One thing that makes my already rewarding job fun, are visits like the one I enjoyed with a potential new donor-partner yesterday. I had the pleasure of a personal, guided tour through the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, in winter. What a beautiful season to experience their 60 acres – salvaged and restored from a decimated strip-mining location – and now full of wooded hiking trails filled with whimsical curiosities, and educational stops, for both kids and adults alike.
Not all of the acreage at the gardens are developed at this time. They are still a young attraction of a mere 2 years. But, they have grand plans for the future, and much is in the works currently.
Right now, the gardens can boast a grove of Colonial variety apple trees, an original 1700’s restored log cabin (with a chicken coop housing several gorgeous Plymouth Rock layers), a lotus pond stocked with bluegill and bass, a combination educational building and gift shop, apiary with working honey bees, a gazebo, picnic grove, a variety of educational tours, and a penchant for doing things as organically as possible (for instance, hiring a host of local goats to clear invasive plant species from a hillside that was then developed into their Asian gardens).
While we strolled, sharing knowledge of all things nature, we found ourselves tracking a possum, several deer, and possibly a fox or coyote along our way. I was intrigued, too, by their penchant to protect and bring attention to trees that are indigenous to our region. I am definitely going to be checking out the app that was recommended for identification of trees in our area. (Virginia Tech’s V Tree.) I was inspired, as well, to dig deeper on my own into our local agricultural extension through Penn State University.
This visit truly inspired and reawakened my passion for gardening, tracking, hiking, plant identification, natural survival skills, living off the land, and all things wild and natural. It fueled the fire of my already smoldering spring fever. But even better, it reminded me of the importance of simply being one with nature.