Horticultural Society declares pop-up garden a success in Philadelphia

    Days are colder. Nights are longer. The tomatoes are gone and the flowers are browning.

    It’s a bittersweet time for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

    The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is removing a temporary garden nestled among downtown Philadelphia office buildings for good.

    The upshot: the pop-up garden did what it was designed to do.

    Last June, in the shadow of the Independence Blue Cross building at 20th and Market streets, the PHS launched a temporary garden that survived a drought, a flood, a hurricane, an earthquake, and constant car exhaust.

    It grew 600 pounds of produce, most of which was distributed to area food banks.

    Growing food was only part of the job. It was also supposed to promote the concept of urban gardening.

    “We were the #11 twitter feed on the day we opened, in the country,” said Society president Drew Becher. “We were #1 in the region for most of the day when it opened. So it was hugely successful for us.”

    Programmed with classes and workshops about nutrition, gardening, yoga, and tai chi, about 6,000 people visited the vacant lot in five months.

    That’s not all it attracted.

    “There were so many birds on this site,” said Eileen Gallagher, manager of the PHS community gardening program. “I saw so many golden finches. I saw warblers I hadn’t seen. It really was a respite–for me–to leave the office and all the paperwork behind, and maintain the garden. This little slice of nature.”

    The garden will be dismantled and all its materials–including raised bed lumber, flagstones, storage shacks, potting tables, and netting–will be recycled and distributed to gardens in the region.

    The property owner, Brandywine Realty Trust, does not yet have plans to develop the site.

    The Horticultural Society will create another temporary garden next spring, but the organization does not yet know where it will be, or what it will be. It is now taking suggestions from the public about what the next pop-up greening program should be.

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