FOUND Opening celebrates the Year of the Pollinator
by Dan Sardaro, Marketing & Social Media Staff
“I believe that the building of art, gardens, and communities are all three conscious creative acts that aim to make the world a better and more livable place.”
Local Germantown artist Karen Singer concluded her talk with these words, as community members young and old gathered around in the Cope House’s lofty, sunlit parlor on Saturday, April 21. Singer’s accompanying art exhibition, a collection of floral vignettes from around the world molded carefully into colorful ceramic tiles, was the keystone of Awbury’s Pollinators FOUND event. Twelve tiles, each depicting a different pollinator, were also installed strategically around the picturesque landscapes of the Arboretum so that the public could explore the role that pollinators play in the ecosystem. The tiles proved to be a wonderful addition – one that will carry through until September – and shone like gems in the sun against a backdrop of spring green. Altogether, the day illustrated the commitment both Awbury and Singer have to celebrating the beauty of our natural world and the pollinators that keep it thriving.
For the past several months, Awbury Arboretum has taken the time to focus on nature’s unsung heroes—pollinators—in the program we are calling the ‘Year of the Pollinator.’ Through blog posts, interactive events, classes, art installations, and other community-minded means, Awbury is telling the story of those creatures and forces that keep our world green and bountiful. Given the full range of pollinators, from the nomadic monarch butterfly to the well-known and prized honeybee to the wind that sweeps pollen across forests and meadows, Nature has proven that she can get creative with the ways in which plants are kept healthy and reproductive.
The pollination story is one that has been writing itself for millions of years, but it is also one that has recently been susceptible to the encroaching interference of human activity. Pollinators are vital to our survival: that is an inescapable fact. Our agricultural systems, among many other life-sustaining plants and animals of the natural world, rely upon them. However, climate change, pesticide use, deforestation, and a slew of other toxic practices debilitate the hard work of pollinators. In the end, a threatened pollinator population means a threatened human population. So in today’s world the question we should be asking ourselves is: “How can we help protect pollinators?”
While there is no simple answer to that question, Singer’s words and Awbury’s mission include a large part of that solution: “We designed the Pollinators exhibit as a way to attract positive attention, to encourage people to visit and explore the Arboretum, in addition to educating and delighting visitors,” explained Singer during her talk.
How can people in the community help? First of all, simply come to the Arboretum. We have a plethora of ways in which you and your family and friends can engage with the arts, environment, history, and so much more.
During your visit, connect with the Arboretum. Enjoy the meadows full of flowers, and the bees, moths, and butterflies that pollinate them. Picnic under the shade of our great trees, some of which are over a century old. Tour our grounds to read about the various pollinators illustrated in the vibrant ceramic tiles. And come to events, which are always interactive for everyone involved. The summer months will provide numerous opportunities to learn how to garden smart, to sculpt with Karen Singer, or to tour the grounds. Through engagement you can learn, and then helping the insects that keep our green spaces blooming will become second nature.
Similar to the pollinator being a hidden treasure within its own ecosystem, Awbury Arboretum is a hidden treasure within the Germantown community. By coming to visit us and participating in our programming, you are helping more than just one cause. So, for the remaining seven months of the Year of the Pollinator, make sure to check out what we’re doing here. We promise you won’t regret it!
Thomas Pym Cope Award Gala Honors Sarah & Phil Price
by Hideko Secrest, Leaflet Editor, with Chris van de Velde, General Manager
The weather could not have been more pleasant and balmy on the evening of May 23, when approximately 125 guests met for Awbury’s biannual Spring Gala fundraiser for the benefit of the Gardens and Grounds Fund. The highlight of the Gala was the awarding of the Thomas Pym Cope Award for environmental stewardship, which this year went to Sarah and Phil Price for their years of service to the gardens and green spaces of Philadelphia. The newly landscaped woodland plantings were in bloom, and Awbury’s new tent glittered with strings of lights over the bluestone patio behind the Cope House as guests milled about in spring colors drinking herbal cocktails.
A delicious dinner was provided by Awbury’s dedicated caterer, Birchtree Catering, consisting of a series of locally sourced greens, vegetables, roast chicken, and salmon. Dessert was a delicately flavored rhubarb and strawberry custard sweetened with local honey.
