- Connie Post Staff Writer
The Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture at Cox Arboretum MetroPark opening Wednesday supports Five Rivers MetroParks’ mission of protecting the area’s natural heritage and inspiring visitors to connect with nature, said Eric Sauer, park planning manager for Five Rivers MetroParks.
Here are 5 things you need to know about the new center.
1. THE CENTER SUPPORTS PRESERVATION.
One of the center's goals is to fight a decline in the tree population due to climate change and invasive species including the emerald ash borer, as well as preserving wildflowers that have been displaced or threatened due to development and other factors.
“We have a group of volunteers who actually go out and rescue wildflowers,” said Russell Edgington, the regional park manager of Cox Arboretum, Sugarcreek, and Hills and Dales MetroParks. “Let’s say there’s a new department store or strip mall going in and as part of the process, a forest is going to be eliminated. Our volunteers will make arrangements to go out and actually dig up and rescue the wildflowers, bring them back here to Cox Arboretum and the Center for Sustainable Horticulture where they’re propagated, and eventually they’ll find their ways into reforestation projects here at MetroParks.”
Volunteers also collect nuts and seeds of native trees species. Eventually, like the rescued wildflowers, they’ll be planted in the MetroParks.
2. VISITORS CAN SEE PRESERVATION FIRST-HAND.
While these conservation efforts have been ongoing, the Center for Sustainable Horticulture now offers visitors the chance to experience some of the processes.
They’ll find tree seedlings at different stages of growth. Also, they will see examples of “integrating native plants and materials into their urban environments,” Edgington said.
3. THE OLD GREENHOUSE WAS 'RECYCLED' INTO NEW CENTER.
The Center sits on the site of the old greenhouse complex. The complex that was over 40 years old was deconstructed to its bones and “recycled” into a modern, energy-efficient building with new greenhouse glass, Sauer explained.
Features include a stormwater harvesting system that will be used to re-water all of the trees and wildflowers with rainwater, plus a permeable paver pathway.
The hope is that visitors will be able to learn how to take these basic principles found at the Center and adapt them for practical application in their own homes, Sauer said.
4. THE NEW CENTER COMBINES EDUCATION AND NATURE PLAY.
Combined with the paths, tree tower, ponds and other amenities at the MetroPark, this will be a destination for both education and to experience nature’s beauty, Sauer said.
“Visitors will have the opportunity to come and see how native plants and sustainability can come together in a beautiful package,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
5. THE CENTER WAS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH $1M DONATION
A $1 million donation to the James M. Cox., Jr. Arboretum Foundation in 2007 made the new center possible. The facility is named after Barbara Cox, the younger daughter of Gov. James M. Cox. Along with her sister, Anne Cox Chambers, and brother, James M. Cox., Jr., Cox inherited Cox Enterprises, which includes the Dayton Daily News, WHIO and Dayton.com.
Barbara Cox died in 2007 and the gift to Cox Arboretum was specified in her estate.
“The Cox family is dedicated to solving environmental issues. This horticulture center will undoubtedly support our local community’s efforts toward sustainability and conservation. It will also be a beautiful place for Miami Valley residents to visit and explore,” said Julia Wallace, Vice President of Cox Media Group Ohio.