Category Archives: Gardens & Food

From Campus to Community: My Journey in Compost

by Tiffany Kennedy

If you had asked me in 2016 what compost was, I would have told you I had no idea. I had just moved to West Chester and was studying nutrition & dietetics at the University.

One course required a volunteer activity, and I ended up at the campus garden. The garden intern gave a tour of what was growing, and tasked me and another volunteer with turning the compost. “What’s that?” I asked, little did I know that this was THE moment. Their brief explanation of this natural decomposition process sparked a curiosity that still drives me.

Not yet fully aware of the complexity of composting, I grasped the basic premise: recycling for plants. The intern told me to bring my own food scraps over to the garden pile, and I was thrilled to start incorporating composting into my daily life.

Eager to learn about growing produce and its role in the food cycle, I continued volunteering weekly. My interest in nutrition shifted away from telling people what to eat and towards ensuring that people had access to nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. My understanding of gardening and the compost process had deepened, and it became clear to me that nutrition started with the soil. In order to grow nutrient–rich produce, we need to have healthy soils.

As an undergrad, I got involved with the University’s Office of Sustainability and its Sustainability Advisory Committee, which connected me with a supportive community of action-oriented students, faculty, and administrators. With their assistance, two compost initiatives were brought to life. We worked together with the campus food lab to gather raw fruit and vegetable scraps and bring them to the South Campus Garden compost pile. Additionally, with the help of many volunteers, we gathered up peels and mashed bananas and integrated composting to the tradition of Banana Day.

Since graduating, I have been invited back to campus each semester to speak with a class about compost and its benefits.

Composting can have a big impact. According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, more than 50% of municipal garbage can be sorted for compost! In the United States there are more closed landfills than open ones, composting is a solution to increasing the longevity of the landfills we still have available. But it is more than just recycling organic materials. When applied back to the soil, it increases the soil structure, nutrient
profile, and water absorption. Healthier soils are able to capture carbon dioxide through a process called carbon sequestration, which actually works to reverse the impacts of greenhouse gas pollution.

After graduating, I was introduced to Mother Compost founder Gwenn Nolan. She was looking for help as she was then working a full-time job and raising three children, all while starting this new business. I was excited to get involved with the company and its mission to provide a simple solution for residents to compost.

Since then, Mother Compost has grown to a team of nine and serves over 1,200 residents along the Main Line. In 2021 we expanded to include commercial services, composting with local schools and businesses. And now in 2023 we are thrilled to have our first geographical expansion and begin providing a composting solution for the residents of the West Chester Borough!

You can find out more at the the Mother Compost website and sign up here for service. All new subscribers get an automatic free 30-day trial.

West Chester’s Adopt-a-Rain Garden Program: please help!

Rain gardens are important and so is your help! Short version: please sign up here.

West Chester Borough, like many other municipalities, is under federal mandate to improve the quality of its streams. But how can we reduce pollutants flowing into them?

Rain gardens absorb those pollutants (chemicals running off yards, road salt, dog waste effluents, microparticles from vehicle tires, etc.) and by the time the ground water runs into streams, the contaminants are stuck somewhere underground or absorbed harmlessly into roots, plants, and tree trunks.

Besides, rain gardens absorb flood waters, display attractive bushes and flowering plants, and help calm traffic by breaking up the linear flow parallel to curbs. They enhance their blocks and reduce runoff downhill from them.

Now you can sign up for the Borough’s Adopt-a-Rain Garden Program to help take care of a rain garden near where you live. This is much better than letting an outside contractor make all the decisions and do the necessary maintenance when it suits their schedule. Besides, gardening is healthy, fun, and satisfying.

The Borough web site explains: “Volunteers will be involved in plant selection, planting, and light garden maintenance, and most importantly making sure the infrastructure is working as intended.”

If you’re willing, please sign up here for one of the sites still open for “adoption.” These are:

Veterans Memorial Park – Walkway
Veterans Memorial Park – Playground
E. Chestnut & Penn St – NE Corner
Greenfield Park (five gardens)
S. Everhart & Sharpless St. (two gardens)
S. Everhart & Mulberry Alley (two gardens)
S. Everhart & W. Nields St. (two gardens)

There will be a training for volunteers in April. Let’s make this a real community effort! Neighbors can work out so each really only takes care of one garden.

For more background from on our own web site, see here and here.

Rain garden diagram from Borough web site

Self-guided garden tours, August 2022

On Saturday August 27, the Chester County History Center (225 N. High St., West Chester) hosted the Green Team’s memorable dinner reception featuring local manifestations of Doug Tallamy’s Homegrown National Park initiative, stressing native plantings as hosts to native species of insects and other organisms.

