Welcome to the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund
The Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the beautification of Chestnut Hill, a Philadelphia community famous for its colorful flower plantings and small parks along Germantown Avenue and beyond, all lovingly maintained by the Fund’s volunteers and staff.
Tending Our New Lamppost Flower Baskets
Have you noticed the return of flowers to the Avenue’s lampposts? Thanks to generous donors, the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund was able to purchase flower baskets for each of the new lampposts that were erected on the Hill by the City of Philadelphia.
As beautiful as the lampposts are, their arrival brings new challenges — and additional strain on our budget. The new lampposts are made of an aluminum alloy material that is soft and susceptible to damage, so we can no longer lower baskets to plant and maintain flowers (left). Instead, flowers in baskets now must be tended by ladder, a task requiring professional experience and additional staff. On top of that, there are now almost 30 more lampposts with baskets.
Your donation will support our efforts. Donate online today using the button below or send a check payable to the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund to us at 8514 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118.
Founded in 1999 by the late Dottie Sheffield — a longtime neighborhood resident beloved for her horticultural expertise, design sense, and fierce devotion to her community — the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund works to beautify the Chestnut Hill shopping district and Germantown Avenue, one of Philadelphia’s great main streets.
Our volunteers and professional staff live by our organization’s motto: We flower the Avenue. We plant and maintain flowers and other plants in nearly 200 baskets, boxes, barrels, and urns; in pocket parks (including Cliff Park, Memorial Park, and Peace Park); in parking lots; and at welcome signs on and around the Avenue.
The outcome of our hard work, our understanding of plants, and our love for our neighborhood? Gorgeous public outdoor spaces where neighbors, families, visitors, and shoppers can connect (see video, below).
No matter where you drive, walk, or cycle on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill, from the peak of the Hill to its bottom at Cresheim Valley Drive, you can see beauty created by the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund.
Video by Georgia Forjohn, Chestnut Hill Business District
Hanging baskets, barrels, and window boxes
Every year starting in the spring, Germantown Avenue and parts of Bethlehem Pike and Evergreen Avenue in Chestnut Hill explode with the riotous colors of flowering annuals planted in 32 storefront boxes and urns, more than 90 sidewalk barrels, and about 70 hanging baskets perched atop lampposts.
Managed by the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund, the flowers in these boxes, barrels, and baskets have become a signature of the Hill, and the annual spring planting — executed with the help of more than 50 volunteers over a period of weeks — has become one of the Fund’s flagship events (see video, above).
Hanging baskets, barrels, and window boxes
Parks and Green Spaces
The Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund also maintains several of the lush pocket parks that adjoin Germantown Avenue like gems on a necklace. These intimate spaces offer residents and visitors green oases for meditation, conversation, enjoying a meal, or reading.
Parklets with plantings tended by the Fund (with help from our partners Burke Brothers, Pennsylvania Turf Company, Tom Ryan & Co., and others) include Cliff Park, Memorial Park, and Peace Park — all located near the bottom of Chestnut Hill — as well as the areas around the welcome signs that greet drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists as they enter and exit the Hill.
Parks and green spaces we maintain
Meet our people
Bringing the beauty of flowers to Germantown Avenue and beyond in Chestnut Hill is a group effort. Meet the team behind the blossoms.
Since its founding, the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund has been led by volunteer board members and a small professional staff defined by energy, vision, design sense, an understanding of the natural world, a passion for flowers and gardening, and, most of all, a love for the neighborhood they call home, Chestnut Hill.
Get to know the current leadership team below — and if you share our commitment to beautifying the Hill, please consider joining us (see GET INVOLVED, bottom).
Meet our Board members
A career volunteer with an education in environmental science and horticulture, Daeschler devotes much of her life to preserving and beautifying public green spaces and corridors in Northwest Philadelphia and throughout the region. Brought on board by Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund founder Dottie Sheffield soon after the organization was created, Daeschler became the Fund’s president in 2003. Her professional background prior to joining the Fund leadership team includes surveying sloughs in Everglades National Park, co-authoring a book on groundwater protection law for U.S. Congress, and owning her own gardening business.
After two decades in information technology management, Adams enjoys her volunteer commitments serving organizations focusing on gardening, historic preservation, and civic improvement. She is one of the Board’s two representatives of the Wissahickon Garden Club, which was founded in 1932 to preserve Forbidden Drive in Fairmount Park’s Wissahickon section solely for recreation.
As chair of the Spring Planting Committee, Arms oversees CHGDF’s biggest and most visible annual event, mobilizing dozens of volunteers to plant flowers in window boxes, barrels, and lamppost baskets along Germantown Avenue every spring. Arms appreciates that serving on the Fund’s Board allows her to reach beyond her own flower and vegetable gardens to help beautify Chestnut Hill.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman Program in Historic Preservation, Bitterman enjoys researching and learning about the history of area gardens. A representative of the Garden Club of Philadelphia, the nation’s oldest of its type, she lives with her husband and daughters in Glenside, and treasures time spent in her community garden vegetable plot.
