Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Columbus Ohio’

Topiary Garden Inspired by Painting

Topiary - Old Deaf School Park

Topiary Park is located on the grounds of Old Deaf School Park in Columbus, Ohio.

Walk through the Topiary Garden on Town Street near downtown Columbus, Ohio as you let your imagination take you to “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” This painting inspired Columbus artists James T. Mason and his wife, Elaine to develop a living reinterpretation of that painting on the grounds of the Old Deaf School Park.

Topiary - Painting Print

“A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” inspired this Topiary Garden.

   Georges-Pierre Seurat was a French painter (1859-1891) and this painting on a ten-foot canvas is considered to be one of the most remarkable paintings of the 19th century. The painting took him two years to complete as he first focused on the park itself before painting people from every social class participating in park activities. No figure encroaches on another’s space. All coexist in peace.

Topiary - Relaxing under the tree

This topiary couple relaxes in the shade while reading a book.

   Topiary is the practice of clipping plants into shapes. James shaped the bronze frames and planted the greenery, while Elaine served as the original topiarist. This small garden was developed with the help of the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. They pay attention year-round to keeping the plants trimmed and in excellent condition around their wire framework.

   This area actually dates back to 1829 when the Ohio School for the Deaf established educational and residential programs for school-age children who were deaf or hard of hearing. By 1953, the school had outgrown its downtown location and moved to a larger property on Morse Road. Today, the Topiary Garden on those old grounds is the only one of its kind in the world – a park based entirely on the interpretation of one painting.

Topiary - Rowboat on the water

There are eight topiary boats on the pond, which represents the River Seine.

   This was all originally built for the opening of the AmeriFlora exhibit that took place in Columbus in 1992. Special care has been used to create close representations of the painting by Georges Seurat in 1884. The pond represents the River Seine and was developed in the early stages of the garden in 1989. There are even artificial hills that help capture the scene.

Topiary Gift Shop

The gatehouse, resembling a French countryside home, holds their gift shop and information center.

   The gatehouse resembles a French country house to match the park’s theme. Here you will find an information center, museum and gift shop. It is located next to a library which has an outstanding art exhibit.

Topiary - Lady reading outside gift shop

Outside the gatehouse, this topiary lady sits reading a book.

   Highlighted are the sculpted topiaries, hedges trimmed into the shapes of men, women, children, boats, and animals. The frames that support the figures are made of 5/8-inch bronze and set in eighteen inches of concrete.

Topiary - Man with tophat

A man with a top hat is one of 54 topiary characters in the scene.

   There are actually 54 people, eight boats, three dogs, a cat, and a monkey included in the carvings. The largest topiary is 12′ tall. You might see a man with a top hat or a lady with her parasol dressed in the fashion of the 1800s, watching the topiary boats on the pond.

Topiary Bronze

This bronze plaque is situated at the artist’s viewpoint, “As He Saw It.”

   Visit the spot called “As He Saw It” for the exact location of the scene Seurat saw as he was painting it. There is a bronze plaque at this spot so you can compare the topiary to the painting. It’s a quiet place in the middle of the city where you can leisurely wander through the garden and become part of the painting or sit and relax in its tranquil setting.

Topiary - View of painter

This view matches the actual Seurat painting completed in topiaries.

   This garden has been showcased around the world in magazines, periodicals, books, and documentaries. Articles have been found in Life, National Geographic, and The Wall Street Journal.

Topiary - Lady with Monkey and Umbrella

This lady with her monkey is very popular with the children.

   The Topiary Garden Park, situated on seven acres, is open daily from dawn till dusk, and admission is free! Metered parking is just outside the fence. While the Topiary Park is only a couple of acres, the remainder of the area has many scattered picnic tables and benches where families gather.

   A Sunday afternoon spent at Topiary Garden Park is just as relaxing as a visit to The Island of La Grande Jatte. Enjoy the beauty of nature in downtown Columbus.

Topiary Park is located at 480 E. Town Street in downtown Columbus, Ohio. There are parking meters just outside the main gate,

LEGOLAND Discovery Center – The Ultimate Indoor Playground

LEGO tub of bricks

Use your imagination with a tub filled with LEGO bricks.

Kids love LEGO bricks! There’s no doubt about it. They enjoy the creativity involved in designing their own building, vehicle, or person by using their imagination. Not only does it grab the interest of youngsters, but many dads and moms had their own collection of LEGO years ago.

LEGOLAND front

LEGOLAND Discovery Center can be found at Easton in Columbus.

     Visit LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Easton in Columbus for a unique indoor attraction based on the LEGO bricks. Since it was specifically built for children ages 3-10, all adults must be accompanied by children. You’ll want to plan your visit so you have two to three hours at LEGOLAND, which was opened in September 2018.

LEGO leaders

Their leadership team includes Benjy Johnson – Guest Experience Manager, Maxx Davidson – Master Builder, and Chris Shoemaker – General Manager

     With the assistance of a great guide, Benjy, my tour of the facility covered every aspect from building blocks to rides and movies. LEGOLAND is highly interactive in numerous areas.

Lego Interactive

The Friends section holds a special interest to girls and moms.

     LEGO began back in 1932 when a toymaker in Denmark began making wooden toys and blocks and called them “leg godt,” meaning “play well.” It wasn’t until 1958 that LEGO bricks were made out of plastic with their interlocking design so all would fit together easily.

LEGO building

How tall can you build your tower before it falls at Earthquake Shake?

     It would take forty billion LEGO bricks end to end to reach the moon. The company makes forty-seven billion bricks each year. A special addition in 1978 was the popular minifigure. Since that time there have been enough minifigures made to wrap around the earth eighteen times.

LEGO OSU

Miniland has an interactive section of the OSU Stadium built of LEGO bricks.

     An interactive Miniland attracts adults as well as children. In Columbus, you will see parts of the city built with LEGO bricks. They also have highlights of Cleveland and Cincinnati. There are over a million and a half LEGO bricks in Miniland. Little details will have you exploring the sites carefully.

LEGO Build and Test 2

Families have fun building vehicles and racing them at Build and Test.

     Several play areas give youngsters a chance to build their own LEGO creations. LEGO Build and Test entices families to build their own vehicles so they can race them on extreme ramps and see how fast they can go. Earthquake Tables are the perfect place to erect buildings and see how they withstand an earthquake.

     With all the children handling bricks, special attention is paid to cleaning and sterilizing the bricks on a daily basis. Anytime a brick is dropped on the floor, it is swept up and taken to the room for cleaning. At the end of the day, all the bricks that children play with are taken to the washroom where they are washed and sterilized.

LEGO movies

Everyone will enjoy a LEGO 4D Cinema adventure.

     Want to take a break from building? Sit back and watch a fantastic LEGO 4D Cinema. Here you will experience rain, snow, wind, and bubbles while you watch the LEGO excitement. There are four different movies for your enjoyment. The 4D glasses are also disinfected after each use.

LEGO ticket booth

Even the ticket booth to the movies looks like a LEGO brick.

     You won’t want to miss two rides that take you on LEGO adventures. Kingdom Quest takes you on a laser journey to free the captured princess. Hop aboard a chariot and use blasters to zap beastly trolls and sneaky skeletons along the way. Rescue the princess!

merlins-apprentice-1

Fly to new heights as Merlin’s Apprentice.

     Merlin’s Apprentice Ride takes place in Merlin’s magical chamber. Here you pedal the enchanted cart as fast as you can to soar to new heights of up to 12′. Only the most powerful charms will reach the sky.

LEGO clock

The dragon emerges every fifteen minutes from the LEGO clock to Rock Around the Clock.

     Many special events are held throughout the year so check out their website at www.columbus.legolanddiscoverycenter.com to find all the activities. They even have special Adult Only Nights for grown-ups who always enjoyed LEGO bricks and would like a chance to be a kid again.

     Visit LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Easton in Columbus to experience building and creating with LEGO bricks. There’s free parking close by in the West Garage.

LEGO birthday

LEGOLAND is the perfect place for a birthday party.

     This is a great place for a birthday party or a school field trip and it’s open every day of the year – all 366 days this year! The children will certainly remember this unique indoor adventure.

     Go inside and play!

LEGOLAND is located inside Easton Center just off I-270 at Exit 33. Their address is 157 Easton Town Center with free parking close by in West Garage. Put the address in your GPS and go play!

