Love Your Park with PHS on November 5

It’s that time of year again! The parks team is busy gearing up for Love Your Park: Fall Edition on Saturday, November 5.

Each fall, park friend groups come together to rake leaves and get their neighborhood parks ready for winter. Last year 46 parks and nearly 1,000 volunteers came together to collect 16 tons of leaves—which is 32,000 pounds of material that was composted rather than dumped in a landfill.

We know we can do this again and recycle even more leaves!

We will also celebrate a special project this year. For the past few months, the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership has been working with many stakeholders at Vernon Park. Together we will plant a rain garden at Center in the Park, a community center for older adults that sits in the middle of Vernon Park. We will have a ribbon cutting with Mayor Nutter, Deputy Mayor Michael DiBerardinis, and all of the key stakeholders at 11 am on November 5. Everyone is welcome to join us!

As always, we have great partners for this citywide event – Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Fairmount Park Conservancy and the dozens of park friend groups who love their park all year long.

If you would like volunteer for Love Your Park, please visit:

PHS 20th and Market Garden “Pops Down”

As you probably have heard by now, the PHS Pops Up Garden at 20th and Market has been a tremendous success! We hosted thousands of visitors, dozens of programs, and grew hundreds of pounds of food.

As the growing season comes to a close, PHS would like you to share in the celebration of the garden’s accomplishments and celebrate National Food Day* on October 24. The day will begin at 11 am with a speakers program, and the garden will remain open for visitors until 2 pm. There will be food, beverages, music, and an atmosphere of accomplishment and community. We hope you can join us.

PHS would also like to invite you to help us with the garden’s dis-assembly. On Saturday, October 29 from 9 am to 3 pm we will host a big volunteer work day in the garden. We will be digging up plants, taking apart garden beds, and essentially closing down the site. (Don’t be sad, the site was always meant to be temporary; PHS was given a short-term lease.) Everyone is welcome to take plants and other materials home with them–just bring your own bucket or container for your goodies. You may sign up to volunteer online or contact Eileen Gallagher at 215-988-8880.

Hope to see you at the garden!

*Food Day is an annual, national event sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. It seeks to bring people together nationwide to promote and celebrate healthy, sustainable food-related practices, from organic agriculture to sustainable food waste disposal, and to encourage a national conversation about what constitutes “real food.”

Jen’s Park Pick: Contest Winners Announced!

Chestnut Hill Memorial Park, a past CGC winner

One of PHS’s greatest traditions is the City Gardens Contest; it goes back nearly four decades. The amazing Flossie Narducci is the current force behind the contest, and she is as passionate about gardens as she is about honoring the volunteers who care for them.

Each year Flossie receives more than 300 entries from across Philadelphia. Volunteer judges visit each location and determine which are extra-deserving of praise.

Although it’s called the City Garden Contest, there is a category for parks as well. Because of this, I could never be one of the judges; I work with many of the friends-of-the-park groups that enter the contest (and I love them all!).

But being part of the PHS staff has a few special privileges, like getting to know who the winners are before the official public announcement. I don’t want to reveal too much—this is a spoiler-free blog post—but I will say there are a few tried and true winners, plus some surprises as well.

We’ll announce the winners at the PHS Fall Garden Festival this Saturday, September 24. So come on out to enjoy this free festival and find out if your local park won. And don’t forget to thank your local park and garden volunteers all year long!

To see the list of 2010 CGC winners, click here.

Drew Becher with CGC winners at the 2010 Fall Garden Festival

Jen’s Park Pick: Stand Up and Say “It’s My River!”

Surely you remember the opening of Race Street Pier and all the fanfare that surrounded it. You may, however, be less familiar with a very special project at the end of Washington Avenue, connecting with the bike trail that runs along the river and Columbus Boulevard. Designed in part by Biohabitats and artist Stacy Levy, the Washington Avenue Green ‘eco-park’ features dendritic decay gardens and a rubble meadow.

The Friends of Washington Avenue Green have held several successful events this summer, hosting a bike clinic in the park and arranging two Northwind Sail tours to connect residents to the river.

This Saturday from 10 am to 12 noon, they will host “It’s My River” eco-fest. The Friends group, staff from Wissahickon Environmental Center, and PHS will offer a variety of fun activities and games for children. There will also be a sculpture contest, prizes, and (without giving too much away) unique photo opportunities.

You can find Washington Avenue Green directly at the end of Washington Avenue. The trail is between the Sheetmetal Workers Union and the Coast Guard station. Thanks, as always, to the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation for supporting riverside recreation.

Jen’s Park Pick: It’s a Holiday…So Celebrate!

It’s Monday morning on a holiday weekend—what are you doing inside?!? Computer time can wait until tomorrow; now you should lather up some sunscreen and visit one of Philadelphia’s great parks. Some are hosting stellar events, but you don’t need a flea market or concert to enjoy parks. Go for the fresh air, shade-providing trees, and skin-warming sun. Plan ahead and bring a book, Frisbee, or blanket!

When you’re in a park, take a picture of you or others having fun and upload it to the PHS Facebook page (you’ll have to hit the ‘like’ button first). We want to see you enjoying the official end of summer! Find a calendar of events here.


Jen’s Park Pick: My Tragic Toy Story

I recently went on a family vacation and was given a “talking to” by my twin nephews and cousin, all of whom are wise-beyond-their-age at 4 years old.  I’m ashamed to admit this on such a public forum but…I’ve never seen any of the Toy Story movies.

So tonight, I’m catching up on the first two installments and on Thursday—when we’re all dried out from Hurricane Irene—I’m heading over to Campbell Square to watch Toy Story 3 with one of the loveliest friends groups in town.

In addition to gardening every Monday night in the park, the Friends of Campbell Square put together an ambitious event calendar.  This summer they kicked things off with a Memorial Day tribute, then hosted the Polish American String Band, and even welcomed the ever-popular Irish band, The Hooligans.

But there’s nothing like a movie night in the park—there’s something special about seeing the moon come up,  hearing the cicadas, and feeling the soft grass in your toes.  I have been to Campbell Square countless times, but never for a movie night. I’m excited to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fine cinema that will put me back in the good graces of my family.

You never know when you’ll be chided by a four year old.  I hope you’ll join me!

Campbell Square is located at Allegheny and Belgrade in the Port Richmond section of the city.  Refreshments will be for sale to benefit the park. For additional park events, click here.

Jen’s Park Pick: Something for Everyone!

This Saturday, August 27, PHS is partnering with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Greater Philadelphia Cares, The Friends of the Free Library of Philadelphia and many other organizations to bring you…

Summer Festival at McPherson Square Park! 

Starting at 3 pm, we will have so many fun activities for the whole family, it requires a bullet-point list! Here goes:

  • children’s crafts and games
  • face painting
  • pre-school story hour
  • karaoke and  DJ
  • hula hoop contest
  • performances by Junior Music Executives
  • refreshments, giveaways, and prizes
  • appearances by PHS celebrities: the Green Machine and Mindy Maslin!

But that’s not all! Bring your lawn chairs or a blanket and join us for a screening of “Despicable Me” at 7:30 pm.

And if you are looking to do a good deed for the day, come by from 1 pm to 3 pm for park cleanup. We want the park to be spic and span for the festival activities!

I’ve been working hard on this upcoming event and I hope all of you will join me! McPherson Square is located at Kensington and Indiana, right between the Somerset and Allegheny stops on the EL. McPherson Square is the only park with a library right in the middle of it. Built in 1917, the McPherson Square Branch library is a Carnegie-designed domed building.  You can’t miss it!

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at And click here for other park events happening this summer.