Gorgeous gardens: 6 sites to find beauty, inspiration and bliss

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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The Grotto Gardens at the VA Medical Center were originally designed by Civil War veterans.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Looking for ways to get back to nature?

Lush green spaces, landscaped acreage and historic grotto hideaways are inviting places to find natural inspiration.

As the weather warms up here’s a look at six area gardens worth a visit:

Smith Memorial Gardens

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It’s tulip time at Smith Memorial Gardens in Oakwood. The garden, located on less than an acre at the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Walnut Lane, is alive with colorful spring blooms. The landscape has an assortment of plants that attract butterflies and birds while a small garden house and pond adds to the picturesque scene. LISA POWELL / STAFF

It’s tulip time at Smith Memorial Gardens in Oakwood. The garden, located on less than an acre at the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Walnut Lane, is alive with colorful spring blooms. The landscape has an assortment of plants that attract butterflies and birds while a small garden house and pond adds to the picturesque scene. LISA POWELL / STAFF

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It’s tulip time at Smith Memorial Gardens in Oakwood. The garden, located on less than an acre at the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Walnut Lane, is alive with colorful spring blooms. The landscape has an assortment of plants that attract butterflies and birds while a small garden house and pond adds to the picturesque scene. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Smith Memorial Gardens is an oasis tucked away at the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Walnut Lane in Oakwood.

In the 1930s, property owners Carlton and Jeanette Smith planted the gardens on less than an acre of land. Today it is a secluded spot to admire plants and flowers and listen to water flowing through a rocky stream.

The landscape has an assortment of plants that attract butterflies and birds, and a small garden house and pond adds to the picturesque scene.

Wegerzyn Gardens

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Blooming plants and trees at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in Dayton create a frame of color around Sarah Hibner of Dayton and her one-year-old daughter Isabelle as they take a walk through the park Monday. According to Storm Center 7 meteorologist Rich Wirdzek the next couple of days will be in the high 70's. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

Blooming plants and trees at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in Dayton create a frame of color around Sarah Hibner of Dayton and her one-year-old daughter Isabelle as they take a walk through the park Monday. According to Storm Center 7 meteorologist Rich Wirdzek the next couple of days will be in the high 70's.  LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

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Blooming plants and trees at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in Dayton create a frame of color around Sarah Hibner of Dayton and her one-year-old daughter Isabelle as they take a walk through the park Monday. According to Storm Center 7 meteorologist Rich Wirdzek the next couple of days will be in the high 70's. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Five Rivers MetroParks has created wonderful gardens throughout the region, and Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark, 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave. in Dayton, is one of the highlights.

The formal gardens are made up of brick pathways, sculpted shrubs and stylized planting beds.

Within the park, the Children’s Discovery Garden is a whimsical spot for children to discover the joy of plants. The Swamp Forest the Marie Aull Nature Trail are natural wonders.

Cox Arboretum

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Spring flowers bloom at Cox Arboretum MetroPark. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

Spring flowers bloom at Cox Arboretum MetroPark.  LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

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Spring flowers bloom at Cox Arboretum MetroPark. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Looking for gardening inspiration? Cox Arboretum MetroPark, 6733 Springboro Pike, is not to miss.

A variety of perennials can be found planted along stone walls, and rock and water gardens create harmony.

“Conservation Corner,” is seven acres of the park reserved as a “living library” to highlight restoration and land stewardship. Shrublands, wetlands and tall grass prairies are integrated in the space.

Aullwood Garden

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Tens of thousands of Virginia bluebells are bursting into bloom at Aullwood Garden MetroPark. The spring perennials are the progeny of 250 plants originally purchased by Marie and John Aull. Marie Aull was considered the godmother of environmental movement in southwestern Ohio, according to Five Rivers MetroParks. She donated her garden retreat in the late 1970s for the public to enjoy. The 35-acre park, 955 Aullwood Rd., flowers most of the seasons of the year. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Tens of thousands of Virginia bluebells are bursting into bloom at Aullwood Garden MetroPark. The spring perennials are the progeny of 250 plants originally purchased by Marie and John Aull. Marie Aull was considered the godmother of environmental movement in southwestern Ohio, according to Five Rivers MetroParks. She donated her garden retreat in the late 1970s for the public to enjoy. The 35-acre park, 955 Aullwood Rd., flowers most of the seasons of the year. LISA POWELL / STAFF

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Tens of thousands of Virginia bluebells are bursting into bloom at Aullwood Garden MetroPark. The spring perennials are the progeny of 250 plants originally purchased by Marie and John Aull. Marie Aull was considered the godmother of environmental movement in southwestern Ohio, according to Five Rivers MetroParks. She donated her garden retreat in the late 1970s for the public to enjoy. The 35-acre park, 955 Aullwood Rd., flowers most of the seasons of the year. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Marie Aull was the "godmother" of the environmental movement in southwestern Ohio, according to Five Rivers MetroParks.

She and her husband John created their own private garden retreat groomed with plants and wildflowers.

Aullwood Garden, 955 Aullwood Road, is a 31-acre park is filled with with native and exotic flowers, a prairie, woods and creek.

ExploreHurry to see Dayton’s Aullwood Garden’s gorgeous bluebells in full bloom

Hartman Rock Garden

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Hartman Rock Garden. Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen

Credit: HANDOUT

Hartman Rock Garden. Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen

Credit: HANDOUT

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Hartman Rock Garden. Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

Want to visit a different kind of garden? A trip to Hartman Rock Garden, 1905 Russell Ave. in Springfield, will fill the bill.

Harry George “Ben” Hartman began building the rock garden in 1932. He used more than 250,000 stones to create more than 50 structures and figurines. After he died, his wife Mary maintained the garden, calling it “a garden of love.”

The site, one of the nation’s most revered works of “in situ” folk art, according to the Hartman Rock Garden website, was restored in 2008.

Grotto Gardens

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“The year was 1868 shortly after the Civil War, when Frank Mundt became the florist and gardener of the Dayton Soldiers Home,” writes Robert Kincses, trustee of the American Veterans Heritage Center, in his 2013 report tracing the history of the gardens and the current project. ” A veteran who was originally from Germany, he along with the Home architect Mr. Davis and Mrs. Elizabeth Rohrer of Germantown, began the development of the Grotto and gardens in what was then the limestone quarry area.” LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

“The year was 1868 shortly after the Civil War, when Frank Mundt became the florist and gardener of the Dayton Soldiers Home,” writes Robert Kincses, trustee of the American Veterans Heritage Center, in his 2013 report tracing the history of the gardens and the current project. ” A veteran who was originally from Germany, he along with the Home architect Mr. Davis and Mrs. Elizabeth Rohrer of Germantown, began the development of the Grotto and gardens in what was then the limestone quarry area.”  LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

Combined ShapeCaption
“The year was 1868 shortly after the Civil War, when Frank Mundt became the florist and gardener of the Dayton Soldiers Home,” writes Robert Kincses, trustee of the American Veterans Heritage Center, in his 2013 report tracing the history of the gardens and the current project. ” A veteran who was originally from Germany, he along with the Home architect Mr. Davis and Mrs. Elizabeth Rohrer of Germantown, began the development of the Grotto and gardens in what was then the limestone quarry area.” LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

The Grotto Gardens, located at South Gettysburg and Tennessee Avenues, at the VA Medical Center, were originally designed by Civil War veterans.

By 1900, the veterans had created 25 acres of ornate gardens and limestone buildings that drew hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the country each year.

Today, after a restoration program began in 2012, the historic gardens with a natural spring and boathouse are once again a sanctuary.

ExploreCivil War veterans built this stunning grotto that is a must for any to-visit list

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