2016 Core Master Plan

In 2016, the Garden had the pleasure of working with Scott Scarfone and the Oasis Design Group of Baltimore to help distill the vision of a new master plan. Scott graduated from WVU and was a student of George Longenecker’s. His studies brought him to projects at the Garden. His enthusiasm for the project, and his deep understanding of the land, its unique ecosystems, and the greater Morgantown community helped shape the process toward a compelling final comprehensive design that will shape the future of our Garden.

Project Details

Designer Oasis Design Group
Date September 2015

A Note from the Executive Director and President of Board of Directors

Dear Friends of the Garden:

I hope that you have found the Master Plan for the West Virginia Botanic Garden a great inspiration as to what we could accomplish together. The ideas and vision in this report were developed through a yearlong collaborative effort involving the WVBG Board of Directors, garden volunteers and supporters, the City of Morgantown, and members of the greater Morgantown community along with the financial assistance of the Dominion Foundation and an anonymous benefactor. 

The plan supports the Mission of the Garden: The West Virginia Botanic Garden at Tibbs Run Preserve seeks to foster learning, inspiration, and well-being through the beauty and wonder of plants, the natural environment, and culturally enriching experiences. 

The story of Tibbs Run Reservoir and Jones Run are celebrated. Water and wetlands play important roles in developing the design of the Garden as they are very important parts of the history of this remarkable property.  The proposed garden spaces, event lawns, trails, boardwalks, and a new Visitors Center will offer a unique West Virginia experience and place of beauty that will enable the Garden to become regionally recognized. 

The proposed Visitors Center will help sustain the Garden and its mission into the future. We deeply appreciate the tireless hours that many have spent and invested in this process. In collaboration with its stakeholders and Oasis Design Group, especially its principal Scott Scarfone, WVBG has developed a plan that is sensitive to the unique environmental issues and history of the site.

This document offers a template for the Garden’s future growth. We have been working hard to begin developing portions of the Master Plan.  This includes the Visitors Center Lawn and Garden (14) and the Event Pavilion and Lawn (8).  Please join us in making this plan a reality.

Respectfully,

Philip Smith
Executive Director

Shawn Grushecky
President, Board of Directors

Background
The West Virginia Botanic Garden, Inc. (WVBG) in Morgantown, West Virginia, is a nonprofit organization that has a long-term lease with the city of Morgantown for the 82-acre property formally known as Tibbs Run Reservoir, which was drained in 1980. Since 2000, WVBG has been in possession of the property with an intent of developing a botanic garden and in the interim has provided a wide range of recreational experiences, predominantly that of walking trails.

In 2005, WVBG adopted a Master Plan prepared by LaQuatra Bonci Associates in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to serve as an initial guide for future development of the site. Based generally on that plan, investments have been made in improving site infrastructure that has included the following: an entrance road into the site, upper Parking adjacent to Tyrone Road and lower area Parking, numerous trails, utilities, a Welcome Center (where the 2005 Master Plan called out a conservatory), some interpretive signage, and a breach of the old reservoir dam that was required by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. WVBG has begun to plant and cultivate some modest spaces into gardens, including a butterfly garden and a wooded rhododendron garden. In 2014, a 1.7-acre parcel was purchased that is immediately adjacent to WVBG and the current Garden Entrance off Tyrone Road. Aside from those improvements, most of the site remains in its natural condition while some areas, mainly the reservoir basin, are in the early-mid stages of natural succession.

In Fall 2014, the WVBG Planning Committee and other members of the Board participated in two facilitated strategic planning workshops (2014 Vision 2020 Strategic Plan and November 2015 Master Planning Workshop). One of the outcomes of those workshops was the recognition of a need for a re-evaluation of the 2005 Master Plan’s +/- 23-acre Core area. At that time, based on the objectives identified in those two workshop summaries, a new Core Master Plan was needed to further guide WVBG.

Core Master Plan Objectives
The purpose of the Core Master Plan is to refine previously developed ideas and incorporate new thoughts, as noted above, to the +/- 23-acre portion of the property referred to as the Core. The design program was based, in part, on the objectives set forth in the master planning workshop as well as the current desires of WVBG’s Board, community, and various stakeholders. Those areas remaining outside of the study areas are primarily to remain in their natural (current) state, including the existing trails. The organizational planning framework of the 2014 workshop established the following broad objectives for the Core Master Plan:

♦ Create an ideal visitor experience.
♦ Establish a unique regional aesthetic identity.
♦ Establish key Core Garden design elements and garden features.
♦ Develop gardens surrounding the Welcome Center.
♦ Develop and make accessible areas of the reservoir basin.
♦ Establish spaces to generate earned revenue through rentals and special events.

These broad Core Master Plan objectives loosely identified the areas of the property recommended for garden amenities, associated facilities, and the costs associated with each. The design concepts and principles presented in the Core Master Plan form the basis for further design refinements, additional engineering studies, construction documentation, and ultimately the construction of garden amenities as funding becomes available in subsequent years. As part of the master planning process, input and ideas were sought from the community and stakeholders to produce a master plan that meets their collective objectives and maximizes the potential of the site.

Vision
WVBG has a vision that is one of careful transformation, enhancing the natural qualities of the site while retaining the site’s existing natural beauty. The new vision will guide WVBG into the future. It will enable WVBG to build on its existing accomplishments and outline new opportunities to create a new Visitors Center and events venue at the Garden Entrance, provide new more formalized gardens and garden areas for revenuegenerating events, expand opportunities for education and programming, and enhance the Tibbs Run Reservoir basin—the centerpiece of WVBG.

