During these new times, many of us have discovered or re-discovered The Great Outdoors. One of our favorite outdoor activities is getting out and exploring the beautiful public gardens located throughout Erie County. Take some time to enjoy Mother Nature’s spectacular colors found in her various flowers, shrubs and trees. Strolling through these gardens can also be a great means of reflection and relaxation; providing a sense of peace and calm. All gardens mentioned in this blog are taking the necessary steps to keep visitors and staff safe. Remember to wear your mask and practice social distancing at all times. For additional information about how each garden is operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit their individual web sites located in this blog.
Here are our top picks of Erie County public gardens.
Asbury Woods provides all members of the community with meaningful environmental, educational and recreational experiences that inspire a greater sense of environmental awareness, sustainability and stewardship. Asbury Woods features 205 acres of preserved property which includes native species, old-growth forests, landscaped gardens, wetlands, boardwalk trails and dirt trails. The Andrew J. Conner Nature Center at Asbury Woods (re-opening mid-August) is the cornerstone of the educational programming, providing animal exhibits, a touch-and-learn Discovery Classroom and free public access. The Greenway Trail at Asbury Woods consists of adjacent tracts of land which provides a network of trails connecting Browns Farm and the Nature Center. The Greenway Trail provides ample recreational opportunities for hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing and wading in Walnut Creek. Trail users will find peaceful spots to rest and relax to take in the serene vistas.
While the majority of visitors to the Erie Zoo and Botanical Gardens come to see the animals, many are surprised and impressed by the numerous gardens throughout the Zoo. Some gardens help create an environment for the animals similar to their natural habitat. Others are special gardens that display certain groups of plants or a particular garden theme. As you explore the Zoo grounds observing the animals, also take time to appreciate the various gardens and many varieties of plants in bloom throughout the season. Plants can provide not only food, shade, and shelter for the animals but their colors, textures and fragrance provide sensory delights for the visitors. The spring gardens start to come alive with tulips and flowering shrubs and trees. The summer landscape provides brilliant, colorful displays of perennials and annuals. Tropical plants provide yet another layer of drama adding a lush, dramatic feel to the landscape. If you need help identifying the various plants in the zoo gardens, their horticultural staff created a guide "Exploring the Gardens by the Numbers". You can grab a copy online.
Just a short drive from downtown Erie is Goodell Gardens & Homestead; an accredited arboretum, public garden, and community gathering place in beautiful Edinboro, PA. Goodell Gardens & Homestead was created at the behest of Carrie and Margaret Goodell, the sole remaining heirs to the Goodell family in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. Upon their passing, the Goodell sisters arranged for the institution of a small endowment intended to afford the start-up capital necessary to begin implementing the stated wish that their farm be developed as a public garden. From their Welcome Garden filled with roses and herbs, to the Heritage Garden with native plants and beautiful shrubs and trees, to the Pollinator-Friendly Demonstration Garden filled with nectar-rich and host plants, the Gardens at Goodell are truly something special. When you visit, you’ll see rare & extirpated specimen, gardens designed to demonstrate gardening for pollinators and how to use the square-foot method to grow vegetables. Visit the State Champion Paper Birch, and enjoy the Goodell sisters’ extensive collection of Rhododendron. There are many beautiful things to look at and chances are, you’ll learn something too.
The Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park (LEAF) is a tree museum located within Frontier Park in the City of Erie. LEAF is home to over 1,000 trees, a collection that grows in interest and diversity each year. Many of the trees in the arboretum have been sponsored and will display a plaque bearing the Latin and common name of the tree. LEAF seeks to create a greater awareness of the importance of trees to our lives by creating educational opportunities and outdoor experiences for the community. LEAF has transformed Frontier Park into a hub for community activity with a variety of educational offerings and outdoor experiences for all ages. Explore the arboretum's beauty during each season. Stroll along their pathways, sit in the virtual tree gazebo, walk amid shade, flowering and evergreen trees, and enjoy the beauty that is Cascade Creek.