Bissonnette Gardens ~
This beautiful, public garden display includes more than 30 flower beds, dozens of colorful hanging baskets, and multiple fountains. The Bissonnette Gardens (formerly known as Waddington Gardens) are a re-creation of the many gardens which existed at the summer home of Earl Oglebay in the early 1900s. For public enjoyment, these gardens have been recreated through a variety of floral displays. Visitors are encouraged to take a stroll down the meandering red brick path to enjoy the beauty of the flowerbeds, hanging baskets, and majestic trees. These lovely sites are accented by soft landscape lighting and water features.
From mid-April through early May, guests are invited to admire the breathtaking beauty and vibrant colors of tulips, hyacinths, pansies, and daffodils. Through the month of June, guests will find the gardens filled with a wide array of annuals including park favorites such as canna, salvia, celosia, angelonia, verbena, petunia, and geranium. As fall draws near and the leaves begin to change, so do the flower displays at The Hilltop. From mid-September to late October, guests may enjoy the warm, jewel-toned beauty of fall mums throughout the park.
On The Hilltop, hard work and dedication are the foundation of our beautiful garden displays. From water features to the whimsical floral clock, our staff of 10 works countless hours from early spring through late fall to keep these gardens lush and beautiful. Our skilled staff spends the early summer planting more than 30 flowerbeds featuring a wide variety of colorful vegetation. Maintaining the beauty of The Hilltop is a labor of love, as staff members carefully prune, water, dead-head, re-plant, weed, and fertilize the grounds daily.
This beautiful 16-acre garden was re-dedicated in September 1999 to Joseph F. Bissonnette who served as director of development for the Wheeling Park Commission from 1975 until 1992.
In 2017, Bissonnette Gardens was enhanced with a new attraction – a captivating sculpture titled Miss West Virginia composed by local Wheeling artist Jeff Forster. Don’t miss this powerful work of art, located just outside the herb garden near Oglebay’s greenhouse on The Hilltop.
An Arboretum in the Making
“Oglebay Park is an arboretum in the making!” Although that statement rang true for dozens of years, it comes from a report completed in 1930 by Lebert Weir. The report goes on to say: On its 750 acres are now at least eighty varieties of ornamental shade trees, one hundred varieties of shrubs, twenty-five varieties of evergreens and fifty varieties of perennials. There are mature specimens, some of them planted years ago. In the conservatory are more than twenty-five varieties of tropical and sub-tropical flora. During the summer, one hundred varieties of annuals are set out and labeled.
There were two distinct programs relating to the planting projects at Oglebay. One was the nursery, an outgrowth of the elaborate system of greenhouses maintained when the park was a private estate; the other, development of an arboretum proposed in Weir’s study for the Park Commission.
In the early 1930s, thousands of trees were cultivated in the park nurseries, spilling over the hillside behind the greenhouses, south to the present Good Zoo area, and to outlying patches of land. The nursery specialized in ground covers, Japanese flowering cherries, flowering thorns, varieties of coniferous evergreen, and new types of elm. Many of the trees and shrubs were set out in roadside plantings through the Wheeling Landscape Commission, and for general beautification and family planting projects throughout the area; a great number were also placed throughout both parks.
The nursery project was a natural extension of the interests of Crispin Oglebay, and the expertise of Milton Hine. Crispin was responsible for encouraging the nursery development in 1926 when he became executor of Earl Oglebay’s estate; often he contributed personally to furnish plant materials for use throughout the Wheeling area.
An arboretum committee was formed by Oglebay Institute in 1937; it included Sarah Paull, chairperson; Homer Fish, Oglebay Park superintendent, A.B. Brooks, park naturalist; and several garden center representatives. By 1940 the committee also included Brooks Wigginton, newly arrived landscape architect, who established headquarters at the park in preparation for the planning of an arboretum, and F. Elwood Allen, arboretum specialist for the National Recreation Association. Allen prepared the prospectus, Study For An Arboretum, in 1940.
Allen’s study was innovative, for it proposed the arboretum at Oglebay Park to be more than a “collection of trees for scientific purposes,” the traditional definition. The study envisioned the development as an investment for the people of Wheeling, its beauty and activities meant to attract visitors from all over, in turn, “…pouring dollars into the commercial life of Wheeling in the form of wages and purchases.” It would include not only trees, but shrubs, woody plants, and vines; and be the catalyst for flower shows and spectacular displays. Allen envisioned that the arboretum should be a people place – much as the park that surrounds it – and his study gave direction to the committee, who welcomed the chance to coordinate three projects over the next five years:
- The Jones Pinetum: financed by the Park Commission to honor the contributions of the J. Sumner Jones family, this stand of stately pine trees is located on the north side of the arboretum below the road to Wilson Lodge. Crabapples were moved from that site to the Crispin Center golf course front nine.
- A.B. Brooks Gateway: the original entrance to the arboretum, between the guest house and garden center, was financed by Mr. and Mrs. David A. Burt to honor the naturalist.
