At Bryn Mawr College, the Trees Speak for Themselves

“You will find something more in woods than in books.” —St. Bernard (1090 – 1153)

For an educational institute like Bryn Mawr College, the quote sends more than just a philosophical message. In an era of technology when even libraries can be virtually accessed off campus through websites and learning takes place online as much as in class, the college decided that campus trees should also get digitized. So to celebrate the end of classes for the semester and get energized for the exams week, Bryn Mawr students participated in an active outdoor project to re-label each of their campus’s trees with a unique QR code.


A tree label with QR code

The idea is to invite people on campus, from students to visitors, to learn more about the trees through the advance of technology. Each campus tree has a label with a Quick Response Code (QR code), scan-able on any smart phone, which will then lead to a web page with detailed information about the tree. Previously, the labels only had the trees’ names on them, and even a tree enthusiast would find it hard to memorize the scientific name of a tree to look up and learn about it later. Now with these QR codes, these Bryn Mawr trees can finally speak for themselves.


The Bryn Mawr campus in spring

“Each tree on campus carries a story and a piece of the college’s history behind it”, says Ed Harman, director of grounds at Bryn Mawr College.  “So we think that it is important to also provide students and visitors on campus with a chance to learn about the trees and appreciate them the same way we do our beautiful buildings.” The webpage for each tree linked with the QR code includes not only information about the type of tree and its characteristics, but also a story of how it came to Bryn Mawr. Some of the trees were gifts from a previous class, or a replacement of a class tree. Some are as old as 1900.

The QR code feature is not the first project organized to connect students with the campus trees and landscape at Bryn Mawr. Last year, the college and the students also completed designing a Campus Tree Map, and a tree tour using this map as a guide has been introduced to parents and visitors to Bryn Mawr campus. The college has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA for these outstanding student services project to promote more active student-tree relationship on college campuses.

Join Us for a Fun Wine & Cheese Educational Series!

Best of (13)It’s time to shrug off the overcoat, replace mittens with gardening gloves, and get outside! Spring has sprung and PHS is celebrating with a fun way to learn something new–our wine and cheese series!

As proponents of gardening, greening, and learning for more than 185 years, PHS is pleased to announce its new line-up of evening events to help you hone your horticultural skills and pique your interest in all things outdoors. These six exciting programs will be held in the McLean Library at PHS headquarters (100 N. 20th Street, Philadelphia), feature special guest presenters each night, and be served-up with a side of snacks and sips.

The series, which kicks-off on Wednesday, April 10, will offer three lectures/panel discussions and three workshops. Guests are encouraged to sign up in advance as these classes fill quickly! The McLean Library will have extended evening hours for each of the presentations, and all lectures will include a wine and cheese reception.

Lectures/Panel Discussions
Each class is $10 for PHS members, $20 for nonmembers. Register online, or for more information visit

Private Edens: Lessons in Creating Your Own Garden Paradise, Wednesday, April 24, 6:00 pm
Garden writer and popular lecturer Jack Staub distills the important lessons in “Eden making” he learned while creating his new book Private Edens: Beautiful Country Gardens. Based on the interviews he conducted with the owners of the garden paradises featured in the book and using Rob Cardillo’s superb photograph, Jack identifies the key components of “heart, home, and horticulture” that elevate what is merely a house on a plot of land to a personal place of genuine respite, comfort, and beauty.

To Be or Not To Be Native: Is This Even the Right Question? Wednesday, May 1, 5:30 pm
Join us for an in-depth discussion about how we talk about plants. What do we actually mean when we use the terms “native plants” or “invasive plants?” Do we inadvertently assign value or blame to certain plants just by using these terms? We will hear from three distinguished experts in the field: Doug Tallamy, lecturer, professor at the University of Delaware and author of Bringing Nature Home; Peter Del Tredici, author of Wild Urban Plants and senior research scientist at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University; and Anthony S Aiello, avid plant collector and director of horticulture and curator at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. This engaging and interactive dialogue will be moderated by Nancy O’Donnell, PHS director of design. Members of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and Audubon will offer comments in response to the panelists, followed by questions from the audience.

Gardening with Nature, Tuesday, May 14, 6:00 pm
This program, presented by Douglas Thomas, will highlight her fabulous garden, Twin Maples, which she and her husband purchased in Salisbury, Connecticut in 1996. They are only the third recorded owners of nearly 400 acres received by the original owner as a land grant from George II of England in 1740. On this historic property they have built a Georgian style house and a guest cottage, both designed by David Anthony Easton, and have developed 40 acres of wildflower meadows as well as formal gardens connected to the house. This property has been documented by the Millbrook Garden Club for the Archives of American Gardens at the Smithsonian Institution. The program shows the landscape in all seasons and describes the process of planting sustainable wildflower meadows.

