Guest Blogger: Susanne Kondracke, Executive Director of The Friends of the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden
As our large custom coach was ceremoniously escorted on to the Lakeside property, we quickly realized that we were someplace special. A kind-looking man with a great hat and necessary raincoat greeted us with a friendly wave. That was the first of many cheerful greetings we would receive.
The Lakeside staff smiled and also warmly welcomed us. What most of us we’re not aware of was all of the work that occurred behind the scenes as they anticipated our arrival.
You see, also joining us on our trip was an unusual Nor’easter. It decided to arrive just a few hours before us thus unleashing a flurry of activity. The power flickered on and off, here and there. Tree limbs fell and plans quickly changed.
Our outdoor picnic moved inside. We suddenly were the stars of the day, having lunch on the stage of the historic Hoover Auditorium. What was to be an outdoor picnic became a beautifully unique, indoor garden party, complete with chirping birds; and, we loved every minute of it.
We then ventured back into our superstar tour bus, confidently guided by very talented Tim, to face the ominous clouds and steady rain. We passed by many flooded yards and noted a few road closures along the way. This is fairly unusual for Lakeside at this time of the year, nonetheless beautiful.
Our off-site excursions were soggy but the weather did not dampen our spirits. What a rugged group of gardening enthusiasts. We looked like an outerwear fashion show featuring rain boots, hats, umbrellas, ponchos and raincoats of every color.
Experts Guy Denny and Jennifer Windus led us on fascinating explorations of the Lakeside Daisy and Resthaven Nature Preserves. Their super smart sixth-grade assistant Rachel beat us in the “trivia of the day,” naming more endangered plants than any of us could.
We saw prairie plants, at their best, in their natural habitat. We discussed the hearty Lakeside Daisy and appreciated its strength and stamina. (We will have to come back to visit in the spring when their cheerful blooms are reaching for the sun.) Those bright yellow daisies certainly belong here amidst the happy people who call Lakeside home.
Plans for an al fresco dinner along Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile were thwarted as the rain continued to fall. Once again, the stellar Lakeside staff switched gears and set up a lovely dinner inside the Lakeside Inn. The conversation flowed, and the group enjoyed the gracious hospitality of Lakesiders like the Rev. Dr. Ned Dewire, Kevin Sibbring, the Dracketts and Barbara Hoyer.
The evening ended with a terrific celebration with the OSU Alumni Band and their rousing renditions of Buckeye favorites. We feel very welcome here and appreciate all of the hard work which has gone into making our visit possible. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?