THE GARDEN AND GREEN SPACE COMMITTEE
Committee Chair: Mark Kirby
Twelve plus Gardens and Still Growing!
You’ve probably noticed that BHCF volunteers plant and maintain several gardens in the neighborhood. Most are on City- or County-owned properties. The first three were established at the intersection of California and Termon Avenues. Since then, several others have been adopted. Here is a brief summary
The Ravenstahl’s Lot
The corner adjacent to Adam Ravenstahl’s office has a mix of perennials and annuals. The center portion was dug up in an effort to eliminate invasive bindweed (morning glory family) and Japanese Knotweed. If you battle these pesky weeds in your own yard, you know that the fight will continue this spring before the center is replanted. This year the plan is to create a wildflower and bird house in the center with natives’ vines trailing off the bird house posts.
In addition, a Rock Garden was established in the summer of 2014 with the help of the NARGS Allegheny Chapter.
Green Up Lot
Adjacent to lower Termon, is the largest corner. A mix of perennials and small trees make this corner a pleasant little passive park. One idea is to make a pollinator garden in the shape of a butterfly planted with seeds from the Audubon Society/Beechwood Farms, as they are giving away seeds (2014) for the special milkweed plants that Monarch butterflies need to survive. Their mission is to help increase the declining Monarch population. The seeds free are available to anyone.
With two small concrete bear statues is a mix of shrubs, perennials and annuals. The lot is privately owned but the corner plantings are done by BHCF.
Brighton Heights Blvd. “Great Wall”
The area in front of the “Great Wall” has been planted with trees and shrubs by Tree Vitalize. Before this was done, BHCF volunteers planted vines and ornamental grasses to visually screen the wall. Since the trees and shrubs are now well established, the ornamental grasses were dug up one rainy day in April of 2014. With the help of two Western Pennsylvania Conservancy staff members, BHCF Garden and Green Space Committee volunteers, Ed Gergerich and Susan Benn dug up, divided and transplanted the grasses. WPCA staff worked well into the late afternoon to finish planting and mulching and cleaning up. The grasses will be a striking addition to the WPCA garden for years to come.
BHCF maintains a bed of annuals provided by the Western PA Conservancy as well as a few items beneath our Brighton Heights Tree sign. Susan Benn has been the volunteer garden steward for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy garden for the past 6 years. The site was nominated by WPCA for a portal Green Space Award from the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society out of Philadelphia and won! We have a nicely framed award certificate in our office.
Bulbs and annuals are planted at the corner entry points to add a bit of color to the trees and monuments. Our veterans and their families really appreciate this, and many help with the up keep. We are working on plans to revitalize the park by continuing the start of the walkways to the monuments from the four sides of the square. Three have existing steps, one with tiles done many years ago and holding up well. The fourth walkway would be from the Shadeland side which is flat (no stairs), so easily handicapped accessible. We would like people to walk the pathways to and around the monuments. BHCF pays for electricity for the park, to light the flag and, of course, the Christmas tree for the holidays. The central flood light has been out for several years, and to help, people are calling 311 to get that fixed. The more calls the better!
In the summer of 2013, a large green government mailbox was removed from a small island at the intersection of Goe Avenue and Wapello Street. Susan Benn, who lives nearby, adopted the space and turned it into BH’s newest and smallest public garden. Looks a little scruffy now, but she is working at it!
Allegheny Mountain Lot
The vacant lot at the corner of California and Benton Avenue was undertaken by local neighbor Matthew Yurkovich with GTECH funding. You can learn more about this project from https://gtechstrategies.org/projects/allegheny-mountains-lot/
BHCF has been successful in developing working relationships with the Western PA Conservancy, the City, the County, The Audubon Society, and other agencies, but our community has the ultimate responsibility for what happens at each of these gardens and is limited somewhat by cost but mostly by the amount of maintenance labor available. Mowing of most of the grass areas is done by the county but planting, weeding, and watering is all done by volunteers.
Throughout the season, all of the gardens need volunteers to help with weeding, watering and maintenance. Would you like to help a little or a lot?
If you’re really interested, join or be a guest at the Garden and Green Space Committee. We write grants, look for sponsors and seek donations from the community. Getting our hands dirty can be fun and the best thing we grow is pride in the neighborhood.