Each class will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 pm and is $18 for PHS members, $23 for non-members. Register here, or for more information visit Enjoy a glass of wine and nibbles while you learn.

Terrariums: Landscapes under Glass, Wednesday, April 10
What could be better than brightening your home with a lush, green, miniature world under glass? Lori Hayes will offer practical tips on the design, plant and container selection, and maintenance of terrariums.

How to Compost at Home, Wednesday, May 8
Gardeners call compost “black gold,” because it is rich in nutrients that keep plants healthy. Join us to learn how to successfully start and maintain a compost pile anywhere–outdoors or even in an indoor worm bin. Paco Verin, environmental educator, will be the instructor.

Simple Tips for Gorgeous Garden Photos, Wednesday, June 12
Barbara Peterson, professional photographer and PHS staffer, will share tips and tricks collected in her years behind a camera. After a brief overview, Barbara will lead the group to nearby Logan Circle and demonstrate ways to truly capture the beauty of plants and garden design, regardless of the kind of camera you use. Please feel free to bring your own camera and dress for the weather.

Einstein Healthcare Network Promotes Healthy Living at the Flower Show

We’re proud to partner with Einstein Healthcare Network at the Flower Show! We all know that gardening promotes a healthy lifestyle, and the Einstein presenters in the Speakers Series are sure to have answers to your questions regarding how to be safe while tending to your flowers. Be sure to check out their offerings in Room 201B, including:

fotolia_1836805_XSTuesday, March 5 at 5:30 pm, Rosemarie Boehm, MD presenting “Gardening Without Aches and Pains.”
Thursday, March 7 at 2:30 pm, Anne T. Wieland presenting “Lighten Your Load with Adaptive Gardening Devices.”
Sunday, March 10 at 3:30 pm, Richard E. Grant, MD presenting “Gardening Without Aches and Pains.”

In addition to these speakers, Einstein is sponsoring the PHS Kids Zone in which a Mums Lounge will be a dedicated area for nursing mothers, or those who need some quiet time and comfortable seating with their little ones.

Thanks, Einstein Healthcare Network, for looking out for us. We’ll see you at the Show!

Gold Medal Plants with Winter Interest Featured at Longwood Gardens

hawthornSince its inception in 1978, the Gold Medal Plant Award program of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has recognized trees, shrubs, and woody vines of outstanding merit. The program was originally conceived by noted nurseryman Dr. J. Franklin Styer, who realized homeowners and gardeners needed to learn about superior woody plants for their landscapes. These plants are evaluated and chosen for their superb eye-appeal, performance, and hardiness in the growing region of Zones 5-7. Many winners are hardy in a much broader geographic range.

When a gardener acquires a plant designated a Gold Medal winner, he or she can be assured the plant will exhibit standards of excellence for pest and disease resistance, as well as ease of growing, when planted and maintained by recommended methods. Gold Medal Plants are also chosen for their beauty through many seasons, whether it be foliage, flower, form, or bark.

Gold Medal winners can be found at Longwood Gardens year round. Click here for the map of those winners that exhibit winter beauty in the garden; the list includes several varieties hollies, witch hazel, evergreens, and more. Enjoy them at their peak form now with a winter visit to Longwood!

Two Floral Design Classes to Inspire You!

floral-design-class-3There’s nothing more comforting than working with fresh, colorful flowers in the middle of winter. Join us in the McLean Library at 20th and Arch Street in Philadelphia with designer Cheryl Wilks for two workshops that are sure to inspire your inner florist.

“Creative Trends in Floral Design” will be held Monday, January 14 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. The sky’s the limit when it comes to designing with fresh flowers! Cheryl will demonstrate the newest trends in floral design that will feature a variety of styles and techniques.

“Flower Arranging from the Heart” will be held on Monday, February 11 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. The workshop is especially timely being so close to Valentine’s Day. Flowers have been scientifically proven to impact wellness and reduce stress. Cheryl will share great information about arranging fresh flowers to help our need for serenity, inspiration, wellness, gratitude, and love.

The workshops cost $18.00 each for members, $23 for nonmembers.  For information and to register, contact Marilyn Reynolds at or click here.

PHS Pinterest Boards Offer Holiday Inspiration

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From strawberry Santas to elaborate tablescapes, Christmas trees made from broccoli to gifts available at PHS Meadowbrook Farm—our Pinterest boards are filled with ideas! Much more than just a virtual bulletin board of pretty pictures, Pinterest posts can be “clicked through” to get great tutorials on wreath making; beautifully photographed, step-by-step recipes; and even informative videos.

In addition to holiday inspiration, we have boards about greening your home, behind the scenes of the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, family-friendly fun, and much more.