In his introductory remarks after dinner, Board President Mark Sellers recalled that the last time this award was given, two years ago, he had spoken under a rented tent while standing on woodchips. He called attention to the patio, tent, and beautiful new surroundings before launching into the “Origin Myth of Awbury,” according to which “five Quaker ladies, descendants of Thomas Pym Cope, lived here and saw the need for a place like this at the end of the nineteenth century. So they threw their inheritances together to create this park.” A hundred years later, we show our appreciation of their work by awarding the Thomas Pym Cope Award to Philadelphians who have made our city “better, stronger, and healthier though championing the conservation and stewardship of the region’s green spaces and natural resources.” He then called upon former Board member Gene Dilks to introduce Sarah Price.
Gene, who has been the Prices’ neighbor for over 45 years, remarked how Sarah Price’s work has mirrored that of the Copes. She described Sarah’s character as self-effacing, never calling attention to herself, always supporting those in need, and with a profound sense of humanity and a deep appreciation for the work of others. Among other things, Sarah chaired the board for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, worked to expand Fairmount Park and to restore the Waterworks, and was a devoted member of the Weeders Chapter of the Garden Club of America, where she worked to create, among other things, a rain garden at Awbury. In 1986, she and her husband bought 90 acres of land on Matinicus Island in Maine, where they restored an abandoned saltwater farm and its surrounding land and placed a conservation easement on their property to protect it from further development.
Pete Hoskins, recently retired Executive Director of the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery, former head of the Philadelphia Zoo, and, prior to that, Director of the Fairmount Park Commission, then introduced Phil Price. Pete described Phil’s many years of service on the Fairmount Park Commission where his father and grandfather also served. He also noted Phil’s well-known efforts on the boards of Woodlands Trust for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia, and the Ludwick Foundation. Although not related to his “green space” service, Pete also outlined Phil’s years of public service as the leader of the Allegheny West community renewal after the riots of the ‘60s, following his service for a term as a State Senator.
Phil and Sarah then spoke briefly. Phil noted that, starting in the 1840s, a number of wealthy families began to donate land to the City in order to preserve those lands as public parks. He pointed out that the result of their efforts was that “parks were created for the health and welfare of the people of the City forever.” Sarah commented that it was “a great deal of fun and a great privilege to work for Awbury,” noting fondly that it all started when, as a member of the Weeders Garden Club, she was involved in building the rain garden.
The Prices thanked Chris and Lee van de Velde for helping to preserve and enhance Awbury, and extended thanks to the Board and to the Awbury staff—“the most wonderful people in the world, who worked hard for three months to make this event…perfect.” They concluded by observing how happy they were to be surrounded by so many friends.
The evening came to a close with coffee and dessert and a plea from Awbury’s General Manager Chris van de Velde to save the region’s newest public garden – Stoneleigh. The adult children of John and Chara Haas had gifted their parent’s home, Stoneleigh, to Natural Lands, a land preservation nonprofit, in 2016. This new public garden, which just opened this month after extensive renovation by Natural Lands, is, like Awbury, dedicated to the education about and cultivation of native plant species. Stoneleigh is at risk now because the Lower Merion School District is considering taking the property for a new middle school and ball field. Natural Lands has stated that it will not sell the property, but the School District has suggested it might use Eminent Domain to seize the land. Chris remarked on the terrible repercussions that might result from a successful bid to use Eminent Domain, and what a dampening effect such an action might have on others who may wish to donate land for conservation purposes. He urged guests who agree that the School District should look for another school site to write to the Lower Merion School Board and Superintendent Robert Copeland (at 301 E. Montgomery Ave, Ardmore, PA 19003-3399) or to send an electronic message to email@example.com with a cc to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Karen Flick, Landscape Manager
What is in bloom? …Everything!
After a long, drawn-out winter, it feels like everything is exploding into bloom. In reality, we are into our third and final phase of spring ephemerals before the summer perennials take over. This grouping of spring herbaceous blooms includes the naturalized Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica) throughout the English Landscape Copses and Beech Hollow walk. Daffodils (Narcissus. ssp.) have finished blooming, along with tulips (Tulipa ssp.) and Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica).
The meadow areas are bursting with buttercups (Ranunculus ssp.), violets (Viola ssp.) and star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum). Our English Landscape was filled with sweeps of purple, yellow and white blooms a few short weeks ago.
