Brennan: Director of horticulture highlights changes at Kingwood Center Gardens
Mark Hoover said the evolution of Kingwood Center Gardens goes well beyond bricks and mortar and the opening of the new 15,000-square-foot Gateway Center.
He emphasized it also has to do with new or changing environmental concerns such as storm water retention and new approaches to supporting traditional offerings such as the rose garden.
“Nature has a way of introducing new challenges,” the Kingwood director of horticulture said, adding creativity and sound practices are critical to addressing these evolving natural concerns. He said the entire gateway project has resulted in the addition of 40,000 plants to the entire Kingwood complex.
The Garden Gateway Center, built in the same style as the Kingwood mansion, is the centerpiece of a $10 million expansion and improvement project. Financial support for the project was collected from a public fund drive.
This new center contains such amenities as a 250-seat auditorium and a display gallery. A new grand perennial garden near the Gateway center contains 6,000 plants. Hoover said these new facilities will go a long way toward enhancing the usage and enjoyment of Kingwood.
The overall improvement project created a new parking facility that has more spaces, but also has a new approach to a national environmental concern.
sg飞艇appThat issue, faced by cities across the country, is storm water control.
sg飞艇appThe Trimble Road parking lot, on the north side of the Kingwood facility, has been replaced with what is being called a parking garden. Hoover emphasized this garden has received some 10,000 new plants, including trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses. The lot is fully handicapped accessible.
sg飞艇appThe parking area was constructed to also facilitate storm water retention capabilities.
The goal is to help reduce flooding threats to Touby’s Run stream and Mansfield neighborhoods north and east of Kingwood.
sg飞艇appHoover, who has directed horticultural operations at Kingwood for two years, explained that three of the seven natural plots in the parking garden are equipped with bioretention capabilities to hold back excessive rain. Heavy rain water can be held back for much of a day, Hoover said, adding these plots have special soil mixtures and plants that are more adaptable to moisture. He added the design of this retention project diverts and better controls the flow of rainwater across the paved area.
sg飞艇appHe said the diversion project also makes use of an existing nature pond on the northern edge of Kingwood.
“This project has been a successful partnership with the city of Mansfield,” the 32-year-old Ohio State University graduate said. He pointed out that the continued construction of hard-surface parking lots without storm water retention or diversion capabilities has increased urban flooding across the U.S.
sg飞艇appHoover’s bachelor of science degree from OSU is in landscape horticulture. He began his education at Ohio State’s Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) in Wooster. While studying there, he worked part-time at the Secrest Arboretum.
He has had additional working experience at the Cleveland Botanical Garden and the Morton Arboretum near Chicago. Prior to being named director of horticulture at Kingwood, Hoover served as the head gardener there.
sg飞艇appHoover and his family live in Litchfield, which is in Medina County. He explained the location of his home allows he and his wife, Sarah, to have equal driving distances to work. His wife teaches sixth-grade language arts in Elyria.
The couple has two daughters, Lila, 8, and Lucia, 3. Their son, Evan, is 6.
sg飞艇appHoover’s hobbies include camping and, of course, gardening. He also likes to cheer for the Cleveland Indians.
sg飞艇appWhen it comes to traditional offerings for Kingwood visitors, Hoover said there will always be tulips, roses and peonies. What will change, however, are adjustments to the presentation of these crowd favorites based on natural threats such as disease. Hoover emphasized that maintaining roses has been particularly difficult based on a wider variety of diseases and natural challenges.
“We know how important the roses are, so we put a lot of effort into them,” Hoover said, adding that rose beds and other crowd favorites are now complemented with some non-flowering plants with different heights, colors and textures.
“New diseases force you to mix it up to maintain color and effectiveness,” Hoover said, emphasizing many facilities like Kingwood have placed a big focus on perennial gardens. He also said using grasses and other native plants can create attractive and natural meadows.
Overall, Kingwood has added thousands of additional plants, but not a lot of them are new varieties. Hoover said the emphasis has been on surprising visitors by using plant mixtures in new and interesting ways.
sg飞艇appWhen asked if he had a special plant he was looking forward to for the upcoming season, Hoover’s selection went back to the parking garden.
He said he was anticipating a showy display from the white blooms on six Wada’s Memory magnolia trees.
sg飞艇appWhat Hoover referred to as an alarming reduction in the bee population also adds to the complexity of managing floral displays.
One tool Hoover is using to add new flavor to garden presentations is the introduction of trial gardens for Kingwood staffers. He said the gardeners are each given a plot and are encouraged to be creative with plant choices and landscape designs. His hope is that many good ideas will come from this experimentation and find their way into official public gardens.
sg飞艇app“We have a great staff here, so I am optimistic about these trial results,” Hoover said, adding that “Kingwood is evolving and we are equipped and determined.”
As local residents are aware, Kingwood is a nationally recognized horticultural center that has been one of Mansfield’s top sources of pride and tourism since 1953. It all actually began when the stately Kingwood mansion was built in 1926 on a 47-acre parcel.
The estate was originally the home of industrialist Charles Kelly King. The president of Mansfield’s former Ohio Brass Co. died in 1952. He left his property in a public trust. The evolution of the management of that trust has created the new Kingwood that is being unveiled this spring.
Tom Brennan is the retired editor of the News Journal and chairman of the Mansfield in Bloom steering committee. Mansfield in Bloom initiates and supports community improvement projects in areas such as floral, landscaping, environmental and historic preservation. If you wish to volunteer to help with these efforts, please call 419-755-7234 and ask for Patrick Clinage.