While nearly 600 flower baskets add beauty and color to the walkways, parking lots and other areas of Oglebay and Wheeling parks, Chris Schenkel said it has been particularly challenging to keep the baskets watered and looking good this summer.
Schenkel, director of horticulture for the Wheeling Park Commission, said while each facility at both parks is responsible for watering its own hanging baskets, dry conditions have meant a lot of extra work to keep them maintained.
He said it takes three employees more than five hours a day, three times a week, just to water the nearly 200 flower baskets in the "Hilltop" section of Oglebay Park from the entrance to the Good Zoo and the main office facility near Bissonnette Gardens.
Photos by Scott McCloskey
Oglebay Park electrician Patrick Monahan works on a lamp Monday afternoon near a row of flower baskets hanging near the Bissonnette Fountain area.
"This is a tough summer. We have watered every Monday, Wednesday and Friday since we put the baskets up," said Schenkel. "You're not getting cloudy weather, you're not getting rainy weather ... so it's been a tough year."
Schenkel said the most widely used basket combination for "full-sun" applications around the parks are the ones containing petunias, geraniums and dracaena. He said while impatiens are commonly used in the partial shade areas, other combinations of flowers are used to highlight specific locations such as Wilson Lodge and Bissonnette Fountain.
Schenkel said for about the past three years, the park has purchased seeds, root cuttings and other plant materials from various outside plant producers or vendors, which are then sent to a family-owned greenhouse in Ellwood City, Pa. There the baskets are assembled and "pre-finished," then shipped to specific sites at Oglebay or Wheeling Park to minimize handling.
"The golf courses, Wheeling Park and Wilson Lodge, we like to have those ready for Memorial Day weekend ... and then we come back and fill in and try to finish up (other park areas) by the first or second week in June," said Schenkel.
"They're at peak right now. ... They filled in nice, and everything looks good," Schenkel added.
He said all components of the baskets are recycled, and the garden staff refurbishes the frames and hangers in the off season.