The woody plants are now in full bloom, including Korean viburnums (Viburnum carlesii), fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii), kerria (Kerria japonica), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), flowering quince (Chaenomeles japonica), and redbuds (Cercis canadensis).
Remember, gardeners, prune your spring blooming shrubs after their flowers have ended to prevent cutting off blooms for next year. The spring shrubs are blooming on last summer/fall growth. Just envision the large fuzzy buds of the magnolia trees which hang on the bare branches all winter and slowly peek open as spring weather arrives.
Programs and Events
Summertime … and the Livin’ is Easy
by Heather Zimmerman, Program Director
Summer is my favorite season: lush green rolling landscapes, warm evenings on the porch, sun-kissed skin, iced tea, and fireflies—a time to relax and watch the clouds go by. Also, a time of social gatherings: dinners, concerts, art and more—not to mention romping in the wild AdventureWoods!
We have several lovely dinners on the Cope House Porch:
On Thursday, May 31st, the Germantown Supper Club with Chef Gail Hinson is offering a Spring Wild Edibles Dinner dinner hosted by Lynn Landis, founder of the Wild Foodies of Philly.
The Supper Club is also hosting a Juneteenth Jubilee Celebration Dinner on Tuesday, June 19th. Click here to see the menu or to register.
The popular Edible Philly foodie magazine is teaming up with Awbury and Birchtree Catering to share “Experience the Issue: Meet Your Urban Farmers.” On July 10th, Charlyn Griffith from Farm for the City will be speaking about the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) new Farm for the City installation at Thomas Paine Plaza and local urban farmers will be joining guests to share their farming experiences over a sumptuous meal. At that time, Edible Philly’s newest issue will be revealed. Seating is limited and tickets are only $30.00—keep an eye out for registration to open in mid-June.
Finally, PHS is hosting an Edible Flower Garden Party on July 18th at Awbury, with Constance Kirker, co-author of Edible Flowers: A Global History. Click here for more information.
Music is back!
Bring your own picnic and blanket to Awbury Live! A Neighbors’ Night Out in Germantown, and enjoy classic soul and R&B by the Right Tyme Players. This is a FREE, family-friendly concert on Thursday, June 28th on the McNabbtown concert field hosted in conjunction with All Entertainment and sponsored by our friends at Univest Bank. Also, stay tuned for a Salsa Night in August: spicy cuisine and dancing under the stars!
Art at Awbury:
Experience FOUND, an interactive art installation by Karen Singer Tileworks, in which original tiles, featuring one pollinator and one plant, are placed throughout the Arboretum where those plants actually exist (with allowances made for seasonal bloom times). Keep your eyes open for real life examples of pollination at work as you tour the exhibition. This installation will remain in the landscape through mid-September 2018. In addition, Karen’s indoor show, Botanically Inspired, will be on display in the Cope House Galleries through the end of May.
Are you inspired by these beautiful tiles and want to make your own? Then the Sculpting en plein air class with Karen Singer might be for you. Creating art is about slowing down, looking, and making choices. Karen will inspire participants to create original raised-relief ceramic tiles based on direct observation of nature. In the spirit of the Impressionist painters, she will encourage you to trust your eyes and experience the calm of the creative process. Wednesday, June 20th – for more information or to sign up, click here.
Then later this summer, lifetime Germantown resident and artist Elfie Harris will be exhibiting her photography in the Cope House Gallery – stayed tuned for more information.
Last but not least: AdventureWoods open hours and Summer Camp!
Our own natural playground located deep in our Secret Garden, AdventureWoods, with its newly planted live willow huts, is open every Saturday from 10am to 2pm now through October –come enjoy this unique playscape!
Camp is 7 weeks of unplugged, non-stop adventure. Spots are still available in most camps. Check out our newest camp: Welcome to Wakanda!
Click here for more information on upcoming programs and events.
Cooking with Chef Gail: a Summer Adventure
by Hideko Secrest, Leaflet Editor
Awbury’s own Chef Gail Hinson claims she woke up one day and just knew she wanted to teach kids about cooking. A professional chef, she comes by her love of cooking naturally: “I grew up with a grandmother who loved cooking.” But she is also concerned about the alarming statistics on children and obesity, and wants to do something about it: “The sooner you learn the reasons behind things, the better armed you are. My focus started out being just about food and nutrition, but now it’s about the earth and our natural resources, why soil is important, why growing vegetables is important, and how to take the best care of yourself and your body….”
