Members of the Western Reserve Herb Society (WRHS) have maintained an herb garden in Wade Park Oval since the mid-1940ʼs. The present site was established by a 1969 agreement between WRHS and Cleveland Botanical Garden (formerly known as The Garden Center of Greater Cleveland until 1994). Members of WRHS maintain the Herb Garden.
Designed by Elsetta Barnes, a member of WRHS, and installed in 1969, the WRHS Herb Garden has given pleasure and delight to the many thousands of visitors who yearly enjoy strolling along its lovely walks. Heralded as one of the most significant herb gardens in America, it has received an international reputation along with awards for design and installation. According to Hester Crawford, a founding member of WRHS, the formal design of the Herb Garden is adapted from plans for castle-keeps, great feudal manor houses and walled or hedged monastery gardens from the Middle Ages.
The monastery garden plan is reflected in the series of nine herbally themed sections that make up the WRHS Herb Garden, each of which is reflective of the timeless beauty and usefulness of herbs. Stone walls (salvaged from old barn foundations) separate the various sections. Historic garden features include a 1910 horse-watering trough, two stone horse mounting blocks, a sundial dated 1795, and a round cylinder lawn roller turned on its side to support the metal armillary (sundial) which came from the Shaker Settlement at North Union. A lovely “secret gate” designed by the late Melvin Rose of Rose Iron Works marks an old entrance to the Herb Garden, set into a protective hedging of cockspur hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli).
Devoted members of WRHS lovingly fund and maintain the Herb Garden through the year. The annual Herb Fair, held on the second Saturday of October, is the main source of funding for the Herb Garden.