Archive for May, 2012

Pass the Teapot and Pour the Wine

May 31, 2012

The more you learn about something, the more you enjoy it, right? We have two events coming up about beloved daily pleasures, tea and wine. These are great opportunities to enhance your tea-drinking and wine-drinking experience—and wow your friends with all you have learned about these lovely beverages.

The Pleasures of Tea: An Evening Tasting & Lecture
Wednesday, June 20, 2012 6 pm – 8 pm at PHS

Join PHS for an evening of discovery about the cultivation and enjoyment of tea with tea expert Anupa Mueller, owner and founder of Eco-Prima Tea in Tarrytown, New York. We will taste and compare eight to ten different teas from renowned tea regions of the world, with an emphasis on India and China. And with a nod to our upcoming PHS trip to South India, high quality Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiri teas will be included. A brief introduction will precede the tasting, covering the history and origin of tea, growing and harvesting/manufacturing methods, seasonal variations, and pointers on how best to store and steep tea. After the tea tasting, Allison Rulon-Miller, founder of From Lost to Found Travel, will talk about the upcoming trip in January 2013.

Wine Lecture: The Horticulture of Wine
Thursday, June 21, 2012 6 pm – 8 pm at Meadowbrook Farm

Wine is now America’s number-one alcoholic beverage of choice, but did you know the most important aspect of wine is horticulture?

Environmental educator Brenda Sullivan will review the history of wine through the ages, as well as current trends that have made wine so popular. She’ll explore varieties, pathogens, pesticides, pruning and environmental trends. This session will conclude with a wine tasting, including local sustainable wine that will wow you!

Get Involved with Garden Clubs

May 29, 2012

Ever think about getting involved with a garden club? You absolutely should! The greater Philadelphia area is crowded with clubs, so there’s bound to be one (or two or three) that are a good fit for you. Some are based around a special interest, like the Delaware African Violet and Gesneriad Society, and others are primarily location-based, like the Master Gardeners of Mercer County.

Click here for a compilation of garden clubs with open meetings. This is a tiny sampling though, so sound off in the comments sections if there’s a club you’d like to see recognized.

Remember, garden clubs are a great opportunity to connect to the horticultural scene in your area, and will likely lead to involvement in community-service projects, plant swaps, and garden tours. You could even end up exhibiting at the Flower Show!

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones Changed

May 24, 2012

The United States Department of Agriculture recently released a new Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM) to reflect data collected from1976 to 2005 and includes two new zones:  12 (50-60 degrees F) and 13 (60-70 degrees F). The map, which can be searched by ZIP code on the USDA’s website,  is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree Fahrenheit zones.

The last version of the map was released in 1990 with data collected from 1974 to 1986. A comparison of the two shows that zone boundaries have changed and each zone is warmer. According to the USDA, if your hardiness zone has changed, it does not mean you should change what you are growing in your garden. What is growing successfully now will most likely continue to be successful. The USDA also stated that since the map represents 30-year averages of extreme weather events (the coldest temperature of the year), changes in zones are not reliable evidence of global warming.

Hardiness zones are based on the average, not the lowest temperature that has ever occurred or might occur. Gardeners should keep that in mind when selecting plants, especially if they choose to “push” their hardiness zone by growing plants not rated for their zone. And while this edition of the USDA PHZM is the most detailed to date, there might still be microclimates that are too small to be detected.

The new map has a higher level of resolution and can show smaller areas of zone delineations. For example, cities hold more heat because they have large amounts of concrete and blacktop, so a city or town may be assigned to a zone warmer than the surrounding countryside. Higher elevations tend to be colder than surrounding lower areas, so the top of a mountain may be an area of cooler zones. A location near a large body of unfrozen water may provide milder winter weather and be in a warmer zone.

While these numbers are certainly interesting, the USDA also encourages gardeners to rely on their own experience before making any sweeping changes to their practices and plant choices.

A Pop of Color on the Parkway

May 22, 2012

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As part of the recent City in Bloom event, PHS oversaw the installation of giant “lollipop” plantings in Logan Square!

Taking a nod from traditional British topiary—next year’s Flower Show theme is brilliant, after all—these orb-like elevated plantings consist of Coleus ‘Sedona’ and orange lantanas. The PHS Public Landscape Design and Management team had the idea, and Tom Reber and Bernie Pettit from Meadowbrook Farm were commissioned for construction. Both men had experience with planting and caring for hanging baskets—although this project is on a much bigger scale!

Black iron pipe (meant for plumbing work) was fashioned into a globe-like shapes and covered in coconut fiber. Each sphere was then filled with about six bags of soil. Next, the men cut slits into the coconut fiber and plugged in the plants.

As you can see from the photos, the plantings aren’t exactly bursting with color yet, but Tom Reber says the recent warm temperatures will lead to a brilliant pop of orange in a week or so. When you are in Center City, enjoying everything about With Art Philadelphia, admire these whimsical additions to the Parkway landscape.

Begonia Bonanza at PHS McLean Library

May 17, 2012

The arts are alive in Philadelphia, and we are all eagerly anticipating the opening of the Barnes Foundation’s newest campus!

To celebrate art and horticulture, PHS presents The Art of Begonias, now through June 1.* Located in the McLean Library on the first floor of PHS headquarters at 20th and Arch Streets in Philadelphia, the exhibition will feature a selection of spectacular begonias from the Delaware Valley Chapter of the American Begonia Society and from Meadowbrook Farm.

Also on display will be some beautiful paintings and drawings from the Philadelphia Society of Botanical Illustrators, some of which will be for sale. The exhibition will culminate with a begonia sale on June 1. Admission is free and the event is open to the public; Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5pm. To complement this exhibition, the following lectures will be held in the library:

Caring for Begonias, Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 6 – 7 pm
Begonia care is very straightforward and rewarding.  Begonia enthusiast Ed MacFarland will demonstrate that by adhering to a few simple rules, one can be rewarded with some extremely attractive flowers, foliage, or both.