Chef Gail feels she is trying to fill a gap in children’s knowledge, something they don’t get either from school or their parents, to make them more independent and more successful.
So, starting last summer, she offered a week of culinary camp at Awbury—Get Cooking in the Cope House Kitchen. It was a great success, so she’s offering it again this summer. In the camp, kids will start with the basics: knife skills, kitchen courtesies, safety, and sanitation. Then they will proceed to “the basics of how to make dough, how to make cheese, how to make anything and everything from scratch.” Gail also wants to touch on food growing methods, and what nutrients plants need in order to grow. She laments, “I can’t really go into as much depth as I’d like to because we’re seriously limited in terms of time.” Eventually, she would like to run a full 6-week cooking camp, which would allow her to do things like food mapping: that is, looking at the origins of different foods, how they got to this county and how they changed en route, the culture of the people who ate those foods, and why they ate them.
The camp day consists of 2 hours of cooking in the morning, and about 2½ hours in the afternoon, with the rest of the time taken up with games and other camp activities: “The kids are definitely full of energy!” They can eat the food they prepare in the morning for lunch or as a snack.
Surprisingly, one of their favorite foods from last summer, above and beyond any of the sweets they made, was summer rolls. These were made with julienned raw vegetables—carrots, peppers, cabbage—mint, fresh herbs, and soba noodles wrapped in softened rice paper, rolled up and dipped in a sauce. To give them a Thai flavor, she used a peanut sauce; for a Chinese take, a sauce made of soy sauce, ginger, and rice vinegar.
“I introduce them to things that they’ve never had before. They are [with me] on a journey to discover how many healthy food they can grow to like.” If your child would like to go on a culinary adventure, take a look at Get Cooking in the Cope House Kitchen, from July 16-20, for ages 9-13. Registration for most Awbury Adventure summer camps is still ongoing, and a few scholarships are still available. Click here for more information or to register for camp.
by Leslie Cerf, Volunteer Coordinator
It’s almost summer and the Arboretum is humming with volunteers. Woodworking started up again in early spring with volunteers monitoring and repairing the birdhouses in the landscape that were built last year; they then added two more bluebird houses for a total of sixteen birdhouses throughout Awbury.
While that was going on, George Flick teamed up with his daughter Karen to design, build, and install the wooden sleeves for the Karen Singer tile scavenger hunt art show, FOUND. And on April 20th, Awbury was one of the sites of the Philadelphia Science Festival Citywide Star Party.
Presently, woodworkers are making signage out of reclaimed pallet wood for the interior intersections at the Agricultural Village, building a found wood natural fence line for the pollinator garden, and rebuilding a tool shed for volunteer tool storage. All of this should be complete by June.
Pollinator garden volunteers have been feverishly preparing for their tour series called “Stars in the Garden” as part of Awbury’s Year of the Pollinator celebration. These are hour-long tours scheduled for Saturday, June 23rd at 1 pm, Friday, August 17 at 6 pm, and Thursday, October 11th at 5 pm. These tours will feature three important pollinator-friendly flowers in bloom during each of the three seasons, as well as three gardening techniques. Each tour costs $5 per person with light refreshments and a casual Q&A session at the end. Click here for more information or to sign up for one of the tours.
Pollinator gardeners also found time to shop at Collins Nursery for many new native plants for the garden, thanks to a Weavers Way grant a volunteer applied for. We also went to a Xerces Society half-day conference at Rutgers Ecoplex in Bordentown, NJ to learn about conservation, biological control, and the importance of wild pollinators.
Between these steady groups, other strong volunteer support came from near and far: Shipley School and Holy Child School at Rosemont both sent their entire 7th and 8th grades to help plant trees around the community garden in April; SPIN, a learning differences school, has students who come almost every Thursday morning to garden; DePaul Young Adult Center sent Pitts. U and St. Johns U and Mount St. Mary to help; and the Holy Cross College local alumni chapter came to visit and work.
