Spring really does bloom eternal now in Avon, thanks to the Miller Nature Preserve, which is part of the Lorain County Metro Parks System. Since opening in May 2011, the 78-acre, $2-million-plus facility has been welcoming visitors to its 5,000-square-foot conservatory with seven plant collections, a visitors center with restaurant and a gift shop.

Metro Parks Public Information Officer Sarah Sharp says the attraction was made possible in part with the help of private donations. In particular, she points to the importance of the plant donation made by retired Lorain County physician Dr. Ibraham Eren. As manager of the Lorain County Tropical Greenhouse and Museum Association, Eren — who has traveled all around the world to find his gems — provides the Miller Conservatory with a variety of orchids for its collection, rotating species every few weeks. Other collections on display include a desert collection featuring 20 varieties of cacti from around the world; palms, ferns and sequoiads, which represent ground cover from tropical regions; and carnivorous plants, including Venus Fly Traps and pitcher plants.

The bonsai collection showcases plants from assorted bonsai clubs throughout Ohio. Since the conservatory’s opening, it has started its own club offering twice-monthly workshops and hosts its own events. The club is open to the public.

The conservatory boasts outdoor gardens that are dedicated to roses, butterflies and herbs. In fact, the herbs will be used in cooking classes conducted in the on-site restaurant’s kitchen.

The concept and implementation of the Miller Nature Preserve required considerable homework on the part of Lorain County Metro Parks’ Horticulturist Joel Loufman and his staff. Prior to determining what would be appropriate for the facility, his team visited Cleveland Botanical Garden as well as those in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Buffalo. “We did a lot of research and saw a variety of collections,” Sharp explains. “After seeing what was common among them, we took into account that our facility would be smaller.”

There were other considerations as well, including the fact that collections mark a departure from a common thread in all aspects of the Metro Parks. “We always have tried to stay native to the area with everything with do, but this time we made a decision to showcase plants that are from around the world,” says Sharp.

Still, the commitment to reflect the history of the area remained true. The decision to construct the Miller Nature Preserve was based on Avon’s reputation for being the greenhouse capital of the world, a title designated because of the number of hot-house tomatoes grown there during the 1970s. “Driving through the area, you’ll find there are still quite a few greenhouses in Avon,” says Sharp.

In addition to the conservatory, a full-service restaurant operated by DeLuca’s Place in the Park is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily for lunch and dinner. The restaurant is also available for private parties and special events.

Miller Nature Preserve is located on Route 83, one mile south of the Detroit Road intersection. It is open seven days a week from
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $2 daily and anyone under
42 inches tall is admitted at no charge. An annual pass
is available for $10 and includes subscription to a members
newsletter. For more information log on to metroparks.cc.