Schuylkill River Park

Posted by Ellen

Shortly before March Madness's final dance Monday evening, a young Villanova fan took to the court at Schuylkill River Park.

Even though April 4 is Norman's birthday, the nation watched basketball instead of celebrating with him. He marked the big day–he turned sixty-five–by taking his first free senior-citizen ride on a city bus.

Posted by Ellen

It's t-ball time at Taney Field in Schuylkill River Park.

Posted by Ellen

A camera hanging from a kite flew over the neighborhood a couple of weeks ago and snapped this view of the community garden in Schuylkill River Park.

The garden, which contains 70 plots that rotate every six years to area gardeners on a lengthy waiting list, was started about thirty years ago in an abandoned brickyard at a railroad siding. In the early years, plants were watered from 55-gallon drums filled at a nearby fire hydrant.

Since 2009, gardeners have participated in Philadelphia's City Harvest Program, which provides produce to city food cupboards. The seedlings set out into the garden for City Harvest were started from seed by inmates in Philadelphia prisons. Through this program, the annual contribution to food cupboards from Schuylkill River Park is about 500 pounds of fruit and vegetables.

Looks like this year's winter weather hasn't been much of a challenge to the plantings here, at least not yet.

Posted by Ellen

Every fall and spring, civic organizations add new saplings to Philadelphia's complement of street trees. Here, our neighbor Carolyn Duffy points out proper technique last month with one of her tree-planting crews.

Carolyn is a volunteer "tree-tender" working under the auspices of Schuylkill River Park and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; she and her volunteer crews plant about sixty trees a year in neighborhoods near Rittenhouse and Fitler squares. This tree is going in across the street from the public swimming pool near 26th and Lombard streets.

It's a big operation. Trees this size–with trunks about two inches in diameter–are expensive, often $200 each, if not more. Growing conditions on each particular block dictate different varieties of trees; for example, only short-growing trees can be planted under power lines, and only narrow, columnar varieties can be planted close to parking spaces. Some narrow old streets are so dark that many kinds of trees will not thrive; other spots are so open and windy that big, sturdy varieties are most appropriate.

Nearby homeowners are asked to supply mulch and to make sure the new trees are watered during their first two summers. The Pennsylvania Horitcultural Society supplies urban arborists who match trees to sites, check up on the trees' health, and see to any necessary pruning.

This spring, Carolyn and the neighbors planted gingkos, sycamore-like London plane trees, Bradford pears, ornamental cherries, and pretty little oak trees. In the upper right corner of this photo, behind the man in the red hat, you may be able to make out the green leaves and white flowers of a pear tree planted just last fall. In a few more years, all the real estate ads for houses on these city streets will boast of "lovely" tree-shaded blocks.