National Veterans Museum & Memorial Honors All Who Served

Veterans front shot

This symbolic architectural design houses the new National Veterans Museum and Memorial.

Those who dedicated their life to serving their country in all branches of the service during its many wars are being honored at the new National Veterans Museum and Memorial in Columbus, Ohio. Opened on the banks of the Scioto River in October of 2018, you will learn of their bravery, fears and belief in the greatness of America.

Veterans Memorial

A memorial statue along the outside walkway remembers those who served.

   Symbolizing the strength of our nation’s veterans, the unique architectural design of the building rises from within in a circular fashion to show their service never ends. The top of the building meets at a point to indicate that all the branches of the service come together to protect our nation and our world. This building has been recognized for its special innovative design and contains 28 million pounds of concrete.

Veterans trunks

Open the lid of a veteran’s trunk and hear his story.

   While stories of famous leaders like George Washington, Dwight D Eisenhower and John Glenn are well documented nationally, the stories of lesser-known heroes are often only known by family and friends. The NVMM is going to change all that by sharing their stories with the public.

Veterans letters

Letters from home have always been important to members of the military.

   Visitors are taken on a narrative journey as stories are told about veterans throughout the United States. Letters, pictures, and personal items help make these stories come alive. Listen to the letters they wrote home. Some will bring tears of sadness…or relief that they survived.

Veterans Time Line

The Informational Timeline stretches from 1775 until today.

   The Exhibition Galleries follow the curve of the concrete structure, which shares a timeline of highlights from the Revolutionary War until the present. The walls are covered with information so you have to be selective in what you read or you could be there for weeks.

Veterans drum Revolutionary and Civil

Andrew Avey played this drum during both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

   Talking to veterans at the museum was one of the real pleasures of the day. Many had not actually been in combat zones, but all felt an emotional attachment to those with whom they had served.

Veterans State Flags

The display of flags from all 50 states reinforces the fact that this is a national museum.

   Many tried to go out in the communities of the countries in which they were stationed to get a glimpse of real life there. Edward, a Marine who had served in Vietnam, went out with a missionary and played Santa for the children in their village.

Veterans Gear for Boot Camp

Veteran guide, Todd, explained the extensive, heavy boot camp gear.

   Todd, a veteran who is also a tour guide, shared his experiences in the Navy from 1965-69. His job was to patrol the coastline from Alaska to San Diego for Russian submarines. Another veteran, Dale, worked as a supply sergeant in the cold temperatures of Alaska where it was 59 below.

Veterans - Share Your Story

A special Share Your Story recording booth for veterans is located on the lower level.

   The Second Floor mezzanine features a Memorial Room to honor the fallen heroes. Here you will find a room where stories of the veterans can be videotaped for future generations. Many have relatives who have served but they don’t often like to talk about their experiences.

Veterans Memorial Grove

A Memorial Grove of American elms provides a place for reflection and relaxation.

   Outside the museum is a relaxing Memorial Grove consisting of American Elms, a tree that has given shelter to veterans since colonial times. This is a place for rest and contemplation with a beautiful limestone wall, a background symbolizing strength. Nothing relaxes more than water so the pool and cascades provide healing. Native plants appear throughout the area.

Veterans Wounded Veterans Memorial 2

The Wounded Veterans Monument recognizes all veterans – past, present and future.

   National Veterans Museum at 300 West Broad Street in Columbus Ohio is open to the public Wednesday – Sunday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Over half of their visitors are veterans. People from all over the United States, Holland, Ireland, England and France have already felt the emotion of the museum.

   To honor our servicemen, all veterans and active duty military members are given complimentary admission and parking. The same is true for Gold Star families.

Veterans WWI flag

A National Guard unit, “The Buckeye Division”, carried this 48-star flag during WWI.

   Veterans have a special place in our world as many remain active in the community with a volunteer spirit. As one veteran said, “There was a reason we were spared…to come back and do something good.”

   We honor those men and women who have sacrificed to defend our country. They served to preserve our freedom.

Our freedom is not free. It comes with a cost.”

~Lydia Thompson, Gold Star Mother

Veterans OverviewThe new National Veterans Museum and Memorial is located at 300 West Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio just north of I-70. Once on West Broad coming from the east, go over the Scioto River and the museum is on the right-hand side.

