CH GardenWalk seeks gardens for July tour

Many front yards in Cleveland Heights are very nice, but a walk around to the back might reveal all kinds of surprises. The first annual Cleveland Heights GardenWalk, a free event planned for Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21, noon to 5 p.m. both days, aims to open up some hidden features of Cleveland Heights gardens and yards.

Efforts are underway to recruit gardeners in each Cleveland Heights zip code who have an interest in sharing the results of their labors. The goal of the event is to build community through gardening.

If you are interested in having your garden on the tour, contact Jan Kious at 216-534-6172 or

One of the gardens slated for the tour is a native plant garden that is just 2 years old. The yard is an example of ecological gardening that helps to increase biodiversity at a time when alarms are sounding for the global loss of insects and other species that make up a healthy ecosystemessential for life on earth.

When the homeowners moved into their house in 2017, the ground layer of the deep backyard was grass, ivy and winter creeper. Shrubs included Japanese honeysuckle and privet, both non-native and invasive. The tree canopy, comprising oak, catalpa, maple and basswood—all indigenous to Northeast Ohio—gave them hope to start a native woodland garden.

They removed weedy shrubs and created paths by smothering grass with free wood chips from a local tree service. They pulled up the ivy and winter creeper, replacing them with a native woodland mix that included wild ginger, trillium, stonecrop, columbine, jack-in-the-pulpit, and wild strawberry. They planted shrubs that feed insects and birds, including chokeberry, gray and silky dogwood, bladdernut, and bottlebrush buckeye, and added understory trees: pagoda and flowering dogwoods, paw paw, chokecherry, and staghorn sumac.

The sunny front yard was originally a blank palette, with one row of hostas across the foundation and a lawn. So far, the owners have removed more than half of the grass, replacing it with a tulip tree; fragrant sumac, St. John’s wort, and bush honeysuckle shrubs; and a variety of sun-loving pollinators, such as New York ironweed, pale coneflower, Culver’s root, asters, and goldenrod. Redbud and crabapple provide welcome spring blossoms.

Other gardens on the tour, so far, feature a tree house, pollinator gardens, a Japanese garden, chickens and their coops, and water features, and include a Bhutanese community garden.

Many of the volunteer committee members have also worked on GardenWalk Cleveland, a similar garden tour in the city of Cleveland.

Christine Henry

Christine Henry has lived in Cleveland Heights for nearly 50 years.

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Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 12:17 PM, 04.01.2019