Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund’s annual spring planting has Germantown Avenue ablaze with color in July

For the 18th consecutive year, Germantown Avenue is exploding with the color of flowering annuals planted by dozens of dedicated volunteers.

In an annual event that has become a beloved tradition, more than 50 volunteers joined the small staff of the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund—a nonprofit dedicated to the beautification of the neighborhood they love—to plant 3,000 plants representing 51 different varieties of annuals in barrels, window boxes, hanging baskets, parks and other green spaces in Chestnut Hill in late May. Now those blossoms are hitting their riotous peak, and there’s no better time to visit Germantown Avenue, one of the nation’s great main streets.

“Every time I walk or drive along the Avenue, I’m so tremendously proud of the commitment, hard work, and horticultural expertise of our volunteers and staff,” said Emily Daeschler, president of the Garden District Fund. “It’s a gift to be able to see the flowers they plant grow and change. It soothes the soul.”

In addition to barrels, boxes, and baskets along the Avenue in Chestnut Hill, Garden District Fund volunteers and staff also planted flowers in barrels on portions of Bethlehem Pike and Evergreen Avenue, in Peace Park (located at Germantown Avenue and Mermaid Lane), in Cliff Park (Germantown and Creisheim Valley Road), and around two new signs welcoming visitors to Chestnut Hill at the north and south gateways to the neighborhood.

The palette of this year’s spring planting is highlighted by yellows, lavenders, purples, and blues. According to Daeschler, the glorious canary yellows—as seen in the blossoms of the ‘Lady Primrose’ marigolds in barrels on the Avenue, for example—are a tribute to Dottie Sheffield, the founder and first president of the Garden District Fund.

“Yellow is synonymous with Dottie,” Daeschler said. “She is a force. The yellow fall foliage of Chestnut Hill’s street trees is an example of her vision and her sense of design.”

After the deprivations of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Garden District Fund’s 2021 spring planting had deeper meaning to volunteers and visitors alike.

“There’s something about being outside in the natural environment that has a renewing and healing effect,” said Paul W. Meyer, F. Otto Haas Executive Director, Retired, of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania and a longtime Garden District Fund volunteer.

“Our hope is that it’s contagious and that others will be encouraged and inspired to spend time outside and beautify green spaces,” said Meyer, who currently serves as the Fund’s co-chair of pocket parks with Susan Peck.

The arrangements of annuals in barrels, boxes, and baskets were designed by Daeschler and Garden District Fund Gardening Manager Judd Friedman, who Daeschler praised for his painstaking daily care of the spring plantings.

Interested in supporting the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund’s efforts to “flower the Avenue” through donations or joining future volunteer efforts? Contact Kate O’Neill of the Chestnut Hill Business Association at

Photo: Garden District Fund board members Jennifer Arms and Emily Daeschler plant a barrel. Photo credit: Hillel Hoffmann