Identify plants, walk labyrinth at learning gardens on OSU’s main campus

The Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens on the Ohio State University campus is a neat, little place to take the kids for quick lesson on plant identification or just to snap a cute picture in front of some colorful flowers.

The arboretum offers an ever-changing showcase of annuals, perennials and shrubs on a 60-acre patch of land in front of Howlett Hall at 2001 Fyffe Ct. in Columbus. Its mission is to provide an environment to advance the knowledge of students in their horticultural studies and to be a resource for learning about plants for the campus community and general public.

The site also contains a labyrinth for contemplative walking. It was modeled after the famous 11-circuit Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth in France that was built nearly 800 years ago. The circular design is especially good for winding down a toddler before her nap. The arboretum is free and open to the public year-round. Check the Web site for special events such as the annual fall plant sale.

For more information, visit

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Stop and smell the roses at Whetstone’s beloved flower garden

Before I got married, I lived in a little apartment across the street from the Columbus Park of Roses. My back yard was a parking lot, so I regularly visited the park, 3923 N. High St., as if it were my own elegant back yard.

The Park of Roses is aptly named. It contains more than 11,000 rose bushes neatly arranged on 13 acres. It also includes an herb garden, water fountain and gazebo, where band concerts are held on Sunday evenings through August. The romantic scene makes it a popular choice for weddings, especially when the roses are in peak bloom from mid-June through mid-September.

I now like to visit the park with my husband and two children. It’s a splendid place to unwind while watching our daughter dart from rose bush to rose bush, taking in the sweet scent of each blossom.

The Park of Roses, which opened in 1953 and is operated by the Columbus Department of Recreation and Parks, is free and open daily from dusk to dawn.

For more information, visit

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Take a banana-split bike trip through Ohio this fall

Growing up in northern Ohio, one of my favorite things to do was ride my bike to get ice cream. I’d often travel two miles from Medina to a general store called Weymouth Pantry, where I’d buy an orange Push-Up for a quarter. Then, I’d sit and eat the frozen treat by the peaceful Rocky River.

As an adult, I still like to go for bike rides, and I still like to eat ice cream.

“Bikers really like ice cream,” said Dan Young, chief ice-cream dipper at Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs. His business is located near the Little Miami Scenic Trail, an old railroad turned recreational trail that extends 69 miles from Springfield to Milford. Young says he serves about 1,000 bicyclists each week.

Thanks to the Rails-To-Trails project, there are plenty of easy bike routes that wind throughout Ohio’s countryside. Fall is a great time to discover the trails, whether you’re a biker, hiker or roller blader. Many are paved and wheelchair accessible.

One way to soak up some scenery and end the summer with a cherry on top is to take what I call a Banana Split Trip. Pick a bike path, ride it a good distance, then treat yourself to ice cream.

Here are three of my favorites:

Kokosing Gap Trail

Where: Mount Vernon to Danville
Distance: 28 miles, round trip
Trailhead: Well-marked parking lot on Lower Gambier Road in Mount Vernon
Features: Gambier Bridge; a 1940 locomotive and a 1924 caboose in Gambier; and a park with playground equipment in Howard
More information:
Commentary: This paved trail on a former Pennsylvania Railroad line is secluded with an abundance of wildlife, including chipmunks, deer and the occasional long-tailed weasel. The trail follows the Kokosing River, through woods and past family farms. There are plenty of park benches and ample bathroom facilities along the way.
Cool treat: Kent’s Ice Cream Station, 115 Newark Rd., Mount Vernon. Nostalgic ice-cream parlor with ’50s memorabilia and a nice selection of retro candy. Deluxe Banana Split served the traditional way with chocolate, strawberry and vanilla hand-dipped ice cream. Call 740-392-3477 for hours.

Little Miami Scenic Trail

Where: Yellow Springs to Xenia
Distance: 19.62 miles, round trip
Trailhead: Community Center, 100 Dayton St., Yellow Springs
Features: Bohemian town of Yellow Springs; Yellow Springs Train Station; and Xenia Station
More information:
Commentary: What makes this portion of the Little Miami Scenic Trail especially charming is the town of Yellow Springs, known for its unique shops and restaurants.
Cool treat: Young’s Jersey Dairy, 6880 Springfield-Xenia Rd., Yellow Springs. Farm and restaurant located on 120 acres.
King Kong Split is made with five scoops of homemade ice cream and topped with fresh whipped cream, a cherry and two animal crackers. Call 937-325-0629 for hours.

