My new favorite hotel is Residence Inn. When we arrived at the Westlake location at the end of the first day of our Cleveland trip, they were in the middle of Social Hour. Cheeses and crackers, fresh veggies and dip, two kinds of tortilla chips with guacamole and spinach dips, cookies and brownies, with beer, wine and soft drinks - all free. Wii Tennis was offered in the lobby.
Shortly after we got to our room, we received a phone call from the front desk, asking if we needed anything. Our room was like a little apartment, complete with a full galley-style kitchen with granite counters, a sitting area with a fireplace and very comfortable queen-sized beds. In the morning, a full hot buffet breakfast was included. All for about $118, including taxes! Divide it by four and you have one fabulous stay on the cheap. Oh, and Crocker Park is five minutes away ― shopping!
Petitti Garden Center was five minutes away and after checking out of our hotel, we spent about two hours shopping this fabulous place, which is now a regular stop anytime we're in the Cleveland area. My purchases here were an orange tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa, likely 'Kinkaku'), Corydalis 'Blackberry Wine', Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale 'Carnaeum') and two things I have already and wanted to add to - Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum) and Centaurea montana 'Gold Bullion.'
We packed our purchases in the car and moved on down the road to Elmore, home of the fabulous Schedel Arboretum and Gardens. Mom and I had been there before, but Patty and Carol (the other two in our group) had not. It had been about a year and a half since Mom and I last visited and it was in the fall, so things looked markedly different here in the middle of May.
Schedel Arboretum and Gardens are truly an Ohio treasure. Not many people that I speak with have heard of them, even though they aren't all that far away and I never fail to impress upon them that they really must make a special effort to visit the gardens.
When we entered the beautiful new visitor's center, we got to meet the personable Events Coordinator of the gardens, Veronica Sheets. Veronica and I had exchanged e-mails after I first blogged about our previous visit, but we'd never met in person. She showed us around the visitor's center a little bit, pointing out the art exhibit. Fine art and sculpture are an important part of Schedel's displays.
We began our tour at the top of the steps leading down into the plateau beside a bend in the Portage River. This unique terrain allows Schedel to be home to some species of plants and trees that might not otherwise survive typical zone 5 conditions.
Everywhere you look, there are sweeping vistas of beauty...
You don't know which way to go next...
Being this early in the season, the annuals were not all planted yet and most of them were small. A return visit in a month or two will make a big difference.
But the perennials were already putting on a show, if not with their flowers, then with their foliage.
Forget-me-nots and I can't remember what the golden groundcover was. (Ironic, isn't that?)
The Pasque Flowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris) were finished with their blooms and were gracing the landscape with their unique and feathery seed heads.
Many of the peonies were in bloom, and Schedel has some that are their own unnamed hybrids.
Schedel is also home to a few Bristlecone Pine trees, thought to be the oldest living organism on the earth. Being an arboretum, there are many different kinds of trees, most all of them labeled, situated throughout the 17-acre property.
There are always some plants for sale at unbeatable prices. I brought home two large pots of an autumn anemone for three dollars each. I tried to talk the Head Gardener, Susan, out of some of their Korean violets (Viola koreana 'Syletta'), but she smiled sweetly and shook her head no. Maybe some other time I'll get lucky!
The gardens and arboretum are located at 19255 W. Portage River South Road, Elmore, OH 43416. Visit their website for more information about the hours they are open to the public.
On Veronica's recommendation, we traveled a little ways up the road to Genoa, where we had a delicious lunch at Muggz's Tea Nook & Cafe. This is also home to The Most Unusual Garden & Gift Shop. There were many wonderful items for sale throughout the store/tea room and I couldn't resist a ceramic hanging bird bath. I also don't think I'll be able to eat Campbell's® Tomato Soup ever again. Maybe I can make something resembling the outstanding and exceptional Tomato-Basil soup I had there with tomatoes from my own garden!
About a block away, we paid a visit to Packer Creek Pottery, the home of Majolica pottery by Jan Pugh. What gorgeous, creative, and whimsical things we found there! No purchases, but we all wanted to.
One more stop before home was at Hoen Greenhouse & Garden Center, located in greater metropolitan Toledo. What a zoo! They were having a special sale that started at 6:00 and we arrived just in time to pick a few things out, then put them back when we saw the line winding from the front to the back of the large greenhouse and only two cash registers. We'll have to visit at another time when we're in the area. Nice things though, and I hated putting back the Campanula glomerata and Epimedium 'Lilafee' that I'd picked out for purchase.
We finally made it home around 8:00, exhausted, but with great memories of our Road Trip to Cleveland - 2009 version.