GAMBIER — “Today we’re visiting the Schnormeier Gardens in Gambier,” Tom McNutt said into the recorder as the camera rolled. “Every place I look is a beautiful scene.”
McNutt, Channel 4’s gardening celebrity, and Jon Edwards, the station’s photojournalist, were filming a segment for McNutt’s show, “4 Your Garden.” They had learned that Ted and Ann Schnormeier will host a fundraising event at their Schnormeier Gardens on Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The admission fee collected will benefit The Foundation for Knox Community Hospital, of which Ann Schnormeier is the development chairwoman.
The Schnormeiers showed McNutt the highlights of their garden and told him of its beginnings.
“Ted said, ‘We need to do a little something,’” explained Ann about the original lack of landscaping on their property, which was once a run-down hog farm, “and this is what happened.”
“We lived in the middle of 50 bare acres in a glass house,” said Ted, “and you like to have something to look at. We needed some landscaping. Obviously, we got carried away.”
The Schnormeiers told McNutt they call their meticulously landscaped acreage an “Asian-inspired stroll garden,” and pointed out the many sculptures, the acre of hostas — both full-sized and miniature — their collection of rare conifers, the stone fences, the Chinese pavilion and the Japanese garden house, and their nearly 1,000 different varieties of plants and trees from all over the world.
McNutt was more than impressed, not only with the gardens but with the Schnormeiers and their commitment to philanthropy and the community. He had been looking forward to his visit earlier in the month, but his wife Joan’s unexpected hospital stay and his sister’s broken hip caused a postponement. Finally in the gardens, he had only praise for the Schnormeiers’ design talents.
“What I like about this garden is that you don’t need a lot of flowers to show color,” McNutt said. “You’re doing it with the foliage, how it blends in with the rocks and everything else. Somebody has put in a lot of thought for the design and structure of this garden.
“When a person landscapes a home, everyone worries about curb appeal ... but what you will be seeing is from the inside out. Your view from inside should be the most important view, and you should have that from every room of the house. I like to have just a peaceful, serene setting, like this, a place in the landscape you can just go off to and drink a cup of coffee and relax. We need to commune more with nature. We get so wrapped up in what we’re doing and we forget to enjoy life.”
That’s something the Schnormeiers never forget. They believe in sharing their gardens with others, and they open the property to the public once a year for viewing, usually as a fundraising event for a worthy cause.
McNutt asked Ted to explain why people should attend next weekend’s event, and complimented the Schnormeiers on their dedication to helping KCH.
“There’s no better opportunity to spend a day in a beautiful place,” said Ted. “There’s no place you can stand here and not appreciate everything you see. You can turn 360 degrees anywhere in the garden and see a wonderful view. What better way to have this kind of pleasure and support The Foundation for Knox Community Hospital, too.”
“This is a very spiritual place ... I think this is a place of healing,” added Ann. “All hospitals are struggling right now. It’s wonderful to have a hospital in your community, and it’s something you want to treasure and keep. We’re looking forward to having lots of people here next weekend.”
McNutt retired as a professor with The Ohio State University in 1989 after 26 years there. He was Franklin County’s 4-H agent and agriculture extension agent, helped found the county’s horticultural hotline and participated in its master gardeners program.
“When Channel 4 asked if I’d do a show for them, I said I’d try it for a couple years,” laughed McNutt. “That was 21 years ago.”
The Schnormeier “4 Your Garden” segment may air occasionally next week on Channel 4 and will be shown in longer versions during McNutt’s show, which airs on Saturday, June 6, from 8 to 9 a.m. and on Sunday morning, June 7, at 6:45 a.m. and throughout the day.