Holmes County Trail

Where: Millersburg to Fredericksburg
Distance: 20 miles, round trip
Trailhead: Hipp Station, 1 Trail Dr., Millersburg
Features: Trail is half paved for cyclists and half unpaved for Amish buggies.
More information:
Commentary: Clip-clop, clip-clop is the sound you’ll hear while riding on this magical trail leading past rows of towering cottonwood trees and Amish farms.
Cool treat: Catalpa Trading Company & Old-Fashioned Soda Fountain, Berlin.
Listen to jukebox music and enjoy a banana split served in a glass dish upon a marble-topped bar. Call 330-893-3752 for hours.

For more info: For a free map of Ohio’s bikeways, call the Ohio Department of Transportation at 614-752-4685 or visit

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Fun to be found around Easton Town Center’s fountain

Children love to play in outdoor water fountains during the summer heat. Central Ohio has several public fountains where kids can cool off, but only one that offers major shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities.

Many people regard Easton Town Center as the preeminent shopping destination in Ohio, in large part because its developers have tried to attract families. A good example is a playful fountain near the Brio Tuscan Grille and Cheesecake Factory restaurants.

The popular attraction has several water jets that shoot up from the ground in pre-programmed synchronization. Children donning bathing suits jump and play while parents relax on the sidelines in the shade where concrete benches align two sides of the space known as Town Square.

The square also contains a grass lawn where you’ll find beach balls, ice cream vendors and an outdoor train exhibit. The cement walk adjacent to Townsfair Way contains a family chalk-drawing area where kids can pick up a fat stick of chalk and create colorful artwork, then wash themselves off in the fountain.

Town Square is a great place for Easton visitors to take a break from shopping, although it’s not a good idea to leave kids there unsupervised. Traffic flows steadily around the square.

Easton also offers:

• More than 130 stores, including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Tiffany & Co.

• Dozens of restaurants offering just about everything you need to please your palate.

• Several nice hotels, including the Columbus Hilton, one of the top-grossing hotels in the region.

And if the weather suits your fancy, be sure to dip your toes in the fountain.

For more information, visit

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Art in Public Places driving tour helps demystify Dublin’s unique sculptures.

Driving tour helps demystify Dublin’s unique sculptures

The first time I stepped inside Watch House in Dublin’s Coffman Park, I ran out terrified.

It was evening, and I could have sworn I just saw a dead cat hanging from inside the structure’s copper-domed roof. I later reasoned that the black blob I saw on the ceiling was probably a colony of bats, finding the small house set atop a circular earth mound the perfect home. Whatever it was, I didn’t quite understand this thing called public art.

Recently, while taking the Dublin Arts Council’s Art in Public Places tour, I finally understood.

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The self-guided driving tour consists of nearly two dozen installations commissioned by the city of Dublin and the Dublin Arts Council. A pamphlet containing a map and descriptions of each sculpture on the tour is available at the Dublin Arts Center, 7125 Riverside Dr. – or click here for an online map and details about a cell-phone tour.

As part of the tour I re-entered Watch House at 5600 Post Rd. To my surprise, I discovered that there really is a cat mounted on the planetarium-like ceiling. There’s also a curled-up dog. Both figures are cast in bronze and located alongside dozens of other familiar shapes, such as eating utensils and pieces of fruit all cut out of the roof.

The tour helped me see Dublin’s public artwork as less spooky and more unique. The city’s arts council developed its Art in Public Places program in 1988 to enhance the quality of life for Dublin residents as well as to establish a public art tour throughout the city. The tour reinforces the importance that art plays in the community and also demystifies some of Dublin’s more unusual public art installations such as Watch House.

Other installations include Field of Corn, 109 human-sized ears of concrete corn at the corner of Frantz and Rings roads; Leatherlips, a 12-foot-high limestone portrait of an Ohio Indian chief in Scioto Park; and Going, Going…Gone! a bronze sculpture that marks the passage of time through the imagery of baseball at Darree Fields.

Learn more at

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