November’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.”
Your Support Makes it All Possible!
A Note of Thanks
During this season of gratitude and giving, here at the Conservancy, we want to take a moment to acknowledge all that you make possible as members, volunteers, and engaged neighbors.
Your generous support has and will continue to help our small and dedicated staff to act quickly and effectively to balance community protection and beneficial development and celebrate a diversity of area histories.
Photo by Emilie Lapham
Your support has achieved all of this and more:
150+ private watershed acres conserved
50+ historic buildings preserved through easement and designation
2,700 buildings documented as one of the country’s largest National Register historic districts
35,000+ items in our rapidly growing Archives collection
We hope you’ll take a moment to watch our video from earlier this year, celebrating all that we’ve accomplished together for our irreplaceable community. Thank you again for all that you do!
Discovering Chestnut Hill Lecture
Monument Lab: Civic ReImagination
Image: Karyn Olivier, The Battle is Joined, Philadelphia, Monument Lab: Citywide Exhibition, 2017 (Mike Reali/Mural Arts Philadelphia)
December 8, 7 pm, Zoom
Join us for our final Discovering Chestnut Hill lecture of 2021, as Monument Lab’s Director and co-founder, Dr. Paul M. Farber shares insights from the non-profit public art and history studio’s work on public memory in Philadelphia and beyond. Monument Lab began as a university classroom project in 2012 and has grown into an internationally renowned civic studio grounded in the vision that “monuments must change.” Dr. Farber’s lecture will be followed by a brief Q&A.
Farber earned a PhD and MA in American Culture from the University of Michigan and a BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. He holds several academic appointments and has contributed to numerous art and history publications.
Tickets: $10 members; $20 non-members
Discovering Chestnut Hill is presented with support from John B. Ward & Co.
November – House Plants
by Emilie Lapham, Conservancy Board Member, avid gardener, botanical artist, and active participant in several noted local and national garden organizations.
Interior Nature, House Plants
Bring nature into your house with plants. Plants add decoration and also add good health to a home. Plants can actually help purify and remove toxins from the air inside the house.
Cohabitation with plants also has physiological benefits, lowering our stress levels. Winter brings us inside but it is important to bring some of what we love about the warm season in with us: plants!
There is so much variety in the plant world to choose from that house plants can be very easy and low maintenance. For some people it is a hobby and they like the challenge of more rare or tricky plants. What a joy it is when your plant appreciates the care you have given it and rewards you with beautiful blooms. Determining the best environment for successful plants is matching their needs with your house. Think space, light, water and maintenance in choosing where plants will enjoy living with you.
Even with space, there are options of how to fit plants in. Hanging plants from above or on a wall can save space. There is an interesting trend to utilize vertical spaces with living walls. Group plants and stagger heights for more effect. Line a window sill with a copper tray and wet gravel for a great space saver.
All plants need light, but how much light varies. If you have a sunny warm location try some succulents. A cool spot with less light might be good for Orchids. Research the needs of plants you prefer and match them with your available conditions. Grow lights can make any location work.
Plants need moisture, but water required for various plants does vary. Locate thirsty plants near a water source to make it easy. A place near the kitchen sink is a great area for plants if you have appropriate space. You are there often to enjoy and maintain the plants as they grow. That said, I tend to choose plants that do not need much water because I travel and I forget to water sometimes. Maintenance should be factored in when choosing what to grow. Remember to protect the surfaces below the plants.
I went on a little field trip to Primex in Glenside to look for plants and survey some possibilities. Primex has a large selection of plants and offers growing advice, containers, potting mix and anything else that is needed for indoor care.There are many other places to purchase plants such as garden centers, box stores, plant sales, nurseries, and the internet. Some plants have information right on the tag which is very helpful. Terrain and Longwood are also excellent places to learn about and acquire plants. These days webinars offer lots of education and there are even some in person classes in places like the Morris Arboretum.
So think about bringing plants into your home this winter and enjoy their beauty and health benefits.
All Photos by Emilie Lapham
Top: Color! Euphorbia milii, Crown of thorns. Second: Sansevieria trifasciata, Snake plant and Euphorbia hypericifolia, Graceful spurge. Third: Agave filifera, Thread agave. Fourth: Begonias, humidity and moderate light. Fifth: Creative wall planting. Sixth: Pepper plant, Capsicum annuum.
Seventh: Good selection with information tags. Eighth: Succulents at Primex.
See the entire gallery of images for this month’s article at our A Gardener’s World page! Visit our History at Home page for more information.
November – Persian Parrotia
by Paul W. Meyer, Conservancy Board Member and
Morris Arboretum’s Retired F. Otto Haas Executive Director
Parrotia persica – Persian Parrotia
The Persian Parrotia is a tough, adaptable tree, well suited to the rigors of urban life in Philadelphia. As its name implies, it grows natively in Iran but also in nearby Azerbaijan, in the mid-elevations of mountains along the Caspian Sea.  It was first grown in the U.S. in 1881 at the Harvard Botanic Garden and soon after at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, but even today, it is relatively rare in cultivation outside of botanic gardens and arboreta.
Parrotia is a member of the witch hazel family. In addition to witch hazel, its well-known close relatives include sweet gum and Fothergilla. It has small flowers which appear here in early March.
The flowers lack petals but have a dense cluster of red stamens that are beautiful when viewed closely. In flower, from a distance the entire tree has a maroon-red haze. As Parrotias age, they develop mottled, exfoliating bark that is attractive year-round. Parrotias grab the landscape limelight in late October when the foliage takes on shades of deep burgundy. As the autumn progresses to mid-November, the foliage takes on brilliant shades of scarlet, mixed with orange and yellow. At the Morris Arboretum the most brilliant autumn display is usually between the 10th and the 15th of November.
Among the Parrotias at the Morris Arboretum are 8 plants that were received as seed from Iran via the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. These seedlings represent new wild-collected germplasm for a species that has been genetically underrepresented in this country. One of the most outstanding trees from this accession is growing in a prominent site on Bloomfield Farm along Northwestern Avenue near the main entrance. This tree consistently has outstanding fall color.
In recent years, a few plantings of Parrotia on Philadelphia streets have demonstrated the species’ urban adaptability. Once established Parrotia is highly heat and drought tolerant and remarkably free from pests. As we consider the impact of climate change on our urban trees, Parrotia is a tree that is likely to continue to thrive in warmer, drier conditions and is likely to be among the urban survivors. Also, its wood is strong and hard and resists breakage, an important quality for urban trees. One is growing in a tree planting pit along Germantown Avenue and have been doing well there since 2016.
As we work to diversify our urban street tree plantings, Parrotia is a species that is an excellent candidate for planting more widely.
See the full gallery of images HERE.
Photos by Paul W. Meyer
Top: Persian Parrotia at the peak of fall color at the Morris Arboretum. This photo was taken on November 13, 2016.
Second: Cluster of Persian Parrotia growing on the University of Pennsylvania campus.
Third: Persian Parrotia thriving in a difficult center-city location. Note the exfoliating bark.
Fourth: Persian Parrotia are very stress tolerant and well-adapted to street-side and parking lot conditions.
Fifth: Close-up of Parrotia persica flowers which uusually appear in early March in Philadelphia.
Sixth: Persian Parrotia at its autumnal best.
Bottom Photo: Persian Parrotia growing naturally in Azerbaijan. Photo by Jane Alavi
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.