The community garden on American Street between Somerset and Cambria is a project of Congreso de Latinos Unidos, a social service organization in North Philly. The garden is called “La Huerta del Pueblo,” which means, loosely translated, community garden. It was established a year ago on city-owned land, and has gone from being a trash-strewn eyesore to blooming with flowers and food crops.
Photo: Virginia Claire McGuire
Artist Julie Stone Waring bought her house in Northern Liberties almost 15 years ago, and her garden has changed a lot over the years. At first, the yard was full sun, with a big fruiting cherry tree and grapes growing along a wall. But that has changed in the years since.
“Developers have decided to build on every inch of Northern Liberties,” Waring said. “My yard has turned into a shady yard with a few sunny spots.”
Most recently, developers built a three-story house immediately behind her yard, further limiting her sun exposure. She especially misses the evening light in the garden.
“Since I don’t have as much sun, I have been growing fewer vegetables and more flowers,” she said.
Photo: Virginia C. McGuire
Plant lovers in West Philly have probably noticed this house at 47th and Baltimore because it has one of the most exuberant rooftop gardens I’ve ever seen. Gardener Fred Wolfe has been building his plant collection on this corner for more than 40 years. He started gardening at 4703 and 4705 Baltimore Avenue, but in 1983 he moved to his current home at 4701 Baltimore.
Wolfe’s garden is spread over several different areas. What he calls his sidewalk garden is a combination of perennials and annuals planted in containers. This garden has cannas, red-twig dogwood, hardy hibiscus, magnolias and black-eyed susans.
Photo: Virginia C. McGuire
Irises are my very favorite flower. They’re beautiful in a weird, unruly way, like orchids. They come in many colors and sizes, from big grapefruit-sized blooms to tiny plum-sized blossoms. And unlike many flowering perennials (*cough* tulips *cough cough* daffodils), their greenery doesn’t look like total garbage when they stop blooming.
Iris leaves are long and spiky, and their shapes make a nice contrast to other kinds of foliage in the garden. So even though I look forward to my irises blooming, I’m not heartbroken when they stop blooming and leave me with months’ worth of greenery.
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A lovely garden at 1914 Mt. Vernon St. in Philadelphia
Private outdoor spaces in the city aren’t like unicorns or the tooth fairy—they really do exist. Walled-in gardens are a luxurious find in an urban setting, and homeowners can maximize the space by planting gardens, using it to entertain or creating a serene oasis amid the local hustle and bustle. Here are a few secret [...]
Turtle Pond at Morris Arboretum. Photo by Virginia C. McGuire
Judging by my Facebook timeline, half of Philadelphia went to the Shore this past weekend. The other half was at Morris Arboretum.
Before I started gardening, I preferred hiking in the woods to taking a stroll through a manicured arboretum. Now I love seeing what professional gardeners and arborists have managed to grow in the Delaware Valley. I go to Morris Arboretum to get ideas. When I get bored with my plants–how many purple hellebores do you need, really?–I like to check out the sheer variety at Morris.
I also like that the place is well cared for but it’s not all necessarily perfectly groomed. The rose garden is laid out in a formal pattern but the beds are a bit of hodge-podge, with many other plants growing in among the roses. There are gazebos and pergolas and posh-looking water features, but there are also scruffy herb gardens and butterfly gardens, and even a woodland walk along a bend of the Wissahickon Creek that runs through the grounds.
Photo of lettuce by Virginia C. McGuire
It’s only the fourth season for this community garden in Germantown, and already 51 plots have been hacked out of the asphalt of a row of old tennis courts adjacent to Cloverly Park. The courts were once used by students at Germantown Friends School, and the land is held in trust for the school and Germantown Monthly Meeting, a Quaker group.
Catherine Adams co-chairs the committee that runs the garden. She has been involved in the garden from the beginning. “I became involved in the garden as soon as I heard of the project without any hesitation,” she said. She has hauled buckets of water, tended plants, and screened chunks of asphalt out of the soil. Adams lives two blocks from the garden in a former industrial building with almost no outdoor space, so she’s glad to have a place to grow vegetables.
Photo: Virginia C. McGuire
If you garden in Philadelphia, you’re probably a connoisseur of shade plants. We have big old trees hanging over narrow streets. We have tall row houses and looming apartment buildings that block sunlight. And many of us have small, dark backyards. It’s easy to get a hundred gorgeous shades of green packed into one garden, but the options are more limited for flowering shade plants.
You can’t go wrong with bleeding hearts and hellebores, but I have a special weakness for columbines. There are dozens of varieties, and in many cases the colors are exquisite–deep purples, pale yellows, dark reds and pearly blues. The flowers look like something from an alien landscape, and the buds look like tentacled sea creatures.
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) will open another of its pop-up gardens next week across from the Kimmel Center on Broad Street. This year’s garden is a collaborative effort, with input from University of the Arts, Avram Hornik of Four Corners Management, and the landscape design firm Groundswell Design Group, which won an award for its work on Morgan’s Pier. The above rendering is its proposed design for the new the PHS pop-up garden.
The temporary garden will function as an outdoor cafe with craft beer, sangria and food by chef George Sabatino, who’s also in charge of the food at Morgan’s Pier (which opens next week just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge).
PHS uses its pop-up gardens to educate Philadelphia residents about its projects, including City Harvest, which provides fresh food from the city’s community gardens to 1,000 families in need every week. It also makes use of vacant space–last year, the pop-up was in the empty lot on Rittenhouse Square where the old Eric Twin movie theater used to be.