March’s Bloom Where You Are Planted Edition
Photo by Paul W. Meyer
Our History at Home offerings typically sprout from history and architecture. Today, and once every month, we offer a conservation cornucopia from the Conservancy and some friends on trees, gardening, and stormwater management. We hope to help you “Bloom Where You Are Planted.”
March – Shadbush, Serviceberry
by Paul W. Meyer, Conservancy Board Member and
Morris Arboretum’s Retired F. Otto Haas Executive Director
Shadbush is well adapted to semi-shade habitats, growing naturally on the woodland edge or understory.
Amelanchier arborea, Amelanchier laevis, and the hybrid, Amelanchier x grandiflora
Shadbush, also known as serviceberry, will soon push forth its delicate white flowers. These members of the rose family are native Pennsylvania trees, typically found growing on the woodland edge or woodland understory. The two arboreal species occur throughout Pennsylvania and are among the first trees with showy flowers to bloom in early to mid-April. The delicate flowers stand out because most of their forest neighbors are still dormant.
Close up of shadbush flowers.
Its common name, shadbush, suggests that it blooms at the time the migratory shad are running in the coastal Atlantic rivers. Also, legend has it that the name serviceberry was given because it blooms at the time the early itinerant ministers made their call for the first services of the spring.
The wood of mature Amelanchier is quite dense and was traditionally used for tool handles because of its durability and strength.
Often the emerging leaves of shadbush have a bronze tint, contrasting nicely with the white blossoms.
Today, shadbush is very useful in urban and suburban cultivated landscapes. It is often multi-stemmed and its sculptural silhouette is very attractive against a wall or building. Its bark is smooth, silvery-gray in color with subtle striations.  Flowers are followed by fruits, which turn from green to red and eventually dark blue as they ripen in June. The fruits are edible and provide a feast for birds, who quickly devour them.  It is a relatively small tree, seldom growing beyond 40’ and is appropriate for planting near buildings or in confined spaces. In forest restorations it is best planted in canopy gaps or on the forest edge.
Continue reading and see the full gallery of images HERE.
Photos by Paul W. Meyer
Bottom Photo: A fine multi-stemmed specimen of shadbush growing at the Morris Arboretum.
See the entire gallery of images for this month’s article at our Tree of the Month page! Visit our History at Home page for more information.
Chestnut Hill Conservancy is regularly highlighting special trees in our community, both large and small, as well as common and obscure. In doing so we hope to promote an appreciation of our arbor legacy and foster a culture of stewardship and renewal of this invaluable resource.
March – Hellebore
by Emilie Lapham, Conservancy Board Member, avid gardener, botanical artist, and active participant in several noted local and national garden organizations.
Spring Magic.
The snow melts and like magic there they are, Hellebores in bloom! In reading about Hellebores, common names have an association with the Christian calendar. Christmas Rose and Lenten Rose are common names as well as winter rose and although the flower has similarities to a rose, the family they actually belong to is Buttercup or Ranunculaceae. Another Hellebore species is Helleborus ordorus because as the name suggests, the flowers are fragrant.
Where do these plants come from? The Balkans and several areas of Europe and even China are where the species have been found. We now have many hybrids to choose from and they range from whites and yellows to mysterious deep purple. Some colors are very subtle and there are interesting patterns of spots on many. The blooms are mostly single with 5 petals but there are very lovely double varieties also. How to choose?
For more rare choices, search the internet and rare plant nurseries. More common varieties are available at most nurseries. These plants are poisonous, but not usually lethal so there is folklore history to be found also. The internet can lead to some interesting research on this.
Plant Hellebores out of full sun areas in light shade, but in places where you can appreciate them in the early spring. The soil should have lots of organic material and be neutral to alkaline. Lime can be added if necessary and the crown should be close to the soil line, not too deep.
If you are lucky, you might eventually find some seedlings near the parent plants. The plant is attractive almost year round and the foliage is robust and leathery with serrated edges.With gloves on, cut away old foliage in late winter or early spring and your work is done. This is an easy plant that deer don’t like and Hellebores are very resistant to insects and disease. The foliage is a wonderful base for low flower arrangements, but one of the most lovely ways to enjoy Hellebores in the house, is just floating the blossoms in a wide shallow container. Easy, quick and how nice to bring early spring into the house!
All Photos by Emilie Lapham
Invitation Deadline for Sponsors and Benefactor Tickets This Friday!
Be the first to know which properties will be inducted into the Chestnut Hill Architectural Hall of Fame, and support the Conservancy during our only fundraiser of 2021! The deadline to be listed as a Benefactor on the invitation is this Friday, March 26th. Please support our only fundraising event this year by becoming a Benefactor at one of the following levels:
  • Schist: $5,000 Ticket to our unique online event and a catered Pod Party dinner for 12 by Catering by Design at your home (Date of party to be agreed upon by host and caterer; fmv $1,800)
  • Slate: $3,000 Ticket to our unique online event and a catered Pod Party dinner for 8 by Catering by Design at your home (Date of party to be agreed upon by host and caterer; fmv $1,200)
  • Bluestone: $125/person Ticket to our unique online event and a delivered dinner from Bacchus Catering to heat and enjoy the evening of the Celebration (fmv $33)
All Benefactors will also receive a link to this year’s virtual Celebration and recognition in all of our printed and online communications. Visit our website for more information or purchase tickets online now.
Friday is also the deadline for sponsors to be listed in our invitation (which will be mailed to more than 1,000 supporters)! Please visit our website
for more details or contact to discuss which sponsorship level is right for your business.
Virtual Event with Friends of the Wissahickon
April 14 at 6:00 pm
Philadelphia’s forest canopy helps to absorb air pollution and fight climate change, but it has suffered significant tree losses in the past decade. Community Forestry Manager Erica Smith Fichman will be discussing the city’s new 10-year Philly Tree Plan to increase tree cover and the work of organizations like TreePhilly in creating community around our urban forest.
Erica Smith Fichman has spent her career connecting people with plants. As the Community Forestry Manager at Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, she is the project lead for the Philadelphia Urban Forest Strategic Plan. Erica also supervises the amazing TreePhilly team who provide Philadelphia residents with the resources they need to plant and care for trees in their own backyard. She is the recipient of the Arbor Day Foundation’s 2018 Trailblazer Award. Erica received a B.S. in biology from Haverford College and an M.S. in environmental horticulture from the University of California, Davis.
For more information, visit
From the Conservancy Archives
For Women’s History Month
In celebration of Women’s History Month, here’s a #WissahickonWednesday post from the Archives from November 9, 2016.
This photograph originally published in a 1993 edition of the Chestnut Hill Local shows naturalist Sioux Baldwin demonstrating the tapping of maple trees to obtain syrup, to students of the Plymouth Meeting Friends School. Associated events including the Maple Sugar Festival and Maple Sugar Day have been mainstays of the Andorra Natural Area for decades. During this time, Ms. Baldwin became an institution herself, becoming familiar to thousands of area children visiting the Wissahickon from the 1970s through 1990s. #WissahickonWednesday
To see historical photographs like the one shown here, visit the Chestnut Hill Conservancy’s Online Archive at
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  • April 22 – Ask the Experts Virtual Presentation
  • May 22 – Architectural Hall of Fame Celebration
Thank You!
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Chestnut Hill Conservancy | 8708 Germantown AvenuePhiladelphia, PA 19118