Where do the flowers growing in Philadelphia’s public parks came from? Do they grow wild or are they planted?
They are actually grown by the Horticulture Center, a little greenhouse nestled in Fairmount Park not far from the Philadelphia Zoo.
Many who enjoy these flower plantings may not have noticed that the flower beds in every park around the city are actually getting smaller every year. The reason for is that for the past 12 years, the City of Philadelphia has been reducing the center’s funding by a rate of at least 5 percent per year.
As a result of these budgetary reductions, the center’s staff has been decreased by more than half, leaving only five full-time members currently. Further, the flowers that are sent out every year have been reduced by 20 percent, with only 16,000 pots going out this year.
Michael O’Brien, supervisor of the center, is also currently its manager, secretary and laborer because of the budget cuts. However, despite the lack of workers and the cuts, the grounds around the center remain very well maintained.
“We rely heavily on volunteers here who are master gardeners that love what they do. There’s a team of about 25 people,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said he tries his best to maintain an aesthetically pleasing appeal at the center especially because the city has a contractual partnership with famed restaurateur Steven Starr, who caters the events held at the center.
“We’ve done some facial reconstruction in the lobby and in the main greenhouse. I really want the place to look beautiful so that more people would be encouraged to visit,” O’Brien said.
Even though the workers in Horticulture Center suffer from lack of funds, they still manage to make Philadelphia’s parks beautiful. Monica Pich, a Philadelphia resident, said she doesn’t see too much of a difference.
“I still think the flowers in the parks are nice. I especially like Love Park. The flowers there are always phenomenal,” Pich said.