Facts and Stories About Ohio

In this section, the State of Ohio facts are highlighted. As a gardener I have most of my experience in Central Ohio. “One should bloom where they are planted” is a favorite motto and leads to discovering the native aspects of the climate, geology, history and plants of this area.

While relating to the State as a basis for specific advice, what is written is still truly relevant to all Midwestern gardens. Additionally, the skills and techniques of gardening are generally common to those who practice cultivating the earth everywhere.

Facts about the State of Ohio

Ohio has rich soils and a history of farming and agricultural resources. The western lands were flattened by glaciers, while the eastern and southern areas are Appalachian foothills. the Northwestern parts held the Black swamplands, bounded on the North by Lake Erie, and south by the Ohio River… with Central Ohio in the middle. The Scioto, the Miami, and the Olentangy Rivers flow through it into the mighty Ohio River, which in turn makes its way to the Mississippi. Prairie lands dotted with Burr oak savannah were found mainly in the  west, with deciduous woodlands covering the majority of the State when the pioneers arrived. The State bird is the Cardinal, and you can see plenty of them in both the urban and rural areas. Birds of Ohio  

Geological Facts

Have you ever wondered whether Ohio has earthquakes? It does have small ones, historically, and if you look at a mapping of “deep structures” you will find the Grenville Front tectonic plate runs north/south across western Ohio. The Anna, or Fort Wayne, rift in western Ohio is the site of numerous historic earthquakes.

Some Stories

Ohio Limestone Stories

 In my garden are two types of limestone, both of which I imported from other places in Ohio. Limestone renders some interesting history. The stone path winding to the front door is quarried limestone, it holds ancient sea fossils and has a yellowed cast. We had traveled to a quarry in Delaware County, walked our way down into it and hauled stones that looked serviceable for the sort of path we were wanting to make. Weighed and paid for the stone on the way out, and after a few repeated trips we were ready to construct the walkway. Ohio is underlaid in limestone in many places. The Ohio Caverns are formed within the Columbus Limestone Formation; limestone dissolved by acids in the water seems to create them.[1] Limestone underlays my own land. This soil is “consolidated limy mud or calcareous sand, sometimes with fossilized seashells” and covered with a layer of glacial till. Western Ohio was ground flat by the glaciers. So, limestone is native rock in the area, but none is above ground here where I live. With some of the extra slabs of limestone which we brought in, we also constructed small retaining walls for my driveway planting beds. They weather down and trucks entering the drive have further crushed some of them, but they still hold back the soil from the graveled drive. One famous quarry hereabouts was the Marble Cliff Quarry Co. It was responsible for much of the limestone used to build the Ohio Statehouse and the LeVeque Tower, once the only skyscaper on the Columbus skyline. I remember looking towards downtown and seeing the skyscraper from the Summit Street bridge as a little girl. Later, land belonging to that quarry became the little hamlets of Marble Cliff and Grandview Heights. Both of those urban neighborhoods have now become hubs for the arts, great eating places, and just good people watching. Also quarried from Marble Cliff is the stone which constructed the home of the [3] grandfather and great-grandfather of U.S. Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, U.S. Senator Samuel Prescott Bush. The other source of my limestone rocks was the Catawba Island of Lake Erie. We used to go there for summer vacations and there were the most interesting rocks along the shore and sometimes sitting on the ground around the area. It is a white stone with portions of smoothed surface and knobs. They were exposed on outcroppings all over the island of Catawba, too- white and fissured with the best holes and crannies for plants. Over time I transported some to my garden, and use them to line some of my naturalistic plantings. In that area was an old lime kiln from long ago[2]. Limestone had been an industry, slaked lime used for making plaster and mortar, and for reducing soil acidity. All long gone now, with only old ruins of the lime kilns left in picturesque decay. There are Indian caves in the area of Catawba Island in Ottawa County, and close to the old kiln is a rock outcropping with a romantic legend of Nabagon. He is the “watcher” whose profile is carved from the rock, vigilant caretaker of the Island. This is located in a (now) private part of Catawba.
limestone pathway
quarried limestone path
Ohioans are called “Buckeyes”, which makes most people think of Ohio State Football, instead of the State tree, the Buckeye, Aesculus glabra. [Some buckeye tree facts]. But both the football reference and the state nickname comes from the tree’s brown shiny nuts.
license to garden
license to garden

Fun Facts: The holiday that started in Ohio, ‘Sweetest Day‘. Interesting postcard scenes of Old Columbus, Ohio landmarks.

Gardening in Zone 5b

My rural ruminations *Lessons from garden experiences in Central Ohio. *About My Gardens In Ohio

Hardiness Zones for Plants

[maps]Check out the geological map of the state. [hardiness zone map] Central Ohio is Zone 5 gardening, and frosts arrive in October, and cease by about May 10th. Last frost dates in Ohio:

Last Frost Dates

  • Akron- May 21
  • Columbus- May 9
  • Cincinnati- April 29
  • Dayton- April 27
  • Toledo- May 16
  • Cleveland- May 18
  • Frost Dates in Ohio

First Frost Dates

  • Akron- 10/2
  • Columbus- 10/3
  • Cincinnati- 10/13
  • Dayton- 10/16
  • Toledo- 9/29
  • Cleveland- 10/5
Need frost date information for a different region? Some excellent frost/freeze date maps: Frost Date Maps

Urban Gardening

Many gardens in Ohio are in cities and suburbs with their own challenges, especially older parts of the cities with small yards, and polluted air. It is vitally important to learn “green” methods with the larger numbers of yards in close proximity to one another- the more people actively aware of caring for their space of earth the better for all of us. Urban gardening is coming into its own. Being Green in the City

The Oddities of Ohio

If you wish to visit the state, or simply want to know some of the more interesting facts, this book could guide you to some fascinating discoveries.