25 Ways To Celebrate Your Galentines and Valentines (Part 1)

Whether you’re celebrating your Valentine, Galentine, or really anyone that you enjoy, we’ve compiled a list of date ideas — platonic or romantic! — that will knock your next park adventure, well, out of the park:

1. Catch sunset at the Highland Park Reservoir

The Overlook at Schenley Park is a fan favorite for sunset spotters. Take a stroll around the Highland Park Reservoir, though, to see the sun set betwixt trees and the Giuseppe Moretti entrance statues in the peaceful entrance garden.

highlandsunset

2. Ride a bicycle built for two on Pocusset Street

Don’t have the balance to reenact that timeless Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid scene with your sweetie? Riding a tandem bicycle (or any bike, really) down the biker- and walker-only Pocusset Street in Schenley Park is the next best thing.

caterpillar

Knock, knock!

3. Hunt for fairy doors 

In Frick and Mellon Park, Allegheny Commons, and many other parks are teensy little doors for the resident fairies. Find and knock on them to see if anyone’s home.

4. Gaze at stars in Riverview Park

The iconic Allegheny Observatory opens its doors weekly to star-struck astronomers for free tours, lectures, and open houses at this incredible space. On clear nights during these events, the 100-year-old-and-older telescopes are generally open for use.

5. Gaze at stars in Mellon Park

Whatever the weather, you can always see 150 stars peeking up from the lawn of Mellon Park’s Walled Garden thanks to 7:11AM  11.20.1979  79º55’W 40º27’N, a memorial art installation.

mellonparkstars

6. Read Shakespeare in a Shakespearean garden

Whilst we speak of Mellon Park, o’er the hill of the Walled Garden thou must recite verses when alighting in the Shakespearean Garden.

7. Make a snowman or snowbeast

This is an anywhere, anytime activity. Let your creativity run wild. Just try not to sing that one song from Frozen when you’re out there; it’s contagious.

telescope

Telescope in Allegheny Observatory in Riverview Park.

8. See the cityscape from Emerald View Park

The Mount Washington overlooks get a lot of love (deservedly), but seeing Downtown peek in and out from the undulating trails of Emerald View Park is always a rewarding experience.

9. Take a trip around the world with a visit to the Plaza

Immerse yourself in international flavors with the fares served in Schenley Plaza. Your hankerings for Chinese, Greek, Belgian, or the ever-changing cuisines at Conflict Kitchen are all conveniently in one square acre.

10. Traverse the tufas

The solid bridges along the lower and upper Panther Hollow trails in Schenley Park, made of a limestone variety (tufa) and built by W.P.A. crews, are straight from a storybook, covered in moss, lichens, and now snow. See these and other old-timey Works Progress projects sprinkled throughout the park.

tufas

Tufa under snow.

11. Latch a love lock and throw away the key

Make a statement with your sweetie by adding your own lock to the Schenley Bridge and throwing away the key — just as you do it in the proper waste receptacle. (Forgetting the combination also acceptable.)

 12. Tour the neighborhood, visit parkside cultural establishments

While you’re in the neighborhood, drop by the Carnegie Museums, the Frick Pittsburgh, Phipps Conservatory, the National Aviary, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, and many other must-see institutions around the parks.

13. Think spring

Send warm thoughts to family, friends, or someone you’re flirting with this Valentine’s Day with the gift of daffodils in the parks. Make a donation of $25, and we’ll plant 50 daffodils in the park of your choice — and send your someone special a personalized e-card to boot. Get started here.

 

Check back next week for the second half of our park date ideas. Share your inspired date ideas below or through Facebook and Twitter!

XOXO,

The Matchmakers at the Parks Conservancy

What’s in Bloom – A Celebration of Summer Flowers

Highland Park Entry Garden

Asiatic lily (Lilium ‘Apeldoorn’)

Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii Six Hills Giant)

Coral bells (Heuchera x brizoides)

Montauk daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum)

Yarrow (Achillea ‘Parker’s Gold’)

 

Mellon Park Walled Garden

Astilbe (Astilbe)

Daylily (Hemorocallis ‘Happy Returns’)

Hardy geranium (Geranium x ‘Brookside’)

Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia)

Lavendar (Lavandula angustifolia)

 

Riverview Chapel Shelter

Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’)

Tickseed (Coreopsis grandiflora)

Yarrow (Achillea)

 

Schenley Park Visitor Center

Bee balm (Monarda didyma)

Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’)

What’s in Bloom – May 2013

Seems like we skipped over spring and went straight into summer. That’s okay, it just means it’s time for some late spring/early summer blooms! Check out what our horticulturist, Angea Yuele, and gardener, Jaclyn Bruschi, have been up to in our May 2013 What’s in Bloom.