Many thanks to the History Center for donating their venue on Aug. 27 and working hard to facilitate our program, and to our suppliers for the event, including The Master’s Baker, creators of a large and marvelous garden-themed cake.

According to the Homegrown National Park map, PA leads the country with 10,023 acres participating and Chester County (where Tallamy, a faculty member at the University of Delaware, lives) leads PA with 139 users and 192 plantings. That’s makes Chesco a national leader, but at .81% of the County registered, we have far to go. Please consider adding your space, or urging local institutions and property owners to do so.

Here are detailed descriptions of gardens planted by the Green Team, the three other groups associated with our August 27 event, and some other allies.

Please view the properties below at your leisure. Links lead to the write-ups on our site (where you can also download pdfs of the same information) and links from there for more information.

Bondsville Mill Park and Gardens in East Brandywine offers an impressive variety of natural growth and plantings with a sizable park in the historic setting of a mill dating back to 1841 and now being restored. See their own web site here. Open dawn to dusk.

Chestnut Street Garage Pollinator Garden installed by the West Chester Business Improvement District in collaboration with the Green eam in downtown West Chester beautifies a strip running the length of a parking garage and welcomes visitors to an increasingly green Borough.

Chester County Art Association planting on the West Chester edge of East Bradford created new gardens with an emphasis on esthetics and on nourishing pollinators.

Heart of Uwchlan Project on the grounds of the Uwchlan Township Building includes a Milkweed garden designated as a “Save the Monarchs” Monarch Habitat, a riparian Streamside Garden, and a Wetland Garden.

Lawn to Native Pollinator Garden Conversion in West Chester: read the steps involved and consider your own move from monoculture to pollinator-friendly plantings.

West Chester: 4 other WCGT-associated gardens: Plantings at Chester County Art Association and History Center plus two verges between street and sidewalk, known as “hellstrips.”

West Vincent Pollinator Pitstop Garden Program has started with a demonstration garden on the Township Building grounds, with activities like milkweed seed and plant giveaways and environmental education for children, and it plans to spread to other township parks.

West Vincent: Carys Egan’s garden, just created, inspired by the work of Doug Tallamy and the West Vincent Township Environmental Advisory Council.

An underlying inspiration for these and many other projects, as well as for residents’ own gardens, is Chesco resident Doug Tallamy’s idea that we can all, on any space large or small, contribute to a Homegrown National Park oriented to pollinator-friendly native plants.

See also:

Phoenixville Area Transition Living Landscapes, assisting in developing healthier growing spaces.

Phoenixville Pollinator Corridor, dedicated to the proliferation of native plants.

Videos of many private West Chester gardens, mostly made by the West Chester Green Team in 2020.

Chester County Art Association garden project

In June, the Living Landscapes committee of the Green Team completed a native garden project at the Chester County Art Association. The CCAA is located at 100 North Bradford Ave. in West Chester, PA. See map of the location of the site below:

The two garden plots are on the north-facing side of the building and by the parking lot. Additionally, the committee renovated the two large planters on the CCAA’s back patio by replacing the soil and planting edible herbs and native plants and put in a mix of native and hybrid plants in the garden beds. Some of the native perennials added to the garden beds included: Solidago “Fireworks,” Eupatorium dubium “Baby Joe,” and Tiarella cordifolia. The plants included in the plots are diagrammed below (drawing by Julie Morse).

These plants should bring beautiful textures and colors all year long and attract a wide variety of pollinators to the area, as well as fend off local deer that might be tempted to eat the new plants.

The project was completed over several weeks with the volunteer help of Laurie Moran (CCAA), Julie Morse, Megan Schraedley, Courtney Finneran, Eric Schraedley, Jacqueline Alnes, Gus Shrevelius, Chris Pugliese, Craig Mikus, Sara Getz, and Mary Manning. Special thanks to Julie Morse for leading the committee by coordinating donations from local nurseries and providing incredible expertise in landscape design for the site.

Donations of plants and reduced cost for plants contributed by Manor View Farm, North Creek Nurseries, Sam Brown’s Nursery, Organic Mechanics, and Aronimink Golf Club for helping us with plant material for our work in planting pollinator-friendly gardens at the Chester County Art Association.

Challenges/Triumphs: This project experienced several challenges including first, figuring out how to source plants economically and efficiently. For example, we received generous donations from nurseries that were geographically far from the planting site, complicating our carbon footprint in creating the garden. Second, the site itself is located in significant shade throughout the day, and therefore we had to be thoughtful about what plants would thrive in this location. Third, we had difficulty figuring out how to water the plants once installed; the site did not have an easily accessible outdoor water spigot and therefore, we’d recommend always talking with your partner about how they will practically care for (weed, water, fertilize) the garden once installed.