COSI – A Great Place to Spend a Winter’s Day

COSI outside

COSI provides a great place for school field trips at any time of the year.

When the weather outside is frightful, inside COSI is still delightful. It’s easy to spend an entire day there without any problem. There’s no age limit on enjoyment as kids from 1-100 enjoy interacting with the exhibits.

   This all began in 1958 as a dream of Sandy Hallack, an advertising executive, who thought Columbus would be the perfect place for a science museum. It took time and determination to get the cooperation of the community, but his dream was fulfilled in 1964.

COSI Hope Street Market

Visit businesses from 1898, then turn the corner and see these same businesses in 1962. Progress!

   The old Memorial Hall building became its first home for the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) and over 5000 people visited on Opening Day. Admission was 50 cents for an adult and 25 cents for children.

   So many museums are places where you can’t touch anything. Hallack wanted a place where you could not only touch things but move them and take them apart. Many say, “It’s the jewel of the community.”

COSI High Wire Unicycle Rider

Adults and children thrill during trips across the High Wire Unicycle.

   In 1999, they moved to a new home built especially for COSI. Since that first opening, over 33,000,000 people have visited both sites. That’s impressive!

   There’s so much variety of scientific displays that it’s impossible to cover all of them fully. These are some of the highlights that impressed me on a recent visit.

COSI Tyranosaurus Rex

Children stop to study Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Dinosaur Gallery.

   Dinosaurs are here! New discoveries and new technology are helping scientists piece together information to see what dinosaurs were really like. In this permanent exhibit, see a reconstructed Tyrannosaurus Rex in actual size.

COSI Stegasauras

Life-size skeletons of dinosaurs, such as Stegosaurus, help make history come alive.

   View a collection of dinosaur prints found on a farm in Texas. An interesting section shows the transition from dinosaur to bird. Be sure to catch a glimpse of Toasty, their gila monster before you leave. This is just a taste of what you will find at COSI’s Dinosaur Gallery.

   On the first floor, you also see the wide variety of traveling exhibits in the American Museum of Natural History. Right now that exhibit explores the “Power of Poison”. Find stories about how poisons have worked throughout history. This exhibit will soon be replaced with another traveling exhibit “Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids”. Let your imagination expand!

COSI Space capsule

Test your skills as an armchair astronaut in a SImulated Space Capsule Ride.

   Their planetarium is the largest in the state of Ohio. Various shows can be seen throughout the day. “Wildest Weather” lets you witness weather found on all the planets from dust storms on Mars or the whirling, high-speed winds on Venus to a trip through the asteroid belt.

   In the Human Body section, you can have your pulse taken, check out your age through technological viewing, and view all the body parts while learning their functions. One special room there was the “Echo Free Room”, where you could enter a very quiet and peaceful place, almost as quiet as my apartment.

COSI Poseidon's Realm

Poseidon’s Realm in the Ocean creates an opportunity to explore water with hands-on experiences.

   Children love to play in water so the Ocean exhibit appeals to almost everyone. Parents and grandparents can be seen joining in the water fun. Touch, hold and feel the water as you study the mysteries of Poseidon’s realm.

COSI Baby Alligator

A COSI guide encourages children to touch, Tick-Tock, an American Alligator baby.

   Another spot that is coming up on January 26 is called “Large in Charge” and will teach people about alligators and crocodiles, who have roamed the planet for over 200 million years. This is one of those preview places where a COSI guide had an American Alligator Baby, called “Tick-Tock”, for children to touch.

COSI Kids Space

A safe haven is provided for small children to place in Kids Space, an enclosed area.

   An interesting place on the second floor was called “Kids Space” and only children under six were allowed in and they were carefully monitored. Here little ones could play in a tree house, visit a barnyard, climb in an ambulance or paint pictures. There was even a place to play with water at Splish Splash. What fun!

COSI WOSU

See yourself perform on WOSU TV or check out their giant kaleidoscope.

   Sometime during the day, you’ll most likely want to stop at the National Geographic Giant Screen Theater – The Ultimate Window to the World. Now showing several times a day are “Oceans” and “Incredible Predators”.

COSI Bathroom door

Educational information continues even on the doors of the restrooms.

