Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sultry Summer

Late July in Ned Wolf Park is perhaps not the most colorful but the richness of plantings keeps the gardens interesting.  Here's a view from the McCallum Street entrance into the park, showing the array of groundcovers with different textures winding between the trees.
If you look closely in the center of the shade gardens, you'll find some newly planted plants which bear red flowers with yellow tips.  It's called Spigelia and it's actually a native plant which we hope will grow to add some sparks with it's firecracker-like flowers.
On the sunny side of the gardens, there are some blue pansies still holding their own since being planting last October.  This photo shows the dusky pink blooms of Eupatorium 'Baby Joe', which is a dwarf version of the plant commonly called Joe Pye Weed.  Our trio of 'Baby Joes' is blooming at four feet tall , rather than the 7 or 8 feet of the original native plant.   It's a magnet for pollinators, including butterflies.  You'll also see some long purple flower stalks of Liatrus which is sometimes called Gayfeather. And our fragrant Agastaches, have begun blooming with pink & orange flowers and will continue until frost.  Be sure to touch the leaves to smell the lovely anise scent. Peach Drift roses continue to bloom along with blue butterfly bush in the central island bed. 

We've filled a few holes in the garden with some annual plantings, like these Coleus 'Texas Driveway' located behind the central terrace seating wall.  We are already planning some new plantings to enrich the garden beds, but we'll hold off planting more until the weather cools a bit in September. 
Hope you'll visit and enjoy the gardens at Ned Wolf Park!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Plant Sale 2014

 On Saturday May 17th, 2014, after a day of flooding rain, the skies cleared for a perfect day for our Plant Sale!   Our newly installed stone wall, capped with thick reclaimed bluestone served as a perfect shelf for many of the donated plants being offered to raise funds for the Friends of Ned Wolf Park.

Volunteers started setting up at 7am while it was still chilly outside, to get plants organized into categories, labeled, and priced before the 10 am start time

Tables for information about the Friends of Ned Wolf Park, and for the 5 raffle prizes were set up in view of the newly laid brick pavers which features the first 24 bricks with custom inscriptions for our donors.

Raffle prizes were
A.  a pair of dwarf hollies, Ilex 'Serendipity'
B. a glazed ceramic planter for shade with a mix of annuals and perennials
C. a large pot of the much coveted 'Yellow-Striped' Lily-of-the-Valley grown and admired in the park
D. a large clump of the Chinese Ground Orchid, Bletilla striata with it's first magenta flower just starting to bloom
E. a framed print of a digital portrait of the Wissahickon's Thomas Mill covered bridge, by E.M.Sternfels

 With all the shady gardens in West Mt. Airy, there was lots of interest in the collection of donated shade plants that lined the new stone wall down to McCallum Street

With so many plants to choose from, decisions were hard to make.....

....but great advice was offered by our volunteer staff, most of whom are passionate gardeners, like Mark Klempner!

By the end of the sale at 1 pm, Eric Sternfels was able to add the crowning flower to our Trellis-o-meter, signalling we'd surpassed our fund-raising goal for Phase II of our Terrace Wall Campaign.  We'd also raised enough to meet the annual operating expenses to maintain the park for 2014.

Note: all photos are courtesy of Steve Donegan

Monday, May 12, 2014

2014 Garden Lecture

The second annual LOVE YOUR PARK WEEK garden lecture will take place tomorrow, Tuesday - May 13th from 6:30 to 7:30 pm.   Janet Novak & Eric Sternfels will present: "More Groundcovers = Less Mulch".   We'll extoll the virtues of groundcovers in a garden from both a horticultural and aesthetic perspective.  And of course we'll stroll through our park and see the many thriving, less-known groundcovers that give Ned Wolf Park it's distinctive character.

In the photo above, you'll see the rare yellow-striped Lily of the Valley with the colorful accent of Primula sieboldii.  Geranium macrorrhizum 'Ingwersen's Variety", not yet in bloom is in the background.

Monday, April 28, 2014


On Friday, April 25th, our terrace wall was completed at Ned Wolf Park!  The community reaction has been an enthusiastic embrace of these changes.  Folks have been impressed by the hard work they witnessed as Morning Dew Stonework & Landscaping shaped each stone for a tight fit into this dry laid wall.  And the reclaimed bluestone seating cap has gotten raves both for it's monumental presence and sense of permanence, as well as it's "been here all along" vibe.  Several neighbors are quite sure the central terrace area is bigger now, despite the fact that technically we trimmed a few square feet of paving to ensure the tree roots were undisturbed.

Clockwise from upper left:
A.  The entrance to the park from McCallum Street has been enhance by the new stone wall that replaces severely tipping landscape ties.
B.  Brick pavers were redesigned in a new pattern to incorporate both donor bricks, as well as a "frame" of bluestone which was trimmed from the thick seating cap stones.
C.  Another piece of trimmed bluestone was incorporated to create a subtle triangular step for those who maintain the garden bed behind the wall.  Already, it's been embraced as a "child's chair".....a special place for toddlers to sit.
D.  Work was finishing up just as the weather finally warmed enough to create a burst of lush growing perennials:  variegated lily-of-the-valley, grape hyacinth, golden creeping jenny, & brunnera.

