mayor Clough. The garden club thanks Cahoon Nursery for once again donating the tree. Mother Nature cooperated by providing a sunny, mild day for the ceremony. Mayor Clough presented a proclamation to Kathy proclaiming the day as Arbor Day 2013 in Westlake. See the Photo Gallery for pictures of the tree planting.

March Meeting at Lee Burneson Middle School

Our March 20 meeting at Lee Burneson Middle School was both informative and well organized by Principal Paul Wilson.  Principal Wilson was a wonderful host and his enthusiasm, and that of teachers Kurt Thonnings and Judy McMasters, was infectious as they spoke about their students and their plans for both a teaching and a rain garden.  Kurt, who is the proud winner of the County‑wide Gardens That Teach Challenge, surprised us by advising he was able to parlay our donated hoop house with the hoop house he won in the Challenge, to a still larger one.  We were also surprised by a visit from Superintendent Dr. Daniel Keenan, who had good things to say about our Club.  He joined us as we viewed our donated hoop house, which Kurt and the students had set up.  Don Bowman was our guide as we toured the vivarium, which has grown significantly since our last visit.  Don has accomplished taking that space from a desert-like area to the lush garden it is today – and saving it from the wrecking ball, as Superintendent Keenan announced.  Congratulations, Don!  We all enjoyed your Easter decorations among the plants.  (See Photo Gallery for photos from the meeting)


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