We had success in sourcing mostly native plants which will thrive in the climate and conditions of the site. Additionally, our partners (CCAA and board members) were very open-minded about the site plans and plants we suggested – this is not always the case and we felt incredibly lucky to work with such flexible and passionate partners. Finally, we installed the garden in only one day instead of over the course of two or three days thanks to the high number of motivated volunteers who joined us for the planting. We recommend sharing information about planting events early and often with potential volunteers!

Download pdf here.


by Toni Gorkin (download pdf here)

The Heart of Uwchlan project comprises three gardens in Baird Park, the campus location of the Uwchlan Township offices. The campus is a historic farm site with ponds and a park. The gardens include a Milkweed garden designated as a “Save the Monarchs” Monarch Habitat garden along the meeting room wall; a riparian Streamside Garden on the stream below the lower pond; and a Wetland Garden at the end of the parking lot. The gardens are enrolled on Douglas Tallamy’s Homegrown National Park. In addition, a Nature Learning Trail was marked out through the park with education stations using the flora and fauna. A Handbook is available.

The Uwchlan Township campus Baird Park is located at 715 N Ship Road in Exton. It is just off the interstion of Ship Road with Route 100 in Exton. Coming north on Route 100 from West Chester, turn right at Swedesford Road. Take right into the Uwchlan Township campus.

The Milkweed Garden and Streamside Garden are in their third year of growth. This is the second summer for the Wetland Garden. The Heart of Uwchlan Project arose out of Toni Gorkin’s Pennsylvania Master Naturalist education; it was approved by the Uwchlan Township Environmental Advisory Council and has the support of the Uwchlan Township Board of Supervisors. The Heart of Uwchlan team has been small, about six volunteers, due to COVID, but its members include two Master Watershed Stewards and now another PA Master Naturalist. Hours are logged to the PA Master Naturalist and Master Watershed databases. The sites of the gardens were chosen in consultation with the leadership of the Township’s parks and grounds maintenance and the Township Manager.

The goals of the Heart of Uwchlan Project are to:
• Introduce native plants and enhance the biodiversity of Baird Park
• Support SustainableUwchlan goals and EAC initiatives
• Provide education for the public of sustainable gardening practices through examples

The Uwchlan EAC has conducted education, including webinars, events such as “Monsters, Masks and Milkweeds,” and demonstrations of winter seed sowing in plastic jugs. There are plant list handouts available also on the Uwchlan Township website, with special pages for Heart of Uwchlan. (See below.)

The practices employed in developing the gardens include “lasagna gardening” (applying cardboard, leaves and mulch through winter) to prepare weed-free sites, live-staking with suitable cuttings at the Streamside and Wetland Gardens, and winter seed sowing. Last winter over 60 plastic jugs of native plant seeds were sown to undergo winter stratification. Hundreds of plants were used to fill out the gardens and made available to the public. The Heart of Uwchlan team has harvested seeds from the garden and made them available to interested gardeners.

Milkweed Garden

The Milkweed Garden has thrived and hosted monarch caterpillars as well as many pollinators. Its location along the side of the meeting room has made it a successful point of interest for the public attending meetings and using the park. Initially it was just milkweeds, but other native perennials have been added to support adult butterflies and pollinators with nectar and to enhance the color of the site. Swamp milkweed, common milkweed, and butterfly weed have done very well there.

Streamside Garden

Educational signage highlights the Streamside Garden. It is in its third summer. It survived Hurricane Ida well, including some of its live-staked elderberry plants. Plants include swamp milkweed, blue vervain, red and black chokeberry, alder, boneset, asters, cupflower, and other perennials. Plans are to expand it somewhat, especially with live-staking, and continue to explore options for it. It is hard to allow the banks of the stream to just grow, as that conflicts somewhat with the clean, park-like environment, but we are doing education to help enhance the bank’s natural growth to support the macroinvertebrates in the stream.

Another challenge is keeping algae at bay which washes down from the pond above the stream. Like many ponds and streams in our area, these are man-made. Nevertheless, the garden provides an example to citizens who may have a stream in their property to try something that “looks a little messy” compared to what they may be accustomed to, for the health of the stream and prevention of erosion.

The Wetland Garden

The Wetland Garden has demonstrated very well “right plant in the right place” in an area that was too wet to be mowed. It not only reduced the lawn area, it allowed some native plants (ironweed, sedges) to regenerate naturally in addition to the ones planted. The plants selected were specifically adapted to wet areas, such as swamp milkweed, swamp goldenrod and phlox, obedience plant, native iris, river oats, boneset and blue vervain. The plantings have dried up the garden somewhat, demonstrating to our citizens how they might manage the wet areas they are experiencing more with recent wet years and large storms.

