Wegerzyn Gardens, a 50-year-old botanical garden in Dayton, Ohio, is celebrating its anniversary this year. In 1967, local millionaire and amateur gardener, Benjamin Wegerzyn, donated 1000 shares of Xerox stock to build a flower conservatory at the then newly constructed DeWeese Park.
As plans for the park expanded and Wegerzyn became more invested, the park was renamed in 1973 as the Benjamin Wegerzyn Horticultural Center.
“We love it here, especially the exploration and the science experience. It’s a really fun activity.”
Pearly Appiado, park goer
On a balmy Saturday evening, the park was busy with visitors enjoying the scenery, fishing in the pond, and taking photos.
Diane Smith, Erica Jones and Analisa Meekle walked on the bike path along the Stillwater river.
Smith said that she comes here often. “Every chance I get. I like nature. I like the birds singing and the geese and the water, and the trees. It’s just beautiful.”
“The best part is over where they created the area for kids, and it’s very interactive,” Meerkle said. “And then the flowers are just ridiculously beautiful.”
Doris Brown was reading a book and watching swallows fly over the pond. Brown said the park is close to her home and she comes about once a week.
“This is basically just a reset for me,” she explained. “A time to clear my head. Just a nice calm place to visit. There’s a lot of things to do. They have airplanes over there. People come and fish. Sometimes people come eat their lunch.”
Hope Reed was trying her hand fishing in the pond while her husband walked their dog on the bike path.
“This is my first time fishing,” she said. “But we always bring our dog here because it’s peaceful. I love it out here.”
The park is one of the top places for photographers in Dayton. Nyke Digital, a local photographer, was photographing a young woman to document her 22nd birthday.
He said he “shoots here a lot. And sometimes I don’t even come here to shoot, just to look at a view or hike the trails.”
Rochell Cooper, her fiancé and baby were taking engagement photos in an archway at Wegerzyn Gardens. Daniela Morales was having a maternity photo shoot in the formal garden at the same time.
Elidia Morua was with her in-laws.
“Our in-laws come in from out of the country and this is where we usually come and take a lot of pictures and just walk the trails,” she said.
Angel Appiado, with her 1-year-old daughter and family, cooled off in the fountains in the children’s area.
“Growing up we came here a lot,” Angel said. “So, I definitely wanted my daughter to have the same experience as me.”
Her mother Pearly Appiado said Angel and her siblings “grew up here every summer.”
“We love it here, especially the exploration and the science experience,” Pearly explained. “It’s a really fun activity.”
Their adopted brother Apollo Appiado said that it’s his first time here.
“It’s definitely beautiful. I didn’t expect it to be 88 acres,” he said. “Yeah, I’m just having a fun day with my adopted family. There’s a musical maze, quote unquote. There’s basically, like, homemade instruments made out of wood and like PVC pipes. It’s actually kind of cool.”
The park is a popular place for weddings, and proposals!
Kaylee McDonald was hanging out by the pond with her husband Wes and their two young children. While Wes and their young son fish, their daughter entertained herself by blowing soap bubbles. Kaylee said the family loves the park.
“He actually proposed to me seven years ago here — so, yeah!” she said, laughing. “We had almost broken up at one time and we met at Wegerzyn Garden and we decided to keep being together, and that’s why he proposed there. And now we bring our kids here!”
Wes McDonald agreed with his wife.
“That was incredible,” he said. “It’s always something that brings us back and it’s always a fond memory everytime we come that we can reminisce on our beginning. And now we’ve got two little ones. So it’s beautiful.”
“It’s one of those kinds of parks,” Nyke Digital said. “Ya gotta come back.”
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