I’m Often Asked What I Have . . .

Butterflyweed Wildflowers at Raccoon Creek State Park

Here we are in the middle of Spring 2016, and I’ve been asked over and over again, what I’ve planted and will plant in My Own home garden in Pittsburgh. Established 4 years ago, this once wasteland of a space was renewed, with 3 truckloads of good grade topsoil and 1.5 truckloads of mushroom manure (available here in southwestern Pennsylvania). Distributed, graded and contoured, this was given time to settle in, and then we planted the foundation beds. The front bed is approximately 45 feet by 10 feet, sits behind an iron fence, and on a good sunny weekend day, sees no less than several hundred adults and children pass to and from Frick Park, our next door neighbor. The Park offers the nearby and locally famous ‘Blue Slide Playground’ as well as ball fields, meadows, forest and extraordinary Off Leash Area for dogs. This 900+ acre park is in the city of Pittsburgh. Well maintained, it is heavily used.

Imagine that. Hundreds of people may walk by my front garden on a sunny Saturday or Sunday. I engage some of them in conversation, and I enjoy that alot. Questions are appreciated, and responses are rationed, depending on how much the questioner wants to hear.

So the front garden and the rear side garden share my time and energy.

I’ve gone Native, with much thanks for that to Kathy McGregor of Sylvania Natives and her suggestion, read Doug Tallamy’s book. I did and things changed. I went native, for good reason.

Just a few days ago I was asked to share a photograph of the front garden. I tumbled this over in my mind, and concluded that sharing photographs of gardens somehow seems to not do them justice. Rare the image that produced the beauty of an entire garden.

The front garden, along appropriately named Beechwood Boulevard, features American plum (3), Pagoda dogwood (2), Ice hydrangea (3), False dragonhead (a pleasant surprise), irises (dutch), Milkweed (A. syriaca – Thank you Monarch Watch), Cardinal Flower (Native), Asters (2 different cultivars), Crocosmia (To buck up my Ruby throated visitors), Daffodils, Hyacinths,  Salvia (2-3 types), Giant Zinnia (obtained locally from the greenhouse in Clayton (the Frick mansion)) and Tulips. This year I’ve added: Dense Liatris (Gayfeather ), additional Native Cardinal flower, New Jersey Tea, a Striped Maple (for fun). I have too, 3 painted rocks, created for me by a very talented artist.

The rear side garden is a Big challenge, as I add new plants by day, and Frick Park’s groundhogs, deer and perhaps opossums always remember to leave me a Thank you Note the next morning. Persist I do though, and the garden features 3 Dogwood trees (Cherokee pink), 2 American Hornbeam trees, 2 Chokecherry trees, a Tulip Poplar tree, 2 Hazelnut bushes and 8 bedraggled Pussy Willow bushes (feasted on daily? by deer). In this rear side garden there is the ‘Peanut garden’ with belgian block (AKA cobblestones in native Brooklyn) with Cutleaf Coneflower, Monkeyflower, Milkweed (A. syriaca), Dwarf Balloonflower, Daffodils, Pipevine (Thanks Curt), Tithonia (Mexican sunflower), Liatris, Dill, Mint (Chocolate?) and . . . Anise Hyssop, which No One told me is terribly invasive!! The seeds of anise hyssop have what seems to be 110% success. I also have a side small bed with Senna (Native). This year I’ve added: Shrubby St. John’s Wort, Buttonbush and Native Butterfly Weed ( Asclepias tuberosa, acquired at the Adkins Arboretum in Maryland’s Shore area). I hope my new Butterfly weed grows to be as lush and healthy as the one shown in this image, seen in Raccoon Creek State Park.

Yesterday I watched a very buff looking garter snake (3 feet) happily moving through the front garden. A pleasing sight to anyone who loves their garden and welcomes any and all visitors. So there it is, the sign is out for Butterflies, Bees, Wasps, Moths, Hummingbirds, Birds, Snakes, Earthworms, Fox and yes, Groundhogs, Deer, Opossum, Raccoons and whomever else shows up. Ain’t the Pittsburgh your Grandma remembers.


8 thoughts on “I’m Often Asked What I Have . . .

  1. ahhhh the imagination is so much stronger than a photo that only shows a small bit of the entire garden..visions of all the wildlife nurtured here and the folks who must at least glance through the fence to enjoy this unconventional nod to nature you have created are brought to my mind while reading this…including the wondering of those folks of the curious mind that created this oasis in Pittsburgh..you should post a sign out front to direct them to this blog!

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  2. I guess we Georgian’s just love our butterflies, and another fellow butterfly lover! Especially someone that takes beautiful pictures!

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  3. Your yard sounds wonderful! I understand what you mean about a picture of your yard never does it justice. Our whole one-acre plot is a dedicated habitat for birds and butterflies, and I can never get a picture that captures the beauty and busyness of it all. Have you by any chance certified your yard as a Certified Pollinator Garden with Monarchs Across Georgia? If not, that would be a great addition and publicity for your yard to let people know what you are doing. We have a beautiful sign that you can put up. Here is the link:
    You can also join the Rosalynn Carter butterfly trail. She and Jimmy Carter have gotten really involved in helping to save butterflies, especially monarchs. If you would like to join the trail, go to this link: https://jimmycarter.info/butterfly-trail/join/
    You can also get a lovely sign for your yard for that trail. We have so many signs for our yard now!! If you are going to be here in June, we are having a Pollinator Discovery Day at the Carter Center on June 18th, just FYI.

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    • Funny about your Georgia. I’ve been about with wingedbeauty.com for 5 years now, and been shooting b-flies for 10 years before that, with nary a word of interest in my own Pennsylvania. Comes 2015 and I visit Virginia Linch’s Habitat in Eatonton, and now I have several dozen Georgians who follow and interact. Explain that, Please? (Wish I could be there on June 18th)

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      • A prophet is not without honor except in his own town
        hmmmmmmm…..has been said before, experienced before and will again..the important thing is for the prophet/photographer/thinker not to be bothered, but continue on as he/she is led


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