Monday, June 14, 2010

Schnormeier Gardens - Gambier, OH

I'm always on the lookout for relatively close public gardens to visit and I learned of Schnormeier Gardens near Gambier, OH when reading our local rural electric co-operative's monthly publication, Country Living.

Ted and Ann Schnormeier were inspired to create beautiful Asian-inspired gardens that cover 75 acres of their property, located in the rolling countryside of Knox County in central Ohio.  The gardens surround their Frank Lloyd Wright styled home, which was fashioned after Wright's Fallingwater (which Romie and I visited in 2000, for our 25th wedding anniversary).

Gambier is a three-hour drive from Our Little Acre, but these private gardens are only open to the public one weekend a year, in June.  After another three hours of strolling through the peaceful, incredibly beautiful grounds, it was worth spending six hours in the car.

It's difficult to describe in words the magnitude of the gardens as a private property, so I'll attempt to bring it to you through the best of the nearly 200 photos I took while visiting the gardens yesterday with my mom and dad and Romie.

The Schnormeiers began creating their gardens in 1996, after completion of their home in 1994.  A long driveway leads back to the house.

 View of the drive as seen from the house

The Japanese Garden, behind the house, was the first of the gardens to be completed.

Great vignettes of container plantings surround the home.

I LOVE these container plantings!

There are nine distinct garden areas among manicured lawns, numerous lakes, and wooded areas. Other features that have been constructed include a Japanese teahouse, a garden house, a Chinese pavilion and many bridges and waterfalls.

As we walked through each area, I noticed that there were few blooming perennials, which is understandable, given the massive size of the property.  The ones I did see were those that require little care to stay attractive.  There are only three other people besides the Schnormeiers that take care of the gardens. I'm guessing that it takes one person all week just to mow the lawns before he has to start all over again!

For me, there was a feeling of calm and relaxation as I moved from one area to the next.  Very distinctively Asian in style, the gardens are indisputable proof that beauty can be created using foliage texture, shades of green, and architectural forms of plants. I don't think I've ever seen so many different conifers in one place, not even in a garden center.  There are several rare types here.

Waterfalls abound, whether tall...

...or gradually descending to become part of a "babbling brook."

A colorful and textured rock garden is adjacent to the house and has a waterfall and lovely flagstone paths winding through it.

Chinese boy gathering crabs, a sculpture in the rock garden

There are 50 pieces of artwork peppered throughout the property, including this sumo wrestler near the Woodland Gardens...

 Fat Man Dancing
Michael Kenneth Smith

...a trio of musicians, which were among my favorites...

Thomas Yano

...and a gorgeous water lily blossom, surrounded by variegated dogwoods...

Water Lily
Rod Bearup

Another Cornus species has fruit clusters that look like plastic to me!

Little Asian touches show up where you least expect them.

Above and behind the home is the Chinese Cup Garden, with a Chinese pavilion.  It's very secluded, surrounded by many large evergreens.

Inside the Chinese pavilion is a chandelier, a 100-year-old antique from London, England.

Water features are a key element throughout the property, as are pieces of art.

  Woodland Garden sculpture and foot bridge

Scupture overlooking one of the many waterfalls

Evolving Sphere
Thomas Yano

This bronze sculpture depicts the Schnormeiers and was a gift they gave each other on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary in 2007.

Two of the four Beginnings sculptures by Charles Reina, which depict emerging flower bulbs such as tulips and hyacinths.

A Japanese teahouse sits at water's edge, surrounded by rhododendrons.

A red foot bridge takes you to Swan Island. 

In addition to the white swans, there are two Australian black swans swimming in the lakes.
There are so many great ways to photograph the red bridge at the tea house.
Several of the lakes have water lilies of all colors.

  See if you can see the little "hitchhiker" taking a ride on this water lily!

Only one pond, in the Meadow Garden, has lotuses, due to their invasive nature, though none were quite ready to bloom while we were there.

At one of the far ends of the property, at a high point, there stands a Japanese Garden House in the Serenity Garden.

A Japanese Resting House sits along the woodland trail, which winds for half a mile through cool, natural woodlands on the property.

When we finished our visit to these magnificent gardens, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Scot Long, who has recently published a beautiful hardcover book telling of the inspiration and history of how the gardens came to be.  There are over 300 full color photos in this exceptional book.

You can read my review of Schnormeier Gardens: Peace, Harmony & Serenity on my garden book review site, Gardening by the Book.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a place. Well worth the drive no doubt. The statuary is marvelous. Every one seems to have the perfect siting. I just love the photo of the water lily with the dragonfly on it. Someone has a lantern collection too. Thanks for taking us along.

Anonymous said...

Those sculptures are beautiful!

MILLIE said...

Kylee..Thanks for taking me to visit the beautiful gardens nearly in my own back yard. I had never heard of them. Looks very serene and inspiring.

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