Highland Park Entry Garden

Catmint ‘Six Hills Giant’

Baptisia

Blue Starflower

Columbine

Dianthus ‘Zing’

Iris Species

Iris ‘Cranberry Crush’

Peony ‘Edulis Superba’

Peony ‘Fairbanks’

Salvia ‘Eastfriesland’

Mellon Park Walled Garden

Dianthus ‘Firewitch’

Hardy Geranium ‘Brookside’

Peony ‘Festiva Mazima’

Rhododendron ‘Album’

Riverview Park Chapel Shelter

Golden Alexanders

Heirloom Purple Iris

Salvia ‘May Night’

Schenley Plaza

Salvia ‘May Night’

Yarrow ‘Paprika’

Now that you feel fully inspired to go frolicking amongst the flowers in Pittsburgh’s gardens, check out what else we’ve been up to in our new spring 2013 newsletter, the Voice.

What’s in Bloom – April 2013

Winter may be holding on with every last breath, but signs of spring are popping up all over Pittsburgh’s parks. It’s time for our monthly What’s in Bloom series showcasing the park’s seasonal gardens. Bursts of color are polka-dotting the landscape and our horticulturist, Angela Yuele, has captured every bountiful bloom.

Highland Park Entry Garden

Daffodils and Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)

Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa)

Hyacinth ‘Jan Bos’

Mellon Park Walled Garden

Daffodil ‘Tete-a-Tete’

Lenten rose (Heleborus orientalis)

Riverview Park

Daffodil species

Daffodil ‘Ice Follies’ at the Riverview Park Chapel Shelter

Magnolia blooming

Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center

Blue hyacinth and pink tulips

Schenley Plaza

Daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths

Daffodils

Mixed daffodils

Species tulip ‘Lady Jane’ and white daffodils

Various daffodils

We’re always looking for help with our gardening projects. Our seasonal weeding Tuesdays at Mellon Park Walled Garden kick-off on May 14 and Weeding Wednesdays at Highland Park Entry Garden begin May 1. For more information, visit our Horticultural Volunteer Activities page or email volunteer@pittsburghparks.org.

Learn more about The Daffodil Project and how you can help plant new bulbs throughout the regional parks.

What’s in Bloom – September 2012

Fall is coaxing its way in and football weather is upon us. The annual closet exchange from breezy summer clothes to cozy winter attire is underway and leaf-peepers have their cameras on deck anticipating the gold and crimson hues of a Pittsburgh autumn. Don’t worry, there will be an abundance of beautiful fall photos throughout the season, but in the meantime, enjoy some final splashes of pinks, purples and greens in our September What’s in Bloom.

Highland Park Entry Garden

Anemone (anemone x hybrida) ‘Honorine Jobert’

Aster & Helianthus

Aster & Summer Annuals

Flower Sage (salvia nemerosa) reblooming

New England Aster (aster nova-angliae)

Rubbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’

Riverview Visitor Center

New Guinea Impatiens & Canna Lily

Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center

Pink Begonia

Pink Begonia layered in front of more Pink Begonia ‘Dragon Wings’ & Euphorbia ‘Diamond Forst’ planted in the pots.

More layers of Pink Begonia & Euphorbia

Mellon Park Walled Garden

Anemone (anemone x hybrida) ‘Honorine Jobert’

Begonia, Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ & Angelonia

Keep up with the ever-changing color palette of Pittsburgh parks by following us on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. If social media’s not your cup of tea, be sure to sign up for our e-news to stay up-to-date on all the exciting things happening at the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. We have some new ideas and projects swirling around and you won’t want to miss out!

What’s in Bloom – August 2012

When did it get to be August already? Summer may be flying by and have you itching for fall colors, but there are still plenty of summer flowers blossoming. Check out what’s in bloom in Pittsburgh’s parks this August!

Riverview Chapel Shelter

Summer Annuals (dusty miller, vinca, blue salvia, red celosia, pennisetum grass)

Summer Annuals (profusion zinnia mix, marigold mix, celosia, blue salvia, pink begonia)

Highland Park Entry Garden

Aster (aster nova-angliae)

Black-Eyed Susan (rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’)

Canna Lily (canna species)

Hardy Sunflower (helianthus x multiflorus ‘Meteor’)

Hardy Sunflower (Helianthus species)

Schenley Plaza

Summer Annuals (banana tree, mixed celosia)

Summer Annuals (caladium ‘Arron’ and ‘Carolyn Warton’)

Summer Annuals (dragon wing begonia, golden coleus)

Summer Annuals (pink begonia, vanilla marigold)

Summer Annuals (pink geranium, white alyssum)

Summer Annuals (red salvia, marigold, blue lobelia)

Summer Annuals (sweet potato vine, zinnia, croton)

Mellon Park Walled Garden

Daylily (hemorocallis ‘Happy Returns’)

Salvia (salvia nemerosa ‘Eastfriesland’)

Liriope (liriope muscari)

If you’re like us and can’t imagine Pittsburgh’s breathtaking park gardens without these vibrant bursts of plants and flowers, consider giving a gift to support park restoration. If you’d rather just get down and dig in the dirt yourself, we’re always looking for volunteers!

