Firestone Park Renovations

The fall of 2020 will see some big changes at Firestone Park as Terra Design Studios begin their Installation of new entrances and landscaping of the pavilions. The Great Tree Lawn will get its new trees, and walkways and roadways will feature colorful screens and beds of perennials and bushes.

New gardens will adorn the Legacy Trail area as well as the walking trail, and a few meadows are also planned. Most planting is to be done in the months of September, October, and November with some pushed forward to spring.

Readers are encouraged to explore the Terra Design Studios website to appreciate the quality of work they have done throughout the country. Botanical gardens at Pittsburgh, Birmingham, and Tucson are but a few of the commissions the company has received and implemented. Cindy Tyler, the founder in 1996, enjoys much prestige along with Anna Werle and Rob Thompson. They are all working on our park. Look them up!

Cindy Tyler’s description of all the proposed landscaping restorations is so wonderfully done, with the language of her profession, that I include it here along with a rendering of the Arrival Experience across from the pool house.

Cindy states: “Beyond traditional landscaping of the pavilions, visitors to the park this year will undoubtedly take note of the improvements in the arrival areas and a newly choreographed path through several historical features of Firestone Park called the Legacy Trail. The latter aims to strengthen the story of the park’s past while the former realigns the drive in front of the Pool House to improve pedestrian safety and visual appeal. Both create places to stroll through and dwell among a new collection of plants—some old-fashioned favorites balanced with a cadre of native species that help ensure the future health of our pollinators and songbirds.”

“A new historical sign, by local talent Lloyd Miller, and eye-catching plantings mark the southwestern entrance to the Park, cueing and welcoming visitors. Quickly, their eye is drawn to an Ohio meadow that stretches between the Pool hill and future rehabilitated sports courts. The meadow is most colorful in the summer and autumn when its blossoms will help feed and host our pollinator friends. In the spring, cool season grasses define its shape, and in the winter, seed heads of spent blossoms provide nesting spots for native bees and beneficial insects.

Ascending towards the Pool, bands of Bridal Wreath Spirea flank the drive. Bridal Wreath Spirea is one of the most striking harbingers of spring. In April, white blossoms cover its graceful cascading branches. Historically, it was one of the signature species that landscape architect Alling DeForrest used in his master landscape plan for the park in the mid 1930’s.

The front terrace of the Pool House is larger to create a safer egress zone with the added benefit of increased planting beds and canopy trees for shaded seating. The expansive paving between the parking lot and Pool has been put on a ”diet” for pedestrian safety and replaced with a clear curbed cart way for vehicles, a pedestrian drop off zone and crosswalk for Pool use as well as unloading of Pool supplies, and a tree-lined walkway, separated from the drive, that services foot traffic between the Pool and parking area. The inner loop drive has also been put on a “diet” and realigned. Reduced to ten feet in in width, it doubles as part of the Legacy Trail and is engineered to handle occasional vehicular traffic for large Park event egress or emergencies.

On axis with the Pool House entrance, a new Legacy Trail Threshold awaits exploration. Surrounded by beloved heritage plants (such as Climbing Roses and Weigelia), a plethora of spring and summer bloom and canopy trees for shade seating, the relocated Ohio Historical Landmark sign marks the importance of the Legacy Trail. The Threshold is the lunching-off point for a strolling pathway loop that brings visitors to Harvey’s Lookout, where Mr. Firestone loved to oversee construction of the Park – to Hanna’s Cabin and spring, future spot of a Ruin Garden and Spring Garden – to Idabelle’s Gathering Place and Garden, a community performance and lawn amphitheater designed to support local concerts, food festivals, or wedding celebrations. Idabelle Firestone loved gardening and music, so we saw an opportunity to highlight her contributions to the Park here.

Her gathering Place is the springboard of another exciting aspect of the Legacy Trail loop, the Lilac Stroll Garden. This linear Garden guides visitors to the historic gateway of the Cemetery where Idabelle and Harvey are interred. Rumor has it that, in the 1930s, Mr. DeForrest planted an allee of Common Lilac along this connection to the Cemetery; today it features multiple varieties of shrub and tree lilac that bloom in an array of hues. In the late spring, this Garden is a must see!

Finally, the Legacy Trail loop meanders in its entirety through the Great Tree Lawn, dedicated to the memory of Brad Tingle, who never met a tree he didn’t love. As the present population of mature trees senesce over time, dozens of newly planted canopy, ornamental, and conifer trees will become the next great giants and champion trees of the Park. Although not a formal arboretum, the Great Tree Lawn significantly enhances the Park’s beauty and serenity while providing essential beneficial ecosystem services for our songbird population.

Once it leaves the Great Tree Lawn, the Legacy Trail connects visitors to historic Maple Grove and Mirror Lake Pavilions and ends its stroll through time at beloved Mirror Lake, home of the proposed, and yet to come, swan mascots George and Gracie…. as well as the three pillars honoring Harvey Firestone and his great friends Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. A wonderful legacy for the special little town where Harvey was born, educated, started some of his business ideas, and was buried along with Idabelle and his sons. Columbiana’s claim to fame and local pride is being celebrated.”

New Pavilion Names for 2 and 5

Postings from the Park 10 described the changes and landscape features at the Mirror Lake and Oak Grove Pavilion. The other two pavilions will also enjoy makeovers and new names. Pavilion 2 will become the Maple Grove Pavilion and Pavilion 3 will become the Spruce Tunnel Pavilion.

Anna Were of Terra describes the changes so masterfully; her words will follow along with accompanying diagrams of these two pillars of the park.

Anna writes: “When refreshing historic landscapes, it is great fun to draw inspiration from “follies” we discover, like the Norway Spruce tunnel to the east of what was formerly Pavilion 2. Planted by Alling DeForrest to deter errant baseballs from the adjacent field, the double row of evergreens has grown to become something magnificent and mysterious, ergo Pavilion 2’s new name. New plantings at Spruce Tunnel Pavilion will highlight the winter landscape, adding plants with interesting bark, sculptural form, berries, evergreen leaves and or beneficial seed heads. A unique specimen tree will serve as focal point at the end of the tunnel, enticing Pavilion visitors to explore the remnant landscape and dwell in its shade and woodsy scent.

Pavilion 3, now Maple Grove Pavilion, is one of the most picturesque structures in the park because of the mature grove of mixed hardwoods and evergreens at its front door. It feels like it belongs exactly where it is, nestled among the cool shade of these trees. Most of the trees are maples, so we will supplement the collection with unusual maple species of various sizes, forms and bark patterns.

Maple flowers are one of the first hardwood trees to bloom, and for some species, such as the Red Maple, their blossoms are stunning. So Maple Grove Pavilion will also include plantings that highlight unusual emerging leaf hues, spring bloom, and colorful samara. Samara are the maple’s “unusual fruit”; most of us as children called them helicopters because when they fall from the tree they twirl like a helicopter blade. To soften the view of the maintenance facility to the north, a new tree-lined walk to the restrooms has been added, and care will be taken to add canopy trees to shade the new tree lot.”

Postings from the Park 12 will share some history about the stops along the Legacy Trail.

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