Kingwood Center Gardens
Berlin, OH - Events of Friday, July 31, 2015
We have been having some beautiful summer weather here in Ohio. The cycle of rain we had throughout most of May, June and into early July has finally been broken. On July 31, we took advantage of the good weather and drove to Mansfield, Ohio, to visit Kingwood Center Gardens. Mansfield is about a 1¼-hour drive east of Berlin.
Kingwood Center is the 47-acre estate that once belonged to Charles Kelley King, who made his fortune working for the Ohio Brass Company in Mansfield. King started working for Ohio Brass in 1898 as an electrical engineer and eventually became President and Chairman of the Board. He led Ohio Brass to success in the manufacture of electrical components for railroads and trolleys.
Mr. King built Kingwood in 1926. He was married and divorced twice, and he had no children by either of his ex-wives. Since he had no direct heirs, he left much of his fortune and his estate to a foundation which he established before his death. The foundation continues to operate Kingwood today. The estate opened to the public in 1953 one year after Charles King's death. Admission is $5 per car or $2 per person for walk-ins.
From the parking lot, we headed down the main garden path where we were immediately struck by the wonderful combinations of colors and textures.
The gardens at Kingswood are more extensive today than they were during Mr. King's lifetime thanks to provisions he made for expansion when he set up his foundation. The main path leads to the Terrace Gardens, much of which was created in the 1990s.
We were constantly amazed by the spectacular vignettes in the garden. Each time we went up to another level of the terrace or looked down a side path, the view was more beautiful than the one before.
The next terrace features a sunken garden, which did exist in Mr. King's time.
The upper terrace is another part of the garden that was there in Mr. King's time. It contains the Formal Garden which was originally built around the swimming pool. The pool has now been filled in.
From the Formal Garden we followed a path to the left. It led back down the hill through the Perennial Garden.
The daylilies in the Perennial Garden were just about at their peak. There were dozens of varieties with blooms of many different colors, sizes and shapes.
We then crossed back over the main path and headed to the mansion. In an area in front of the house is another terrace with even more gardens.
Today, the mansion itself is used for offices for the foundation and to house an extensive horticultural library. Parts of the house are also open to visitors for self-guided tours. At 11:00 a.m. on Saturdays and at 2:00 p.m. on Sundays there are guided tours of the house for $3 per person. The guided tour includes parts of the house like the kitchen that are not open for the self-guided tour.
From the house, we headed back toward the parking lot and made a stop at the greenhouse/gift shop before heading out.
The gift shop has garden tools, decorative items, annuals, perennials and herbs for sale. The greenhouse has display areas that include annuals, perennials, cacti and tropicals.
We really enjoyed our visit to Kingwood Center Gardens. We have visited a lot of botanical gardens in our travels, and this is one right up there with the best in our opinion. It certainly isn't the biggest or most spectacular we've seen (that would be Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia); but we really appreciate the creativity of the plant selection with its rich displays of color and texture. Not only is there is a lot of beauty packed into a relatively small space, but the admission price is also very reasonable.
As is frequently the case when we go sightseeing, we also researched places to eat. Athens Greek Restaurant got good online reviews, and since we never made it to the Greek community of Tarpon Springs when we were in Florida last winter, Greek food sounded good to us.
Athens Greek Restaurant has two locations in the Mansfield area - one in downtown Mansfield and one in the town of Ontario just to the west of Mansfield. We headed the one in Ontario for a late lunch because it was closer to Kingwood Center Gardens and because it was also closer US Route 30 that we would be taking back to Berlin.
We both had super-sized gyros ($6.95 for super, $4.95 for regular). We split an order of fries ($1.19 when added to any sandwich). The gyros were very large, and they were delicious.
With our bellies full, we headed back to Scenic Hills. We were looking forward to some relaxation time.