University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

May Philadelphia Events Focus on Civic Horticulture

Civic Horticulture conference launch party
Civic Horticulture conference launch party -

View the Guide online.

More than 200 people registered for the Civic Horticulture conference co-hosted with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS). The conference was the centerpiece of four days of activities that included a private preview reception at PHS’ 2013 Pop Up Garden (an annual event where a Center City vacant space is transformed into an urban oasis by re-using elements from the renowned PHS Philadelphia Flower Show); a reception honoring our speakers at the OLIN Studio; and two days of free tours during What's Out There Weekend Philadelphia.

PHS Popup Garden

Civic Horticulture launch reception at the PHS Pop Up Garden
The role of horticulture in shaping and/or re-shaping the urban core continues to gain prominence, helped by high profile projects such as the High Line in New York and the restoration, in Philadelphia, of Logan Square and the Rodin Museum’s grounds.  The conference carefully built the argument that Horticulture’s role, however, is more diverse and significant, as the conference and attendant events clearly articulated.

The activities kicked off on Thursday evening, May 16th, at the PHS Pop Up Garden, where a vacant lot at 313 South Broad Street in the heart of the University of the Arts campus was transformed into an inviting garden with the use of full sized honey locust trees, rustic picnic tables and well-loved 1950s garden furniture, walls created from shipping palettes that artfully enclosed the space, and shipping containers for serving food and drink. There were more than 60 attendees including the conference’s speakers, along with TCLF Board and Stewardship Council Members.

Civic Horticulture Conference

What's Out There Weekend Philadelphia

(upper) Civic Horticulture conference; (lower) What's Out There Weekend

The next day’s Civic Horticulture conference commenced at the University of the Arts’ Gershman Hall with welcoming remarks from Drew Becher (PHS President) and Charles Birnbaum. David Brownlee (Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor of the History of Art) neatly laid out the history of Philadelphia’s urban design evolution and the role of horticulture and public space making in the city. A dozen speakers and moderators from around the country and Belgium addressed three themes: The Street, The Productive Gardens, and Parks and Plazas. A terrific catered reception at OLIN Studio followed the conference and was well attended. ASLA’s The Dirt published three excellent summaries of the conference.

What’s Out There Weekend tours followed on Saturday and Sunday and covered a broad swath of the cities designed landscape legacy, from historic cemeteries to boulevards, historic neighborhoods and museum properties. 

We are grateful to our conference partner the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, our conference sponsors Bartlett Tree Experts, Chanticleer, Landscape Forms, OLIN, and our media partner The Architect’s Newspaper. Particular thanks go to our national What’s Out There Weekend sponsor, Bartlett Tree Experts, which has supported the program since its inception in 2010, along with other Weekend sponsors Landscape Forms, Le Pain Quotidien, the Pennsylvania-Delaware ASLA Chapter, PHS, OLIN, and Studio Bryan Hanes WRT. Finally, we wish to acknowledge the generous support of Mrs. Dorrance Hamilton.

Plans are in the works for What’s Out There Weekend in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts (September 21-22) and Los Angeles (October).

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