Begun as only a dream in 2000, the WVBG is steadily becoming a reality on the 82-acre former Tibbs Run Reservoir property off the Tyrone Road in Monongalia County, WV. The former 15-acre basin will be transformed into two smaller pools with islands and aquatic plant displays. The old water works, still present, will stand as a link to the past.
The WVBG will feature a large variety of plants appropriate to the region’s climate and soils in both designed and natural settings. Visitors will learn from these gardens in every season of the year. Most of the land is wooded, and much will remain undisturbed except for trail construction and some plant enhancement.
The West Virginia Botanic Garden at Tibbs Run Preserve is a non-profit organization.
The grass roots effort to develop a botanic garden for West Virginia led to the incorporation of the West Virginia Botanic Garden, Inc. in 1983. In the following years, the organization developed its Bylaws, obtained its IRS 501(c)(3) designation, and searched for a suitable site to create the garden. The 82-acre site that was chosen is in Monongalia County and includes the former drinking water reservoir that served the City of Morgantown from 1912-1969. After 1969, the off-stream reservoir was decommissioned and the basin largely emptied of water. The City of Morgantown agreed with the WVBG that the development of a botanic garden on this naturally beautiful site would enhance the quality of life in the community and a long-term lease was signed in 1999.
The WVBG took over active management of the site in 2000. Since then, a number of garden areas have been developed, gravel and woodland trails along with a wetland boardwalk have been built, and benches have been placed in gardens and along trails. The Garden offers free admission and is open to the public every day of the year, dawn to dusk. Numerous visitors hike the trails and enjoy the gardens daily.
The WVBG offers a variety of educational programs. In 2015, the Garden expanded the annual Summer Nature Camp from one week to three weeks and in 2016 it was expanded again to four weeks. In 2016, for children age 7-10, the Garden offered two sessions of Nature Explorers Nature Camp and two sessions of Curious Kids Nature Camp, for children ages 4-6. These day camps expose children to the outdoors and teach them about nature-related topics. One session of a new camp, Camp SOAR: Stewardship & Outdoor Appreciation and Readiness, for children age 9-13, was added in the summer of 2017. School field trips to the Garden are offered to children in grades K-4 in the spring and fall. Year-round, visitors can participate in an educational walk & presentation series that covers topics related to natural history and horticulture such as wetlands, edible & medicinal plants, garden design, and wildflowers. In addition, a workshop series provides hands-on learning on subjects such as wreath making, container gardening, orchid care, yoga, and nature/flower photography.
A twenty-one member Board of Directors governs the WVBG. There is one full-time Executive Director and seven part-time employees: an Education Director, an Educator, an Assistant Site Manager, a Volunteer Coordinator, a Development Director, a Groundskeeper and an Administrative Assistant. Committees comprised of board members and community members carry out much of the WVBG’s work.