Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you think you need lots of time and money to have a great garden, think again.
Eric D’Ambrogi’s garden in Edgewood, which he entered “on a lark,” won first place in the small garden category of the Great Gardens Contest, early summer judging period.
The retired Deer Lakes school teacher has managed to construct a winning landscape on a shoestring using re-purposed building materials and plants that he’s found or received as gifts from other gardeners. The contest is co-sponsored and judged by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.
“My garden has been a work in progress for the past 10 years,” he said in his entry essay. “When I bought my home, the backyard was a blank space with three very large pine trees, an overgrown holly tree and a falling apart carport.
But some of the features that visitors to the garden won’t necessarily see have environmental officials excited.
“This site is a microcosm of our entire mission,” says Christopher Holmes, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Botanic Garden projects involved cleaning up abandoned mine lands, removing safety hazards and resolving drinking water issues. An acid-mine drainage-treatment bed that will continue to function adjacent to a pond won the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for filtering out aluminum hydroxide.
David Hamilton, regulatory program specialist with the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement office in Pittsburgh, calls the various Botanic Garden projects “a trifecta,” because they have resolved or will resolve issues of acid-mine drainage, subsidence and existing coal on the site, while eventually allowing for reforestation. The 460 acres planned for the first and future phases of the Botanic Garden were used over the centuries as farmland, strip mines and deep mines.
Pittsburgh is leading the way into the “green” and sustainable lifestyle for a big city. An ambitious project, that has been 20 years in the making, is the transformation of a former mining site, mostly in North Fayette Township, into a community garden. Talk about taking lemons and making lemonade!
The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is a work in progress. The finished project will be 450 acres of public garden. Yes, you read that correctly 450 acres! It is hoped the Botanic Garden will attract a minimum of 300,000 visitors per year. This Botanic Garden has another ten years to go before completion and will end up costing $30 million. Phase One, which is expected to open in 2012, will be the Wildflower and Woodland Trail. The Botanic Garden will be 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh.
The leftover coal extracted from the site is being sold to help pay for the $7.9 million clean up. Grants have been received from various organizations to help pay for projects over the years.
One of the fundraising methods being used for the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is the annual Pittsburgh Botanic Garden’s Town & Country Open Garden Day Tour. The tour, which is in its 14th year, raises much needed money for the Botanic Garden project. The tour features 14 gardens. Six of the 14 gardens are located in Pittsburgh’s Southside neighborhood. The Southside is an urban neighborhood of densely packed homes with small lots. Not exactly an area most people would think of as a garden paradise.
In addition to the Southside, the tour also visits Sewickley, Observatory Hill, Brighton Heights and Ben Avon. You can take a bus tour or the less expensive self-guided tour. There are two rooftop gardens on the tour this year! The gardens are a mixture of urban, suburban, large, small, formal and informal – a little something for everyone.
The tour is Sunday, June 26th from 9 – 5. The bus leaves at 8:30 a.m. The bus tour, which includes lunch (Andora’s), is $110. The self-guided tour is $50. There is a $10 discount for members. The deadline to buy tickets is Tuesday, June 21st. Tickets can be purchased online or at several locations listed on the website.
The bus departure and drop-off point is the PSI Building, 850 Poplar St., Green Tree.