How Do Our Gardens Grow? – with silver bells and cockleshells and volunteers all in a row

Flowers at the entry to the Walled Garden in Mellon Park

Have you been enjoying our new What’s in Bloom blog series? Pittsburgh’s parks are host to many of our city’s most vibrant floral displays. While careful thought is put into the planting of these gardens, they each require constant attention as they grow. According to Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy gardener, Angela Masters, one of the biggest mistakes people make when planting a garden at home is to assume that the hard part is over.

A beautiful garden is a carefully maintained garden. When the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society presented its Community Greening Award to the Highland Park Entry Garden and the Walled Garden in Mellon Park, they specifically cited the maintenance of each garden as a factor. “The plant material is extensive and the maintenance is flawless,” the judges said of the Walled Garden. They called the Highland Park Entry Garden “meticulously maintained” and added that it is a “sight to behold.”   

Oak Leaf Hydrangea in Mellon Park

At the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy we are committed to creating lasting change in our parks and we understand that this means more than the completion of capital projects with striking before and after photos. These restored spaces must remain as beautiful for the generations to come. Each new project we undertake must have maintenance funding secured before we break ground.

With our completion of Schenley Plaza (which hosts a bevy of colorful gardens), the Highland Park Entry Garden, and the Walled Garden in Mellon Park, we hired our gardener Angela to help the City crews maintain the newly flourishing beds. But the unsung heroes of these spaces are the volunteers who come out to help us weed, deadhead, prune, water, sweep, and care for Pittsburgh’s favorite flowers. For two hours every other week, groups of volunteers that vary from 2-8 people at a time work diligently in the Highland Park Entry Garden and the Walled Garden to contribute to the park they love.

A volunteer deadheading in the Walled Garden

I joined the volunteers this past Tuesday in the Walled Garden and we eagerly watched the storm clouds truck across the sky. The tiny squall went as quickly as it came and we were able to roll up our sleeves and get into the dirt. As a Development Associate for the Parks Conservancy, my specialties are planning fundraising events, maintaining databases and spread sheets, and smiling really pretty at people. My work is fueled by my love for the parks, but I completely lack the green thumb genome. I had to give myself a pep talk in the car – just try not to kill the garden. Ever since I had been married there last October, I had been trying to work up the nerve to show up, hoping to contribute to a place that I feel has so deeply contributed to my life. Everyone was thrilled to have another set of hands, and I was given very appropriate tasks in which the plants would survive the liability of my cluelessness. I even learned a thing or two!

We would love to have your help and we absolutely love making new park friends! Our volunteers vary from experienced gardeners looking to lend a hand, to eager park goers who have a lot to learn. Each of them knows that every time a couple snaps a prom picture in the Entry Garden, or says their vows in Mellon Park, they’ve contributed to a place that does more than make Pittsburgh beautiful – it becomes a part of someone’s story.

The remaining horticultural volunteer days are as follows (we’ll provide everything you need) –

Weeding Tuesdays at the Mellon Park Walled Garden

5-7 pm

June 26

July 10 & 24

August 7 & 21

September 4 & 18

 

Weeding Wednesdays in the Highland Park Entry Garden

5-7 pm

June 27

July 11 & 25

August 8 & 22

September 5 & 19

 

Color in the Highland Park Entry Garden

Garden Maintenance Tip from Angela

To give your garden definition, make sure your plants have room to shine. “You can’t be afraid to cut back plants or remove some of them when necessary, or they’ll all just grow together,” says Angela. To achieve the stunning color blocking effect you see in the Highland Park Entry Garden, or the calm elegance of the Walled Garden in Mellon Park, allow for some negative space between plants. To really highlight this effect, Angela suggests putting some mulch down on the ground between the plant types.   

 

Learn more about our volunteer programs and how you can get involved here. Really up for getting your hands dirty? Consider becoming an Urban EcoSteward. Dirt not your style? Your donation to the parks will go a long way.

Kathleen Gaines joined the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy as a Development Associate last year.