Impact100, a philanthropic organization for women, made a big impact on Awbury’s first Second Saturday with a showing of 30+ volunteers, and Weavers Way members were peppered in there, as well as many other volunteer service outings. Also thank you to at least half a dozen Welcome Committee members who helped greet visitors at the FOUND exhibit opening.
Volunteers further started seeds in the Cope House sunroom to help Germantown’s historic Hood Cemetery replant six cradle graves.
Finally, thank you to our three interns: Dan Sardaro from LaSalle U for marketing work and writing the monthly pollinator blog posts, Ifetayo Tyler from Arcadia U for assisting Nancy Pasquier with Field Studies student activity development, and Thomas Huggett, a high school senior from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy for working away at a 100-hour internship for Karen Krivit of Philly Loves Goats before his graduation in June.
Click here for more information about volunteer opportunities at Awbury.
Welcome to (Camp) Wakanda!
by Hideko Secrest, Leaflet Editor
When the movie Black Panther grew to be such a runaway hit this past spring, Awbury General Manager Chris Van de Velde thought a summer camp might be built out of the idea of the magical world of Wakanda. So, Program Director Heather Zimmerman met with Vashti DuBois, Executive Director of the Colored Girls Museum in Germantown, and came up with a plan to offer just such a camp. Vashti in turn called in Intisar Hamilton, a young artist who had painted a mural for the Colored Girl Museum several years back, and who had submitted a proposal toward the end of 2017 for a summer camp for the museum. Intisar (or Star, as her friends call her) remembers it this way: “I guess when Vashti reached out to me and said, Hey, would you be interested in doing a camp based on the Black Panther movie? I immediately said Sure! Let’s do what we can to make this amazing!”
Once she agreed to do it, she met with Vashti and Heather and they excitedly threw around several ideas. Star recalls, “Then they said, ‘Now you go do it!’ and I said, ‘Yes! Thank you!’” When she saw Black Panther this spring, she saw it as “a watershed moment in American culture. The filmmakers put so much thought into the movie… so it was easy for me to research back to the actual history and culture in Africa.” She feels that, “As much as Black Panther is a work of fiction, [the events in it serve] as a reference to real things. I can say, ‘Remember, in the movie, when they do that thing—here is where that comes from.’”
Star is a “North Philly girl from birth.” She attended the High School for Creative and Performing Arts in dance, participated in Freedom Theater as a teen, then went on to Franklin & Marshall College. She met her husband in college, graduated, took a job at a non-profit, and, for ten years led a responsible, grown-up life, having two children along the way.
Around her thirtieth birthday, Star realized that she didn’t think she could keep on doing the same routine forever, and, knowing she was good with her hands, went to Michael’s and bought acrylic paint and canvas, waited until everyone in the house had gone to bed, and painted in her kitchen until 1am. By 2015, her husband encouraged her to quit her job and make a go of it as an artist. So she resigned from the non-profit in December of 2015, and by March of 2016, had her first art show, a collection of 15 nude acrylic self-portraits entitled “Black Eve” at a studio in East Falls. She recalls: “I was really reborn.” Since then, life has been an adventure.
So, Camp Wakanda. She is excited about running a camp based on the comic books and movie, and also about tying it together with real life. Her plan for the camp is to focus on one of the five tribes of Wakanda each day, relating them to actual tribes in Africa. Her excitement bubbles over as the ideas start pouring out: “We’re also going to be doing eco-warrior training: they’re going to learn to identify plants, insects, animals. I’m going to somehow ground this outsize, wonderful movie in very real time and very real space and I’ll be handling very real topics around race and representation.” She pauses to take a breath and laugh. “Art can be used to talk through difficult subjects. I believe this.”
In their initial meeting, Star recalls, Heather, Vashti and she jokingly called Awbury Arboretum the “Wakanda of Philly”: “I mean, look, it’s a large open natural space that no one knows about in the middle of the city!” Then, becoming serious, she observed that many Philly kids never leave the four blocks of their neighborhood—that is their world. “What do you do about that? I hope that this [camp] will be connecting people to people, humans to spaces, children to possibility.” Then she pauses again, and laughingly concludes: “”But I really just hope that the kids have a great time!”
The camp takes place from July 16-20, for children ages 8-12. Registration for most Awbury Adventure summer camps is still ongoing, and a few scholarships are still available. Click here for more information or to register for camp.
