Gardening at Lorain County Metro Parks

The gardening category features information on upcoming gardening programs such as pruning techniques, herbs, garden tours, and more. These programs take place year round and at several parks though the majority of gardening programs are at Miller Nature Preserve, Schoepfle Garden and the Lakeview Park Historical Rose Garden. Don't miss the kick off to the gardening season at the Mill Hollow Herb Fair in April. Sign up for the Gardening E-newsletter to learn about what is blooming at Miller Nature Preserve, Schoepfle Garden and the Rose Garden, upcoming programs, and some tips for your own garden.

What's in Bloom? Sign up for the Gardening E-Newsletter

Schoepfle Garden Lakeview Park Rose Garden

Miller Nature Preserve


On May 7 Miller Nature Preserve celebrated its one year anniversary.

To date we now have over 1800 members! THANK YOU! Please come by to see our conservatory which hosts collections of bonsai, orchids, tropical plants, seasonal displays and more. We also have a wide variety of programs and events as well as a kids club, orchid club, and bonsai club.



Pruning: To Cut or not to Cut?

LAVENDER - The soothing herb

Planning your garden for warmer summer days harvest. Here's just a few reasons why to plant lavender!

So what is so great about lavender? It has really a wide use of applications. Its blooms and leaves can be utilized. It is an essential oil; use as anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, mosquito repellent, dried flower arrangements, potpourri, butterfly attractant, and in soaps and candles. Of course for its culinary uses in drinks, meals, and desserts.

As an herb it is fairly easy to grow; it does like full sun and drier, well drained soils, favoring those on the sandy side. There are several popular species to plant so check out the details when purchasing. They are a perennial so they will come back every year.

PRUNING lavender- if lavender is not pruned regularly it becomes woody and produces fewer blooms and leaves. The plant should have a year (or 2) to establish; meaning it needs to focus on root growth; if you trim lavender too early, it will put its energy in growing leaves, not roots, and not be as healthy of a plant in the long term.

The best time to prune is springtime just when the new growth is emerging. Using clean, sharp pruners prune out one third of the plant. Cut the stem down near the base of the plant; cutting at a downward angle is best. This yearly pruning will promote new growth and prevent the plant from going woody and increase blooms.


For great recipes visit:


Pruning: To Cut or not to Cut?

PRUNING: To Cut or not to Cut?

Yes now! There is still time to do some final pruning outside on the nice days of the season. What is the advantage of pruning? First, is to maintain the health of the tree/plant by removing dead limbs, criss-cross branches, unwanted leaders, thinning out excessive branches, and of course to maintain its natural or desired shape.

Annuals - can still be pulled out and put into your compost pile. There is however some annuals that re-seed themselves easily and you may want to leave them in the ground until they release their seeds. Some examples are: cornflower, impatiens, snapdragons, calendula, sweet annie, and marigolds.

Perennials - all the dead leaves/stalks can be trimmed back. Grasses and herbs can be cut back to about 4" high; some older herbs can be selectively cut and thinned out by pruning the very woody stems out(lavender, sage). Some perennials such as iris retain green leaves that should be left on. A light leaf layer from trees could remain on top of cut back plants for winter protection. Stalks and seed heads from plants can be used for decorative winter bouquets such as cone flower, queen anne's lace, black eyed Susan's and yarrow.

Pruning woody plants - trees. As a general rule, the dormant season is a good time to prune because without the leaves it is easy to see the plant structure and plant pathogen activity is at a minimal.
Below are some general guidelines; but remember before you sharpen the pruners, it is always a good idea to get confirmation of the particular plant species growth and pruning guidelines from your local landscaper, garden center, or other research.

Evergreens – typically most times of the year are ok to prune, except for the dry summer season; spring is the time to cut back ‘candles’ on pines to promote branching.

Most hardwood trees may be pruned in winter. There are some exceptions such as maple and walnuts need to be prune in spring after the sap has flowed to prevent excessive “bleeding.”