- The Cracraft Memorial Steps: in the center of the hillside behind the greenhouses, these terrace steps were donated by Dr. and Mrs. W. A. Cracraft in memory of their son, Russel, killed in World War II. Bordering the steps is a stand of magnificent gingko trees, historically important as one of the last living remnants of the glacier age.
The arboretum at Oglebay has been, and continues to be, an ongoing project. Unlike some recreation facilities, the cost of planting and caring for flowers, shrubs, and trees is much greater than their revenue potential. During the early years, there were never enough funds to develop the area at an accelerated pace.
|Tree Number||Common Name||Scientific Name||Family||Plant Origin||dbh||Condition||lat||lon||City||County||State||Zipcode|
|1||Northern red oak||Quercus borealis||Fagaceae||Eastern North America||24||Good||40.097601773135601||-80.661851763725295||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|2||Eastern hemlock||Tsuga canadensis||Pinaceae||Eastern North America||21||Good||40.097885940109897||-80.661712288856506||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|3||Black walnut||Juglans nigra||Juglandaceae||Eastern North America||23||Good||40.098121890125398||-80.661951005458803||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|4||London plane||Platanus x acerifolia||Plantanaceae||Europe||38||Good||40.0984040032004||-80.662020742893205||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|5||Pecan||Carya illinoinensis||Juglandaceae||North America||43||Good||40.099629899160099||-80.662114620208698||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|6||Swamp white oak||Quercus bicolor||Fagaceae||North America||6||Good||40.101233276188402||-80.662270188331604||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|7||Sugar maple||Acer saccharum||Sapindaceae||Eastern North America||24||Fair||40.102270373259003||-80.663541555404606||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|8||Flowering dogwood||Cornus florida||Cornaceae||Eastern North America||11||Fair||40.102590423762301||-80.663270652294102||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|9||Fraser fir||Abies fraseri||Pinaceae||North America||4||Good||40.102625300969699||-80.663391351699801||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|10||Serbian spruce||Picea omorika||Pinaceae||Southeastern Europe||5||Good||40.103361821351697||-80.662934035062705||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|11||Japanese red pine||Pinus densiflora||Pinaceae||Eastern Asia||15||Good||40.103614164941099||-80.663084238767595||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|12||White fir||Abies concolor||Pinaceae||Western North America||18||Good||40.104659944758197||-80.663996860384898||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|13||Douglas fir||Pseudotsuga menziesii||Pinaceae||Western North America||16||Good||40.1047004626326||-80.664038434624601||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|14||Red Pine||Pinus resinosa||Pinaceae||Eastern North America||19||Good||40.1046717411038||-80.664348900318103||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|15||Hinoki cypress||Chamaecyparis obtusa||Cupressaceae||Eastern Asia||10||Good||40.104826119178298||-80.664225518703404||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|16||Sawara false cyrpess||Chamaecyparis pisifera||Cupressaceae||Eastern Asia||18||Good||40.104858430823903||-80.664359629154205||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|17||Incence cedar||Calocedrus decurrens||Cupressaceae||Western North America||26||Good||40.105020501703997||-80.664501786231995||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|18||Scotch pine||Pinus sylvestris||Pinaceae||Eastern Europe||18||Good||40.104952801256701||-80.664685517549501||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|19||Jack pine||Pinus banksiana||Pinaceae||North America||9||Good||40.104952801256701||-80.664788782596602||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|20||Yellowwood||Cladrastis kentukea||Fabaceae||North America||17||Good||40.104445045755||-80.665321201086002||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|21||Cockspur hawthorn||Crataegus crus-galli||Rosaceae||North America||9||Good||40.1031874370235||-80.664407908916402||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|22||American hophornbeam||Ostrya virginiana||Betulaceae||Eastern North America||11||Good||40.102180102331999||-80.664971172809601||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|23||Dawn redwood||Metasequoia glyptostroboides||Cupressaceae||Asia||30||Good||40.101475369500598||-80.665082484483705||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|24||American sycamore||Platanus occidentalis||Plantanaceae||North America||26||Good||40.100928606685798||-80.665150880813599||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|25||Washington hawthorn||Crataegus phaenopyrum||Rosaceae||North America||11||Good||40.098213192303099||-80.662868320941897||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|26||European spindle tree||Euonymus europaea||Celastraceae||Eastern Europe||11||Good||40.098339373762798||-80.662589371204305||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|27||Northern hackberry||Celtis occidentalis||Cannabaceae||North America||17||Good||40.098365533304502||-80.6625987589359||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|28||Katsura tree||Cercidiphyllum japonicum||Cercidiphyllaceae||Asia||40||Good||40.098471710164297||-80.662720799446106||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|29||Japanese zelkova||Zelkova serrata||Ulmaceae||Asia||22||Good||40.098515822240998||-80.662470012903199||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|
|30||Red maple||Acer rubrum||Sapindaceae||North America||23||Good||40.098035717171101||-80.662520974874496||Wheeling||Ohio||WV||26003|