Staff Focus: Hector Vega, Landscape Foreman
Hector Vega was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, and grew up there, never dreaming he’d one day end up in Philadelphia. He started out in the landscaping business in 2001 in Puerto Rico, cutting grass at first, eventually moving on to more complex landscaping projects.
Then four years ago, he had a job opportunity in Philadelphia, where his wife’s family lived, so he, his wife, and his three children picked up and moved here. A year later, he interviewed at Awbury, got the job, and has never looked back. He likes the people here, and he enjoys working outdoors. To add to his happiness, about a year ago he had an addition to his family in the form of a baby granddaughter.
His work is varied and wide-ranging: “Right now, I do everything!” It includes mowing grass, clearing out fallen leaves, pruning trees and bushes, installing concrete for the community garden raised beds, and taking care of the farming equipment. For this last, he’s become an amateur mechanic, changing oil and fixing the brakes on some of the farm vehicles. The project that he takes the most pride in, though, is the Cope House’s magnificent new bluestone patio and flagstone walk, which he oversaw and helped build.
Rental Improvements—Simplified and Beautiful
by Branda O’Neil, Administrative and Facilities Manager
Once upon a time, nearly every group hosting a wedding or an event at Awbury had to rent a tent, negotiating details with rental companies, paying hefty fees, and keeping track of delivery logistics. While this mostly worked and we got to know several excellent vendors, it meant that a line of trucks descended on the property nearly every Friday and Monday to set up and tear down the tents and to bring in party furnishings. We lost many hours and a few plants to the process. Finally, in April 2018, Awbury unveiled and installed our own seasonal tent – a 40’x60’ frame tent constructed over our bluestone patio—which will be up through the fall.
We’ve hosted several weddings in the past few weeks, and couples have loved the picturesque clear gable and the enchanting twinkle lighting. The tent provides an elegant space for dinner seating, and, should there be inclement weather, guests can enjoy the ceremony surrounded by the clear sides of the tent, which keep them dry while still enabling them to enjoy our historic woodland gardens. We are able to rent this tented space at an affordable rate to our clients, and it also serves as additional elbow room for field trips, camps, and programs.
In past years, clients were also renting and shipping in tables and chairs each weekend. Seeking simplification for us and our clients, Awbury has purchased an inventory of ceremony and reception furniture, which groups can rent for their weddings, birthday parties, conferences, and more. The new sheds, currently being constructed next to the Cope House parking lot, along with the nearby garage which will soon undergo renovation, will provide ample space to store these items as well as much-needed space for volunteer supplies and landscaping equipment.
by Karen Flick, Landscape Manager
Over the past couple of years, you may have noticed the gradual transformation of landscape around the Francis Cope House here at Awbury Arboretum. The spring 2017 installation of the bluestone terrace was the first phase of a vast redesign. The area now encompasses new pathways connecting the house to the immediate gardens, and transitions visitors to trails into the greater Arboretum grounds.
The pathways guide the visitor through the newest planting, which we are describing as “formal woodland.” This oxymoron seems the best way to reconcile the use of native woodland plants, mirroring the adjacent Cope Lane woodland and English Landscape copses, to the more formal areas of the Cope House grounds.
The woodland planting contains native rhododendrons, deciduous azaleas, serviceberries, winterberry hollies, and a specimen fringe tree. The beds contain native low-growing shrubs including Northern bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica), and yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima) amongst woodland perennials like the lady fern (Athyrium felix-femina), and American wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens). This low, woody planting will create a picturesque setting as you approach the house and a panoramic view from the porch, encompassing visitors on the porch or in the garden with an array of flowers, scents, and seasonal interests, and will provide shelter and sustenance for our wildlife.
Field Studies Notes
by Nancy Pasquier, Field Studies Director
This spring, in coordination with Awbury’s Year of the Pollinator, our Field Studies program has put the emphasis on pollination. Visiting students from Philadelphia schools and preschools have enjoyed the Pollinator Scavenger Hunt created by artist Karen Singer, with preschool-aged visitors making matches with the pictures on the tiles and the older students learning about the native plants and pollinators featured on them.