Shrubs - one thing to keep in mind is when and how the plant blooms. Some plants bloom on new or current growth. These are typically the shrubs that bloom during the summer and can be continually pruned back to promote more blooms during the same season. Spirea and Korean lilacs are examples. They can be pruned /thinned out from now to late winter.
Shrubs that bloom on old wood need to be pruned immediately after blooming, or before mid-summer so as not to remove flower buds that have set. These are typically early spring bloomers and typically only bloom once. Examples of this are rhododendrons, azaleas, and some hydrangeas.

Hydrangea - is an example of a shrub where different species need to be pruned differently, as some bloom on old wood and others on new growth. Oak-leaf (Hydrangea quercifolia) and mop head and lacecap hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) bloom on old wood; “PeeGee” hydrangeas, such as Limelight (Hydrangea paniculata) and wild hydrangeas such as ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Incrediball’ (Hydrangea arborescens) hydrangeas bloom on new growth.

Remember it is always good practice to check your pruning techniques for that particular plant specie before starting.


Butterfly House flowers


Hydroponics is a form of gardening where plants are grown without using soil. The word “hydroponics” translates from the Greek as “working water”. Nutrients are added to the water which is in contact with the roots. Since the nutrients are delivered directly to the roots, the plants can grow faster and fuller as the roots don’t have to work to search out the nutrients in the soil.

This is not a new concept. In the mid 1800’s German botanists used a list of nine essential elements that plants need and came up with a technique called soilless cultivation, but the term “hydroponics” was not used until 1937. In the 1930’s hydroponic gardening was used on the rocky Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean. Vegetables were grown for passengers to eat when Pan American Airline planes would make a refueling stop.

Hydroponics minimizes one of the biggest variables in gardening – over or under watering. Since water is always available, the plant can use as much as it needs. What is not taken up by plants is drained away to be recirculated.

Four Reasons to consider the hydroponic method of gardening:

  1. Hydroponic crops can use up to 90% less water than soil grown crops when in a recirculating system.
  2. You can plant four times the amount of hydroponic crops in the same area that soil crops need to grow.
  3. Hydroponic crops can grow twice as fast.
  4. Hydroponically grown crops can be grown organically and without the use of herbicides and pesticides.

How COOL is this transformation?

Below is a photo transformation of the Hydroponic plants growing in the conservatory at Miller Nature Preserve. The first photo was taken on April 11 and the second photo was taken on May 2.

Hyrdoponic Plants - April 11, 2017 Hyrdoponic Plants - May 2, 2017
Photo taken on April 11, 2017 Photo taken on May 2, 2017

Below is a short timelapse video of the same Hydroponic plants growing in the conservatory at Miller Nature Preserve. The first photo of the timelapse was taken on April 6 and the final photo was taken on April 19.




Balsam (Impatiens balsamina) is originally from Asia and was popular in Victorian gardens in the early 1900's. The plant is gaining popularity once again as heirloom gardens become popular. This plant, which is grown from seed, was replaced by impatiens which could be purchased as plants and was easy to find in garden centers.

Other common names for this plant include rose balsam, jumping Betty, and touch-me-not. Balsam comes in colors that include rose, purple, white, pink, and red. Although the plant needs to be started from seed, it is easy to grow. The seed started inside, will sprout in as little as four days. Seedlings can then be hardened off and planted in the garden once the average night temperatures reach 60 degrees. When the blooms fade, a seed pod is produced that will expel the seeds by force. The plant blooms from summer to first frost and was originally used in Asian countries to treat burns and snake bites.



Sweet Annie (Artemisia annua) is also called sweet wormwood, annual mugwort, sweet sagewort, or annual wormwood. It is native to Asia but has become naturalized in scattered parts of North America. Its’ very feathery fern like leaves appears early spring and has small bright yellow flowers in late summer, on a straight single stalk with alternating branches, sometimes reaching heights of 6’.
This annual readily reseeds itself (but easily pulled out) in the garden and can become a nuisance if not controlled. Insects or wind cross pollinates this plant. It is easy to grow and prefers sunny, well drained (even sandy) locations and is not prone to many diseases other than root rot from overly wet soil.

