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Lessons in Spring at Inniswood Metro Gardens

maps to sisters garden innisI often forget about Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville, Ohio. The park is a little out of the way and the highly stylized gardens are more formal than I prefer. So when a friend and I took seven kids to Innis last week, I was pleasantly surprised to explore the relatively new - and fabulously educational - children's garden.

turtle story innis

The Sister's Garden is a 2.8 acre child's paradise opened in 2002. Beyond the kid-friendly sculptures at the entrance is a playhouse and shed for dramatic play, a water feature open in warm weather, and small fruit orchard.

The early readers in the group used maps to guide us through the rest of the children's area. They followed along the Native American story stone path that leads to a statue. Continuing on a wooden boardwalk led us to the tree house with levels for climbers of different abilities. From there, a stone path took us to the Secret Garden, a recreation of a broken-down, walled garden with quotes, jewels, and sculptures hidden among the intentionally overgrown plants.

treehouse innisreading quotes in secret garden innis

After lunch, my crew of three walked to the frog pond to the right of the main entrance.

frog pond innisfrog pond innis

The kids loved spotting turtles and frogs hiding among the cat tails. Our eagle-eyes spied other parts of the amphibian life cycle - eggs (bullfrog, I'm guessing) and tadpoles. How cool to see all stages of life in one place!

bullfrog eggs innis ohioinnis tadpoles

frog innis ohio

The boardwalk trail beyond the frog pond included labelled wildflowers. Lil and her friends remembered some of the names from last week's hike at Highbanks.

Though the rules about the formal gardens prickle my anti-authoritarian instincts, I must visit Inniswood more often. We observed and learned so much and there are many gardens and areas yet to explore.

INNISWOOD METRO GARDENS 940 S. Hempstead Road Westerville, OH 43081 Open 7 am to dark daily

Know if you go:

  • Food is not allowed in the formal gardens. There are picnic tables across the parking lot from the park.
  • Pack a change of clothes for kids as there are many opportunities to get wet or dirty.
  • Remind children to stay on trails and not pick the flowers.
  • Check the program schedule for preschool play days, gardening workshops, and special events. The Inniswood volunteers and herb society are offering a plant sale May 5th and 6th.
  • Admission is free. Thank you Columbus taxpayers!