Flower dissection might create a bit of a mess, but students love receiving a real flower and then taking it apart to see the pieces. We’ve practiced the bee waggle dance, run hand pollination relay races with spoonfuls of cornmeal standing in for pollen, and tried our hardest to catch ‘pollen’ in the form of soap bubbles on flowers when learning about wind pollination.
Many students arrive at Awbury with a dislike of bugs and bees, but never butterflies—”Wait, they’re insects?”—and they are astonished to find out that they are pollinators, too. Our flower and seed hikes have led to many wonderful discoveries and lots of exclamations of “Awbury is my favorite place!” and “I love nature!” Pollination can be a lot of fun to teach, but the most rewarding thing for our Field Educators is watching young students developing an appreciation for our natural world and their role in it.
Goats Have Arrived!
by Hideko Secrest, Leaflet Editor
Yes, you read that right: goats. Karen Krivit, a social worker and the driving force behind Philly Goat Project, has chosen Awbury Arboretum as her pilot location and brought a small herd of goats to our Ag Village: three baby Nigerian dwarf goats, to be followed by 10-12 full-size alpine or Nubian goats, once their barn is built. The goats will have four roles: grazing (here and elsewhere), yoga, therapy, and community engagement (walking, supporting current programs). The Philly Goat Project’s mission is “partnering with people from all walks of life to practice responsible environmentalism, respectful and human treatment of all creatures, and create a platform that brings fun, healthy, and meaningful experiences to the community.” With goats.
The goats’ enclosure has been built in the area between the greenhouses to the composting toilet. The fencing is secure, with a sturdy outer wire fence, plus an inner, movable, solar-powered electrified fence to prevent escapes from from the inside and raids from the outside. There are three areas within the enclosure: a barn paddock, a feeding paddock, and a play paddock. Their “rent” is covered in part by their grazing contracts, which will be controlled. Another barn is being built to house the larger goats, and should be ready by June 11.
Karen will be supported by a team of goat experts. The goats will be safe, the area will be clean, and she wants to be respectful of the other Ag Village tenants and to create partnerships with them. Landscape Manager Karen Flick is helping to develop a grazing plan.
So what does all this mean? For grazing, it means the goats will do their share of work in clearing Awbury of invasive vines, and be available for hire for other properties. For yoga, stay tuned for classes featuring the dwarf goats, who will treat your downward dog as a mountain challenge and your shavasana as an opportunity to snuggle. For therapy, it means the goats, which are very social and friendly animals who enjoy human contact, will work in conjunction with a licensed clinical social worker to help people with special needs, people who have experienced trauma, or people on the autism spectrum. For community engagement, it means creating activities that all community members can share and enjoy, as well as joining other Awbury partners by participating and visiting with them during their events.
Please note that, contrary to popular belief, goats are picky eaters. These goats are on a special diet, and some foods are harmful to them (though they love to eat poison ivy!). We encourage visitors to feed them only in the presence of our staff. Family Goat Visiting hour, weather permitting, is Sundays from 12-1pm. The goats will not be sheared or milked for now, though that might take place in the future.
In conclusion, we can only say: Mehhhh! [translation: We are so excited to welcome goats to Awbury!] Click here for more information on the Philly Goat Project or to volunteer with them.
Volunteer Hero: Nancy Stedman
by Leslie Cerf, Volunteer Coordinator
It seems like just yesterday when Nancy Stedman became a new member of the Awbury Pollinator Habitat Garden in the fall of 2016. She had just moved from Tarrytown, NY, where she had studied at the New York Botanical Garden and was a member of a local garden club that started a pollinator patch as a public park.
Almost as soon as she moved to Philadelphia, Nancy did her research on where to become involved with gardening. She and her husband Steve chose to live in Chestnut Hill and she chose Awbury to share her gardening talents with. Since joining the pollinator garden, she has helped organize meetings, taken on gardening projects, and applied for and received a $250 grant from the Weavers Way Food Co-op for the Pollinator Habitat Garden this spring, enabling members to select over a dozen new shrubs and native wildflower specimens for the garden.
Never letting grass grow under her feet, not long after she began volunteering, Nancy also joined the Awbury Landscape Committee, where she proved to be very helpful in neighbor-to-neighbor discussions of landscaping issues.
