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Forecast Flowers

July 28, 2012
By KIM LOCCISANO - Staff Writer ( , Times Leader

"Forecast Flowers" may have been the theme of the recent flower show at the Garden Center in Oglebay Park, but for those who love working in a garden, there is always a forecast filled with opportunities and activities guaranteed to produce a strong sense of satisfaction from the process of growing, displaying, and educating others to the pure beauty to be found in a garden - any garden.

The key to success: proper watering, light, nutrition and showering each growing thing with regular and generous applications of tender loving care, whether it is being grown in a small container, is nestled in among the edging plants of a backyard pond or is meant to be a dramatic focal point for all passers by.

St. Clairsville resident Irene Handzel served as co-chair of the event with Wheeling resident Larry Bole.

Article Photos

St. Clairsville residents Irene Handzel and Don Chillog are seen with the backyard sources of flowers used in two of Handzel’s winning entries at the annual flower show hosted by The Wheeling Civic Garden Center, Inc. and the Wheeling Gardener’s Society.

The annual event was juried this year, guaranteeing a top quality show.

The structure of the local activity is that of a standard flower show which meets the requirements of National Garden Clubs of America. Two key points of note for the local show: entries are welcomed from among the general public, and both participation and attendance throughout the weekend long event are made available to the public at no charge.

The annual event is a focal point of much effort, of celebration for the members of the two hosting organizations, the Wheeling Civic Garden Center, Inc. and The Wheeling Gardener's Society, and of extensive educational opportunities available simply for the asking or by looking at judges notes shared on each entry.

The only down side to the event is too few visitors from the public sector find their way to the annual show, offered Handzel.

The local civic garden center, which has long been based at the "garden center" in Oglebay Park, has the distinction of being the oldest civic garden center in the state of West Virginia, but membership is not at all exclusive to West Virginia residents.

"The purpose of the Wheeling Civic Garden Center, Inc. is to inspire, promote and develop an interest in gardens, gardening, and civic beautification, to stress the knowledge of horticulture and conservation," shared Handzel.

Virtually every aspect of projects taken on by members of Wheeling Civic Garden, Inc. has an educational component to it, noted Handzel.

But when it comes to sharing educational information and experiences, members of the Wheeling Garden Center, Inc. always find a way to combine learning opportunities with fun. The topper: every activity offered to the public or members is budget friendly.

Many of the activities, classes, workshops, seminars, luncheons and even fashion shows coordinated, hosted and led by members or the two professional designers employed at the center's Gift Shop and hosted by the Wheeling Civic Garden Center, Inc., The Wheeling Gardeners Society and The Herb Society are open to the public for a small fee.

"There are even times when classes or workshops can be taken out to an organization or tailored for a specific group of people to enjoy outside our center in Oglebay Park," offered Handzel.

Volunteerism and a common appreciation for the beauty of what nature provides through gardens are key to the fun behind a weekly gathering of very crafty people at the center.

Each week on Tuesday mornings, volunteers wanting to craft original works which will be sold in the on-site gift shop gather and freely enjoy the fun of creating beautiful finished products to be sold for the direct benefit of the organization, explained Handzel.

Volunteers enjoy the weekly crafting activity opportunity, which often includes influences from the two professional designers blended with the skills and artistic flare each individual member brings to the experience.

Designers at the center include Brenda Finch and Cindy Shank. In addition, to all the other resources they make available through the Garden Center, its library and programs and the gift shop, they can be contacted about the availability of individualized custom orders.

There seems to be no limit to the creative spirit embodied at the Wheeling Civic Garden Center among the members, volunteers and staff members.

"Some of our most popular projects take place in the fall, such as the workshops dedicated to holiday card making on Aug. 16; gathering the harvest is a silks oriented home decorating activity and will be held Aug. 23 and will include making fall silk arrangements and wreaths; the holiday style show and luncheon on Sept. 14; and the annual park wide festival Oglebayfest will be held on Oct. 5, 6, and 7 with food being sold at the garden center, and membership day events are set for Oct. 26," offered Handzel.

Details on the various membership levels, on the upcoming workshops and classes, not to mention about the annual celebration of Oglebayfest are readily available by calling the gift shop.

The gift shop is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is staffed almost completely by volunteers. For additional information call the center at 304-242-0665 or 304-243-4099. Information on membership and all other activities are available year round, simply for the asking.

Loccisano can be reached



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