Replanting of a small meadow at Robbins Park Environmental Educational Center has begun with the assistance of Temple University’s Dr. Michael Olszewski and students within the program of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture.
At present, the meadow consists of weeds and some woody plant remnants. The most prevalent weed in early spring in the park is the invasive plant Lesser Celandine (buttercup family, Ranunculaceae). This plant is evident in the photograph (at right) of senior student Chris Vertenten transplanting Little Bluestem (grass family, Poaceae), purple coneflower/Echinacea (Aster family, Asteraceae), and dense blazing star (Aster family, Asteraceae). Lesser Celandine are the yellow flowers in the photograph.
Lisa Fantini is the Director of Robbins Park and conducts the children-related activities and the teaching of Upper Dublin School District, at the Cheston Center. It is hoped that this demonstration meadow will become an interesting area for teaching young people and the community about the usefulness of meadows. Additional native plant seedings and plantings are planned that will include Partridge Pea and Illinois Bundleflower (legume family, Fabaceae), common milkweed (milkweed family, Asclepiadaceae), goldenrod (Aster family, Asteraceae) and other meadow plants.
Meadows and grasslands are natural habitats within Pennsylvania that support plants, animals, birds and insects. They rely on these areas for shelter and/or food. A majority of the endangered, threatened or rare butterfly species in Pennsylvania may depend partly or wholly on these non-wooded, open areas (Latham and Thorne, 2007). Ground-nesting birds have an absolute requirement for this type of habitat. For homeowners, replacing a portion of a traditional lawn with a small meadow will increase biodiversity and reduce the use of fertilizers in that area. In addition, meadow areas commonly are mowed only one time per year. Many of the ‘prairie’ plants of the mid-West grow quite well in meadows in Pennsylvania.
Learn more about meadows
By Lynne Hoffman
If horticulture is indeed both art and science, then Eva Monheim prepared well by double majoring in art and horticulture at Penn State University. Since graduating in 1978, her career has branched off in many directions, evolving into a diverse portfolio of horticultural credentials which include master floral designer, landscape designer, certified arborist, garden writer, consultant, environmental activist, and teacher.
Learning and Sharing
Monheim’s first professional venture following graduation was to partner with her husband in a landscaping business. However, with customers increasingly requesting her floral arranging skills, she adapted by opening a retail flower shop, which allowed her to exercise both her artistic and horticultural talents.
A dedicated community activist, Monheim has always sought out ways to use her talents and knowledge for the benefit of all. In 1984 she co-founded Glenside Green, a non-profit organization dedicated to community greening efforts in her Pennsylvania neighorhood. “At the time, Main Street revitalization efforts were focused on refurbishing infrastructure, including a major paving project to repair pot holes,” explains Monheim. “A few of us recognized this window of opportunity to incorporate green initiatives, while also including other stakeholders and organizations.”
Monheim did her research, attending workshops on issues such as municipal tree selection and restoration, before taking leadership roles in organizations like the Southeastern Pennsylvania Tree Association, where she served as president from 1998 to 2000. She used her horticultural knowledge to work with local government and other community leaders to set standards for community plantings and open spaces. “It has certainly paid off not only through enhancing the community for our children and families,” says Monheim, “but also by helping to stabilize housing values, as seen in the recent recession.”
A longtime AHS member, Monheim says her membership “keeps me connected with other gardeners as we each work in our own communities, caring for the land and the environment.”
Connecting People and Plants
Currently, Monheim teaches landscape architecture and horticulture at Temple University in Ambler, Pennsylvania. She especially enjoys mentoring students, both in class and for their individual study projects. She is also adept at helping her students bridge the gap between academics and real-world experience.
For example, students in her Food Crops class begin growing herbs, vegetables, and bedding plants; each with a specific purpose beyond the practical experience of starting and growing plants from seed. At semester’s end, the student-grown herbs are planted in the campus Medicinal Garden. There, the plants become a tool for teaching the healing qualities of plants to medical students under Monheim’s garden mentorship.
The vegetable plants are delivered to stock the greenhouse at the Philadelphia Urban Creators (PUC) garden. Founded by former students in 2010, PUC is a youth-led group that began sharing its harvest with local neighbors and has advanced to selling its produce to local restaurants. Another batch of seedlings is shared with yet another group of students, to be planted in the Temple T garden, and grown specifically to donate the harvest to charity.
Her many accomplishments are impressive, but for Monheim, it’s all about spreading her passion for nature and plants. “By doing what I love each day, hopefully I can inspire others to share that love, and help them follow their own inner compass.”
Lynne Hoffman is an editorial intern for The American Gardener. This article is published with permission from The American Gardener.
Eva Monheim, Instructor in Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, has developed a series of flashcards to help enhance student learning in her Woody Plants I and II classes.
"The idea for the cards came from several students in class who believed that the best way to learn and study plant materials is through the repetition - seeing picture, name, and facts about each plant<' Monheim said. "Landscape Architect students Jennifer Gilbert and Jennifer Klug Vaccaro were instrumental in making these cards available for student study by using my photos with their design methods for creative visuals."
Recently, according to Monheim, there have been studies supporting the use of flashcards for classroom learning and better overall student study results.
See article: Ryan N. Contreras, Jonathan J. Velez, and Rob Golembiewski. “Teaching Methods: Are Learning Styles, Study Habits, and Performance Correlated in Woody Plant Identification Students?” HortTechnology, February 2013 23 (1) pp. 130-133. http://horttech.ashspublications.org