Ode to Joy: A Walk in the Park and German VIllage

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  The first image of a caladium and coleus window box above is from a walk I took a few weeks ago with the Ohio Nursery Landscape Association’s Executive Director Frits Risor through German Village and Schiller Park there, and then later in the day checking out the crape myrtles planted in landscapes a little further north near ONLA’s World Headquarters in Westerville. A few other items we saw include:


statue of Frederick Schiller


  A statue of Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805) in the park. Schiller is one of Germany’s greatest poets, playwrights, natural philosophers (a name that blended philosophy and science and predated the term “scientist”), a great friend of Goethe, whom we probably best know today for the words from his poem “An die Freude” (Ode to Joy)  that Beethoven essentially sampled in his 9th Symphony. 


Frits Risor and Schiller Park


  Schiller Park is the second oldest park in Columbus, established first as City Park in 1857, named Schiller Park in 1892, named Washington Park during anti-German sentiment in World War I, and then renamed Schiller Park soon thereafter. The Park Entrance sign is shown here next to – Frits Risor. 




Crape myrtle flowers

Crape myrtle in Westerville landscape




  In German Village we saw several crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia) and Frits noted that this “southern” plant is becoming more and more prominent in central Ohio and we also looked at a number of them in Westerville landscapes later that day. Many of us remember when crape myrtle was something that reliably survived only in Cincinnati and other southern Ohio areas. Then central Ohio, now northern Ohio, though there are winters in which crape myrtles are beaten aback almost to the ground. We do not get the full effect of the wonderful striated bark feature, but time will tell.


Botrytis on hibiscus


declining arborvitae


  Anytime you take a walk and botanize, there is much good but there is always some bad and some ugly. Bad is the Botrytis gray mold fungus, that is a weak, somewhat opportunistic plant parasite on living plant tissue, but is a voracious saprophyte, living on dead organic matter. Many cases in which it causes us problems is when it builds up on dead tissue and then spreads to healthy tissue, such as the senescent hibiscus blossom here. Deadheads of the world unite! Ugly was the arborvitae dying in their water water everywhere but…too much or too late for the roots to drink scenario.   

  But back to the bold and the beautiful, with the luminous fruits of Japanese maple, the dramatic swirls of Pinus strobus ‘Contorta’, the jumbo leaves of elephant ears (Colocasia), and the bicolored shimmering leaves of silver linden along German Village streets. It is worth a trip there to see the pride of community, of landscaping, and of landscapers on display there.


silver linden form and foliage


elephant ears


maple fruits


contorted white pine foliage