Nature Pillars: Jenkins Arboretum
Unlike exploring "Paper Towns" on maps, I look for green spaces on google maps to visit,(and I mean literally). I zoom in on maps and find patches of green spaces or plug in the word arboretum, greenhouse, or trails in the search box. Jenkins Arboretum was next on the list, of green spaces I wanted to visit, or perhaps the only arboretum in Philly left for me to see, and I got to visit it on my birthday. I made a commitment for my birthday that I would practice mindfulnes and live in the shoes of my childhood adventurous role model Ibn Battuta, a traveler and muslim scholar. So here I was staring at the pillars and taking notes for my family's garden in WV.
I've slowly learned that lush green lawns have no purpose other than having the noise of a lawn mower follow you everywhere specifically in the suburbs and a bimonthly bill to deal with. The arboretum is the perfect place to pull research from for native species, also listed as the Green Ribbon Native Plants, and a huge selection of rhododendrons (aka WV's state flower) and azaleas. The task can seem overwhelming at first but I've come up with a list, after consulting with a horticulturist, that I'm using as a guide for what plants, trees, or shrubs to select (keep in mind mistakes are inevitable but that's part of the process and beauty of learning):
1. Height of trees and shrubs at maturity, this is so important because you don't want to end up with something out of proportion.
2. Seasonal change, the time it blooms and what colors it would become, you want to make sure colors are cohesive.
3. Sunlight, how much sun does each plant require. You'll want to find out the orientation of your building and follow the status of the sun on those locations.
4. Amount of water, how much water or times a week does each plant need to be watered. The key here is to look for native plants because they are accustomed to the climate, so they wouldn't require as much watering.
5. Soil acidity, many plants require soil to be acidic and this can be done by adding pine mulch to your soil.
6. Deers, find plants that deers can't tolerate, (hint: native species!) but if you end up going for plants that deers may touch place them farther from their reach or behind other plants.
7. Have fun, experience and enjoy every step from visiting the nursery, reconnecting with nature, and getting your hands dirty!
Back to our visit of the Jenkins Arboretum. The site includes a LEED Gold Certified Educational Center, a greenhouse, plant shop, pond, wildflower, azaleas, and rhododendron trails. Jenkins has an Appalachain woodsy fairytale ambiance with trails whispering to passersby to follow leading to various bodies of water. It was a perfectly rainy morning to visit the arboretum and, Oh, did I mention its free!