A grove of trees was planted to develop into an understory, including redbuds, river birches, a swamp oak, and buttonbush. At the center of the garden is a sweet bay magnolia to provide an accent point. Plans are to continue to incorporate the garden into and enhance the surrounding area. A new educational sign was erected at the Wetland Garden to recognize support of grants from the Gorkin family and the Harriet Jarosh Environmental Education Fund. The garden is typically abuzz with pollinators, even into the fall.

Further plans

In addition to its own gardens, Heart of Uwchlan began collaborating with Rhondda community volunteers in 2021. The Rhondda HOA / community is just across Ship Road from the Uwchlan Township park and consists of over 600 homes. A new Rhondda Pollinator Garden was planted this summer. The garden is at risk due to plans to hydro-rake a pond that is a stormwater basin to remove excess sediment. The hope is that the debris can form the basis of a meadow. Rhondda volunteers are also supporting Heart of Uwchlan. The hope is to extend a green corridor in the region.

Our Heart of Uwchlan team has met recently to look at the future, having met the goals of establishing the three gardens. In addition to maintaining the gardens, we plan to continue education and outreach to the public and to support SustainableUwchlan initiatives. We hope to support other parks and areas in Uwchlan Township, for example, refurbished stormwater basins, with native plants. We also hope to expand consciousness of the value of trees and look at opportunities for tree planting to restore the many trees being lost to disease in our area.

We also plan to enjoy increasing collaboration with other EACs and other Pollinator Garden projects in the County through groups like the Northern Chester County EACs and other organizations like the Green Team. And to grow the membership of public and personal gardens in the Homegrown National Park.

Native Planting Resources from Uwchlan web site

Introduction to Bondsville Mill Park

(download pdf here)

Bondsville Mill Park is a unique East Brandywine Township park on the grounds of Bondsville Mill Village dating back to the early 1800’s. The park is open from dawn to dusk daily for passive recreation including a trail network. Some of the Mill property remains are being restored to reflect on the history. The gardens have been inspired by Doug Tallamy’s Homegrown National Park Program and as such, the focus of the expanding gardens has been to remove invasives, plant natives, use Keystone Plants where possible, ensure use of host plants, pollinator plants and habitats, and to use the gardens and programs to educate our neighbors and local communities so they will be inspired to start native habitats on their properties. We have hosted active programs that cover topics such as a milkweed workshop, meet the trees, natives, butterflies, habitats including live stream insects, endangered species day, animals in winter and annual backyard bird count, among others. Our aim is to study, restore and preserve the natural habitat and to provide support and information that will inspire our neighbors to respect and care for nature in their backyards.

Map and Directions

1647 Bondsville Road, Downingtown PA 19335

From West Chester Route 100 North, take US 30 West to PA-340 W/Bondsville Rd, take the PA-340 exit and bear right at the end of the ramp to travel on Bondsville Rd/PA State Rd 4015 for 1.4 miles. The park will be on your right.

History of how this garden was created: timing, designers, sponsors, workers

When the first garden area next to the parking lot was being cleared of bittersweet, Norway Maples and other invasives, we were rewarded with milkweed hiding under the bramble. So, the Butterfly garden was started in 2017.

Next were the Parking lot garden and Bridge garden—all created with native plants from a neighbor’s gardens, including shrubs. With the creation of these gardens, passers-by could see that something was being done on a Mill building. Up until then, the only line of sight was across the bridge. Visitors began arriving; so we cleared space to let them walk to the creek. This was so popular that we decided to clear the area from the Memorial to the creek for a picnic area. The Hummingbird garden was added when we were given Cardinalis plants. That summer, a hummer was seen in the garden on a regular basis. These areas are now identified as the Memorial Garden and the Creekside garden.

These successes prompted the development of the Pollinator garden in 2019 and the Milkweed garden in 2020 (the first 3 gardens were volunteer-designed). Then the Racewalk garden designed by David Culp was started in 2020. The new Culps Clearing garden, a nearly one acre David Culp designed project in front of the Mill buildings started in 2020 and is continuing with infrastructure work. The new Bruce Rawlings designed Amphitheater gardens were cleared and planted in 2022. The amphitheater and the Culp’s Clearing will be handicap-accessible when completed.

The gardens are managed by volunteers with occasional additional assistance from community support including Restore Our Roots, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Downingtown area high school students and community neighbors.

The Chester County Beekeepers and Hardy Plant Society provided grant money for the Racewalk plants.

Culp’s Clearing garden is the result of grant support from county and state.

Amphitheater and Culp’s Clearing diagrams below; plant list is appended at the end of the document


Problems: Weeds! Deer, groundhogs, non-native praying mantis. Hurricane Ida flooding caused damage to the butterfly garden, the parking lot, some trail bridges and required shoring up the south vehicle bridge which caused significant delays in the Culp’s Clearing garden progress.