With both designed gardens and natural settings, the Core Master Plan concentrates on accentuating the magnificent vistas, showcases regional plants, creates new gardens, and enhances the natural beauty of West Virginia. Most of the existing wooded land on site will remain undisturbed, though the 15-acre basin area will reemerge as a showcase of native meadow, wetland, and aquatic plantings. Adjacent new gardens will delight and educate in every season, inspiring guests through both restful contemplation and energetic exploration of both formal gardens and natural habitats/ecological systems.

Visitor Center Environs

Garden Entrance

Guests will enter WVBG through a new Garden Entrance off Tyrone Road.  A strong gateway element and associated garden identification with the name of WVBG will announce the arrival to WVBG and advertise to passersby.

Visitors Center

A new Visitors Center located at the Garden Entrance will provide an anchor for guests, a place for events, and an area to welcome guests to the Garden before they work their way down to the Core area to explore its’ many different gardens and paths.  A new +/- 8,000 square foot structure will provide space for a variety of programmatic functions.

Dell and Stream Gardens and Event Lawn

Event Pavilion and Lawn

The largest formal lawn in the garden will be nestled between two natural drainage channels, creating a large open Event Lawn oriented to the south toward the reservoir basin. A large Event Pavilion (which is envisioned to be architecturally significant) will be built to anchor the southern end of the space to accommodate events and provide shelter and shade to guests.

Dell and Stream Gardens

Two drainage channels flank the Event Lawn to the east and west (an example of interesting topography that should be preserved in its current form).  They present opportunities to enhance native ecology and riparian vegetation gardens.

The Dell Garden (western corridor) will maintain its existing character and be planted with native shade tolerant woodland species such as ferns and other seasonal ephemerals.  The Stream Garden (eastern corridor) will be a more heavily cultivated space that will feature a recirculating stream.

Core Gardens

The Gardens

The Core Gardens will be the collected, more-formalized display gardens that create the heart of WVBG.  The space is subdivided into a series of thematically separate garden rooms.

Core Gardens

The Gardens

The Core Gardens will be the collected, more-formalized display gardens that create the heart of WVBG.  The space is subdivided into a series of thematically separate garden rooms.

Multiple types of plant collections and planting styles at different levels of formality can be displayed in these rooms, each of which creates a new experience for guests.

Overlook Plaza

The main entry point to the Core Gardens for guests and larger groups will be the Overlook Plaza, which has a direct relationship to the parking area.  Viewers look out over formal lawns framed by seasonal borders and an alee of columnar trees flanking the lower lawn. The Overlook Plaza is a space where guests can stop and appreciate this vista before continuing down into the garden.

Vista Lawns

The plan takes advantage of the natural topography of the site’s steep slopes through the development of a series of ascending formal lawns with retaining walls. The open lawn creates a vista to the basin below and out over the forested hillsides beyond.

Multiple types of plant collections and planting styles at different levels of formality can be displayed in these rooms, each of which creates a new experience for guests.

Overlook Plaza

The main entry point to the Core Gardens for guests and larger groups will be the Overlook Plaza, which has a direct relationship to the parking area.  Viewers look out over formal lawns framed by seasonal borders and an alee of columnar trees flanking the lower lawn. The Overlook Plaza is a space where guests can stop and appreciate this vista before continuing down into the garden.

Vista Lawns

The plan takes advantage of the natural topography of the site’s steep slopes through the development of a series of ascending formal lawns with retaining walls. The open lawn creates a vista to the basin below and out over the forested hillsides beyond.

Welcome Center Environs

A series of outdoor rooms will serve a variety of functions, and a garden patio provides an exterior extension to the Welcome Center.
Habitat Gardens Gateway

The basin gateway is an important node as the intersection for a number of different pathways, and will also serve as the primary gateway into the Habitat Gardens.  The gateway plaza connects the Core Gardens to the Welcome Center Environs, parking, and boardwalk that takes guests across the wetland meadow to experience the basin habitats close up.

Welcome Center Event Lawn

An Event Lawn adjacent to the Welcome Center Lawn creates an event space that can accommodate a tent in close proximity to both the Welcome Center and nearby parking.

Habitat Gardens

The Gardens

The Habitat Gardens are a proposed series of ecological plant communities that are influenced by various levels of moisture either through saturation of the soil or various levels of water depth. Unlike the more formal garden of the Core Gardens, the Habitat Gardens in the reservoir basin are intended to exhibit the various types and relationships of wetland communities and to educate guests.

 

Upland Meadow

The area of the basin nearest to the Core Gardens sits topographically above a level that will be saturated or moist and provides a natural space to showcase an upland meadow habitat.  The managed meadow will transition guests from the formal aesthetic of the Core Gardens to the natural aesthetic of the basin habitats.

Wet Meadow

Wet meadows comprise an important ecosystem that typically surrounds wetlands, stream systems, and marshlands.  A variety of water-loving grasses, sedges, rushes, and wetland wildflowers are envisioned to be planted.

Wetland Fringe

The interface between open pools of water and the surrounding wet meadow habitats provides an opportunity for another ecological habitat.

Viewing Platforms

Enabling the guests the chance to experience and learn from a variety of ecotypes is an important goal of creating habitat zones in the basin area.  In order to facilitate this and protect the existing habitat, we will provide viewing stations along the boardwalk to allow guests the opportunity to become immersed in the landscape.

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