| By Luke Messinger, Executive Director |

Founded in 1929, the Dawes family helped initiate some of Ohio’s early forest research on a small farm east of Columbus and just north of the National Road. Since those early tree plantings, The Dawes Arboretum has grown to become one of North America’s leading arboreta.

With our mission to increase the love and knowledge of trees, history and the natural world, our dedication to plant and habitat conservation as well as history continues to grow through our educational programs, research and the management of diverse plant collections, gardens and habitats for the public to enjoy.

During 2014 we celebrated our 85th anniversary and furthered the accomplishment of our mission with major projects that included: beginning Phase I of the Japanese Garden restoration; renovation of Bertie’s Garden near the Daweswood House; renovation of the Zand Education Center Classroom; opening of the History Center adjacent to the Daweswood House; and completion of a new .55-mile accessible paved trail through the Woodlands.

Here are some of the highlights of these projects.

Japanese Garden Renovation
Funded in part by the 2014 Annual Appeal, we began a multi-year renovation of the Japanese Garden, one of our visitors’ most treasured sites on grounds. The first phase of renovation included rebuilding the resting house, stone bridge and resetting much of the stonework that lines the pond. The next phase includes bridge work and the addition of some new plantings. We will also create an upland forest and stream system (just east of the garden) that will help control the flow of water into the pond.

In August (2014), The Arboretum was honored to host Dr. Makoto Nakamura, landscape architect and designer of the Japanese Garden in 1963. During his visit, Dr. Nakamura consulted with staff using the original plans and notes as we reviewed nearly all components of the garden. DSC_0832 Perhaps most informative were the revelations of his thoughts and intentions for the garden, which continues to hold a special place in his heart. Re-opening of the renovated garden takes place late May 2015.

Bertie’s Garden
The gardens to the northwest of the Daweswood House were lined with beautiful flower bed installments this summer, as Bertie’s Garden was redesigned. The garden was created as a tribute to co-founder Bertie Dawes and her passion for gardening. The plant choices were based on favorites as noted in Bertie’s personal journals. The garden was designed by Laura Burchfield, author and expert in period garden styles.

History Center Opening
Exhibits were unveiled in April, as the History Center opened to the public for the first time. Displays featured the history of The Arboretum, our founders, The Arboretum’s Tree Dedications and the Pure Oil Company. The Center features ongoing displays and exhibits for visitors to learn more about the history of The Arboretum.

Accessible Paved Trail
DSC_1673 Our recently completed accessible trail leads visitors from our main parking lot, through the Woodlands, to the top of the flowering shrub collection in the South End of The Arboretum. The trail is paved, bicycle-friendly and built to provide better access throughout our grounds. Interpretive signage along the trail gives insight into The Arboretum’s mission and highlights some of the plants and wildlife you can find along the .55-mile trail.

Zand Education Center Classroom

Originally a dairy barn, the Zand Education Center has been an important feature of our education programs for many years. The site housed many fifth grade classes from Lakewood Local Schools, serves as a starting point for Science Days and functioned as a classroom for some of our adult education programs. The adjacent courtyard was transformed into our Learning Garden in 2013 and, as a continuation of that work, we improved the classroom by removing the dark wood paneling, added new lighting, removed the carpeting to increase accessibility and adding all new furnishings that can be easily rearranged to accommodate different uses of the space.


With your help, much was accomplished in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. We look forward to continuing this work into 2015 as we finish the Japanese Garden restoration, initiate a reforestation project near the Red Barn Area, expand the Black Duck Wetland, construct a new trail near the Daweswood House, initiate some Auto Tour changes and re-open the Arboretum East trails.

As a living museum, The Arboretum’s 1,800+ acres of gardens, plant collections, forests, meadows and wetlands provide inspiration, education, research and beauty. Your support helps us restore and maintain critical habitats and conserve plants essential to the Ohio River Valley.

We thank all of our supporters for their help in making all of this happen. In 2015, we hope to continue to earn your support of our mission to increase the love and knowledge of trees, history and the natural world.