A botanical oasis


ROSSFORD – There’s a botanical oasis tucked into the 100 block of Hannum Avenue – and it’s now receiving national recognition.

The Rossford Garden has recently been accepted into the Smithsonian Archives of American Gardens. The site is owned, created, and maintained by resident John Vrablic.

“Love of the land and things growing are the motivation for the strong urge to plant,” Vrablic said during a celebration held Sept. 19 recognizing the garden’s acceptance into the archives. “And (the garden) changes every day. Just like the weather changes every day. The garden never looks the same.”

Vrablic noted that the property, where he lives, formerly belonged to his grandparents, and growing up, the half-acre lot was filled with vegetables and fruit trees. At age 40, in 1986, he took up gardening on the site “and it developed into this.”

The garden includes almost 400 species of dwarf and unusual conifers – and is the first such garden to be included in the Smithsonian’s garden archive.

“They have year-round beauty and they are the cutting-edge of ornamental horticulture – dwarf and unusual,” Vrablic said. “No matter where you live, there is more at your disposal than you can plant in a lifetime.”

Vrablic maintains the garden himself, he said.

“I feel like I’ve done something if I can spend a hour in the morning and then another hour in the late afternoon” working in the garden, he said. “I think it’s beautiful and it makes me feel good. There’s a certain beauty about each individual conifer.”

Among its features, the garden includes concrete paths winding among the plantings, with varieties of such conifers as Mountain Pine, Oriental Spruce, Boxwood, Cicilian Fir, Himalayan Juniper, Norway Spruce and Canadian Hemlock. The garden is also filled with a variety of decorative art pieces, including dragons, insects and frogs, as well as water features.

“There’s nothing wrong with art in the garden,” said Vrablic. “Just don’t be distracted by it.”

According to a release, the garden attracted the attention of Perrysburg’s Country Garden Club, which worked with Vrablic on an 18-month process to get his garden into the archive. The club’s Garden History and Design Committee, then co-chaired by Colleen McGoldrick, and member Carol Lynn Wilson, worked on the lengthy process of documenting the garden and taking hundreds of photos.

The documentation was then submitted to the Garden Club of America, which then submitted it to the Smithsonian, said McGoldrick, who is now the club’s vice president.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said of the site. “You don’t pay much attention to conifers in your own garden,” but in Vrablic’s, you can see their beauty and diversity.

Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon III, who attended the event, said that he can see Vrablic’s garden from his office in the city’s municipal building, and he’s seen the amount of work that goes into it.

“I think it’s just amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it,” MacKinnon said. “It’s not just a garden. It’s mystic, full of art, water features,” and a variety of plants.

“It’s a well-kept secret,” said the Country Garden Club’s President Judy Lang. “We encourage people to stop by and see it. John encourages people to visit.

“It’s a lot of detail,” she said later of the process of submitting the garden to the Smithsonian archives. “So, to have a garden of this stature in Northwest Ohio and Wood County is great.”

The Archive of American Gardens is managed by Smithsonian Gardens. According to the release, the archive contains a collection of approximately 65,000 photographs and records documenting more than 6,500 gardens throughout the United States.

The garden is open by appointment by contacting Vrablic at [email protected].

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