LANCASTER, Ohio — What started as a community-wide effort to replenish trees in Lancaster’s Rising Park turned into the building of a botanical garden.    

What You Need To Know

  • The Orchard Hill Arboretum officially opened on Earth Day

  • City leaders said they got calls from all over the nation with people wanting to be involved in the project

  • They're currently working on an interactive map for visitors

Orchard Hill Arboretum opened officially on Earth Day. Parks and Recreation Superintendent Michael Tharp said the original plan was to replenish around 100 trees in the park. Ten weeks and 200 donations later, the arboretum came to fruition.

“We got calls from all over the United States on the eastern side that said ‘We want to be apart of this project,’” said Tharp. 

Tharp said he and his fiancé, Marketing Director for Fairfield County Fran Tiburzio, were sitting around the dinner table when they came up with the idea to build an arboretum.

“We’ve always wanted an arboretum,” said Tharp. “So if someone gives you 100 trees, ‘Can you do that?’ and the answer was yes. Once we headed for 200 we were like ‘Oh wow.’”

The two are planning to get married in the Orchard Hill Arboretum this June. Tiburzio said it’s been fun to keep tabs on the project.

“You can see just by talking by him he's so passionate about the parks, about Lancaster, about making this a more beautiful community,” said Tiburzio. “And I’m a transplant here, too and I love it.”

She said Visit Fairfield County is working on an interactive app for patrons checking out the arboretum.

Tharp and his team are learning about upkeep from Dawes Arboretum in Licking County.