Bath Gamma Garden Club tours resident gardens

by Alex Vukoder

The Bath Gamma Garden Club celebrated its annual meeting with tours of two local gardens. Garden club members and guests started the evening at the gardens of Dr. Steve Cochran and his wife, Denise Woods.

The couple has five acres in Bath, more than two of which they have cultivated into lush, serene garden beds featuring flowers, trees, shrubs and vegetables along with composting and work areas.

Their garden is 32 years in the making with additions and changes made annually. Cochran led the group along the backyard path, highlighting native and exotic plants and sharing advice from his gardening experience. 

“Focus on your soil composition and how much sun your area receives. Once you understand these factors, start small,” said Cochran.

He pointed out the yard’s new addition, a Buckeye Shrub, which has white flower clusters that bloom in July. It is native to North America and prefers well-drained soil, according to The Morton Arboretum. Cochran added that Purple Stachys, perennial wildflowers, last for weeks as cut flowers. Japanese maples, another of Cochran’s favorites, can be fragile, as he has lost some over the years.

The tour then moved on to club member Kathleen Flessner’s garden and architectural landscape wonder in Firestone Trace. Her garden was started sixteen years ago and was originally on the “Parade of Homes,” a public self-guided tour of featured homes within Summit County and beyond.

Since then, Flessner has designed many of the features in her expansive garden including intricate stonework and water features, paying close attention to structure and drainage.

“Gardens require time and patience but bring lots of joy,” said Flessner.

The garden owners both offered the advice to choose plants you love, do your research and work on the garden a little bit at a time.

The Bath Gamma Garden Club was started in 1957 and currently has about 40 members who meet monthly. Members plan, install plantings, water and weed their own gardens as well as several public gardens at the Bath administration buildings, entrances of the cemeteries, the post office and the Bath baseball fields. They support events such as Fall Into Nature, held at the Bath Nature Preserve. The club also plants and maintains the herb gardens by the Salt Box House at Hale Farm & Village. 

“One of the most common misconceptions is that you must be a master gardener to be a member. Not the case at all,” said garden club President Kathy Halliwill. “We learn a lot from each other, but it is the love of helping to beautify our community that connects us.”

To learn more about membership, events, and donations/contributions, contact Pam Reitz at 330-858-2519. ∞

Photo: Dr. Steve Cochran stands in his garden that spans over two acres. Photos by Alex Vukoder.
Photo: This native plant pictured is called mullein and is over six feet tall. Cochran said mullein is edible and the leaves and flowers can be used to make a salad or steeped for tea.

On our cover (photo): Members of the Bath Gamma Garden Club and interested public toured two gardens in the township before the club’s annual meeting. One of the gardens in Firestone Trace featured a water installation among foliage. Photos by Alex Vukoder.