One of the Board’s two representatives of the Wissahickon Garden Club, Cheney is a retired surgeon who spent her career practicing at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Trained by parents who appreciated the benefits of gardening without pesticides, she maintains an organic garden that was recently documented by the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Gardens.
A longtime member of the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund’s Board of Directors, Coes is a consultant for the American furniture department at Sotheby’s. She has served on the boards of many of Philadelphia’s flagship nonprofit organizations, including the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Rosenbach, and the Pennsylvania Ballet.
Retired after a long career in fashion retailing, Evans remains active as a volunteer serving local arts, garden, and conservation organizations. In addition to playing a critical role in CHGDF’s fundraising efforts, she is the Board’s Garden Club Representative of the Weeders, founded in 1907. Happy to assist in landscape chores as a child, Evans now treasures gardening as a “mindful, artistic, and physical outlet.”
Harbison is a retired technology CEO and attorney who has also served as President of the Friends of the Wissahickon and the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners. A Board of Directors member for much of the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund’s history, he is a Harvard-trained biologist with a particular interest in forest ecology.
Retired after a long career in nursing and real estate, Hemmers is a longtime gardener, horticulturist, and Tree Tender for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. She is the Board of Directors’ representative of the Chestnut Hill Garden Club, whose volunteers planted daffodils and daylilies in Chestnut Hill’s Peace Park almost 20 years ago.
Lyon worked as a physical therapist in inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation and conducted vaccine clinical research at Merck & Co. for 20 years. She also serves on the Board of Chestnut Hill Meals on Wheels and is an active member of the Random Garden Club. A collector of exotic, rare succulents, Lyon credits her grandmother for instilling her passion for gardening.
Meyer is the Retired F. Otto Haas Executive Director of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. In his 43-year tenure, he played a major role in the Arboretum’s restoration of its historic gardens, architecture, and plant collections. Co-author of Philadelphia Trees: A Field Guide to the City and the Surrounding Delaware Valley, Meyer has taught urban horticulture at Penn’s Weitzman School of Design.
Miller worked for the Chestnut Hill Business Association for four decades, playing a critical role in the inception and early growth of the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund. Until her retirement in 2020, she was CHGDF’s only treasurer and bookkeeper. Now she provides the Fund’s leadership team with something just as priceless — an institutional memory — and manages CHGDF’s Instagram account.
A writer and environmental activist who has served as a volunteer for the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club since the 1980s, Nalle says her love for gardening was inspired by her mother (the late Ethel Benson Nalle Wetherill), her grandfather, and her aunt. She returned to the Hill in 2018 after running a garden design company in Virginia.
Olson is a retired technology executive who is active in community nonprofits focusing on issues ranging from preservation and homelessness to faith and writing. She has played a major role in fundraising for the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund and elevating its public image since its founding. Olson coined the Fund’s mantra and statement of purpose, “We flower the Avenue.”
Osborne is the founder of two Chestnut Hill-based businesses: Tailored Transitions, a home staging and moving management firm; and Tailored Home, a luxury retail store and interior design firm. She has worked for Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and has run her own public relations firm — the latter providing insight and experience that has proved invaluable to Fund leadership.
A retired research associate in public health, Peck volunteers for several Chestnut Hill nonprofit organizations, including the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. She co-chairs the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund’s Pocket Parks Committee, which oversees the annual planting and maintenance of flowers in several small parks and green spaces along Germantown Avenue.
A leading expert in the area of women’s recruitment and retention in computer science, Powell is the Director of Diversity and Belonging at the University of Pennsylvania’s Computer and Information Science Department and a consultant for the National Center for Women & Information Technology. The Fund’s main grant writer, she enjoys gardening at her home in Cape May.
A registered nurse for more than four decades, Stout began her nursing career in Philadelphia at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after graduating from Vanderbilt University. For the last 25 years, she has served as a part-time school nurse at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. Stout is valued by Fund leadership for her ability to mobilize volunteers.
Meet our Staff
Our People in Action
Keep up with the latest news, announcements, and events related to the Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund and other subjects of interest, from life on the Hill to gardening.
Board member's new tree guide published
Few people have helped more Philadelphians enjoy and understand plants than Paul Meyer, Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund board member and Retired F. Otto Haas Executive Director of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. His latest contribution: a new, revised edition of Philadelphia Trees: A Field Guide to the City and the Surrounding Delaware Valley. For more information, including links to purchase Philadelphia Trees, visit the University of Pennsylvania Press website here.
Do you share our vision of Germantown Avenue and its adjacent parks perpetually in bloom? Do you enjoy gardening, horticulture, and landscape architecture? The Chestnut Hill Garden District Fund needs you.
Please donate today to support our mission of flowering the Avenue and consider joining our team by volunteering to serve as one of the many expert helping hands needed for our annual spring planting.
To donate, use the button below; to volunteer, contact Kate O’Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org.