Clary Gardens $1M renovations will enhance grounds, events

A pond with waterfall was recently completed and a new garden with staircase is planned for November

COSHOCTON — Renovations around the pavilion at Clary Gardens were recently revealed during a special ceremony involving advisers from America in Bloom. 

Last summer, Clary Gardens celebrated its 20th anniversary by unveiling a new pavilion with a concrete floor and wooden roof. It replaced a tented area used for special events and wedding receptions.

The 20-acre facility at 588 W. Chestnut St. is a community botanical garden that has become one of the top wedding sites in the state. It also holds other activities such as an annual butterfly exhibit and outdoor plays by Rogue Elephant Productions. “Godspell” was performed this year and “Spamalot” is planned for next summer. 

The gardens features two historic homes, a natural amphitheater, rose garden with gazebo, children’s garden and walking trails. 

Over the past few weeks, paths have been improved leading to the pavilion, including handicap accessibility, and a pond with a waterfall has been created. More work is scheduled in November that will include creating another wedding venue and a grand staircase below the pavilion, said Clary Gardens Executive Director Jandi Adams. A fireplace is also being added to the pavilion. 

Adams said some finishing work to the pond is set for completion this week. The whole project is estimated at a bit more than $1 million. Phase one has been funded by grants, donations and the Clary Gardens Foundation. More grants and donations are being sought for phase two. 

“We really wanted to setup this phase one as the foundation for the what the future of what this here will look like,” Adams said. 

Hathaway Inc. is the general contractor with Dave Kridler as the stonemason. Adams said it’s important for them to use local businesses for work where possible. This includes buying needed items from local stores. 

“They’re part of this community. They not only work here, but live here. They’ve come back to this space and just seen how dynamic and unique this space is becoming. They have pride in their work and want to show it off,” Adams said. “We feels it’s so important to keep our money here in Coshocton. These people have supported Clary Gardens over the years and we feel it’s really important to support them.” 

Dorothy Skowrunski, who is on the Clary Gardens board, said forming a master plan for improvements has been a goal since day one. Now they have a plan, it’s moving fast.

“It’s really a miracle we got so much done in such a short time,” Skowrunski said. 

While not completed, the pond debuted at a recent community celebration part of an area tour for advisers from America in Bloom, a national floral and landscape competition Coshocton has participated in nine times over the last 12 years. 

Advisers Leslie Pittenger of Belpre and Linda Cromer of Greendale, Indiana, took notes on what it felt Coshocton was doing right and what it could improve on in key areas. Categories rated include community vitality, flowers, landscaped areas, urban forestry, environmental efforts, celebrating heritage and overall impression. Reports will be revealed at a symposium Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Pittenger and Cromer toured Coshocton in 2017 and definitely see the community as being on the rise. This included the new additions to Clary Gardens, which they already thought was a real gem for the city. 

“Five years ago we saw ideas were coming into play and now it’s slowly evolving into fruition of what it can be. I see (Clary Gardens) heading to even greater heights,” Cromer said. “Good things take time. You can slap things together, but when you’re trying to build something for generations in the community, you have to do it right.” 

Leonard Hayhurst is a community content coordinator and general news reporter for the Coshocton Tribune with close to 15 years of local journalism experience and multiple awards from the Ohio Associated Press. He can be reached at 740-295-3417 or Follow him on Twitter at @llhayhurst.