Columbus may be a city, but it’s also full of green space, parks, and beautiful gardens. The seasons in Ohio lend to stunning and ever-changing displays at these beautiful public gardens in Columbus. Some of the gardens and arboretums that we’ve included are also free, so pack a picnic, bring your camera, and explore the best gardens in Columbus year-round. Get inspiration for your own garden (#gardengoals), or just enjoy the beautiful surroudings and fresh air.
Whether you consider yourself a gardener or just like pretty things, you can’t deny that plants and flowers beautify any landscape and home. Plant sales are a great way to purchase plants, flowers, and trees, as they are typically well-priced and the varieties that are native to the local area. While most plant sales in person, there are also several local online options with local pickups – scroll down to see upcoming plant sales (typically held in Spring) and other garden events.
The Most Stunning Public Gardens in Columbus
Columbus Park of Roses
Created in 1953, Columbus Park of Roses has grown to include over 12,000 roses of more than 400 varieties. There are also herb and perennial gardens and display beds of annual plantings. The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department owns and maintains the park. While there are plenty of gardens to enjoy from Spring – Fall, peak Rose season is late May through Summer, with a second bloom in September in the Formal Rose Garden.
Visit: The park is free to all visitors and open every day from dawn to dusk. It is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. 3901 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214 See details here.
The unique park features an extensive showcase of topiaries, lake, colorful gardens, and mature trees. The park also hosts events through the year, including concerts and movies after dark. Topiary Park is located behind the Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Branch.
Visit: The park is free. They offer free self-guided tours and tree walk, and guided group tours for donation. The The Gatehouse & Visitors’ Center is open seasonally, see website. 480 East Town Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215
Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks
Central Ohio is home to an amazing Metro Park system with nearly unlimited free activities and events. The system of parks is truly a gem in our community. Metro Parks features 19 outstanding natural area parks with more than 230 miles of trails and over 27,700 acres of land in seven Central Ohio counties.
There are gardens all throughout the Metro Parks, with Inniswood Metro Gardens being the most notable for beautiful garden areas. You’ll also find nature centers, natural play areas, picnic shelters, bird watching areas, and more. See the whole system of parks and trails at the website.
Visits: Visits to the parks are free, and parks are generally open from dawn to dusk. See program search to find events and activities held in the parks.
Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens
The Arboretum & Learning Gardens include and extensive plant collection and are examples of annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs, both native and non-native, for the central Ohio climate. The plants and the intensely landscaped gardens are the focus for urban design and environmental studies.
The gardens feature colorful displays during the growing season, and year round beauty with fall color and snow-covered landscape in the winter. Other attractions include the Green Roof on Howlett Hall, a Chartres-style Labyrinth, 3.5 acre catch/release lake, bird watching, Solar House, Bloch Cancer Survivors’ Plaza, as well as the extensive native trees, flowers, and plant collections.
Visit: Visiting the garden is free; Pay-n-Display parking available in the surrounding parking lots (parking rules are strict on campus, with towing vultures lurking around every corner). 152 Howlett Hall, 2001 Fyffe Court, Columbus, OH 43210. See details here.
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
There’s so much to see at Franklin Park Conservatory! With multiple indoor and outdoor gardens, unique art exhibits, and even a Children’s Garden and Play Area, you want to the whole day there, whether its good weather or bad. The Blooms and Butterflies exhibit from Spring through Summer is a major attraction for both locals and visitors.
Don’t count them out for the colder months, as they also showcase fall exhibitions, holiday themed displays and Christmas lights, as well as Orchids Utopia through the dreary winter season. They also offer tons of classes and workshops, fitness, family activities, and more throughout the weekend and evenings.
Visits: Open from 10 am – 5 pm daily, with workshops and special events in the evenings. Admission is between $12-$19, with various membership options. The first Sunday of each month is Community Day where the Conservatory is free for residents of Franklin County and the City of Columbus (with valid ID). You may also qualify for a discount through other affiliated membership programs with local attractions and other gardens. 1777 E. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43203 See details here.
Dawes Arboretum in Newark
Located about 30 minutes east of Columbus, Dawes Arboretum features 2,000 acres with 12 miles of trails, an informative Auto Tour, Japanese Garden, lakes, or take in breathtaking views from the Observation Tower, and over 15,000 living plants. There’s also an indoor and comfortable bird-watching sitting area, and children’s exploration area in the basement of the visitor center.
Visits: The Arboretum has long been a free and public destination founded in 1929 by Beman and Bertie Dawes and left in trust for future generations to enjoy, but they have announced that they will start charging admission of $5-$10 per person in Spring of 2019 (exact date tba, so check the website for admission details before you go). There are membership options, and they plan to host free “public” days throughout the year for special events. 7770 Jacksontown Rd. SE, Newark, Ohio 43056. See details here.
The Biological Sciences Greenhouse at The Ohio State University
The Conservatory houses plants native to tropical and desert environments. The collection has an estimated 1200 specimens representing over 100 plant families from around the world, including some specimens rarely found in cultivation and endangered species. There are flowers and fruits year-round and a vast diversity of foliage shapes, sizes and colors. Carnivorous plants, ferns, orchids and bromeliads are specialty collecions with the Conservatory collection.
The Insectary rears approximately 130 species of insects and arthropods for instructional and research purposes, including tarantulas, walking sticks, and giant hissing cockroaches.
Adjacent to the Biological Sciences Greenhouse facility are the Jennings Courtyard and the Aronoff Bioswale. These outdoor areas are planted with Ohio native species are under the care of the greenhouse staff.
Visits: Small groups and individuals can join scheduled tour groups, and self-guided tours are available to schedule for the greenhouse but not The Insectary. 332 W. 12th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210 See details here.
Garden events and Plant Sales in Columbus
Once Spring rolls around (for real), there are plant sales held all over Columbus, including some right before Easter and Mother’s Day – perfect timing for gift-giving. Need some ideas of plants and landscape design? Check out the list of upcoming plant sales and public garden events.
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