As soon as the orange construction fences came down, our neighbors rushed in to check out the changes to Ned Wolf Park.  And the very next day, the first small group took advantage of the new seating surround... a gardening class sponsored by the Mt. Airy Learning Tree.   Folks have begun checking out the donor bricks that were installed in square units of twelve bricks amid the older, reclaimed bricks that help create the new design.   We hope more members of the community will be inspired to contribute to Ned Wolf Park and leave their mark in this special oasis.  The fact is that we haven't fully raised all the funds for this stonework project, and so we hope we can quickly repay a loan which one generous neighbor had offered to allow the completion of the Terrace Wall this spring.  So, if you'd like to contribute by buying your own custom engraved brick, you can find a brochure/order form in the info boxes in the park.  You can also donate via this blogspot website by clicking the Donate button in the right-hand column.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hoisting Bluestone

Today's agenda for building the Terrace Walls at Ned Wolf Park was the bulk of the heavy lifting.  The reclaimed bluestone which averages approximately 4" thick required a tripod lift (top left photo) to hoist these weighty seating capstones into place. But since the schist below varies in height, flagstone slices were inserted as shims to create a level surface.   Lots of pre-planning was needed to determine how to best position each of these unique stones.  The photo at the right shows the detail at the steps, where a full-width stone was turned perpendicular to the seating surround to create a bold and monumental corner.   The photo at bottom left shows that a similar detail was chosen to terminate the other side of the seating wall, which then will continue without a bluestone cap down the sloping walkway to McCallum Street.  And the top center photo shows that a few plants are being inserted into the wall as it approaches that sunny McCallum St. sidewalk.  Here, we have two slightly different varieties of Campanula:  C. porscharskyana and C. portenschlagiana.....commonly known as Serbian and Dalmation Bellflower. 

To help fund this project, you can scroll down to earlier blog posts or click "Older Posts" to read about the Donor Bricks which will help complete the project funding.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pollen & Dust

Just 6 days and 25 degrees more warmth have elapsed since the last post!  This time, the air around Ned Wolf Park is full of sinus clogging particles.   They come from both Mother Nature as well as the steady progress of our contractors from Morning Dew Stonework as they continue with our Terrace Wall Project.  The cherry trees have burst into bloom as have the Pushkinia bulbs and Euphorbia myrsinites.  And as the perennials begin to emerge from their cover of mulch, so too our stone seating wall made of Wissahickon schist has risen around our central terrace.  Fran and Brandon have used this windy day to take a break from stacking the stone and starting the messy work of sawing through the reclaimed bluestone that will serve as a seating cap on top of the new walls.  They'll be shaping the pieces and getting them ready for the additional laborers that will be needed to hoist those mammoth cap stones into place.

Caution tape to safeguard the plants, and string lines to define the finished height of the wall help guide our team to a wall which should serve our community well.  And after the steady rains forecast for tomorrow, perhaps we'll see a bit more of that schist sparkling, once all the stone dust has washed away.   Along the sloping walkway down to McCallum street & wrapping along the sidewalk, the Friends of Ned Wolf Park will be inserting some plants into the wall as it's being constructed.  That's the best way to ensure that the roots will have a pathway into the soil behind the wall.

The bluestone cap stones, perhaps originally quarried in the 19th C., are being trimmed with a carbide blade circular saw, kicking up quite a dust storm.  Sorry to those neighbors who are listening to that noise, but I'm sure it will all be worth it.  These cap stones will surround the central terrace and create a new seating area.  And the trimmings will be incorporated into the brick design that includes our generous donors' engraved bricks.
Despite the progress of our contractors, we still need some help to fund this Terrrace Wall Project.  You can help with your donation of $100. or more.   There are brochures that include an order form located in the info boxes in the park.   Or you can pay via PayPal directly on this website.  See the Donate button in the righthand column!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rock Mess Mantra

 What's the mantra? 
"Build it & they will come!" 
We're hoping the creation of a smooth bluestone seating surface on the low stone wall in our park's central terrace will help more small groups come to think of Ned Wolf Park as the best outdoor meeting place in Northwest Philadelphia!
Less than one week into the Terrace Wall Project and the demolition of railroad ties and trimming of the concrete paving is complete.  Today, Fran (with a baseball cap) and Brendan (with a knit cap) from Morningdew Stonework & Landscaping were wading in a sea of stones to find the right shape and sizes pieces to lay the base course of the dry laid wall.   They are both very excited to be getting into the artisan work of interlocking stones to create a strong, stable, and handsome wall.  The result should be subtle but sumptuous.   Feel free to give them a shout out for their efforts if you pass by while they're hard at work!