This year the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has recognized three of the gardens the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has designed and maintains in partnership with the City with the Community Greening Award. The PHS grants this annual award to recognize “greening and beautification efforts throughout the region that have benefitted communities.” A panel of judges evaluated sites in July and August based on plant variety, design, use of space, and horticultural practices. The Highland Park Entry Garden, the Mellon Park Walled Garden, and the Schenley Plaza Gardens won the award which was presented to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy in a ceremony that took place on November 19th.
The award is especially gratifying for Parks Conservancy gardener Angela Masters who designs and maintains these treasured public gardens. “It feels great to be recognized,” says Angela, “but I can’t take all the credit. It takes a lot of work from a lot of people to make them so beautiful.” Angela notes the importance of the City’s work maintaining lawns, trimming plants, and removing debris. She also relies heavily on groups of dedicated gardening volunteers.
Highland Park Entry Garden
The Parks Conservancy completed its restoration of the Highland Park Entry Garden in 2005 and it now stands as the great Victorian entry to Highland Park it was intended to be. “Primarily consisting of perennials, the garden is meticulously maintained,” commented the PHS judges, adding that it is “a sight to behold.” The meticulousness of this garden is possible in part because of our “weeding Wednesdays” volunteer group who works in the garden with Angela in the Spring and Summer months with the support of Citiparks Highland Park foreman, Evan Jones.
Mellon Park Walled Garden
The Walled Garden in Mellon Park was restored in honor of Ann Katharine Seamans, who loved the garden her whole life. The garden re-opened in June of 2010. A public art display was added to honor Annie’s memory. Artist Janet Zweig created 7:11AM 11.20.1979 79º55’W 40º27’N which is a series of LED lights placed into the walled garden’s lawn to imitate the constellations over Pittsburgh when Annie was born. Pittsburgh landscape architecture firm La Quatra Bonci Associates designed and oversaw the installation of the garden.
“The plant material is extensive and the maintenance is flawless,” commented the judges. “A visit here leaves a lasting impression. This garden is truly one of the jewels in the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.” With Angela’s guidance and the support of Citiparks Mellon Park foreman Dick Wilford, volunteers donate approximately 1,500 hours a year to the garden’s maintenance. As a result of its beauty, weddings in the walled garden have become increasingly popular.
Schenley Plaza Gardens
Adjacent to the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, Schenley Plaza was paved in 1949 and had been used as a parking lot ever since. In 2006, after a decade of planning, The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the City, restored the Plaza to the grand entrance to Schenley Park it was meant to be. One of the Plaza’s many charms is a series of gardens dispersed between beautiful Spanish cedar benches on the Forbes Avenue side.
“The spacious garden area is surrounded by many natives and features plantings that are rotated several times a year to provide vibrant seasonal displays,” noted the judges. “Various green design techniques help the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy reduce landscape maintenance.” The Plaza gardens are where some of Angela’s most exuberant work can be seen, where planters allow her the opportunity to more frequently experiment with the color, texture, and style of the plants she features. She is supported by Schenley Park foreman, Bob Weid, and Citiparks worker Jeff Creighton.
Each of these projects has enhanced our city and recognition from so distinguished an organization as the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is deeply gratifying. Please consider donating to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy or volunteering your time so that we can keep these “jewels” in the crown of Pittsburgh sparkling.
See a complete list of this year’s winners – which includes 10 other Pittsburgh gardens –here.