August 21, 2011 |
Jennifer Ryan doesn't keep records, but something unusual has been happening in her Roxborough community garden the last couple of years. "The mulberries are dropping earlier," she says. "We notice because it's a giant mess. " It's too soon to tell whether Ryan's mulberry mess is related to changing climate patterns. Best to watch it for another century or so. Zoe Panchen did the next best thing: She looked back. Panchen, a June graduate of the Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture at the University of Delaware, spent the last two years researching 150 years of plant and climate records in the Philadelphia area for her master's degree thesis.
April 2, 2012 |
These days, I can't imagine why I planted that bank of hydrangeas along a sunny back wall, except that their puffy blue flowers are gorgeous and they remind me of my grandmother. After hearing a talk by Doug Tallamy - and realizing how little my nonnative hydrangeas do for the insects and birds in my yard - I regret the ample real estate I gave them. Tallamy, a University of Delaware entomologist, has become almost a phenomenon, a poster prof, if you will, for the ecovirtues of native plants.
June 7, 1992 |
Native-plant conferences have become popular for horticulturists across the country, and now we're fortunate enough to have a highly successful Pennsylvania conference, now in its second year at Millersville University near Lancaster. The conference director, F. M. Mooberry, a longtime associate of the Brandywine River Museum, has lined up 25 speakers, including landscape architect A. E. Bye, and Carol Franklin of Andropogon Associates Ltd. of Philadelphia. Both are recognized nationally for ecological designs.
July 9, 2013 |
Jim Bray often jokes that when his parents retired to Florida, their idea of a great landscape was green asphalt. But here he is, at 72, a retiree himself, earning a reputation as a native-plant pioneer in tiny Lower Makefield Township and beyond. "It just makes sense to use natives," he says of a plant category that includes old standbys like black-eyed Susan and less familiar ones like staghorn sumac. Bray, a volunteer member of his township's environmental advisory council, researched and wrote a 2007 ordinance requiring new residential and commercial developments in Lower Makefield to use only indigenous plants in their landscapes.
June 5, 2003 |
It's the end of spring planting season, and homeowners have been busy landscaping with the usual assortment of Asian yew bushes, Japanese maples and exotic azaleas. It's enough to make Jim Plyler cringe. Plyler owns a nursery in Chester County that sells only plants native to the eastern United States. To Plyler, whose thick hands and fingers seem made for turning earth with a shovel, it makes no sense to put something in the ground unless it belongs. "Why put this crazy assemblage of plants together that doesn't relate to here?"
April 6, 2012 |
Seriously, when was the last time you heard of this scenario: An abandoned school building burns down, leaving 11?undeveloped acres in the middle of a tiny suburban neighborhood, and what ultimately comes out of it is not a new housing development with "mews" or "towne" in the name, or another shopping center, or even T-ball or soccer fields, but a park for walking, exercising the dog, bird-watching, and other relaxing pursuits. And it happens without community civil war. Quite the opposite: High School Park in Elkins Park came about because regular citizens and their local government worked together in many ways, over a lot of years.
January 30, 1998 |
If you are looking for ideas for the garden this year, take a walk on the wild side. Into the woods, actually. For it's in the woods that ideas for the garden abound. Even in the dead of winter, the forests are alive and green. Evergreens of every description line the trails, creating micro-climates that shelter less-hardy shrubs that are heavy with berries coveted by birds and squirrels. It's tough to convince many gardeners of the versatility of native-species gardens.
April 18, 2008 |
You can pick Ruth Pfeffer out of a crowd any day. She's the one perpetually looking up, binoculars in hand, joy on her face. Or, you can wait for someone to yell, "Hey, bird lady!" or "Yo, hawkeye!" "My life is for the birds," Pfeffer jokes. And, joke or not, it's pretty much true. While you're standing on her deck in Willow Grove, squinting into the sun and straining to see movement, she's rattling off the names of a dozen birds a minute flitting across the sky, hopping over the yard, landing in the trees.
April 27, 1986 |
Gardening in the shade can be frustrating indeed for the gardener who insists on trying to convince tomatoes and peppers to produce fruit with less than six hours of sunlight or who keeps wondering why shaded peonies and petunias don't produce gorgeous blooms. Dot Plyler has no such expectations. For her shady garden, she favors the many native plants that flourish in low light. Many of these bloom in early spring, and the end of April and the beginning of May is a special time in this Delaware County garden.
October 19, 1992 |
When Suzanne and Donald Knezick transplanted their Pinelands Nursery to Mansfield Township, Burlington County, from Don's parents' back yard in 1986, the fields surrounding their 16 acres were overrun with thick underbrush. Reedy grasses and craggy trees were punctuated by bright shocks of pink and gold wildflowers. All were native to South Jersey. Now, the landscape is dotted with modest suburban tract homes bordered by plush green lawns and tidy flower beds. The Knezicks' property, though, is much the same as it was: Donald, a part- time professor in Rutgers University's department of forestry, has translated his love of native horticulture into a nursery that is one of two in the state that grows only plants native to the fragile Pinelands and wetlands ecosystems.