Friday, December 19, 2014

Roberta (Bobbi) Bishop - Third In A Series Of Amazing Hocking Hills Women

If you were to walk downtown Main Street of Logan, Ohio, stop any passing pedestrian and ask if they know Bobbi Bishop, they’ll most likely respond, “Yep,  sure do. She's the Lilyfest lady.”

Roberta (Bobbi) Bishop, although a transplant from Columbus, has been in the Hocking Hills area since she and her husband, Bruce, purchased property way back in 1976. The Bishops own forty acres (no mule) of wooded property on Little Cola Road, built a small cabin and settled in to enjoy their retreat from the outside world.
Photo : Logan Daily News - July 7, 1999
Art teachers in the Columbus and Worthington area school systems, Bobbi and Bruce, found inspiration on a narrow winding road in the Hocking Hills, an idyllic haven to be shared with old and new friends. And the word "sharing" would become a big part of their new lives in Hocking County.

After retirement, Bruce and Bobbi moved permanently into their Little Cola Road cabin and eventually expanded the structure into a labyrinth of vaulted ceilings, an art studio loft and a separate sleeping loft to comfortably accommodate visiting artisan friends and family. Bruce and Bobbi found a passion in sculpting clay garden art that, over time, populated the gardens like the works of Picasso - humorous, idiosyncratic, and most definitely open to interpretation.

In addition to clay art, Bobbi carved out a comfortable space to "throw" pottery. She moved in a potter's wheel and kiln, creating utilitarian pottery (bowls, plates, pitchers and flower pots). Bobbi's pottery and clay sculpture. all favorites at Lilyfest and Hocking Hills charity auctions. 

What more could two Bohemian artists like Bobbi and Bruce ask of life than a little Garden of Eden and time to nurture their art.? It's a love story, folks. 

Slowly but surely the gardens came to life. Day lilies and other flora were the first gifts from neighbors' gardens. Each ensuing year though, more day lilies were planted, bulbs picked up at garden centers at end-of-season prices and then tucked into the earth for next year's bloom. Varieties of hostas and perennials were worked into the beds, giving the dappled shade gardens a lush pallet of color..  

The saying, "If you build it, they will come," is definitely a truism in Bobbi and Bruce's case . . . especially when fate, on April 4, 1988, took a hand in the form of an ice storm and wind shear that swept through their property, leaving in its wake a mangled mess of 500 fallen pine trees. After the storm, Bobbi said, "It was like God said, 'It's okay.' And then he knocked everything down."  

Two years of clearing  the debris and after hauling away 40 wheel barrels of poison ivy, the Bishop gardens - if you will excuse my pun - bloomed. From there, Bruce got the idea that they should share the beauty of the day lily gardens while in full bloom. Then the thought came to them, how grand it would be to have area artists set up booths and sell their art to the visitors on the grounds. And . . . Lilyfest was born.

It was in the twelfth year of Lilyfest that Bobbi's beloved husband, Bruce, passed away (December 9, 2002) after a short illness. Bobbi, although grieving over the loss of Bruce, knew that he would want her to carry on the tradition of Lilyfest, Bobbi is known in the community for her continued charitable contributions, volunteerism, and promoting the arts and nature in Hocking County. 

Now, fast approaching its twenty-fourth year.Lilyfest is an annual 3-day Hocking Hills event, attracting as many of 5,000 visitors during a single event. Held on the second full weekend in July, Lilyfest begins on Friday and ends late Sunday afternoon. 

Lilyfest "prep" begins a few months before the July event with many volunteers converging on the Bishop grounds to tend more than 42 flower beds, primping and making 'em pretty for visitors. A community of volunteers and Master Gardeners, make Lilyfest a must-do summer destination.

During Lilyfest weekend, the gardens become a symphony of floral colors, earthy scents, art vendors, live music, and good food. A stroll around the Lilyfest grounds is like stepping back in time. Bobbi takes great pride in making sure that Lilyfest stays non-commercial, balking at the usual carnival-like atmosphere that often overtakes small community festivals. To protect the integrity of the event, Artists who wish to display their artwork at Lilyfest first fill out an application, and then go through a jury process by board members to be accepted as vendors.

A long-time dream of Bobbi and Bruce Bishop came true on December 12, 2008, in the form of a gift of their beloved Bishop property to the Hocking Soil & Water Conservation. This donation was made in fulfilling a need in the community: Garden Workshops, Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist Classes, and (it goes without saying) Lilyfest. The property, now known as Bishop Educational Gardens, also hosts field trips for school children, home school programs, and family outdoor activities, promoting conservation and botanical education.

Bobbi Bishop, you are an amazing Hocking Hills Woman! Your friendship and volunteer work in the community is appreciated by all who know and love you!!!

Lilyfest (Check out web site and 2015 Schedule)

Bishop Educational Gardens
Bishop Educational Gardens

Sherry Hartzler on (Three Moons Over Sedona, Island Passage, Chasing Joe)
Sherry Hartzler

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this informative article on Bobbie and Lilyfest. Now, I know what it really is about. She's amazing and so is her place. Loved all the pictures you shared. Keep up the good work, Sherry, with your blog and Bobbie with these amazing gardens. Hugs to you both!