   Everywhere there are hands-on things to try as answers to science questions are discovered. COSI employees can be found giving lectures in small auditoriums or demonstrating experiments and animals in the hallways. It’s non-stop entertainment if you love adventure or science.

COSI on wheels

COSI on Wheels has visited over 7.5 million students at their schools.

   Field trips to COSI create learning experiences, but if your school isn’t able to attend perhaps they would like to have a visit from COSI on Wheels. This program takes special features of COSI to schools in the area with the farthest they have ever gone to Memphis, Tennessee. Students from Kindergarten to 6th grade find their dynamic science activities of interest.

COSI Laser Harp

Music lovers always stop to play the Laser Harp before leaving COSI.

   Children have a great time exploring COSI and so do adults. You’ll discover something new each time you stop by. Plan a visit soon for a day filled with fun while learning. Kids of all ages are welcome!

COSI is located in Columbus, Ohio at 333 W. Broad Street. Take I-70 and use exit 99C. Your GPS will be handy for a few turns before arriving at Broad Street. Some may prefer to follow Route 40 (Broad Street) through downtown Columbus. COSI is right along the bank of the Scioto River.

Fashion Shows Can Be Enjoyable

Vintage TeaA Dickens Victorian Village Tea and Fashion Show did not at first sound appealing to me, but it turned out to be quite an interesting and enjoyable event. The first surprise came upon entering the stunning Masonic Ballroom with its floor to ceiling windows, gleaming dance floor, and ornate tin ceiling.

The tea time treats were a pleasure for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Petite sandwiches, fragile pastries, Devonshire cream, and bite size fruit appeared on tiers, as the perfect companions for your favorite tea served in dainty, floral cups.

 

Vintage GuestsMany of those in attendance were dressed in Victorian style with beautiful, large hats and long skirts – a special part of the day. They felt part of a time long past as they enjoyed conversation with friends.

Then appeared Kit and her models from The Alley in Columbus, Ohio. Kit Matulich has enjoyed working with theatrical costumes for thirty years and “wouldn’t trade it for the world.” Some of the clothing she purchases, while other items are donated. The proceeds from those donated go 100% to Easter Seals, which provided equipment for their late daughter, at a time when it was needed.

The vintage clothing and accessories from The Alley Vintage & Costumes had the ladies attending the tea spellbound for over an hour. The Alley’s philosophy is:

You are never too old to play dress up!

The Alley Vintage & Costume

Then the parade of models began with Kit and Josef in charge. There’s no way to show you all the models or tell you all the stories about their clothing. So come along with me and view some of my special favorites.

Vintage Models -Undergarments

The show began with a parade of undergarments worn by Victorian ladies. Their layers of petticoats seemed too numerous to count. Sometimes these items were washed in urine to cleanse, bleach and purify. Their corsets often had somewhat flexible whalebone to keep their waists very small. Small waists, with extra emphasis on larger hips and busts, were thought attractive.

Vintage Dress

A beautiful day dress would be fastened with hooks and eyes and even straight pins. All dresses at that time were hand-stitched with pleats, darts, and ruffles. Remember at that time everything had to be washed by hand.

 

Vintage Bridal 2

These three delicate gowns contained quality lace so had to be handled quite gently. Waist were very small, often 20″, as girls began wearing corsets at the age of eleven.

Vintage Dress passed

A Dickens volunteer lets the ladies have a close-up view of one of the dresses. Those in attendance could actually hold the items in order to appreciate the fine craftsmanship that went into the making of each piece.

Vintage Shown Dress

Kit showed the oldest wedding gown she has in her store. The fabric is too delicate for the models to wear these days. When a bride was married in Victorian times, she wore her wedding gown to every event they attended for the first year after their marriage.

Vintage Army Dress

This WWII uniform of the ambulance corp was made of wool. At this point, ladies removed their corsets and enjoyed the freedom of movement, so a new trend in styles took place.

Finale

The models paraded one last time and special honor was given to the lady, who helps with design and dressing. “Without her, we would be lost.”

The day became a memorable one from tea time to fashion show. No one rushed to leave, but felt relaxed from the slower pace of this day resembling a time long past.

So next time someone asks you to attend a fashion show, give it a whirl!

For more information on The Alley, visit their website at http://www.thealleystore.com. They are located in Columbus Ohio at 3502 W.Dublin Granville Road.

