Four of our fabulous volunteers at Inniswood have served with us for more than 35 years. They all attended the first volunteer training sessions a year before the gardens opened to the public in 1984.
Janet Withers, 86 and still going strong, says she and her three friends attended a get together at Sharon Woods in November 1982, for discussions about the founding of the gardens on land donated by the Innis sisters, and about the need for volunteers and funding before the gardens could open.
A past president of the Annehurst Garden Club, Janet was heavily involved in a successful effort in 1994 to stop an extension of Schrock Road being built through Inniswood’s land. “If the campaign to halt the road extension had failed, the gardens could have been ruined,” she says. Janet was also a past president of the Inniswood Volunteers and the Inniswood Garden Society.
Her friends, Marlyn Blaha and Dianne Latiolais, past presidents of the Sunbury Woods Garden Society, took a special interest in helping to establish the Rose Garden. Dianne says that the addition of the rose trellis in 1988 helped to transform the Rose Garden into one of the most beautiful in all Ohio. Marlyn says there have been many important additions to the gardens in her time as a volunteer. She says the Sisters Garden opened up the entire west side of the gardens, while the addition of the fence and portal at the gardens entrance is particularly pleasing to her.
Our fourth original volunteer, Michele Thomas, went on to work at Inniswood as the horticulturist. When she retired three years ago she immediately signed up as a volunteer again. In those early days, Michele loved to work on the garden beds, weeding and planting. She’s now a member of the volunteers’ Design Group and works with Janet, Marlyn and Dianne to plant and maintain the 85 container gardens. They also design the annual Halloween displays. One of Michele’s favorite changes is how the trees that border the gardens have grown to provide a stately background to the cultivated areas.