Pittsburgh: A New Home A New Career–Grow Where U R Transplanted

This blog started with posts that focused on my gardening hobby and somehow transitioned into my passion for public radio and sustainability. Now after weeks without posting, I have good news along with a sweet little story that combines my love of flowers and public radio.

I left the Philadelphia area a month and a half ago and moved to Pittsburgh with the thought that I needed to build a career in a city. And I decided Pittsburgh was the place because I not only know Pittsburgh better than I know Philly, but I also really love the people. One of my friends from Pitt often refers to Pittsburgh as “a big hug.” And despite the frigid temperatures this week, that’s exactly what I feel like I’ve gotten in the last few days.  Continue reading


Out Planting the Planter

The more unruly the better.

Last summer I had no idea what I was doing.  Let’s start there.  I planted what looked pretty, straight out of the pot.  I didn’t pay attention to the notes on the tags about growth patterns, and even if I did, I lacked the wisdom and foresight to take all the information into account.  With that said, I must admit, despite my ignorance, my plantings look awesome! Continue reading

How the Philadelphia Flower Show practically ushered in the Spring

The Philadelphia International Flower Show went well last week.  Over 250,000 visitors packed the PA Convention Center’s floral oasis, looking for a taste of spring and exotic plants from around the globe.  Looking back, I’m amazed to see that the show seemed to mark the transition from deep winter snow to pre-spring balminess. Continue reading

Slug Shots: Cell phone pics and gardening tricks

In late May I planted salvia, marigolds and a red flower that’s supposed to attract butterflies.  Red is supposed to be a color of abundance and it turned out that I got an abundance of slugs. As the leaves were slowly eaten up the brilliant red drained away and everything slowly fell apart.

I wanted to stop the slugs but I couldn’t bring myself to kill them the old fashioned way i.e. salt.  Sure I was the cruel kid who was fascinated by the physical reaction of spiders drenched in Windex and salty shriveled slugs on the hot driveway.  But I’m an adult now.  If I’m going to kill a living creature I want it to look as humane as possible.  So I stood out in the driveway next to my shriveled plants, with tin foil in one hand and full-bodied beer in the other.  I popped the cap, took a drink then folded the foil into a bowl shape and poured a third of the bottle inside.  I set my make-shift slug trap in the mulch by the flowers and actually watched one slug make a slow U-turn toward the beer once it got a whiff.

Apparently slugs like the yeast in beer. So they slowly slink into the trap and drown. The flowers bounced back wonderfully after the culprits were eliminated.  Through the Summer I shared a few more bottles with the garden slugs and every time I did, the plants came back to life. I’m sure their deaths were more painful than I want to admit, but I like to think they went out feeling high as a kite.  And I like having a good excuse for drinking while gardening.

growing where planted…

Since adolescence I’ve found temporary fulfillment through consumption. Every season has held a new flavor. In the Autumn there’s candy corn and leaf-shaped candies made of maple syrup. Winter brings the crisp flavor of peppermint and cinnamon candy canes, hot cocoa flavored with mint syrup, and Valentine’s Day conversation hearts. Easter bunny marshmallow Peeps and jelly beans offer a segue into sweet tea, water ice and all the sweetness of Summer.

I can’t begin to imagine the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on momentary gastric bliss. But in the last few years I’ve found a new form of fulfillment that broadens and intensifies with each season. That’s because I’ve been slowly making myself at home in nature. First I overcame my disdain for jogging by trekking down the historic stony trails of Valley Forge. Then my love of trail jogging followed me to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and evolved into floral and landscape photography since I often passed the Brooklyn Botanical Garden on the way from the park to the subway. There, I began to wonder about the way gardens develop in different parts of the world. The Shakespearean garden juxtaposed with the Japanese garden brought up questions of what a native plant really is. Now that I’m back home in Southeastern PA, working for a plant nursery, I have more opportunities to get to know the plants and landscapes I’ve always been curious about. Continue reading