Mission Oaks Gardens
By: Vasillia Valdez
Mission Oaks Gardens is a gorgeous urban garden located at 424 Hunter Ave., Zanesville, Ohio. It is nearly hidden from the street in a quiet and peaceful neighborhood. More than seven acres of gardens are home to an incredible collection of plants, including rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, and conifers. Perennials, annuals, and wildflowers fill the gardens year round. There is also a nearly two-acre conifer garden that has over 300 trees that are native to North America.
I highly recommend visiting this beautiful garden; not only is it full of lots of plants and greenery, it also has a trail you can walk. The trail is about a mile long. It is made up of mossy stones. If you walk down the little hill with wooden railings, you will see two gorgeous waterfalls along with a pond and a small creek. There are various benches and seating, perfect for family gatherings and picnics.
My favorite flowers at the Mission Oaks Gardens are the rhododendrons. They’re native to Asia and grow from shrubs that are displayed in various places throughout the garden. In the entrance there are huge shrubs full of them, and it creates a wonderful first impression to the place. This garden has so many trees and flowers, it’s unreal. There are trees and flowers from across the world here, along with native plants and trees as well.
I can’t forget to mention the magnolias, one of the most ancient flowering trees known to mankind. They can be white, pink, or purple, and they usually range from 3 to 12 inches in diameter. Magnolia seeds may remain dormant for a long time, usually 15-20 years. So it’s crazy to think that our local garden would have them growing.
While I was visiting, I couldn’t help but notice two photographers taking various photos; one of them was taking pictures of flowers and the waterfall while the other was holding a family photo session. So I would definitely recommend this place as a location for professional photos to be taken. Then if you walk the trail on the opposite side of the property under the sheltered area of the trail, you’ll notice a small wooden gazebo. This gazebo caught my eye because of its very old fashioned structure; you can tell it has been standing for many years, so if you’re into vintage scenery, Mission Oaks has got it!
If you have young ones who are interested in gardening, this is the perfect place! They have a small area for children to plant things with labeling supplies, gloves, and mini garden shovels. It is a wonderful learning experience for kids and even adults, as every plant, tree, and flower is labeled! The area is safe for young children and can be a very educational experience. A lot of schools hold field trips here so children can learn about all of the different plants and trees while also learning all of the names and descriptions.
I’ve visited this garden during every season of the year—mornings and early evenings in the fall are my favorite times to visit. In the morning the dew is frosted and makes the flowers glisten in the early morning sun. Going early evening in the cool fall is an eerie but beautiful experience: it’s so still in the garden that it’s surreal. Every now and again you might hear shuffling from little squirrels nesting in the trees, but it’s a very peaceful experience.
Another great reason to visit this garden would have to be the heavily wooded area, off the walking trail itself. It’s always fun to explore. There are little hidden surprises to uncover everywhere like a tree stump with a rocky trail leading to it. I thought it was the coolest thing because it wasn’t even a part of the trail. It was quite random, but on top was a flower growing out of it as if someone planted a little seed on the stump. To a child this would be almost magical, so I recommend exploring more than just the trail as well!
Finally, this garden is in fact pet friendly! They provide doggie bags for pet owners to clean up after their pet on the go! Not very many gardens are pet friendly in the Zanesville area, so I think this is definitely a plus. Mission Oaks is fit for everyone to enjoy. If you’re a senior who wants to just take in the natural beauty of the garden, they provide seating in various places. Or if you’re a parent taking your child to visit, this place is great because of the kids’ gardening area. Photographers can use this place for photo sessions, weight-loss groups can come jog the trail, and pet owners can even bring their furry friend along for the adventure.
With all of this being said, I think it is safe to say that Mission Oaks is a great attraction that Zanesville provides. It’s family maintained and is an essential edition to this small community. The gardens provide habitats for the animals nearby, and the pond and waterfalls house many different species of fish. We need more places like this in Zanesville—the more wildlife and ecosystems, the better. It’s easy to produce and is guaranteed to attract more people, which in turn will increase the economy.