It was a blustery overcast Saturday morning, but we decided anyway to drive up to Westerville, Ohio to visit Inniswood Metro Gardens. We bundled up the children, got out the large stroller, and in no way were we prepared for what awaited us at the park! As we pulled into the park, we were greeted with large red Cannas that flanked the retaining walls standing guard at the entrance. When we approached the parking lot, we noticed the park was abound with various new plantings; there especially was the increased presence of mums in splashes of autumn color that took our breath away. We walked through an archway entrance, and just beyond it were flower beds on either side flanked by tall exotic looking plants. We stopped a minute to admire the rich textures and striking appearance, particularly a small bluish/green plant with crinkled leaves that resembled ornamental spinach, if there is such a thing. Just beyond the vista our eyes were drawn to the rose garden. The entire perimeter of the garden was flanked by large yellow Cannas, and just below the Cannas the entire garden was encircled in a row of yellow mums. The site was absolutely spectacular, and we suddenly wished we had brought our cameras.
My husband Tom decided to lead the way and we turned right to venture down the wooded path. The floor boards were wet and slippery so we exercised caution when tramping through. It was so peaceful in the woods as the tall trees formed a protective canopy over our heads. During our walk through the woods we noticed a tree dead ahead that seemed to have a very large shelf of fungus growing upon it. The children were fascinated with this particular tree and intrigued by the scampering of chipmunks and squirrels gathering nuts in preparation for winter.
When we came out of the woods into a clearing, we approached an archway covered with greenery and roses. I could not resist entering this secret alcove and was delighted to find that beyond the entrance were a series of outdoor rooms whose walls were composed of tall hedges of various hues and densities. There was also an herb garden amidst the quiet well manicured settings. The pathways leading through the garden were intricate slabs of pavers and stone which worked well together weaving a path to beckon the traveler further into its enchanting lair. The herbal garden was so aromatic with oregano, thyme, sage, etc., that the aroma made us hungry for Italian food. We stopped by the Magnolia tree and admired the bronze undersides of the large leathery leaves that shown so bright. We sat on a nearby bench and let the children play. They ran in and out of an open door hut playing hide & seek. It was fun to see them laugh and lose themselves in the splendor of it all. We next visited a fountain where each of us tossed a penny into the water making a special wish and praying for it to come true. None of us divulged our wishes to each other.
After leaving this area, our senses were arrested by the soft rushing sound of water, and we were delighted to know we were approaching the water gardens. We were all excited as we maneuvered the stroller down the winding path to visit the tranquil serenity of the water gardens that held our gaze in awe of the calming effect and striking beauty of the falls. We also enjoyed the sounds of the babbling brook and wished that we could capture this essence in our own backyard.
Jovonah, our 19-month old, loved the sound of the water. Her gaze became transfixed on the fountain of falls which seemed to hypnotize her into a tranquil state. As we exited the water garden, Tom wanted to turn right, but I said “No” and that I wanted to turn left instead and see what lay beyond the bridge. The child in me took over and I longed to see what lay beyond these sweet ethereal vistas. As we approached the bridge-covered stream and stopped to admire the fallen leaves, Tom spotted a Buckeye tree, but there were no buckeyes left because the squirrels had presumably gotten to them first. Shortly thereafter, a park ranger rode up on his cart and commented on the level of the brook telling us that he had seen it as high as over the bridge which had necessitated shutting down part of the park due to flooding just recently. He smiled at the children and offered them a collection of nature stickers to play with, and zoomed away to finish out his tasks.
We proceeded north and just over the bridge, a funny tingling sensation arose up the back of my neck when a few hundred yards away we were stunned to see tall shiny metal flowers that rose as high as 20 feet high from the ground that were guarding the entrance to what seemed like the “Land of Make Believe”. As we approached the flowers, we stopped to admire their gigantism and were excited to see what awaited beyond the gate. We immediately saw a windmill powered by water, a barn, and an old miniature house called “Granny’s House.” We also noted that the secret place was called “Sisters’ Garden,” and there was a statue of two sisters (little girls) posing with each other. My daughter, Rhayna became excited and said that it reminded her of herself and her baby sister Jovonah because they too are sisters. It turns out that this section was built to commemorate the two sisters who had donated the land to build Inniswood Metro Gardens.
Just ahead there was a winding path that took us to an area where there were patchworks of stone with engravings on them. The stones contained phrases about a certain tree in the garden. I felt like I was either in the Garden of Eden about to be tempted with forbidden fruit, or in Wonderland minus Alice. We stopped to read some of the stones, but a rush of curiosity took over and we approached a tree planted in the center of the patchwork pavers and felt this must be the tree the sayings were about. Just beyond the tree was a wooden statue of a woman dressed in forest green which heightened our curiosity further. All of a sudden we noticed the sky getting a darker hue and the wind began to pick up. I became a little unnerved in this dreamlike state, but the others wanted to press on. Tom found a trellised archway just to the side which led to a secret clearing wherein the ruins of a brick house was built. This, I am guessing, supposedly represented a replica of the house that “The Sisters” had lived in before their land had become Inniswood Metro Gardens. Tom went inside the ruins further, but the sky became more ominous and I cautioned him not to venture any further and that we should think about our safety and get back to our van as quickly as possible because it looked like a storm was brewing.
We began to venture down a path back towards the way from whence we came, and noticed another couple with their family (baby in tow in a stroller) likewise. Tom felt going through the woods again would be the quickest way back to safety, but there was no way I wanted to be in the darkness of the woods and risk the high winds blowing a tree down upon us. My instincts told me to steer us another way. We went straight instead of taking the fork into the woods, and just beyond the hill I noticed the lovely yellow Cannas again that seemed to beckon us like beacons of light from a lighthouse showing us the way to safety. Glad to see a familiar site, we began to trot hurriedly towards safety when all of a sudden a large gust of wind came down in a swirl and sent a shower of what seemed like a million golden chips from the sky. The wind had blown a shower of golden leaves down to rain upon us like golden coins, and it was truly a magnificent site to behold. Never had I seen such shimmering beauty before. Before I knew it, I saw Rhayna and her Daddy jumping up and leaping side by side trying to catch the golden leaves, and the father of the family who was trotting along beside us was doing the same. Peels of laughter were coming from my husband and this other man including my daughter Rhayna, and as I watched them I noticed a miracle taking hold, and that miracle was that the adults had suddenly forgotten they were adults and became little children again. This final act of enchantment was as if God Himself was coming down from the skies to show us a little of his magical handiwork using one of his favorite creations, the very nature itself. It is a sight I will always treasure for the rest of my entire life as one of the truest times when God chose to appear before us and make His presence known through such a beautiful experience. Yes, God was definitely at Inniswood Metro Gardens that day.