Polar Frontier at Columbus Zoo – A Cool Place to Visit

Polar Frontier Entrance

Polar Frontier Entrance

Perhaps the “coolest” spot at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium occurs in North America’s Polar Frontier. On a recent visit to the zoo, howling winds and cold temperatures seemed the perfect time to check out the Polar Bears. They certainly weren’t bothered by the cold.

Set in what appears to be an abandoned mine camp in the Arctic Circle, Polar Frontier is home to four Arctic foxes, two brown bears, and two polar bears. Snow, ice and cold help create the atmosphere for their favorite time of the year. A sign near the entrance states:

An Arctic without ice would be like a garden without soil.

Polar Bear statues

Statues of Mother Polar Bear and two cubs

Polar bear statues of mother and two cubs welcome visitors to the Polar Frontier. Since North High School in Columbus, Ohio had as their mascot a Polar Bear, their alumni organizations funded the statues. Local artist, Mathew Palmer, created these delightful bronze figures covered with a white patina. Statues of animals frequently appear throughout the zoo and are perfect places for a close up picture with the animals.

Two brown bears sleep inside their glass cave.

Two brown bears sleep inside their glass cave.

Two Alaskan brown bears, brother Brutus and Buckeye – from Ohio of course, sleep soundly as they huddle against a heavy glass wall. They appear to believe in hibernation even at the zoo. Usually, they can be found swimming in their own small pool or having a bear wrestling match.

Polar bears play in the snow.

Polar bears play in the snow.

Polar bears, Aurora and Anana, have a playful time in the new fallen snow. Both rolled around on their backs taking a snow bath or perhaps just relaxing . Today they seemed happy to play in the snow and didn’t venture into either of their two pools for a dip

Salt water tunnel where  polar bears often swim overhead.

Salt water tunnel where polar bears often swim overhead.

The polar bears have a 167,000 gallon pool of salt water in which to swim and catch lunch. You can observe the bears diving in for a swim from eye-level, or underneath through a 5″ thick acrylic tunnel. There is an ample supply of fresh trout available when the polar bears decide they might like a snack. Two underground geothermal tanks keep the water in their pools at the perfect temperature for polar bears to enjoy.

Compare the size of various bears.

Compare the size of various bears.

Inside the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, you can find videos regarding the life of the bears. This interpretive center provides many activities that focus on polar bears and climate changes. It shares ways to practice conservation at home to save the polar bears. They have pictures to compare the sizes of various bears and even an animated Polar Bear Band at Ice Bear Mining Camp.

Bear Band

Bear Band at Ice Bear Mining Camp

A fantastic playground for the youngsters is right outside the Polar Bear Exhibit where children can build an igloo, ride an ice teeter-totter, or slide down a snow bank. Parents can grab a snack at the Polar Grille and chill out while the children have a cool time.

This corner of the zoo is one of the favorite stops for most visitors. A winter visit also has the benefit of being able to see the animals more easily as the zoo isn’t crowded. Make sure you save time for the Polar Frontier…any time of the year!

To visit Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, take I-270 around Columbus, Ohio and use Exit 20. From there you will see signs directing you to the zoo. You’re sure to have a great day!

Chillin’ Out at the Columbus Zoo

Zoo Entrance with just snow flurries upon arrival.

Zoo Entrance with just snow flurries upon arrival. That soon changed.

Have cabin fever? Put on your warmest clothes and visit the Columbus Zoo for an entertaining, learning experience. Upon arrival,  a few snow flakes bounced through the air, but before long the zoo was blanketed in a cover of white.

Even on a crisp, cold winter day, the zoo had many visitors, although just a small portion when compared to a summer visit. Many animals were inside display areas or tucked away in barns just waiting for the summer season to arive, but there was still much to enjoy.

Snow covered Asian Quest very soon.

Snow quickly covered Asia Quest.

While the present Columbus Zoo opened in 1937, Jack Hanna, graduate of Muskingum College, developed the zoo into one of the best zoos in the United States. Hanna served as director from 1978-93 and still serves as director emeritus. Today over 9,000 animals live there.

This young elephant was inside bars during petting and feeding.

This young elephant was inside bars during petting and feeding.

