Insights: Columbus | Community | Fall 2017

Columbus community gardens

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens provides a sanctuary for nature lovers

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
By Stephanie Taylor Christensen

Twenty-five years ago, the Ohio Legislature conferred Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to a 10-member board of trustees and an executive director. But the organization’s history dates to 1895, when a Victorian-style glass greenhouse opened to the public under the name Franklin Park Conservatory.

The original structure is now called the Palm House and remains part of the conservatory, a thriving botanical and cultural attraction 2 mileses outside of downtown Columbus in Franklin Park.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company Community Garden Campus
(Photos courtesy of Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens)

What the organization does

The conservatory offers access to indoor and outdoor garden and plant collections, along with renowned art collections, walking loops, community gardens and more. It’s also a gathering place for special programming and events, community education and seasonal exhibitions, including its current topiary garden exhibit (featuring endangered animals), says Bruce Harkey, president and CEO of the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Since 2007, the conservatory has completed major capital projects including two Palm House additions, the four-acre Scotts Miracle-Gro Company Community Garden Campus, and Wells barn, which serves as a venue for special events and community education. A two-acre Children’s Garden is slated to open in 2018.

Huntington has supported the conservatory both as its bank and through community outreach and education.

“Many Huntington executives and their families have participated internally with programming to help with fundraising,” Harkey says.

How its people help

“We have a robust community outreach and education program, and we’re among the top five community gardens in the country,” Harkey says, adding that 50,000 students visit the conservatory’s Columbus gardens each year for school programming.

In addition, the conservatory’s Growing to Green program to promote neighborhood beautification has assisted in creating or renovating more than 250 community gardens across Central Ohio.

For more information, visit

How you can help

You can support the conservatory by visiting its exhibitions and events throughout the year, becoming a member and/or attending or volunteering at one of its fundraising events.

About the organization

  • Name:  Franklin Park Conservatory
  • Website:
  • City:  Columbus, Ohio
  • Phone:  (614) 715-8000
  • Mission:  Inspired by horticulture, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens elevates quality of life and connects the community through educational, cultural and social experiences.