Merrill Gardens, Marion, Iowa

by Kathleen Huebener in Art Inspires Art

An Impressionistic view of Merrill Gardens


A group of artist friends and I were plein aire painting in Merrill Gardens, a peaceful treasure nestled in a three-quarter acre park in Marion, Iowa. All prepped and ready-to-paint, I literally stopped a moment to catch my bearings. It was then I espied the light lapping amongst the flowers and on the path. The light’s actions tickled my eyes as I witnessed the dance, interplay of light and color that was happening right before my eyes. As the light moved, it cascaded around each color, reflecting onto other colors, and thus creating even more colors!


As I stood there enjoying the sight, the light began to wane. I was filled with gratitude for what I had seen.  Quaint, yet still profound, Merrill Gardens exude a sense of happiness. It is a place where the light whimsically dances with colors.


A little historical information about Merrill Gardens:

Hazel J. Merrill, whom the park is named after, originally owned this land, which was next door to the Marion Water Dept. Her gardens were so gorgeous that people would stroll in her yard, thinking it was a park. Hazel Merrill was known to have a green thumb of epic proportions.


When the Marion Water Department purchased the land in 2004, they promised Hazel to maintain the flora and hardwood trees already there. The water dept. also has added additional flowerbeds and a gazebo. The park was and is open to the public. Today it used for small weddings, gatherings, and… plein aire painting.