Columbus Zoo & Aquarium provides something for everyone through five main areas: North America, Asia Quest, Australia & Islands, Congo, and Heart of Africa, the newest exhibit, which was closed on this visit. Still numerous displays make a visit worthwhile and memorable during the winter months, without the usual stops at the many gift shops and snack stands along the way.

While it’s impossible to mention all the adventures this winter day, here are a few gypsy highlights.

Hank, the largest elephant in a North American zoo weighed in at 15,600 pounds and measured 9’5″ tall. That’s one big elephant! People had the opportunity to pet and feed one of the smaller elephants, who kept looking for more treats.

Two Siberian Tigers lounge on top of their cave.

Two Siberian Tigers lounge on top of their cave.

Outside on Tiger Walk, several Siberian Tigers lounged in the snow, while one snuggled up in a corner of a stone cave. They watched movements carefully, probably ready to pounce at the slightest provocation.

Discovery Reef's Aquarium provides a break in the day.

Discovery Reef’s Aquarium provides a warm break in the day where you can sit and watch the fish among the coral reefs.

On a winter day, you might want a break from the cold, and a chance to rest your legs. Several possibilities exist. The giganitic Aquarium at Discovery Reef provides bleacher seats to watch the antics of the fish in a 100,000 gallon salt water aquarium. When you observe all the different species of fish from around the world swimming peacefully together, it seems there might be a lesson for those watching.

Close by, manatees also entertain as they pull lettuce and cabbage as a tasty treat from the surface of the water. Or perhaps you might want to slither over to the Reptile Building to see the snakes, lizards, and even turtles.

Two polar bears roll in the snow.

Two polar bears roll in the snow.

Visit North American’s Polar Frontier, which opened in 2010, to watch polar bears enjoy the new fallen snow. They like to be clean and dry as dirty fur provides little insulation, so they take a bath by rolling in the snow. Imagine the polar bears thought the weather perfect.

The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Of one thing you can be certain, every day’s a different experience while at the zoo. You never know what the animals will do next. Go to the zoo any season of the year!

To visit Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, take I-270 around Columbus, Ohio and use Exit 20. From there you will see signs directing you to the zoo. You’re sure to have a great day!

A Delightful Touch of Spring : Blooms and Butterflies

Franklin Park Conservatory

Franklin Park Conservatory

Ready for Spring? After a long, frigid winter, most of us are ready to watch the earth come back to life again with green plants and flowers. If you happen to crave the taste of spring, a trip to Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio will temporarily satisfy your longing for beautiful blossoms and greenery.

Butterfly on Bloom

Butterfly on Bloom

Right now, their theme of “Blooms and Butterflies” seems the perfect way to put a touch of spring in the air. Franklin Park Conservatory provides a wide variety of experiences from botanical gardens and greenhouses to art sculptures and glass exhibits. Those who enjoy flower gardening soak up the scents and admire the picture perfect displays. Visitors enjoy blooms at the conservatory all year long, but the butterflies are a special added attraction.

Beautiful orchids in various hues and scents

Beautiful orchids in various hues and scents

In the Dorothy M. Davis Showhouse, the featured blooms are “Orchids!”. Their varied orchids are much larger than most of us could hope to grow, but provide a peaceful place to relax and dream. Over 1000 orchids of all sizes and hues create a beautiful scene and scent. Soon spring blossoms outside will appear, including tulips, azaleas, lilies, and rhododendrons. Every season has its floral beauty at Franklin Park Conservatory.

Children are fascinated as they watch the butterflies emerge from their chrysalises. Parents have the chance to educate their youngsters on the life of the butterfly from the eggs they lay to the spinning of their protective covering before the appearance of a beautiful butterfly.

Peaceful Annie's Pond

Peaceful Annie’s Pond

Large displays of chrysalises at the Emergence Center give ample opportunity to watch the butterflies come to life. Everything from a small 1 ½” butterfly to a 12″ Attacus Atlas Moth might be making their premiere appearance as you watch.

When the butterflies first emerge, they may hang upside down for several minutes while their wings dry so they can fly away and explore some nearby blossoms. They must enjoy themselves quickly as their average life span is only about two weeks.

Inside the Pacific Island Water Gardens’ section of the conservatory, butterflies fill the air. At least 2000 butterflies are in this warm tropical paradise each day. A Butterfly Release occurs twice a day so the newly free can test their wings as they taste nectar from bright tropical blooms.

