December 21, 2008 |
Marjorie Unger Bayersdorfer, 75, a social worker and award-winning gardener who championed the use of native plants to beautify and preserve the environment, died of ovarian cancer last Sunday at the Hill at Whitemarsh, a retirement community in Lafayette Hill. Before daughter-in-law Cyane Gresham, a gardening expert, and a conference at Millersville University opened Mrs. Bayersdorfer's eyes to native plants, her gardening was a beloved pasttime that merely created a lovely landscape.
November 21, 2008 |
Eileen Boyle takes a bird's-eye view of the fall garden. She sees it as a bountiful buffet of fruits, nuts and seeds. She won't eat them herself. She'll use them, along with dried apricots and apples, popcorn and Cheerios, to make a holiday wreath that's a treat for birds and a delight for people who like to watch them. "You'll have birds till February. It's so cool," says Boyle, education coordinator at the nonprofit Mount Cuba Center near Wilmington, which studies and celebrates regional native plants and wildflowers.
October 17, 2008 |
Sinclair Adam used to cringe when his pals called him "the pharaoh of foamflower. " Now, he embraces his inner sovereign with only a slight grimace, hoping it helps get the word out about tiarella, the starry little wildflower he adores. "Tiarellas rock," says Adam, a pipe-smoking plant breeder and horticulturist who runs Dunvegan Nursery with his wife, Kirsten, from an 18th-century farmhouse in Coatesville. More properly known as Tiarella cordifolia, which refers to their heart-shaped leaves and small tiaralike flower sprays, shade-loving "foamies" have been an Adam preoccupation for two decades.
October 3, 2008 |
Fall cleanup in the garden is almost a biological imperative. Each year at this time, we gleefully troop outside with pruners and rakes to buzz-cut the plants and scoop up the leaves. We stuff our handiwork into trash bags, deposit them on the curb, and away they go. Nice, neat - and absolutely not the case with Cindy Ahern. Instead of whacking plants and ornamental grasses that have turned brown and gone to seed on her half-acre property, she sings a chorus of "Let It Be. " And instead of tossing all those crispy leaves, she recycles some as "natural mulch" in her garden beds and puts the rest on her compost pile.
August 15, 2008 |
It's pretty, colorful, tall and tough. So how come Dale Watson hates purple loosestrife? Scratch that. She doesn't hate it. She's upset that she still sees so much of it. Though beautiful, purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is considered a noxious thug that grows fast, spreads far, and obliterates everything in its path, especially along waterways. "Purple loosestrife is so destructive. It's really bad," says Watson, a social worker from Goshen, Cape May County, who isn't shy about confronting anyone buying, selling or planting it in her home state, where it's still legal.
May 21, 2008 |
A light drizzle and gray sky did nothing to dim the enthusiasm of a group of preteens as they planted flowers and shrubs on Independence Mall yesterday as a way to deepen their interest in nature. The children, from the Germantown and Nicetown Boys and Girls Clubs, were participating in First Bloom, a new program of the National Park Foundation that teaches children about nature through planting and gardening projects. The program is designed to help children learn how to protect fragile ecosystems by planting native species in national parks and how to raise gardens in their neighborhoods.
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.
February 1, 2008 |
Sharon Barkhymer uses words like thrifty and frugal to describe her penny-pinching gardening style, but other people call her just plain cheap. "I'm not cheap," she protests. "I'm responsible. " Let's add smart to this list of adjectives. Seen a "hot new plant" catalog lately? You can spend $50 for a hosta - or you can fill your car with gas. So the beleaguered Barkhymer's onto something: You don't have to spend your inheritance to have a beautiful garden.
August 3, 2007 |
Everywhere you look in Zeta Cross' yard, it's green, green, green, which is good. But let's get a closer view. Multiflora rose over there. English ivy down below. Isn't that tree of heaven . . . and Japanese honeysuckle? She's even got garlic mustard and purple nightshade, porcelain berry and vinca. Oh, no! Cross has enough runaway stuff in her yard to give an environmental purist like Steve Saffier cardiac arrest. But he's looking healthy, keeping cool, doing his diplomatic best not to embarrass her or make her feel bad. "These are invasives," he says, describing aggressive plants that are not recommended for home gardens, "but you're not alone.
August 3, 2007
Steve Saffier, who does backyard environmental audits, knows the advice he's about to give may sound un-American to some ears. But he says it anyway: "Be patient. " You don't have to turn your yard upside down all at once. Redo one section at a time, and "think of this as a long-term project," he says. Converting grass to native plants, or even ripping out and replacing aggressive plants bit by bit, also gives your neighbors time to adjust to your new look. David Soskis, who now has native plants in parts of his lawn, was advised to add some colorful annuals along the front walkway, too. "It's sort of a sensory psychological transition" from the conventional to the new, he says.