August 13 2019

“An impact for the whole community”

Last year, Janice Mittelkamp saw a documentary called “Lives Well Lived,” and the next day she applied for a horticulture position at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark.

Mittelkamp had been a landscape architect since 1990 and she liked her job, but after she heard the elderly adults in the film talk about how important it is to love what you do, she decided it was time for a change of scenery.

“Working and living in the north end of town, I always had a special feeling at Wegerzyn,” says Mittelkamp, who spent 28 years designing residential and commercial gardens. “Now it feels like I’m making an impact for the whole community.”

Mittelkamp is celebrating her one-year anniversary at Wegerzyn this month, and she and her staff and volunteers have been busy. They’ve added features like a troll head and a dragon to the Children’s Discovery Garden and are preparing to turn an area in the back of that garden into a wildlife habitat. They’ve also refinished benches, cleared some dead materials from near the Dayton Playhouse and designed a giant hens and chicks ball in the north plaza.

Of course, much of her time this summer has been spent figuring out how to rebuild areas that were damaged by the Memorial Day tornados that devastated parks, neighborhoods and businesses north and east of the city. Wegerzyn lost many trees in the swamp woods and along the drive next to the community gardens, some very old trees along the main drive and a few in the formal garden area. The covers were also blown off the hoop houses.

But Mittelkamp is confident that the park will continue to be one of the Dayton’s community’s favorite destinations. “The mission we have is just what the community needs,” she says. “I’m excited and happy to be a part of it.”

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