Meet the winners of the 2021 Sustainable Gardening Awards at the Phipps Conservatory

As southwestern Pennsylvania passes through the fall, Phipps Conservatory once again awarded its Sustainable Gardening Prizes to five magnificent gardens. The awards were created last year to recognize local gardeners and garden spaces that embody the principles of sustainable land protection that Phipps uses in his education programs and the maintenance of his own garden.

Winners were chosen from five categories, each displaying a different style of organic gardening. All of the 2021 Laureates have found peace and joy in the spaces they have created and nurtured, and they hope to expand their efforts in the future.

Pam dickinson

Winner, Gardens for Personal Retreat (Small)

Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Pam Dickinson in her garden in Aspinwall.

Pam Dickinson has found solace in gardening since childhood, and her current space in Aspinwall is no exception. “My little urban plot is my living sanctuary,” she said.

The cycle of life and growth in the garden is a big part of what brings it peace, from watching butterflies burst from pupae to watching plants bloom and die. “I love that it teaches and surprises me every day while I work. I am involved in the creation of a living tapestry, with nature setting the guidelines.

Pam also finds solace in stepping into nature to escape the harshness of everyday life. “It is such a relief and a great pleasure to be away from the news, the pandemic, the stress.” Her garden is filled with plants, sentimental items, a pond and fountain, and many creatures to join her in her natural retreat.

Carrie Casey

Winner, Gardens for a personal retreat (large)


Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review

Carrie Casey at the water garden of her home in Fox Chapel.

Carrie Casey has made it a priority to bring native plants and trees to her Fox Chapel garden, especially those to support birds. “It is not uncommon to see some plants covered with bees and insects. We now see and hear a lot of woodland birds, ”she said.

Working in her large garden is relaxing for her, especially during the pandemic. “Gardening is therapeutic. If you are having a bad day, just change your clothes and go out and start weeding or planting a few flowers.

The garden includes a bridge over a stream on their property and an area of ​​trees which she describes as “an enchanted forest”. Carrie and her husband add more native trees and plants each year.


Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review

Carrie and Bill Casey’s dog, Waffles, in their garden at Fox Chapel.

Lyn C. Babcock

Winner, Native Plantations and Wildlife Gardens


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Lyn Babcock in front of her house in Mount Lebanon with her dog, Kipp.

Lyn Babcock started her garden with the aim of lighting up a barren backyard. “We moved into this house a little over six years ago and there was nothing in the backyard,” she said of their home in Mount Lebanon. “There was grass and weeds.”

She and her husband transformed the space into a colorful oasis, respectful of local insects. “I am not a fan of herbicides and pesticides in my garden. If there are a few bugs, most of the time they serve as bird food so that works for me.

They brought in many native plants when they moved from Shippensburg, and they kept getting bigger and bigger. These days, she finds peace in her outdoor space. “I like to weed now. I am in my garden probably almost every day.


Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review

In the garden of Lyn Babcock’s house in Mount Lebanon, a honey bee collects pollen from a mutism Pycanthemum flower.

Elena kessler

Winner, Micro-Jardins


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Elena Kessler in her garden in Bloomfield.

Elena Kessler describes her garden, encased in a concrete space of just 20 feet by 25 feet in Bloomfield, as “small, but mighty.”

In college, she studied biology and worked in the maintenance of the campus rooftop greenhouse. Now she grows both edible plants and flowers and delights her community with her generosity. “Growing your own food gives instant access to fresh and nutritious produce, which is especially important in the city where many food deserts still exist. “

The community nature of urban gardening is so important to Elena that she works with several local organizations and gardens, including the Children’s Hospital Edible Garden.


Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review

Elena Kessler shows off a green tomatillo in her garden in Bloomfield.

Mélanie see you soon

Winner, Abundant Edible Gardens


Melani Cheers in her garden in Troy Hill.

Melani Cheers is on a mission to transform wasteland into natural beauty. After growing up on a farm outside of Pittsburgh, she and her husband moved into a house in Troy Hill surrounded by decay and neglect.

Turning lemons into lemon trees, they turned the wasteland next to their house into a paradise of edible plants. “We have two little boys now and it’s great. They’re picking cherry tomatoes and they’re so excited to see pear and apple trees grow and bring bowls of that stuff to our neighbors. They are so proud, ”said Melani.

She will admit that the garden is not easy, but the results are worth it. “It’s really fun to get out of your house and choose what you need for dinner.”


Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review

Fruits and vegetables harvested from Melani Cheers’ family garden in Troy Hill.

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