The Art of Garden Photography, Thursday, May 31, 2012, 12 – 1 pm
Tired of over-exposed, under-exposed, or unfocused photos of your garden and plants?  Improve your  picture-taking skills with a few tips and tricks from PHS Publications Director Pete Prown.

Painted Leaf Begonias, Thursday, May 31, 2012, 6 – 7 pm
Among the various types of begonias, the B. Rex are some of the most beautiful and stunning plants. Sometimes called painted-leaf begonias or fancy-leaf begonias, these plants are known for their showy leaf colors.  Join us as Meadowbrook Farm staffer Brandon Huber discusses how to grow and maintain these breathtaking plants.

Plant Sale, May 31 & June 1, 9 am – 5 pm
Purchase beautiful begonias and other must-have plants from Meadowbrook Farm. While supplies last.

For more information about the lectures, call Marilyn Reynolds at 215-988-8872.

The McLean Library has a circulating collection of 15,000 books and DVDs on gardening and plant care, botany, urban greening, and more, as well as research collections consisting of rare gardening books, a vintage seed catalog collection, and the PHS archives, including those from the Philadelphia International Flower Show.

*the exhibit will be closed on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28

The Gershman Y Presents Eco Art

May 15, 2012

On Thursday, May 17, the Gershman Y will debut two environmental art exhibits in its galleries. From 6 – 8 pm, attend a panel discussion with several of the participating artists—all of whom have developed eco-art projects nationally and internationally. These artists believe in the importance of talking about the ideas embodied in their work.

The one collection is called Turn Here: Artists Promoting Environmental Awareness. It features artists who use signage and other graphic approaches as a strategy for promoting eco-awareness, including work by Xavier Cortada from his time in the North and South Poles.

The second grouping is titled History of the Future: Photographs from the Canary Project.

The Gershman Y sees this evening as a chance for fresh and meaningful discussion of environmental issues that impact our community. Even if you can’t attend opening reception, the exhibits run to Sunday, August 12.

To learn more and to register, click here.

Make Mom Feel Special at Meadowbrook Farm

May 10, 2012

This weekend, enjoy a day out with mom and treat her to beautiful flowers or fresh veggie starts for her garden. Shop from a selection of gorgeous perennials and trees, Americana geraniums, calibrachoa, gerbera daisies, and lantana—plus, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and more for veggie lovers!

Or choose one of Meadowbrook’s Top Picks for Moms:

Gorgeous combination baskets and containers – a perfect addition to the front steps, back porch, or outdoor dining table.

Handmade black terra cotta flower pot with a kale design – locally designed and created for Meadowbrook by Heirloom Home and Design in Glenside, PA. Learn the full story here.

Meadowbrook Gift Cards are also available in any amount.

Earlybird shoppers on Sunday can enjoy free coffee and donuts from 10 am – noon (while supplies last!). See you at Meadowbrook! Click here for hours and directions.

Get Ready for “With Art Philadelphia”

May 8, 2012

PHS is proud to be one of ten city organizations and cultural partners that will tout Philly’s eclectic art offerings as part of “With Art Philadelphia,” a new, two-year campaign supporting Philadelphia’s varied visual arts scene and the many artists who make it the colorful canvas that it is.

With Art will go beyond the traditional definition of art to embrace the region’s bountiful gardens, high-fashion boutiques, and design must-sees. As horticulture is one of the forms of art that Philly does best, PHS will be the clearinghouse for information on gardens, arboreta, and other green spaces that are doing fantastic things.

We’ll keep you posted on upcoming events associated with this one-of-a-kind campaign. Until then, this video will give you an idea of what’s in store.

Tour Southern India with PHS in 2013

May 3, 2012


As we welcome back the PHS members who journeyed to Peru in search of orchids, we invite you to consider joining us for a fascinating exploration of southern India on our tour, “Sacred Stems: Teas, Spices, and the Power of Plants!”

Take a midwinter break next January 11 – 25, 2013, on a trip that will showcase the role of  gardens and plants in medicinal, religious, culinary, commercial, and leisure activities in India during the colonial era and after independence from Britain.

We will visit Mughal-style terrace gardens, British-inspired botanical gardens, and lively flower, vegetable, and spice markets. We will also visit colonial-era hill stations where tea, coffee, and spice plantations abound, and learn about current programs to help the thousands of small tea growers throughout India. At two botanical sanctuaries, we will explore current plant conservation and research activities.

Our comprehensive itinerary also includes some of South India’s most memorable sights, including the Amba Vilas Palace in Mysore, the serene backwaters of Kerala, and the Portuguese- and Dutch-influenced city of Kochi. Optional trip extensions to the Golden Triangle (Delhi/Agra/Jaipur) and to Kolkata will also be available.

Interest in this trip has already been piqued, and we don’t want anyone who wants to go to be put on a waiting list. Click here for the complete itinerary and registration information.

Flock to Gardens & Green Spaces this May

May 1, 2012

The Flower Show is fleeting, but the PHS team wants to connect you to beautiful gardens year-round. This month is especially exciting if you are a bird lover? From warblers to chickens to hawks, the wide world of birds is much-discussed in our May compilation of gardening and greening events in the Philadelphia region. You can even tour the home of bird-enthusiast John James Audubon on a trip sponsored by the Morris Arboretum.

Click here to learn about these (and other, more traditional) gardening and greening events.

If your mission is to spend time outdoors with the young people in your life, we’ve got a list for that too. There are even night-time events at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Tyler Arboretum, and the Delaware Center for Horticulture—so embrace your nocturnal tendencies!

Click here for the list of kids and family events.

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