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The Grave Gardeners are a group of volunteers who are each assigned a cradle grave to adopt at The Woodlands. These graves were originally designed to be planters and would have been planted and cared for by loved ones in the Victorian era. Our Grave Gardeners tend to their assigned cradle grave throughout the entire growing season (March-November). A wide variety of plant material is provided to gardeners by The Woodlands. Group workshops, demonstrations, field trips, and planting happy hours are scheduled throughout the season.

Interested in becoming a Grave Gardener? Read through the following FAQ's and fill out the application form below! 

***Due to the popularity of this program and large number of returning Grave Gardeners, we are only able to accept 30 new gardeners this year.**

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What will the Grave Gardeners be planting? 
All gardens will be designed (by you!) with the Victorian Garden aesthetic in mind. These are ornamental gardens, not vegetable gardens. An approved planting list of Victorian Era plants and flowers has been created by The Woodlands to help guide the gardeners. A large amount of plant material in the form of seeds, plugs, and bulbs is provided by The Woodlands, though gardeners are also welcome to supplement with additional plants. Workshops held in February and March will give gardeners a knowledge base to work from and provide more historical context for the program and this particular style of gardening. Group work days, demonstrations, and events will be held throughout the growing season to help you develop new skills as a gardener and keep your grave gardens looking good! 

How do you become a Grave Gardener?
The application period for this season is open from January 5th until January 20th. If interested, please fill out the application below. Want to try it but are new to ornamental gardening? That's okay! All levels are welcome. 

What kind of time commitment is expected? 
Our 2016 & 2017 Grave Gardeners that had the most success dedicated 2-4 hours a week caring for their garden.

What kind of challenges can be expected?
Dealing with pests, groundhogs munching on your plants, and drought are a few challenges our gardeners had last year. 

Words of advice from Grave Gardeners:

        "Don't be daunted if you're not a gardener. There is plenty of support and it's about progress, not perfection!"

        "Make sure you have the time! I was in love with the idea, but between my work and school schedule, it was a lot harder to get over to the                    Woodlands than I thought it would be. "

        "There are some fantastic gardeners who participate. Get to know your fellow grave gardeners."


Can't commit to becoming a Grave Gardener, but still want to be part of the program? Consider making a donation directly to the Grave Gardeners to ensure this program can continue for years to come. 

Donate to the woodlands grave gardeners

Apply below to become a Grave Gardener for the 2018 season: 

Name *
Name
We do not require Grave Gardeners to become members, however, spots are limited and members are prioritized during the application review process.
The official gardening season runs from March through November. Participation in January and February workshops is also expected.
Workshop dates, times, and descriptions are listed below this form.
Please check which workshops you plan to attend. *
We prefer that new participants attend AT LEAST 2 of the first 4 workshops and participate in the garden prep day. If you are a novice gardener (if you rated yourself a 0 to a 2) we strongly recommend attending the Gardening for Beginners workshop.

Returning Grave Gardener Application Form

Please fill out this form if you were a 2017 Grave Gardener and plan to return for the 2018 season. 

Name *
Name
Which workshops do you plan to attend this year?
Please check the boxes next to each workshop you plan to attend so that we know how many participants to expect. Some of the workshops are repeats from last year, some contain new information or new speakers, and one is entirely new! See workshop descriptions, time & date information below form.

WINTER WORKSHOP DETAILS

Workshop 1: Tuesday January 30, 2018 6:00-8:00PM

Gardens (and Houses) in Graveyards: The Regional Peculiarities of America's Rural Cemetery Movement & the Business of Horticulture in Philadelphia with Aaron Wunsch and Joel Fry

Location: TBD (West Philadelphia)

Frequently discussed as a national movement, the push to establish "rural" cemeteries before the Civil War also drew on regional gardening traditions and ideals of country life. Here, Aaron Wunsch will put the Philadelphia story in context, paying special attention to The Woodlands. Then, Joel Fry will discuss Philadelphia's early horticultural economy and the city's role in shaping early horticulture in America. 

About Aaron: Aaron Wunsch holds a B.A. in History from Haverford College, an M.A. in Architectural History from the University of Virginia, and a Doctorate in Architectural History from the University of California, Berkeley.  His 2009 dissertation was entitled “Parceling the Picturesque: ‘Rural’ Cemeteries and Urban Context in Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia.” He serves as vice president of Philadelphia’s Woodlands Cemetery and has been active on other nonprofit boards. 

