This summer, one of our most frequently asked questions in the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden has been “what HAPPENED to the pond?” Maybe you’ve recently visited and noticed visible improvements, with clearer water and a better view of the frogs, birds, and amphibians that call the Wetlands Explore area home.
If you’ve enjoyed looking into our pond or tried to count the resident frogs in the past, you may have found that your view stopped at the surface, where algae blooms and overgrown plant species had crept in over time. Fertilizer and salt runoff were affecting water quality in the pond, and some plants outgrew the space and blocked views from the Curving Bridge. Thanks to two very special sisters, Mari Deminski and Amie Brooks, the pond has been refreshed and is ready to thrive for years to come!
The sisters; Amie Brooks on the left and Mari Deminski on the right
Mari and Amie supported this project to honor their late mother, Ellen English Wiseman Julian, through a gift to care for this pond habitat. “Our mother planted a seed by taking us [to the Conservatory] as children so many times. The Conservatory became a source of happiness and respite for us,” said Mari.
Ellen English Wiseman Julian
“Amie and I remember many lovely and relaxing days spent at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Mom took us to many exhibits and events. Other days, we would explore the plants and the grounds. Even though it is near busy downtown Columbus, it is a peaceful place. As adults, we continued to visit, taking cooking classes and yoga classes. Our mother loved visiting to see the Chihuly glass sculptures. When we were considering a memorial gift, [the Conservatory] naturally rose to the top of our list, based on all those positive memories.”
Mari and Amie’s gift did so much more than just make the pond look better. The sisters’ gift funded water analysis, draining of the pond, laying of a new liner, planting new native wetland perennials and shrubs to surround and filter the pond, and the installation of a bubbling aerator to prevent stagnant water. Not only is the renovated pond more beautiful and visible to our guests, it’s also a healthier ecosystem!
“We were stunned by the depth and breadth of [the Children’s Garden],” said Amie and Mari. “It was bigger, better, and more sophisticated than what we had imagined. It is designed to naturally draw in children, and when we visited, we saw lots of kids enjoying the spaces.”
Their gift didn’t just improve visibility and access to the pond, it also helped the Conservatory purchase educational program materials that help visiting kids learn about science, nature, and the environment through fun and engaging lessons led by Conservatory educators.
The sisters reflected on how this renovation represents a legacy for their mother, and how meaningful it is to know that the impact will ripple out into the future. “She would be pleased and amused to see kids playing and learning there. She would wish she could now take her great-grandchildren.”
This renovation is already getting the next generation excited about water quality and native biomes–a win-win-win for children, the Conservatory’s future, and for the sisters who dreamt up this beautiful project!
Mari on the left and Amie on the right with Pollywog Pond signage
Many thanks to Amie, Mari, and their mother Ellen for making nature and learning accessible for the next generation. In addition to renovating the Pollywog Pool, this family also made a generous gift to reinvigorate plantings in our Inspiration & Ingredient Garden, in which children make artwork using natural materials like flowers, reeds and grasses.
You can experience both spaces, lovingly named in honor of Ellen English Wiseman Julian, on your next trip!