Volunteers possess those things that money can’t buy –a constant source of support and optimism. Thank you for all you give to Awbury, Nancy, and thank you to all our volunteers!
Board Member Spotlight: Amanda Staples
Tell us a bit about yourself: where are you from, and how did you end up in Philadelphia?
I grew up in Upper Darby and I’ve been living in Philadelphia proper for almost twenty years. I’ve lived in Germantown for ten years. I live with my boyfriend, surrounded by like-minded friends. I run a farm there called the Germantown Kitchen Garden; it’s a half-acre urban farm where I grow vegetables and have a plant nursery—mostly native herbaceous perennials, but we have both perennials and shrubs, and some non-natives, too.
Were you aware of Awbury before you joined the Board?
I used to come walking around here, just exploring Germantown. On a very snowy day—probably about nine years ago—I took a walk around here and discovered Awbury. I’ve been to a few weddings of friends of mine here, and I’m also involved in PHS [the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society], and I know the farmers in the gardens on the Ag Village side of Awbury.
Can you tell us a bit about your work outside of Awbury?
I run my farm by myself—it’s all organically-grown vegetables. I have a weekly farm stand on Saturdays from 9-1 at 215 East Penn Street in Germantown. I sell what I grow [as well as produce] from other local farms. I also sell greens to a couple of restaurants—Urban Farmer Philadelphia Steakhouse, the Germantown Espresso Bar, and Birchtree Catering [Awbury’s official event caterer]. The second Sunday of every month we have concerts [at the farm]. These are big, communal hang-outs: there are a variety of shows so we can get a variety of audiences—folk, hip-hop, jazz…. Our last concert was the West Philadelphia Orchestra.
Has your work benefited from and/or been influenced by your work at Awbury?
I think that having like-minded people on the Board, people I … encounter in my regular life anyway, helps me stay more connected and feel more partnered with those doing similar work.
What do you think makes Awbury a unique place in the City of Philadelphia?
It’s a huge public green space in the middle of the city—that’s pretty rare. It’s pretty hidden, probably too well hidden. It’s a lovely space, kind of a respite for people who might be lacking that. I think the programming [at Awbury] is really unique and that it puts a lot of effort into getting local kids in here in open nature, not just a park.
What is your vision for Awbury 10, 20 years down the road?
I think it would be great to get more people aware of Awbury, more people walking around, better signage, so people could be educated without necessarily taking part in a program. In ten years, Awbury could be a celebrated gem of Germantown. It’s not going to be like Morris Arboretum, because it’s a different vibe. I’m envisioning more people casually coming to Awbury on their own. I think Awbury’s programming is great, and I think where Awbury could improve is in the community’s awareness of it as just a place to come and take a walk or have a picnic. That it’s a resource for them regardless.
Awbury Garden Tours
by Nancy Pasquier, Field Studies Director
Curious about the family that lived at Awbury last century? Appreciate the Victorian landscape design and want to learn more about it? Looking for ideas for good native plants to grow in your own yard? Consider taking a tour! The Arboretum now offers staff-led tours for groups. The experience begins with a PowerPoint presentation that introduces visitors to the Cope Family and English Picturesque landscape design, then continues with a walking tour of the property. Click here for more information and pricing on guided tours.
If you prefer to go it alone, visitors are always welcome to walk the property free of charge and can pick up a walking tour in the Arboretum office in the Cope House Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm. On Saturday and Sunday, you can visit the Arboretum but there is no access to the building. You can download a walking tour map from the website by clicking here.
For more information or to schedule a tour, please email email@example.com .
Warning from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture:
The Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, an invasive planthopper, has been discovered in Berks County, Pennsylvania. It is native to China, India, Vietnam, and introduced to Korea where it has become a major pest. This invasive insect has the potential to greatly damage crops and trees. Early detection is vital for the protection of Pennsylvania forests and agriculture.
If you find any eggs, adults, or nymphs of the spotted lanternfly, you should destroy them and place them in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of them. A photograph of any life stage (including egg masses) can be submitted to Badbug@pa.gov.
If you can’t take a specimen or a photograph, call the automated Invasive Species Report Line at 1-866-253-7189 and leave a message detailing your sighting and contact information. Click here to read the Dept. of Agriculture notice and to find more information. Do your part to help keep this invasive and destructive pest from spreading!