PHS Annual Report for 2011 Now Online

PHS’s Annual Report for 2011 is now available online—and what a year it’s been! Just a quick glance through the report reveals how much PHS has managed to accomplish in a year, from an amazing Flower Show that transported visitors to a beautiful Springtime in Paris to the spectacular success of the Pop Up Garden at 20th and Market streets.

The report highlights PHS’s education programs—such as Tree Tenders and Garden Tenders–-greening initiatives—such as Plant One Million and City Harvest—and, of course, our contributors! If you’ve contributed to PHS in the past year, we want to thank you, so page through the report to see your name in print. We couldn’t do it without you!

PHS Pops Up for the Holidays!

Remember back in October when we said PHS would “pop up” again after we closed the PHS Pop Up Garden at 20th and Market? Well, we weren’t just lying to make you feel better. (Would we lie to you?) We’re popping up again just in time for the holidays, this time over at the Comcast Center at 17th and JFK, with our first-ever Pop-Up Shop!

Located in the lower lobby, the Pop-Up Shop will be decked out for a Hawaiian holiday (as a preview of the 2012 Flower Show). We’ll be selling Flower Show tickets, plus a selection of PHS merchandise for the gardeners on your shopping list. The ultra-popular Plant One Million “Gift of a Tree” can also be purchased on site.

Shoppers can also enter daily drawings to win fantastic prizes from stores at The Market & Shops at Comcast Center. Curious? Intrigued? Excited? The Shop will pop open on December 12 and run through December 16. So make sure you pay us a visit between 8 am and 2:30 pm. Afterward you can check out Comcast’s Holiday Spectacular (which lives up to its name).

If you don’t think you’ll be able to make it to the Pop-Up Shop, you can still give the gift of PHS on our website. Have fun and ho-ho-ho!

New Study Finds Green Space Linked to Reduced Crime Rates

Trees, gardens, and grass may be pretty, but did you know they might actually keep you safe, active, and happy as well?

It’s true. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recently found that neighborhoods in which blighted, vacant lots have been cleaned and greened report lower crime rates than neighborhoods in which vacant lots have not been improved. The study has been reported on by both The Atlantic and the Philadelphia Inquirer, both of which highlight the efforts of the PHS Philadelphia LandCare program to improve vacant lots citywide.

From the Atlantic article:

Vacant lot greening was associated with significant reductions in gun assaults across all four sections of Philadelphia in the study and with significant reductions in vandalism in one section. Greening was also associated with the reporting of significantly less stress in one of the sections of the city and with more exercise in another. Cholesterol numbers were lower to a statistically significant degree for the greened areas across all four city sections.

The Inquirer also touts the job-creating benefits of greening programs like LandCare, which engages “the landscapers and community groups [in] mowing grass and pruning trees.”

It’s all just one more reason to start a community garden, Plant One Million, and keep supporting PHS‘s goal of making Philly as green (and safe) as it can be. And thanks to the everyone in the Philadelphia Green department for all they do!

Photo Slideshow of Inspiring Design

The latest issue of Green Scene features a profile on landscape designer David Fierabend of Groundswell Design Group, whose unique and innovative garden designs positively light up the pages. Below, check out a slideshow of teaser photos from one of Groundswell’s recent projects, a stunning re-imagined greenhouse.

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Photos by Top Kat Photo Inc.

Intrigued? Impressed? Amazed? If you want to learn more about Fierabend’s singular perspective on design, check out the newest Green Scene… by becoming a PHS member!

PHS members receive a host of amazing benefits in addition to the bi-monthly Green Scene, like free tickets to the Flower Show, participation in the Subaru VIP program, and circulation privileges at the McLean Library. Click here to find out more about joining.

This Holiday Season, Don’t Re-Gift…TREE-Gift!

At a loss for what gifts to give your friends and family? Passionate about trees? Want to support Plant One Million?

If you answered “Yes!” to any of these questions, check out the new Gift of a Tree program, which allows you to support the noble goal of planting one million trees and delight your loved ones with a thoughtful, customizable gift.

Click here to find out more. While we can’t promise that your tree gift will go toward a specific tree, you can be sure it will go straight to Plant One Million, and you can even specify the geographical direction of your tree gift: whether you want it to go toward New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, or Philadelphia. Plus, you’ll be able to send a commemorative, customizable card to the object of your affection. Choose from three designs!

Your gift of a tree this season will go a long way toward ensuring an evergreen future for everyone—so don’t re-gift, TREE-gift!