Triumphs: We’ve attracted more volunteer gardeners with a diverse set of skills, and we have a great community response when we request additional help on our big work days. We’re very thankful for grants we have received to date including Hardy Plant Society, Beekeepers, state and county. The Beekeepers are creating a bee classroom on the site and have donated a native bee hotel.

Future plans for Bondsville Mill Park

We are waiting on news regarding two grants that will provide funding for benches in Culp’s Clearing garden and additional plants for the Amphitheater.

Once the floor of the amphitheater is complete, we will be placing benches and we anticipate the space will be used by both the Bondsville Mill Park volunteers and the public for programs and education. We anticipate the David Culp designed garden area being prepared in front of the buildings to be completed in 2023. David has already introduced the leadership from many Philadelphia gardens to what’s being done at the Mill. We expect that David’s meadow design for Culp’s Clearing will be on many future garden tours. David hopes to have the bus tours that have visited his nearby garden to end at the Mill. With the planned parking lot with spaces for 60+ cars and bus drop-off spots we’ll be able to begin a regular schedule of nature, gardening, fitness programs,and to be handicap accessible.

Plant List

Main Butterfly Garden

Right/south side of path

Common Milkweed

Butterfly Weed

Mixed bed of:

Cone flower

Monarda Oswego tea

Mountain Mint

Queen Ann’s Lace

Solidago odora

Rudbeckia triloba

Joe Pye Weed

Under the sign: Rudbeckia

East/south end of path:


Grass ‘Ruby Ribbons’

Phlox ‘Jenna’

Solidago ‘Fireworks’


Front of Gate

Clematis ‘Virgin’s Bower’

Solidago ‘’Fireworks’


Back of Gate/ new area

Love Grass


Little Blue Stem ‘Standing Ovation”

Hibiscus Mallow – ‘Fireball’, Pink Hibiscus Mallow ‘Elephant’’


Penesetum ‘Blackbeard’

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

Upland Sea Oats

Annual Mexican sunflower


Elderberry Bush

Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’

Coreopsis ‘Rt 66 (yellow-red flower)

Silver Bell Tree

Hydrangea ‘Hass Halo’

Invincible smooth hydrangea

Joe Pye Weed – hollow stem?

Swamp milkweed

Sweet Woodruff

Wild petunia

Wood asters

Maidenhair fern adiatum pedatum

Hardy ageratum

Senna Herbecarpa 5.11.19

N.Y. Ironweed

Coreopsis ‘Gilded Lace’ 6/20

Coreopsis ‘Red Satin’ 6/20

Honeysuckle ‘Major Wheeler’

Middle bed

Vanilla Spice Summer Sweet

Button Bush ‘Sugar Shack’

Catnip ‘Six Hills Giant’

Creeping Phlox (moved out)


Phlox ‘Jenna’

Achillea millefolium ‘Ortel’s Rose’

Penesetum ‘Blackbeard’

Love grass

Cooreopsis ‘Cruzin Main Street’

Physostegia Virginia ‘Miss Manners’

Butterfly weed

Rudbeckia maxima

Front/parking garden

Mix of:

Helianthus/ Oxeye daisy

Cone flowers

Rattlesnake Master



Golden Alexander

Callisia rosea ‘Morning Grace’???

Honeysuckle ‘Major Wheeler’

Path side

Joe Pye Weed

Helianthus ‘Low Down’ 2019

Ostrich ferns

Wood aster

Celandine poppy

Meadow rue

Penesetum ‘Husker Red’

Physostegia ‘Miss Manners’ 2019


Monarda fist. ‘Clair Grace’

Little Blue Stem ‘Standing Ovation’


Little Joe Pye Weed


Hummingbird Garden

Monarda . ‘Clair Grace’


Hibiscus Mallo ‘Sweet Carloine’

Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’

Swamp milkweed

Swamp Verbena 6/2020

Short-toothed mountain mint

Yellow root

Tall Meadow Rue

Echinacea ‘Green Twister’

‘Little Joe’ Joe Pye Weed 9/13/21

Memorial Garden – Front side


Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’

Panicum ‘North Wind’

Smooth hydrangea ‘Incredible

Spiderwort ’Sweet Kate’

Wild ginger –

Back side

Magnolia virginiana ‘Moonglow’


Lady in Red Lady ferns

Doll’s Eyes Actaea pachypoda

Hardy begonia

Wild Columbine

Cornus alternafolia (3)

Jack in the pulpit

Wild hydrangea

Heuchera 3-4 varieties

Golden Alexander

Butterfly weed


American Holly

Meadow Rue ‘Nimbus Pink’