We’d love to share with you! Find us at

What’s New in the McLean Library in November

It’s getting chilly outside—time to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book! The McLean Library at PHS headquarters at 20th and Arch in Philadelphia, open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, has these great new titles.

When planning your visit to the library, consider bringing your little ones for an hour of fun and learning! Children ages 3 to 6 (with their adults) are invited to the library to learn about gardening and the natural world through books read by storyteller Hasha Salaman. Storytime meets on the first Wednesday of the month from 10:30 to 11:30 am, November through June. (NOTE: January’s program is scheduled on the second Wednesday of the month and we skip March for the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show.)

Upcoming dates include December 5; January 9; February 6; April 3; and May 1. For more information or to register for a Storytime session, please contact Priscilla Becroft at or 215-988-8772.

A Guide to Bearded Irises, Kelly D. Norris. The diversity of bearded irises rivals that of any other perennial grown in temperate climates. For some gardeners, they bring back warm memories of a grandparent’s garden; for others, they’re a cutting-edge plant with a seemingly endless capacity for producing new forms and patterns. In this comprehensive and definitive guide, iris expert Kelly Norris provides an accessible yet authoritative overview of these deservedly popular plants.

A Handful of Dirt, Raymond Bial (photographer). Soil may not be alive, but amazingly, multitudes of microscopic creatures live there, battling it out in an eat-or-be-eaten world. These tiny creatures, invisible to our eyes, provide food for the insects that in turn feed the reptiles and mammals that live in and above the soil. You’ll never look at the ground you walk on in the same way after Raymond Bial, an award-winning photo essayist, takes you on this eye-opening, down-and-dirty tour of one of the earth’s most precious resources.

A Rich Spot of Earth, Peter J. Hatch; Alice Waters (Foreword by). Graced with nearly 200 full-color illustrations, A Rich Spot of Earth is the first book devoted to all aspects of the Monticello vegetable garden. Hatch guides us from the asparagus and artichokes first planted in 1770 through the horticultural experiments of Jefferson’s retirement years (1809–1826). The garden is a living expression of Jefferson’s genius and his distinctly American attitudes. Its impact on the culinary, garden, and landscape history of the United States continues to the present day.

Agaves, Greg Starr. In Agaves, plant expert Greg Starr profiles 75 species, with additional cultivars and hybrids, best suited to gardens and landscapes. Each plant entry includes a detailed description of the plant, along with its cultural requirements and hardiness, sun exposure, water needs, soil requirements, and methods of propagation. Agaves can change dramatically as they age and this comprehensive guide includes photos showing each species from youth to maturity—a valuable feature unique to this book.

Herb Gardening from the Ground Up, Sal Gilbertie; Larry Sheehan; Akiko Aoyagi (Illustrator); Lauren Jarrett (Illustrator). Garden-fresh herbs impart flavor and fragrance that dried, packaged products simply can’t. Now, anyone with access to a few square yards of soil (or even a sunny patio or windowsill) can enjoy the punch and pungency that only come from fresh herbs hand-picked from the garden. Herb Gardening from the Ground Up demonstrates how to design, seed, and nurture 38 culinary herb gardens that are delightful to the eye as well the palate.

No Student Left Indoors, Jane Kirkland; Guy Kirkland (Editor); Melanie Palaisa (Editor); Dorothy Burke (Editor). No Student Left Indoors is your opportunity to learn and teach about our planet by helping your students to create a field guide to your schoolyard. Whether you’re a nature buff or nature-phobe, a literary genius or writing impaired, artistically talented or one who can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, and teaching gifted or challenged students in an urban, suburban, or rural school—you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of this before.

The Anxious Gardener’s Book of Answers, Teri Dunn Chace. The Anxious Gardener’s Book of Answers identifies the 100 most common gardening mistakes and gives gardeners the techniques to prevent them. Or, if it’s too late and they’ve already goofed, there are tips to fix the mistake.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan; Richie Chevat (Adapted by). “What’s for dinner?” seemed like a simple question—until journalist and supermarket detective Michael Pollan delved behind the scenes. From fast food and big organic to small farms and old-fashioned hunting and gathering, this young readers’ adaptation of Pollan’s famous food-chain exploration encourages kids to consider the personal and global health implications of their food choices.

The Organic Backyard Vineyard, Tom Powers. In The Organic Backyard Vineyard, expert Tom Powers walks the small grower through the entire process of growing grapes, with a month-by-month maintenance guide covering all regions of the U.S. and Canada. He explains everything a beginning grape grower needs to know: how to design and build a vineyard, how to select grapes for each region, how to maximize yield using organic maintenance techniques, how to build a trellis, how to harvest at peak flavor, and how to store grapes for winemaking.

To borrow these books and DVDs, copy and paste the book titles into this request form. Be sure to include your contact information and PHS membership number.