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EPA Donates Flower Show Plants to Area Gardens

Release Date: 3/26/1999
Contact Information: Donna M. Heron (215) 814-5113

PHILADELPHIA - Although the 1999 Philadelphia Flower Show is now only a happy memory, the native plant material from EPA’s award-winning exhibit will continue to teach and inspire at three regional gardens.

When the exhibit was dismantled on March 15, most of the exhibit’s trees, plants and shrubs were delivered to the Camden Children’s Garden which is scheduled to open in July, the Philadelphia Water Department and the Penn State Cooperative Extension in Delaware County.

EPA’s employee-volunteers were also able to help the Historic Bartram’s Garden exhibit during the flower show because some of their trees were not yet in bloom.

"We could have gotten through the show but we wouldn’t have had as nice a display if EPA hadn’t come through," said Director Martha Wolf. "The most exciting plant lent to us was the Flame Azalea. That is one of the plants William Bartram is credited with discovering."

Established in 1731, the Historic Bartram’s Garden is the oldest botanical garden in North America. Located in Southwest Philadelphia, it is part of the Fairmount Park system.

The Camden City Garden Club received three 12- to 14-foot dogwood trees, plus shrubs and perennial plants. Michael Devlin, club president, said most of the materials will be planted in the 4.5 acre botanical children’s garden to open in July, next to the New Jersey State Aquarium.

"This new garden will be a recreational and educational experience for children," Devlin explained. "The Camden City Garden Club will own and operate this to raise money for its community outreach. Children will be encouraged to touch, smell, taste, play and experience nature."

Founded 14 years ago, the club now sponsors 100 community gardens and introduces nature to 4,500 school children each year.

At the Philadelphia Water Department plant in the city’s Southwest section, officials are creating a wildflower meadow on a former wetland and will use the 10 native shrubs and irises donated by EPA.

"Our goal is to create a aesthetically pleasing appearance along Enterprise Avenue," said Joanne Dahme.

The water department will install bird houses and bat boxes. Interpretative trails will be added to help educate children who visit the water plant on school trips.

At Delaware County’s Penn State Cooperative Extension, the EPA exhibit materials will also be used as a teaching tool.

Nancy Bosold, county agent, explained that EPA’s shrubs, perennials and ferns will become part of the Master Gardener Program at Smedley Park near the Springfield Mall.

"We train volunteer horticulturists in a 14-week course," Bosold said. "They will work with our demonstration garden to show homeowners the type of plants that would be successful for a woodland and for low maintenance."

Bosold said she was not aware that EPA traditionally donates its plants to schools and organizations each year. The contributions are a big help, she said.

EPA’s display of native plants visually demonstrated beneficial landscaping -- an earth-friendly way of gardening with less water, less fertilizer and less pesticides.

Why is this important? Because these hazardous chemicals can travel through the soil and contaminate ground water, said EPA Wetlands Specialist Jeffrey Lapp. Once ground water is contaminated, it is difficult and extremely costly to remove. Even after the source of contamination has been removed, the contamination can remain for a few years to a few centuries. Prevention is the key to pollution, he said.

Teaching people how to protect their environment is part of EPA’s mission. The National Environmental Education Act of 1990 requires EPA to take the lead in promoting, supporting and encouraging environmental education. Participating in events such as the flower show is one of the ways the EPA teaches people to safeguard the natural environment.