Silver Bell tree

Monch asters

Viburnum nannyberry

Oak-leaf Hydrangea


Magnolia Butterflies tree

River Birch tree

Fern Garden

Ostrich ferns

Golden Ragwort

*River Birch (young)

*Viburnum nannyberry 2

*Witch Hazel ‘Sunburst’

Spiderwort ‘Concord Grape’

*Sweet Shrub ‘Venus’

Carex – variegated

Violets – white

Bridge Garden

*Spice Bush

Monarda – Husker Red

Celandine poppy

Lady ferns

Joe Pye Weed

Solomon’s Seal

Creeping phlox

Wild geranium

Solidago ‘Little Lemon’



Erigrron ‘Lynn Haven Carpet’

Milkweed Garden

*American Hornbeam

Butterfly weed

Common milkweed

Swamp milkweed




American Wisteria



American Hazelnut tree 5/11/19

Illicium x woodland ruby Carex Pennsylvania

Pump House

Ninebark ‘Center Glow’ 6/20

Above race

*Red Cedars 3/ 2019

*Common Hop tree 2/2019

Trailhead garden 2020

Cup plant

Joe Pye Weed

Coreopsis ‘Gilded Lace’

Mondo grass ‘Undaunted’

Hardy ageratum

Cone flowers

Mountain mint

Coreopsis ‘Red Satin”

Spring Yellow Trailhead

Virginia Blue bells

Blue phlox


Christmas Fern

Above Race/hillside 3/30/19

*Appalachian Spring Dogwoods – 50

*Redbuds 50

Flameleaf sumac/rhus (2 )

*Magnolia Sam Brown

*Dogwood Sam Brown

*American Holly 3 Sam Brown

Fringe Trees Fall 2020

Juniperus ‘Taylor’ Fall 2020

Leucothoe Fall 2020

Silver Bell Fall 2020

Carex ‘Bunny Blue” Fall 2020

Pollinator Garden

Swamp milkweed

Agastache ‘Golden Jubilee’

Joe Pye Weed

Rudbeckia triloba


Tithonia ‘Torch’


Verbena Bonariensis

Culp’s Clearing Spring 2023

Daffodil ‘W.P. Milner’ and ‘Queen of the North’
Cammasia ‘Blue Melody’
Fritllaria mealagris
Molina ‘Transparent’
Schizachyrium ‘Standing Ovation’
Eragrostis spectablis
Sesseleria autmnalis
Eragrostis triptyeris
Leucanthemum vulgare
Baptisia ‘Carolina Moonlight’
Ascelpias tuberosa
Verbascum bombicyefirum
Agastache ‘ Purple Haze’
Aster l. ‘Bluebird’
Aster l. ‘October Skies’
Poppy Seeds (Mixed Cvs.)
Rhus copallinum ‘Lantham Purple’
Rhus lancinata
Rhus ‘Irienne Chartreuse’
Rhus copallinum ‘Quintent Quartet’
Juniperus virginiana “Burkii’
Juniperus virginiana ‘Taylor’
Juniperus virginiana ‘Taylor’
Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’
Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’
Magnolia aspera
Magnolia macrophylla
Magnolia tripetala

Amphitheater Plants

Evergreen Shrubs

American Holly (5)

Illicium (8)

Rhododendron Vasei (15)

Pieris Floribunda (3)

Deciduous Shrubs and Trees

Bottle Brush Buckeye (4)

Hydrangea Arborescens (30)

Sour wood tree (1)

Service Berry Multistem (3)

Blueberry (15)

Clethra (21)

Oakleaf Hydrangea (2)

Fothergilla “Alice” (3)


Heuchera Americana Dales Strain (25)

Heuchera Autumn Bride (25)

Geranium maculatum (15)

Tiarella Oakleaf (25)

Tiarella Brandywine (25)

Tiarella codifolia (15)

Phlox divaricate (25)

Phlox stolonifolia (15)

Amphitheater Continued:

Carex Bunny Blue (15)Carex Appalachia (30)

Planted as of 4.18.22

Solidago golden Fleece (20)

Tiarella cordifolia (40 plugs)

Aquilegia Corbet (40 plugs)

Aquilegia Kirigami (40 plugs)

Aquilegia Little Lanterns (40 plugs)

Lobelia Black Truffle (30 plugs)

Geranium Rozanne (40 plugs)

Still to come:

Virginia Bluebells (30)

Native pachysandra (750)

Packera (100)

Golden Alexander


West Vincent Pollinator Pitstop Garden Program

Because what’s good for pollinators is good for people!

The West Vincent Pollinator Pitstop Program was designed by the West Vincent Environmental Advisory Council to blanket our township in native flowers.  The goals are to 1) provide residents with free and low-cost native plants that benefit our pollinators and birds and beautify our world and 2) to raise awareness of loss of biodiversity, risks of pesticides, the negative outcomes of our lawn monoculture, ways to keep your leaves on your property, protecting plants from deer, and the physical and mental health benefits of being in and connecting with nature and our neighbors.