About Joel: Joel Fry is the Curator of Historical Collections at Bartram's Garden.


Workshop 2: Thursday, February 8th from 6-8 P.M.

Gardening for Beginners with Sally McCabe of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS)

Location: This workshop will be held at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's McLean Library

The Gardening for beginners workshop will teach you just enough to be able to converse intelligently at cocktail parties, but not enough to grow flowers or food for the entire neighborhood. You will, however, walk away knowing the difference between annuals & perennials, woodies & tenders, and bulbs & roots, and have a basic understanding of soil and water needs and what it takes to make plants survive in a Philadelphia garden. 

About Sally: Sally has been gardening for more than 50 years, since her parents gave her the option of doing that or doing dishes. Since then she has grown many vegetables and done a few dishes. In 1995 she started the Garden Tenders program, which has since graduated 42 classes of community gardeners. She currently divides her time between Garden Tenders, Green City Teachers, the Flower Show, and other food-and garden-related issues. In her copious(!) spare time, she plays with power tools and grows her own winter vegetables. 

About PHS: The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1827, that connects people with horticulture, and together we create beautiful, healthy and sustainable communities. PHS offers programs and events for people of all interests, and works with volunteers, organizations, agencies and businesses to create and maintain vibrant green spaces. For information, visit PHSonline.org


Workshop 3: Tuesday, February 27 from 6-8 P.M.

Planning Your Garden for Year-Round Blooms with Joshua Darfler

Location: This workshop will be held at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Cafe

Gardening is not just for the warm months. While the ground is still frozen, and plants are aren’t growing, it’s time to do some plant palate preparation. With pre-planning, and creative thinking, you can achieve more with your garden. In this workshop we will discuss how to select plants and plan your garden for the maximum amount of interest and “wow factor” through the entire growing season…and beyond.

About Joshua: Joshua holds an M.S. in Public Horticulture from the Longwood Graduate Program at the University of Delaware, where he studied the phylogenetic relationships of ornamental camellia species housed at Longwood Gardens. He is the Greenhouse and Garden Manager for the University of Pennsylvania where he oversees plant research facilities and the botanical garden. 


Workshop 4: Wednesday, March 14 from 6-8 P.M.

Forget Me Not: Planting a Cemetery Garden with Nicole Juday

Location: PHS McLean Library

Learn which plants were favored for grave gardens during the Victorian period, and why these plants are still great choices for the modern gardener, even in the home landscape. In addition to discussing the best and most beautiful plants for a graveyard garden, we will also cover how to analyze your site, cultural requirements for different plants, and basic design principles. After the talk, you'll get your grave assignment, and will have some time to explore the resources at the McLean Library to start planning your garden. 

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About Nicole: With a career in public horticulture spanning several specialties and over a decade, Nicole currently works as Director of Development at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. An avid home gardener, she writes and speaks frequently on a variety of horticultural topics and especially loves old roses and heirloom plants, which occasionally can still be found growing in historic cemeteries like The Woodlands.

About PHS: The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1827, that connects people with horticulture, and together we create beautiful, healthy and sustainable communities. PHS offers programs and events for people of all interests, and works with volunteers, organizations, agencies and businesses to create and maintain vibrant green spaces. For information, visit PHSonline.org


Workshop 5: Saturday March 24, 2018 1:00-4:00PM RAIN DATE:March 31, 2017
Seeds and Soil: Prepping Your Graves at The Woodlands.
Location: This workshop will be held at The Woodlands.  

The Woodlands staff and returning Grave Gardeners will be on site at The Woodlands to share tips on getting your beds ready for planting success. We will do a hands on demonstration on how to prep your garden with fresh soil and then we’ll start digging and prepping the beds for planting. This is the day you start to get your hands dirty, so dress accordingly!

Some of the 2016 Grave Gardens, blooming in June. 

Some of the 2016 Grave Gardens, blooming in June. 

Thank you to The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) for being a dedicated partner of this program.

Thank you to The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) for being a dedicated partner of this program.

 


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4000 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104