"The Sunset Tower" provides a gathering place for many butterflies.

“The Sunset Tower” provides a gathering place for many butterflies.

A favorite resting place for the butterflies was a beautiful piece of art by Chihuly, whose glass designs can be viewed throughout the conservatory. “The Sunset Tower”, in golden sunset tones, gave the butterflies a place to congregate peacefully.

Since most children desperately want an exotic butterfly to land on them for good luck, the naturalist often places the newly released butterfly on a child’s shoulder. Those who could sit still long enough were actually butterfly magnets, and might have three or four butterflies on their shirt. Watching the children brought to mind a piece of advice from Nathaniel Hawthorne:

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

The next time you aren’t pleased with the weather and want to be surrounded by the beauties of nature, take a trip to Columbus and visit the Franklin Park Conservatory. As summer approaches, there is an outdoor butterfly garden to attract Native Ohio Butterflies. Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of “Blooms and Butterflies” this year with your family or friends. You won’t even think about the snow that fell during the winter!

Franklin Park Conservatory can be easily reached off I-70 in Columbus, Ohio using the Broad Street Exit. Turn right onto Broad Street and the conservatory is about one mile down Broad on the left hand side. Watch for entrance signs.

The Magic World of Orchids

Step back into the Victorian era when orchids were a symbol of luxury, and walk leisurely through the Orchid Forest at the Franklin County Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio.  These beautiful orchids, entitled Orchids! Vibrant Victoriana, are displayed in the Dorothy M Davis  Show House, which was built in 1895.  The exotic orchid speaks of refinement and innocence and the elegant Victorian garden is filled with hundreds of incredible orchids in all sizes, shapes and scents.

Paul Busse’s Garden Railroad featuring children’s fairy tales is a popular place to stop and take a break.  In this magical world amongst the foliage in the Himalayan Mountain Biome, three dimensional structures are all made from natural materials.  You might see roof shingles made from fungus, a chimney cap from an acorn, or a door hinge from a tiny leaf.  Moss, twigs, leaves and seeds combine to form houses, bridges, and castles. Children will definitely enjoy the fairy tale settings, while adults will marvel at the construction of the scenery.

In an outdoor garden area, discovered the Hot Shop where a young man, who had been blowing glass for two and a half years, showed the curious visitors how to create a vase. From gathering the hot, hot glass to dipping it in either powdered colored glass or pellets, the glassmaking process produced many questions from those watching. Especially found fascinating the use of thick layers of wet newspaper being used to shape the glass, as seen in the picture above. The young man told the attentive audience, “We are still finding out new things about glass every day.  It is an ongoing learning experience.” His finished vase, which started out with a red glow, turned out to be a beautiful violet shade.

An added attraction was the beautiful blown glass art work by Debora Moore, Collectanea Botanica – Orchidaceae, showing her interpretations of orchids in blown glass sculptures. The Blue Orchid Tree, a beautiful Moore creation, is featured just inside the Cardinal Health Gallery. Debora feels that her work is a figment of her imagination combining the real qualities of the orchid with what she sees in her mind. This glass artist was a student and later an instructor at the Pitchuck Glass School, which was founded by Dale Chihuly whose work is also featured throughout the conservatory on a permanent basis.

My favorite artistic display was the large Pink Glass Orchid. Nature has always been Debora’s inspiration as she uses the medium of glass to express the grandeur and fragility of the natural world. She constantly learns and combines new methods with traditional glassblowing techniques to create her masterpieces.

Today, orchids are the top house plant with 25,000 varieties available. Symbolizing rare and delicate beauty, the orchid is an alluring and captivating plant to enjoy in your home. Franklin Conservatory is one of those places you can visit again and again, as they have featured shows throughout the year as well as an outdoor garden that blooms seasonally.

Walt Whitman wrote,”Give me a garden of flowers where I can walk undisturbed.” This is one of those special places that answers that request.

Franklin Park Conservatory can easily be reached off I-70 as it passes through Columbus, Ohio. Exit on 315 North and quickly you will make another exit onto Route 40 where you will turn right.  You are almost there as just a few blocks through the city, you will find Franklin Park on the right hand side.

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