The project began in the fall of 2021 with the preparation of our first demonstration Pitstop Garden in Evans Park, the park in which our township building sits.  Our aspiration is to plant and maintain Pitstop gardens in each of our WV parks.  In early November, 2021, we held a demonstration of the easy way to convert lawn to garden – the lasagna method.  We collected Amazon boxes and bagged leaves and rocks, laid out the 12’ x 4’ garden, and placed a small temporary fence around it to hold in the leaves.  We then put down the cardboard, placed rocks on top to hold it down, and put about 2’ of leaves on top.  We left it to sit for the winter, with a Pollinator Pitstop Hatching sign in front.

The project continued in January.  The EAC held a free butterfly milkweed seed giveaway on a very cold Saturday in January.  We gave out plastic milk jugs to anyone who didn’t have one, and we handed out written instructions, which were on our webpage with an instructional video.  There was a line of cars through the township parking lot, with dozens of people cold-sowing native plants for the first time!

Next, in March, the Girl Scouts planted 650 butterfly milkweed plants, which were raised inside under ideal (for milkweed) conditions so that they would bloom the first year.  These plants were given away at our Community Day in mid-May, where we also held a partridge-pea seed ball activity for the kids. EAC members wore butterfly wings – we felt really goofy, but it ended up creating great energy and being a real conversation starter!  We had enough plants for our township gardener to plant them throughout our park and our Community Garden space.

At the end of May, after the soil had warmed up, we finally planted the Pitstop Demonstration Garden.  Several families had purchased the full complement of Pitstop Garden plants through the Ludwigs Corner Horse Show Assoc., so they followed along and planted a similar garden at home.  Our lasagna method had worked perfectly!  The grass had died, the cardboard was completely gone, and there were just enough leaves left to serve as a pretty mulch.  The 4’ x 12’ design had been selected to be easy to reach into from the front to weed.  The planting was quick and easy, as the soil under the “lasagna” was light and easy to dig in.  The final step of the garden preparation was to lay down flat stones, with landscape fabric underneath, so it would be easy for the lawn crew to mow around it.

Many people showed up for the planting – some of them first time gardeners!  So far, we have 179 households participating in this program.  We are all gardening together and learning together.  Some of our goals for next year are to add spring and fall nectar sources, trees, and shrubs, and to demonstrate plants with deep roots for stormwater maintenance.

At the end of the 2022 school year, the West Vincent Elementary School hosted an environmental day based around our Pitstop program.  Regular classes were suspended for the day, and the children participated in educational sessions mixed with hands-on learning, centered around the Monarch butterfly theme.  Each child participated in seed planting, making seed balls, and creating a drawing of their version of “What Makes a Butterfly”, (sun, rain, soil, children with watering cans, etc., etc.), and the resulting 650 six-inch square drawings were woven into a paper quilt, which will hang in the school lobby. 

Our community has been enriched by this program.

Our Pollinator Pitstop Demonstration Garden is located in Evans Park, just to the right of the parking lot on Rt. 401, between St. Matthews Rd. and Fellowship Rd., Chester Springs, PA.

Download pdf here.

Chestnut Street Garage Pollinator Garden

In May 2022, the West Chester Business Improvement District (BID) spearheaded a landscape project behind the Chestnut Street Parking Garage along Prescott Alley in partnership with the West Chester Green Team and West Chester Borough to enhance the natural beauty of the Borough’s downtown business district.

This beautification initiative serves as a model of three-way collaboration between a business district, a residents’ non-profit, and a local government, West Chester Borough, which provided and cleared the site, permitted the planting, provides mulch, helps recruit volunteers, and hauls away waste from cleanups.

Honoring this project, on Earth Day, April 22, 2023, PA Senator Comitta presented the Green Team and the Business Improvement District with a Community Pride Award from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (see more in the Daily Local News, 5/1/23).

The result of this three-way collaboration is an attractive pollinator-friendly garden that focuses on the ecological benefits of native plants. This garden offers pedestrians a warm welcome to West Chester, a new habitat for our pollinators, and an educational opportunity to those who pass by every day.

Designed by local resident and landscape architect Chris Pugliese and built with the help of over 20 volunteers, the 1,700 square foot garden was funded by the West Chester BID and planted with over 400 perennials, 10 trees and dozens of shrubs. One outcome of the planting plan was the creation of an almost instant “settled-in” garden, achieved by grouping species in swaths along the linear planting area, and using larger perennials in 1-gallon containers sourced from local nurseries including Clearview Nursery out of Souderton and North Creek Nurseries in Oxford PA.  Even though the garden is considered young, it looks like it was planted several seasons ago. Integrated into the design is a gravel walking path with a bamboo edging fence, allowing for the community to engage and view the garden up close. 

