Goodbye, Summer
Pull-out Marks End of Season

Student Planting

For as many people who notice Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s flower gardens around the region during the height of the growing season, the other side of green stewardship often goes unnoticed. The less glamorous story is the effort behind putting the gardens to bed for the winter.

The Conservancy’s Gardens and Greenspaces staff appreciated the sponsorships of so many corporations and other sponsors, and the work of thousands of volunteers, to create more than 130 community gardens in 20 counties around the region this year. Following the plantings, garden stewards and volunteers tended to the plots all season long. In October, staff and volunteers winterized the beds before the weather got too cold.

The task of completing the garden cycle isn’t simple. Volunteers remove annual flowers, workers lift irrigation systems and team members rake the bed smooth.

Removing annuals in the fall not only makes the garden spaces more presentable during the winter, but also keeps the soil healthy for the next planting season.

In 2014, like previous years, Conservancy volunteers will plant more than 200,000 flowers — enough to make a flower bed that would stretch from Pittsburgh to the West Virginia border.

“This certainly is a necessary conclusion for a tremendous year,” said Judy Wagner, senior director of the community gardens and greenspace program, “and there is something almost comforting about ‘tucking in’ the garden beds so they are ready for a glorious spring next year. WPC’s community gardens have become a signature image of the Western Pennsylvania landscape. Taking good care of the sites for the whole cycle of seasons makes that possible.”

The Conservancy’s gardens are seen more than 5 million times a day by passing motorists, according to statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.