Travels with The Friends of the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden

Posted on July 09, 2015

Below are excerpts from guest blogger, Susanne Kondracke, Executive Director of The Friends of the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden. She provided four blog posts reflecting on her trip to the Lakeside in Bloom event in June 2015. To read her posts, visit

Travelers with The Friends of the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden arrived in Lakeside on  June 27.

As the large custom coach was ceremoniously escorted onto the Lakeside grounds, everyone quickly realized they were someplace special.

Also joining the trip in Lakeside was a Nor’easter, which is fairly unusual for Lakeside at this time of the year. It decided to arrive just a few hours before The Friends, thus unleashing a flurry of activity causing plans to quickly change.

What was to be an outdoor picnic became a beautifully unique, indoor garden party on the stage of Hoover Auditorium, complete with chirping birds.

Following lunch, experts Guy Denny and Jennifer Windus led the group on fascinating explorations of the Lakeside Daisy and Resthaven Nature Preserves. They discussed the hearty Lakeside Daisy, and those bright yellow daisies certainly belong here amidst the happy people who call Lakeside home.

Plans for an al fresco dinner along Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile were thwarted as the rain continued to fall. Once again, the stellar Lakeside staff switched gears and set up a lovely dinner inside the Hotel Lakeside. The evening ended with the OSU Alumni Band and their rousing renditions of Buckeye favorites playing in Hoover Auditorium.

Day two of The Friends’ visit to Lakeside was glorious from start to finish. The group greeted the day with an inspiring morning worship service. The music, the messages, the sense of community, faith and hope set the tone for the day.

Upon exiting magnificent Hoover, many people walked the streets of Lakeside and got a sneak peek at the award-winning gardens on Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile.

Aside from the obvious scenic beauty, The Friends were surrounded by extraordinarily talented people:

  • Artists who capture the beauty of the Earth with a brush, canvas and oil paints.
  • Gardeners who create masterpieces of their own just outside their front doors.
  • Visionaries and risk-takers who have created places where nature can be celebrated and appreciated by thousands each year.
  • Friends who have come from near and far to share their passion for plants and flowers, trees and bees.

There have been many other serendipitous moments, which have brought The Friends together for these four days.

So far, the extended-weekend gardening experience at Lakeside had encompassed walking tours, golf cart rides, delicious meals, lemonade on porches, lively conversations, bird sightings, toe tapping and hand clapping.

For the final two days, The Friends heard from treasured English garden designer Amanda Patton. She is a gem and everyone was fortunate to enjoy time with her amidst this Norman Rockwell setting.

By the time everyone departed on Tuesday evening, Patton presented more than four hours of fascinating lectures on her theories of exemplary garden design. She discussed the elements of symmetry, line, form and color and gave a few guidelines that most listeners will likely consider when working in the garden.

Her approaches to garden design stem from her keen knowledge of the tenets of art design. An accomplished artist herself, Patton is passionate about her craft, and it showed in her thoughtful perspective and honest critiques.

The natural beauty surrounding the Lakeside area and Marblehead Peninsula and expert comments by the group’s guides raised IQs, reinforced Patton’s theories and challenged attendees to learn more about naturalistic planting and protection of local resources.

By the end of the weekend, many of The Friends travelers raved about the four days spent on retreat at Lakeside. As they began to realize that their time in Lakeside was coming to a close, The Friends also realized that they are always learning and growing and the time spent in Lakeside made that clear.

It has been a treat to study, in depth, such universal beauty these past few days during the stay in Lakeside. Thank you to those who were part of the trip and those who made it possible. Let’s do it again — same time next year.