In traditional medicinal uses it is used to treat things like fever, malaria, asthma, and is currently being studied for potential use as anticancer drugs(an extract form the plant). Its camphor type scent does help to deter some garden pests.

Sweet Annie is typically grown in gardens for its sweet smelling foliage and yellow blooms that are often used in floral decorations and wreaths. Harvest sweet Annie plant just as its blooms begin to appear in late summer for use in floral arrangements or wreaths. When drying sweet Annie, place branches in small bundles and hang upside down in a dark, well-ventilated area for about two to three weeks or until dry. Use in floral arrangements, swags, or wreaths for its awesome smell.

When collecting seeds, cut the foliage to the ground (leave some plants remaining for self-seeding) and place in a paper bag. Allow to dry and then gently shake the seeds loose.




Monarch Butterfly


  1. Are sunflowers annuals or perennials?
  2. Sunflower stems can reach heights of:
    1. 3'
    2. 6'
    3. 12'
  3. Sunflowers are the state flower of:
    1. Kansas
    2. Missouri
    3. Arizona
  4. True or False: Sunflowers can have up to 2,000 seeds.
  5. Of the two kinds of sunflower seeds, black and striped, which kind makes sunflower oil?
  6. The most common sunflower species hosts the larva of:
    1. beetles
    2. moths
    3. flies
  7. In the common sunflower genus there are over how many species?
    1. 25
    2. 40
    3. 65
  8. The species of Helianthus are all native to North America, except for three. These three are from:
    1. South America
    2. Africa
    3. Australia
  9. True or False: During their growth, sunflowers tilt their head to follow the sun, but stop once they start to bloom.
  10. By the time the sunflower is mature it generally faces:
    1. North
    2. South
    3. East
    4. West


Miller Conservatory Admission

Building/conservatory hours: 10am - 6pm daily

Admission only applies to the conservatory.

  • Daily Admission: $2
  • Year Pass: $10
  • Lifetime Membership: $250


Miller Nature Preserve Membership:
  • $10 yearly - unlimited access to conservatory for one full year *(no refunds)
  • Reduced prices on many programs, classes, and events
  • Members only events
  • Receive garden e-newsletter (with valid e-mail address)
  • Receive periodic member only e-mails
  • 6 pack daily passes available ($10) for members only to purchase
  • Other special promotional events
Kids Club Membership:
  • $18 first year (regular $10 membership thereafter) - unlimited access to conservatory for one full year
  • Kids Club t-shirt
  • Logo sticker
  • Reduced prices on many programs, classes and events
  • Members only events
  • Yearly coupon for 10% off single purchase in MNP gift shop
  • Receive kids e-newsletter
  • Receive periodic member only e-mails
  • 6 pack daily passes available ($10) for members only to purchase
  • Other special promotional events
  • Most Kids Club activities are designed for ages 5 and up
We also have Yearly Gift Memberships
Great to give as a gift, purchase one for the $10 price and you will receive a nice gift card to give.

*A $2.00 replacement fee will be charged for lost membership cards


Tours are offered throughout the year at Schoepfle Garden, Miller Nature Preserve, and Lakeview Park. A schedule can be found in the program guide, The Arrowhead. You can also call Schoepfle Garden at (440) 985-7237, Miller Nature Preserve at (440) 937-0764, and Lakeview Park at (440) 245-1193 to schedule a tour for your group of 15 or more.

Annual Events

Mill Hollow Herb Fair - April 28 & 29, 2012



More Programs & Events >



To Top


Get connected with the
Metro Parks!

Register for
A Program

Visit the Registration Page to sign up for a program or event.


Gerbera Daisies
Gerbera Daisies help you sleep like a baby? Most plants give off oxygen during the day (while absorbing carbon dioxide), but the Gerbera does this process at night, resulting in more oxygen and easier breathing and deeper sleep by over 10%. Another benefit is this plant comes in a variety of colors and can flower up to 6 weeks with proper care. They prefer full sun and good drainage, with the crown of the plant above the soil. Allow soil to become moderately dry between waterings, then water thoroughly, but do not let them stand in water.