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Restoring the Restorative Garden

October 28, 2022


As you walk through the Elizabeth and Nona Evans Restorative Garden at the Cleveland Botanical Garden you may notice some exciting changes underway! The horticulture team is currently in the process of refreshing the plant palette and lawn space surrounding the reflecting pool at the entrance to the Restorative Garden.

The Restorative Garden was designed to be a place where all people can find healing, peace, and restoration through their interaction with nature. This upper portion of the garden is intended to be a serene, meditative space that encourages calm reflection. A muted color palette of white and green fills this enclosed space allowing the mind to quiet while strolling through or sitting down to enjoy it.

Previously there was a large Quercus montana (chestnut oak) in the bed southwest of the reflecting pool which casted a glorious amount of shade over the space. This made for a very happy patch of Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese pachysandra) surrounding the pool and a beautiful lawn of Poa pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass). With the removal of this oak came tremendous amounts of sun and heat which caused the Pachysandra to suffer and the weeds to thrive! Management of this space became increasingly difficult as removal of weeds disturbed the Pachysandra beyond its ability to recolonize the area, especially given the stressful, sunny conditions. The weeds spread to the lawn with similar vigor and equally similar management issues.

All these issues had lead us to explore new plant opportunities for the space. And so, we’ve chosen to replace the pachysandra with Carex oshimensis ‘Feather Falls’ (feather falls sedge). The Carex, or sedge, is a green and white variegated variety. Its mounding, grassy texture softens the hardscaped edges of the pool and pathways with elegance while giving us the ability to plant perennials and bulbs directly around the pool to pop up through the sedge’s blades. For the lawn space we have made the exciting decision to showcase a no-mow lawn seed mixture. No-mow lawns are typically mixes of low growing perennial and self-sowing annual species which eliminating or minimize the need for mowing. These seed mixes also promote biodiversity, require less watering after establishment, and the flowering varieties benefit pollinators. We are excited to see how both the alternative lawn and the Carex grow into the space over the next year or so. We hope you enjoy watching it develop into its full potential as well!

Caroline Watson

Caroline Watson


Caroline has been practicing her craft at the botanical garden for three years. She comes to us with a biology degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and experience designing with flowers. And these skills are on beautiful display throughout the Terrace and Restorative Gardens. Caroline also has a special interest in the intricate traditional pruning methods she applies to the Japanese Garden. That’s enough to keep her busy—but she’s never too busy talk gardening with you!

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