“Strange Beauties” Closes This Week

The Strange Beauties plant exhibit at the McLean Library closes on Friday, December 2, so if you haven’t already made the trek to see these amazing succulents, you should definitely stop by! (And if you’ve already seen the show, this is your final chance for an encore.) Don’t miss your chance to see this one-of-a-kind exhibit before it’s gone!

If you act quickly and go today, you’ll have the extra treat of a free holiday floral design course taught by Cheryl Wilks. Details:

Holiday Floral Design
Wednesday, November 30
12:00 noon – 1:00 pm
Need some inspiration for new design ideas for holiday centerpieces and floral arrangements? Join a session that will be led by Cheryl Wilks, who teaches floral design classes at the Morris Arboretum and designs weddings.

Pretty cool. If today doesn’t work, stop in Friday for a fabulous plant sale! Expertly grown, strangely beautiful succulents will be available for you to purchase.

And don’t forget that McLean Library is always a swell place to spend a few hours browsing through a selection of more than 15,000 books on gardening and horticulture. Come check it out!

Make Your List & Check it Twice: Holiday Open House this Saturday

Now that Thanksgiving is over and we’ve finally slept off our food comas, it’s time to get excited about Meadowbrook’s Holiday Open House, which will take place on Saturday, December 3 from 8 am to 6 pm.

Visitors can expect winter-themed shopping galore. Offerings will include fresh wreaths, garlands, greens, poinsettias, amaryllis, and paperwhites, as well as winter-blooming cyclamens, terrariums, and holiday combination planters that are guaranteed to make the season bright.

Also available for purchase will be a number of great holiday gifts and decorations, such as birch wood poles, candle holders and vases made of mercury glass, ornaments and candles, and cords of firewood. And don’t forget the most important purchase of all: the Christmas tree itself. Meadowbrook will have a selection of both Douglas and Fraser firs in a variety of sizes to suit every need.

From 10 am to 4 pm, kids and families can enjoy a number of activities, including decorating gingerbread men, making s’mores, and creating personalized ornaments. Everyone will have the chance to join in some good old-fashioned holiday caroling. Santa Claus will also make an appearance, so make sure you nab this opportunity to get your picture taken with the jolly old elf himself—and whisper your wish list in his ear.

Ready to deck the halls, stuff stockings, and make merry? Make your way over the river and through the woods to Meadowbrook Farm this weekend! Don’t forget your membership card, since PHS members will enjoy a one day sale – 20% off cut greens, poinsettias, and select holiday gifts!

Five Things You Can Do in Your Garden in November


November may seem like a sad month for the gardeners among us. Many plants are either dead or dying, others are entering a skeletal state of dormancy. Dead leaves are everywhere, creating a messy brown carpet for as far as the eye can see. Worst of all, it’s getting cold outside. But gardeners, take heart! There are still tasks to be done in the twilight of the year, and here are five in particular you can do right now to keep your garden looking its best, both now and later:

  1. About those depressing leaves: rake them off of your lawn to keep them from killing the grass. If leaves pile up in your garden beds, you’ll want to remove them (as their presence can encourage mold and weed growth). Don’t fret over a shallow layer though; you can leave those leaves where they lie. They will decompose and add nutrients to the soil. And remember, collected leaves are a welcome addition to the compost pile.
  2. Cut back your perennials where they look like they need it, but make sure you leave seed-heads. The heads of sunflowers and black-eyed Susans, for instance, serve as important winter food sources for birds.
  3. Start enriching your soil with compost or manure. Spread a layer of nutrients on top of your newly tidied flowerbeds so that the new food has time to sink into the soil to nourish spring blooms. Also, plant a cover crop over your vegetable garden—also called “green manure”—that germinates quickly and can later be tilled under, adding further nutrients to the soil. Some good choices for cover crops include alfalfa, buckwheat, barley, clover, winter rye, and wheatgrass.
  4. Get a late start on planting spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, crocuses, snowdrops, and daffodils. As long as the soil hasn’t frozen yet, it is safe to plant bulbs, but a good rule of thumb is to try and have them in the ground by the end of November at the very latest. Hurry, hurry!
  5. Autumn is a good time to plant evergreen shrubs and trees. If you do plan to put in a new shrub or tree before the winter, make sure you water it heavily before the ground freezes.

In November, the name of the gardening game is clean-up, protection, and preparation. It’s still unseasonably warm in Philly, so get out there and get gardening while the gardening’s good! And don’t forget to leap into a leaf pile or two. If you have any more questions about what you can do to prepare for winter, feel free to ask a gardener on the PHS website.