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Restoring a Garden Along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail


November 23, 2021

Akron Garden Club Honors Past GCA President

A new native plant garden has recently opened along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. The garden in Cascade Locks Park honors the late Christine and Robert Freitag. Christine Freitag, who passed away in 2018, was president of The Garden Club of America (1993-1995) and served as GCA conservation chair. 

This new Ohio native garden is a collaborative effort between the Akron Garden Club (AGC), Summit Metro Parks, and Cascade Locks Park Association. It restores a site along the Towpath Trail where invasive plants had choked out native plants.

Fittingly, funding for the garden came from a GCA Partners for Plants (P4P) grant as well as gifts from AGC members and friends of the Freitags. P4P was launched during Freitag’s GCA presidency and her husband served as the treasurer of both Citizens for Metro Parks and Cascade Locks Park Association. Now a program of GCA’s Civic Improvement Committee, P4P monitors and conserves rare plants, restores native habitats, and removes invasive weeds on federal, state, and local public lands.

The "Native Plants Along the Towpath" garden was conceived in January 2020. The botanist from the park designed the garden, created a plant list — choosing native species. Most of the choices were either rare plants found in Ohio or plants that supported a rare butterfly, bee, or insect. To save money and grow heartier plants, 400 plants were grown from seed in an AGC member’s greenhouse. Metro Parks donated their time and labor as well as the plants that could not be grown from seed. 

The garden was to be planted in Spring 2020, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, planting was delayed until October 2020. Following COVID-19 guidelines, garden club members, together with friends, family, and park staff worked to prep the site and safely plant the garden. It now grows on a historic site in testament to the Freitags’ love of native landscapes and the natural world. 


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