This proposal along with a site visit from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) was the catalyst which netted Father Ferrier and the St. Katherine of Siena Parish campus the coveted 2013 PHS Community Greening Award. The award will be presented in Harrisburg during a reception in the Governor’s Residence on December 10th. Congratulations Father Ferrier!
A Presentation to the
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
St. Katherine of Siena Parish Campus
9700 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19114
Like many urban green projects, our greening process was more of a reclamation project rather than starting from scratch. In some ways, this is more difficult than beginning new. Years of inattention, neglect, over planting and disregard can paralyze a property and make it stagnant to say the least.
Over the years plants, bulbs, perennials, bushes and even trees were place wherever there was a space or an open spot. In our case, being a Church, there were many well meaning persons who wanted to plant their gift where they could see it, with little or no regard to scope and sequence of planting. Bulbs were the main culprits since they would go undetected until the flowering of the spring then, truth-be-told, they were beautiful when they bloomed and thus left alone for another year.
Five years ago we began a systematic and determined renewal of the property and the flora. Half dead bushes were removed. Overgrown trees and bushes were pruned or trimmed. Flower beds were renewed. Edges and borders were established and plantings which would complement the buildings and the grounds were chosen. The idea was to have a complete picture of the property and how it could truly become a green space.
Over the intervening years we have made a few changes, a few additions, and a few replacements. All directed toward unifying the property and simplifying the design. The addition of an island in the parking lot which boasts a new flag pole, and a new outdoor original bronze sculpture presented a new challenge as to how to landscape the areas and how to include the new areas into the entire campus plan. Now, seasonal blooms complement the permanent landscape and add to the rhythm of the spring and summer seasons.
In addition to extensive lush plots of grass, among the flowers and plantings found on the property are the following: Knock-out Roses, Sweet Alyssum, Rose of Sharon, Marigolds, Evergreens, Cannas, Black-Eyed Susan, Crape Myrtle, Yoshino Cherry, Holly, Azalea, Rhododendron, Zinnia, Geraniums, and Hibiscus to name just the prominent plantings.
Since we have so many persons who come and go onto the property at different times it is important that there be some novelty that catches their eye as well as the permanent plantings on which they have come to rely and expect.
This year for example, we planted several rows of corn, as well as tomatoes and peppers along one of the highly traveled areas of the campus. This gets and holds peoples interest as they judge the progress of the stalks and the produce. Apart from these plantings there are several hanging tomato plants producing cherry tomatoes for local consumption, an herb garden, and flowering hanging baskets which accent the beauty of a 100+ year old building.
All of this is accomplished within feet of a busy city street complete with trackless trolleys, constant traffic and acres of macadam. All in all, we have endeavored to add a touch of green to our part of the city and to give our neighborhood an example of can be done with some planning and hard work.