The Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture

A place for experiential learning about the importance of biodiversity


Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture Logo

The Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture at Cox Arboretum MetroPark is adjacent to the Zorniger Education Center and includes many features:

  • The area located behind the Kettering Learning Lab is now an inspirational demonstration space, where visitors can discover how gardening and landscaping can help conservation in our area.
  • The greenhouses and other spaces used by staff and volunteers to propagate seedlings for reforestation and other restoration and garden projects have been renovated and made more energy efficient, including through rain water collection for use in operations.
  • A learning observation area allows visitors to interact with conservation in action.
  • A new one-half mile trail connects the center with other Arboretum amenities such as the Tree Tower. The trail was built using environmentally friendly permeable pavers, which minimize run-off and erosion by allowing water to drain through to the aquifer. The ADA-accessible trail also is a great addition for visitors who use wheelchairs or have children in strollers.

Opportunities for experiential education will encourage park visitors to take the sustainability message home for practical application. Programming at the center emphasizes prominent MetroParks conservation initiatives, including:

  • MetroParks reforestation efforts
    Hundreds of volunteers have aided Five Rivers MetroParks’ reforestation efforts by collecting nuts and seeds and caring for seedlings. Now, those volunteers and other visitors will be able to watch those seeds grow and see the reforestation process in action at the center. Visitors will also be able to learn about best practices for planting trees in their own backyards.
  • Woodland wildflower rescue and propagation program
    This Arboretum-based volunteer initiative saves primarily woodland plants, or shade plants that are found in hardwood forests. Wildflowers are propagated and planted in woodlands throughout MetroParks, including at the Arboretum’s Woodland Wildflower Garden.
  • Prairie plant production
    Staff will use part of the center to supplement the prairie seed nursery at Germantown MetroPark to help with wildflower “farming” and restoration across all the MetroParks that originally had native prairies.

In addition, seasonal hands-on activities and demonstrations are being planned to help the community incorporate into their lifestyles and homes the sustainable activities and designs demonstrated at the center. Watch our program schedule for upcoming conservation and gardening programs in the center.

Funding the Barbara Cox Center For Sustainable Horticulture

In 2007, The James M. Cox, Jr. Arboretum Foundation received a generous donation from the Cox Family Foundations for funding of the Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture. A series of facilitated discussions with staff, volunteers, donors and future stakeholders (elementary school children) were held to define the purpose and programming for the center.


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