Wedding garden, master landscape plan to beautify historical Gahanna Sanctuary

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
Master gardener Brenda Hoffman and her husband, Carroll, germinate seeds March 10 in a former stained-glass workshop that has been repurposed to a grow room at the Gahanna Sanctuary, 82 N. High St.

A new landscape is taking shape at the historical Gahanna Sanctuary, 82 N. High St., with the help of local gardeners and the first phase of a three-part improvement project underway.

John Michael Spinelli, managing trustee of the Gahanna Sanctuary, said phase 1 includes a new front scape facing High Street, with expanded landings and steps, new planting beds, room for signs and lights to complement and add to bell-tower lights.

"With the start of phase 1 of our three-part plan to complete a first-ever master landscape plan for our historic and beautiful Gahanna Sanctuary, establishing a garden club of volunteers ready to turn our grounds into one of central Ohio's most unique, attractive and art-laden environments designed for wedding, social or business outdoor events, we are showing how the 126-year old facility is adapting to new times while keeping our history intact," Spinelli said. 

The Gahanna Sanctuary, whose construction was completed in late 1895, is partnered with the Gahanna Foundation, a charitable nonprofit founded in July 2018.

The mission or purpose of the Gahanna Foundation is to raise money through grants, gifts and endowments to fund projects directly or indirectly related to the Gahanna Sanctuary and/or worthwhile neighborhood projects, according to the sanctuary’s website.

Spinelli said the landscape project wouldn't directly use public funding.

“The funding source will come from a new generation of new customers who – along with previous customers returning to book the venue for events other than their or a friend's wedding here or residents or visitors who are starting to hear about us – will drive this private-sector effort over time,” he said.

The Gahanna Sanctuary is receiving a new front scape with expanded landings and steps, new planting beds, room for signage and lights to complement and add to bell-tower lights.

Spinelli estimates the first phase of the plan will be completed by the end of April.

He said phase 2, consisting of a wedding garden that’s the anchor of the landscaping plan, should be completed no later than September. 

Phase 3, involving alleyway parking, a dumpster relocation and new handicap-accessible ramp, should be completed by New Year's Eve, Spinelli said.

He said Mark Schieber of Schieber & Associates LLC is the plans landscape architect, and Charlie Weaver of Architectural Gardens is heading the construction team. 

Gardeners wanted

Brenda Hoffman, who’s a master gardener, said she decided to volunteer because the sanctuary is a “fabulous aspect” of Gahanna. 

“The glass windows are really romantic,” she said. “I met John years ago through the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District. I knew they needed some help because they were redoing their garden.”

Hoffman said a call for volunteers was put out on social media to the Gahanna Gardening Group.

“Thirty-eight gardeners have offered their help this spring,” she said. “If you have one hour a month, you can join us as a volunteer. In the end, the goal is to have a garden someone can walk into, relax and see pollinators and see tranquility in their day.”

Anyone wanting to help should email Hoffman at garden4bee@gmail.com.

“We’ve started (planting from seeds) common wedding flowers, and we’ll incorporate some of the herbs Gahanna is famous for,” she said. “We’ll plant a lot of basils. It’s considered a holy plant by many societies. There will be a lot of thyme, mint, and we’ll add some annuals.”

Hoffman said some of the perennials would be things commonly found in wedding bouquets, such as peonies. 

“Part of the landscape will be hydrangeas, symbolic of one true love, a love everlasting. There will be some lilies,” she said. “It will be an ongoing project. We anticipate it will have ongoing seasonal features. Some Lenten roses with blooms in December.”

Hoffman said she thinks the landscape additions and gardens at the sanctuary will be fantastic for all of Gahanna. 

“It’s a beautiful structure,” she said. “I think it will be wonderful.”

'Letter to the future'

With the capital project representing a new dawn for the sanctuary, Spinelli said, plans are to install a new 21st-century cornerstone to mark the occasion.  

He said the public is invited to send a “letter to the future” that would be put in the cornerstone as a time capsule "so another 126 years into the future, the reimagining journey we are on will be remembered."

“We ask anyone who wants to be part of this history-making event to send their letter, handwritten or typed or computer-printed letter, sealed in an envelope with their name, and only their name, on the outside of the envelope,” Spinelli said.

He said a dedication ceremony would be announced to add any letters to the future, along with some special items on behalf of the Gahanna Sanctuary or the city of Gahanna. 

The deadline is May 1 for the letters that must be labeled as such and delivered or mailed to the Gahanna Sanctuary, 82 N. High St., Gahanna, 43230. 

Any questions should be directed to Spinelli at hello@gahannasanctuary.org.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla