Chestnut Ridge, Inniswood Metro Gardens & Highbanks Metro Park

July 15th: The rain just won’t quit this summer, but the one positive outcome was the beautiful double rainbow I was able to capture last night. Enjoy! 🙂  This morning I visited Chestnut Ridge Metro Park, which is the first ridge in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The ridge spans about 4,500 feet and rises to about 1,116 feet. Black oak, shagbark hickory and northern red oak trees grow on the upper slopes of the ridge and enhance the woodland beauty of the 486-acre park. Sugar maples and American beech are plentiful on the lower slopes. The trails at this park offer some serious inclined hiking and a beautiful view of the Columbus skyline (when it isn’t foggy, of course). Once I reached the outlook area at the top, I realized that I’ve been to this park before with Joe and his parents. 🙂

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July 16th: This morning I visited Inniswood Metro Gardens, which is probably my favorite park yet because the gardens were absolutely beautiful! ‘Nestled within a scenic nature preserve, the 121-acre Inniswood Metro Gardens is a source of inspiration for all ages. Streams and woodlands filled with wildflowers and wildlife provide a majestic backdrop to the beautifully landscaped areas. Inniswood boasts more than 2,000 species of plants, specialty collections and several theme gardens. Inniswood offers education in horticulture and the natural sciences for children and adults. Dramatic displays of natural and cultivated gardens, seasonal celebrations and a variety of programs provide a wealth of information and enjoyment. The sister’s former home is the site for education programs, a horticultural reference collection and staff offices.’ (www.inniswood.org) Inniswood Metro Garden also offers several walking trails around the grounds and I was able to walk a couple of those today.

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There are several separate gardens throughout the park, one of which is called “The Sister’s Garden.” I was able to find the following information on their website about this garden: Inniswood Metro Gardens was once the 37-acre estate of sisters Grace and Mary Innis, who enjoyed gardening and wildlife observation respectively. The Innis sisters’ desire to preserve and enhance their gardens and woodlands for the enjoyment of all people resulted in the generous donation of their home and property to Franklin County Metro Parks in 1972. To honor the memory of Grace and Mary Innis, Metro Parks opened the 2.8-acre Sisters’ Garden in 2002. Designed to celebrate the complexity of nature and the inquisitiveness of childhood, The Sisters’ Garden aspires “to nurture the nature of the child in everyone”.

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Inniswood Metro Gardens also has a very large Herb Garden, which was being heavily tended to this morning during my visit. I’m curious as to whether the herbs are used locally or perhaps sold at local farmer’s markets.

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Inniswood also has a really cool Rock Garden with a walking path throughout. Definitely check out this park if you haven’t already. I plan to return again and again for inspiration in my own garden!

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July 17th: I wanted to change things up today and ride my bike on a trail, so I decided to load up my bike and head to Highbanks Metro Park. Joe is usually with me when we take our bikes on the bike hitch, so he wanted to make sure I could operate the hitch on my own before I left. After a lot of failed attempts, I was able to put the hitch on our CRV and load my bike but then realized that I wasn’t able to get it back off of the car on my own. After throwing a bit of a tantrum because I wasn’t strong enough to do it myself, I decided to take the hitch off and throw my bike in the back of the CRV. It all worked out in the end and I was able to ride 5 miles on the Multi-Purpose trail.

Highbanks is named for its massive 100-foot-high shale bluff towering over the Olentangy State Scenic River. Tributary streams cutting across the bluff have created a number of deep ravines in the eastern part of the 1,159-acre park. Ohio and Olentangy shales, often containing outstanding large concretions, are exposed on the bluff face and sides of the ravines. Highbanks has a really nice nature center offering classes and day camps for kids, which were in full swing when I arrived. I look forward to returning to this park again to check out the walking paths.

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