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After three years, the Irwin Gardens, on the grounds of The Inn at Irwin Gardens, will reopen to the public Aug. 28 and remain open every Tuesday from 2 to 6 p.m.
The gardens closed in 2008 shortly after Xenia Miller, widow of philanthropist J. Irwin Miller, died. No one has lived at the home since 1996, when Clementine Tangeman, J. Irwin Miller’s sister, who made it her home, died.
Purchased by Christopher and Jessica Stevens in December 2009, the property, known then as the Irwin Mansion, was reopened as a bed and breakfast in February 2010. The pair then turned their focus to restoring the gardens, including the limestone descending fountain and brickwork of the circular wall surrounding the garden’s Japanese elephant statue.
“We have really had this on our agenda from the very beginning,” Jessica Stevens said. “We are excited to have this open to the public again. It is something the community has always respected.”
Originally built as part of a second remodel of the Irwin mansion in 1910, the gardens were completed in 1913. The Italian-inspired garden’s fountains, murals and statues are well-known to all who’ve visited the gardens in years past. The gardens also offer an abundance of botanical beauty, including a newly renovated herb garden.
Andrew Pauli, groundskeeper for the inn, said a transformation of the herb garden is under way. Collaborating with the Columbus Garden Club, Pauli is renovating the herb garden to include chocolate mint, monarda, basic sages, flowering tobacco and nearly a dozen types of oregano. Once the herb garden nears completion, Pauli anticipates it will contain dozens of varieties.
“There is work being done on it,” Pauli said. “It is no longer a vacant space. It’s a slow process.”
Managing innkeeper Rosanne Gordon said she expects a large crowd for the gardens’ reopening. Acknowledging the importance of the gardens to the Columbus community, Gordon said this is an exhilarating time.
“We are very excited to open the gardens again to the public,” Gordon said. “It is one more way to continue the community involvement started by the Millers.”
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