A major goal for the garden was to become certified by Penn State University as a “Pennsylvania Pollinator Friendly Garden.” Requirements for this certification include 1) provide food for pollinators; 2) provide water sources for pollinators; 3) provide shelter including a bee box; 4) remove invasive species; and 5) eliminate pesticide use. Certification is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

This is the first of many projects planned by the BID to help its members revitalize and green their alleyway properties. We invite you to come close and enjoy the garden through all your senses and take some time to enjoy this bit of habitat in the downtown.

The Chestnut Street Garage is in the middle of the above map from the BID, at the SW corner of E. Chestnut and N. Walnut. The garden lies along the southern edge of the garage, on Prescott Alley.

Photos, preliminary plan and plant list thanks to Chris Pugliese.

Download pdf here.

Trees, Shrubs and Vines
Clethra alnifolia “Hummingbird”Summersweet
Cercis canadensisEastern Redbud
Caylcanthus floridus “Hartlage Wine”Carolina Allspice
Cepholanthus occidentalis “Sugar Shack”Dwarf Buttonbush
Ilex glabra “Shamrock”Inkberry
Ilex verticilatta “Jim Dandy”Winterberry
Juniperis virginianaEastern Red Cedar
Aesculus pavia
Cornus florida
Perennials, Grasses
Phlox Jeanna
Aster “October Skies”Aster
Allium “Millenium”Ornamental Onion
Agastache ” Black Adder”Purple Haze Anise Hyssop
Amsonia Storm CloudAmsonia Storm Cloud
Baptisia australisBlue False Indigo
Eupatorium coelestinumBlue Mist Flower
Eupatorium dubium “Baby Joe”Baby Joe Joe-Pye Weed
Liatris KoboldGayfeather
Monarda Raspberry WineBee Balm
Monarda Jacob KlineBee Balm
Lobelia siphiliticaBlue Lobelia
Penstemon dig. “Dark Towers”Beardtongue
Pycnanthemum muticumAppalachian Mountain Mint
Echinacea “Magnus”Coneflower
Phlox subulata Emerald BlueMountain Pink
Phlox subulata Emerald PinkMountain Pink
Panicum virg. “Northwind”Switchgrass
Rudbeckia deamiiBlack Eyed Susan
Solidago “Golden Fleece”Goldenrod
Solidago “Little Lemon”Goldenrod
Sorghastrum nut. “Indian Steel”Indian Grass
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’Little Bluestem
Amsonia Blue Ice
Vernonia Iron ButterflyDwarf Iron weed
Packera aureusGolden Groundsel

WCU Students Host a Celebration for the West Chester Green Team

 by Lucinda Bauman

One week after Earth Day, seven women from Dr. Kanan Sawyer’s Event Planning class at West Chester University hosted a celebration for the West Chester Green Team. The event boasted bright green decorations, fun activities, and inviting event hosts. Attendees made their way around Sykes Patio to the different stations.

Green cupcakes with a QR code leading to the Green Team web site enticed visitors

The first station was the plant pot decorating, where all were welcome to take home their own pot and seedling. Next, the attendees played a couple of rounds of sustainability trivia. After that, guests dug into some delicious Earth Day themed cupcakes.

Finally, the last station hosted a wall that attendees plastered with sticky notes that explained their ways of staying sustainable!

Personal statements: how to be sustainable in our daily lives, against a backdrop evoking beautiful Chester County

While the event lasted from just 10:00 – 11:00 am, it did an incredible job of raising awareness of sustainability practices and the West Chester Green Team to many West Chester students and residents alike. 

Thank you Dr. Kanan Sawyer and your students for this exceptional event! 

from decorating the pot…
…to adding the potting soil and seeds


Hillsdale School food gardens, 2022

New garden beds at Hillsdale. Photo Hillsdale Facebook.

From Hello West Chester by Cara Corridoni, 4/4/22

Last weekend a group of Hillsdale parents, students and community members erected eight garden beds on the backside of the elementary school’s property. Once the build and mulching is complete, the beds will be filled with plants provided by the Chester County Food Bank. Students across all classrooms will take part in a school wide planting day on Earth Day, April 22. The gardens will be tended by Hillsdale families over the summer and students will then get a chance to help harvest the bounty when they return in the fall. The majority of which will be taken to the Chester County Food Bank for distribution into the community. The remainder will be used for teaching purposes (and probably some light snacking).  

The mulching phase of the project is planned for Saturday. If you find yourself with some free time this weekend, volunteers are still needed. Sign up here.