Tree Smarts

By Marion McParland


Does your yard look anything like mine? I hope not! Our trees really suffered under the grip of the polar vortex this winter. As we sort through the broken branches and stack our growing supply of firewood for next fall, we wish we knew more about these co-habitants living on our property. Do they need pruning? Does the sycamore tree have a disease? Will our magnolia blossom again this spring? What can we do to help our overgrown holly tree?

If you have similar questions and worries about your trees, now is your chance to register for a three-session PHS Tree Tenders® course taking place in Philadelphia on Wednesdays, April 30, May 7 and May 14, from 5:45 to 9 p.m. You will learn everything you need to know to tend a tree in your region, community, or your own backyard. This hands-on training includes tree biology, identification, planting, and proper care. PHS Tree Tenders is available for continuing education credits from the ISA, PA LA, and PLNA.

Please note that this three-session course will be held at The Science Leadership Academy at 55 N. 22nd Street in Philadelphia.

If you live in Chester or Montgomery Counties, you may be interested in two courses taking place closer to home. PHS Tree Tenders will be offering a course on Thursdays, April 10, 17, and 24 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Kimberton Waldorf School, 410 West Seven Stars Road in Phoenixville. Additionally, a third course will take place in on Tuesdays, May 6, 13, and 20, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Jarrett Nature Center/Simmons School, 411 Babylon Road in Horsham.

This course is open to adults and children ages 16 and up. The fee is $25. For more information, or to register, please visit




PHS “Pops Up” in the News

When you work at PHS, people occasionally ask what you do in between flower shows. As the articles mentioned below make clear, the answer is LOTS! Autumn is an especially busy season, but it’s the good kind of busy: fast-paced, fruitful, and fulfilling. Here’s a look into what we’re up to.

Urban Farmers Unite
October 18 saw the return of PHeaSt, a fundraiser to support the PHS City Harvest program. We were fortunate enough to feature the talents of 30 all-star chefs, but the true celebrities of the night were the local growers who make fresh food available in all corners of the city. The South Philly Review previewed PHeaSt, which you can read here.

Branching Out
Grid magazine helped spread the word about PHS Tree Tenders, which wrapped up a few weeks back. This training course transforms everyday people into greening heroes by teaching them how to plant and care for trees. You can read the article here, which will likely motivate you to sign up for the January 2014 session.

Up the Wall
You may not know the name Keith Haring, but I guarantee you’ll recognize his perennially popular paintings. In the late 1980s, Haring created a vibrant mural titled “We the Youth” in the Point Breeze neighborhood. The Mural Arts Program recently wrapped up an extensive restoration of the landmark, and PHS proudly helped to redesign and rebuild the adjacent garden. See it for yourself here.

I Love This Bar
As the weather gets colder, it’s easy to become nostalgic for summer, especially all the fun we had in the warm, wonderful Pop Up Garden on Broad Street. Earlier this week, Foobooz unveiled its list of the city’s 50 best bars, and the Pop Up Garden received special recognition. (It couldn’t qualify for the actual list now that it’s closed.) Read what made this temporary space so unforgettable here.

It’s the Holiday Season
Of course we can’t dwell in the past! Instead we look ahead to the holiday season and the opening of the PHS Pop Up Store in Chestnut Hill. In fact, it opens today, November 8, and runs through December. Stop by for relaxed shopping in a cozy holiday setting. Details here courtesy of Uwishunu.

Become a Tree Tender in Two Weeks!

Last week you hopefully saw the way-cool video about Tree Tenders created by Flying Kite Media. If you missed it, click here.

If the video inspired you to want to become a Tree Tender, you’re in luck. We are pleased to announce that a session is less than two weeks away! The two-part training will be held at PHS on Saturday, Jan. 21 and Jan. 28 from 8:30 am – 1 pm. The class fee is $25.

Tree Tenders training will cover tree biology, identification, planting, proper care, and working within your community. Plus, Tree Tenders counts for ISA, PA LA, Act 48 and PLNA credit.

So learn how to better yourself and better your community. Register before it’s too late!

Volunteer Spotlight: Mia Mengucci

More than a few PHS staff members claim Mia Mengucci as one of their “star” volunteers. Mia has her hand in a bit of everything at PHS, from the Flower Show to Tree Tenders to the Gold Medal Plant Award program.

A Pennsylvania-certified horticulturist, Mia began her career working in greenhouses as a teenager. She then moved on to gardening for private clients and working in garden centers. She currently works at Primex in Glenside, PA.

Mia became involved with PHS during her application to join the Pa. Landscape & Nursery Association. Part of her training included a volunteer stint at the PHS Gold Medal Plant Award booth at the Flower Show about 10 years ago. “I was the volunteer who wouldn’t go away,” she laughs. Since then Mia has returned every year to help at the Show, as well as to talk about Gold Medal plants at other events.

“The Flower Show kicks off the gardening season for me,” says Mia. “It’s like reunion week; it’s a lot of fun. But I also take very seriously my role as a PHS representative.”

Knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and passionate about gardening, Mia is a graduate of the PHS Tree Tenders and Green City Teachers training programs. For the past eight years, she has been active with the West Mount Airy Tree Tenders group and leads a local Girl Scout troop in planting trees. She serves on the Tree Tenders Advisory Committee, gives lectures at the Gardener’s Studio at the Flower Show and for the PHS Gardening Series workshops, and volunteers at the PHS Kids Grow Expo.

“I love my PHS family,” Mia says.  “I can’t say enough about what PHS has done for me. I value the connection as I would value a very dear friendship—that’s why I say ‘yes’ to everything!”

Lost No More! Elusive Tree Species Tracked Down

You may remember that Casey’s Tree of the Month for June was the Kentucky coffeetree. You may also remember the resulting scandal, when Casey realized that the coffeetree was nowhere to be found on PhillyTreeMap. He challenged all Philadelphians to track down and tag this elusive tree, and many of you answered the call!

The first shout-out goes to Cora O., who snuffed out quite a few. She wrote in to say, “There are some Kentucky coffeetrees in West Philadelphia that I know of. One on Penn’s campus in front of the library, and one on the east side of College Hall Green. There are others at in the Ralston West Garden, too. This was fun!”

Glad you think so, Cora. A PHS Tree Tenders t-shirt is on its way to your door!

We also heard from Gayl H., who proudly identified herself as a Tree Tenders graduate. Gayl said: “We have at least one, maybe more, Kentucky coffeetree on our property in East Falls, Philadelphia. It’s hard to miss the seed pods!” Gayl also submitted the photos in this post.

Good sleuthing, everyone! And be sure to include your trees on PhillyTreeMap.