The park came into being after Buddy Miller donated 55 acres of land in 1999 for a park in memory of his wife, Alice Fowles, a devoted gardener and painter. Over time, another 28 acres of land was acquired. Construction on the $2 million facility began in 2010.
The spectacular conservatory features tropical plants, orchids from the collection of Dr. Ibrahim Eren, bonsai trees, and water features like fountains and waterfalls.
Admission will be $2 for the conservatory, the lowest conservatory admission price in the country, Lorain County Metro Parks claims. Admission is free to the visitors center and the rest of the preserve.
A visitors center, connected to the conservatory, has a gift shop in the lobby and the Orchid Cafe, where visitors can have a snack or meal. A full kitchen attached to the cafe can be used for cooking demonstrations.
The facility will also offer catering, said Grant Thompson, chief naturalist for Lorain County Metro Parks, and will be available to rent for weddings, parties and fundraisers.
More remains to be done at the Preserve, Thompson said. Ten individual gardens, each with their own theme, will be built. Possible themes include an herb garden, a formal English garden, and a rose garden. A butterfly house will be built.
There will also be walking trails that connect visitors to French Creek, which runs through the preserve, and can take walkers all the way to Saddle Creek Drive at the eastern end of the Preserve.