Meet the winners of the 2022 Sustainable Gardening Awards from Phipps Conservatory

The Phipps Conservatory Sustainable Gardening Awards are in their third year, and have once again spotlighted five beautiful gardens in our region. The awards were designed to highlight gardens and gardeners who follow the principles of sustainable land care that Phipps teaches in its education programs and follows in its own work.

This year’s winners were awarded in five different categories, each exemplifying a different aspect of sustainable, organic gardening. All of the winners are passionate about improving the beautiful land around them, both in their personal spaces and for the larger community.

Lynn Ramage

Winner: Native Planting and Wildlife Gardens

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Louis Ruediger | Tribune-Review

Lynn Ramage

 

Lynn Ramage and her late husband, Jim, started a garden in their then-overgrown Ford City property 30 years ago, and worked hard together to cultivate a haven for native plants and pollinators.

“As I learned about native plants and their importance to the environment, I made it from an English garden into a native garden and a pollinator garden,” she said.

When they first purchased their property, it spanned seven acres. Now it encompasses 72 acres, and Ramage has spent plenty of time combating invasive plant species while cultivating plants like goldenrod, ironweed and pycnanthemum.

“There’s nothing better than being in a garden. It’s good for your brain, good for your body, good for your soul,” she said.

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Louis Ruediger | Tribune-Review

Lynn Ramage in her garden

 

Susan Barclay

Winner: Gardens that Manage Rainwater

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Louis Ruediger | Tribune-Review

Susan Barclay

 

Originally, Susan Barclay’s garden space was bathtub-shaped, which made rainwater management a challenge. In 2021, she decided to do something about that.

“I worked with a professional landscaper. They have been experts in this issue of water management and understand what needs to be done,” she said.

Gargiulo Landscape helped to bring artful functionality to Barclay’s garden.

“My favorite aspect is the stonework,” she said, citing the beautiful stones of various sizes that create walkways, steps and other features throughout the garden.

Plants do play an important role in Barclay’s garden as well. “I have a lot of native plants that are sentimental to me because of my family history and childhood,” she said, especially citing the dogwood, a favorite of her parents.

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Louis Ruediger | Tribune-Review

In the garden of Susan Barclay

 

Joel D. Garceau III

Winner: Micro-Gardens

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Louis Ruediger | Tribune-Review

Joel D. Garceau III

 

Joel Garceau has a lot of passion for gardening, but not much room. “Living in the South Side Slopes, where yard space is at a premium, I’ve had to make the most with what little space I have,” he said.

Micro-gardening does have its advantages. “Having a smaller garden allows me to understand it on a more intimate level. The plants I grow are like friends to me,” he said.

Despite the crowded area, Garceau grows more than 70 types of plants, many of which were transplants given by family and friends. “My favorite plants are the ones that reflect the stories and people of my life: the irises, bee balm, hostas, and especially the agapanthus,” he said.

Garceau says that anyone can garden, no matter the space. “Plants and nature respond really well when care and attention are given to them.”

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Louis Ruediger | Tribune-Review

In the garden of Joel D. Garceau III

 

John and Alyssa Creasy

Winners: Abundant Edible Gardens

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Louis Ruediger | Tribune-Review

Alyssa and John Creasy

 

John and Alyssa Creasy are so passionate about edible plants that they run Garfield Community Farm in addition to their own edible garden.

“Our home garden has always been a respite,” John Creasy said, noting that the farm can often take up a majority of their time.

Alyssa Creasy also runs a cut-flower business, Larkspur AmC, from plants grown in their own garden.

John Creasy loves the sense of community that gardening brings, both among the plants and among the neighbors and gardeners planting them.

He spoke about the peach tree in the couple’s home garden around which they’ve formed a “plant guild,” or a group of plants that grow together and support each other.

“There are medicinal herbs, culinary herbs, a small pond with fish in it, and it’s all connected in with the health of the peach tree,” he said.

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Louis Ruediger | Tribune-Review

Some of the edible delights from the garden of John and Alyssa Creasy.

 

Oleksandr and Andrew Yergiyev

Winners: Gardens for Personal Retreat

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Louis Ruediger | Tribune-Review

Andrew (left) and Oleksandr Yergiyev

 

At their home located near a busy Mt. Lebanon intersection, Oleksandr and Andrew Yergiyev needed a way to escape the noise — so they made it in the form of a garden.

That transformation took a lot of work for both of them. “We started with less than a blank canvas, it was covered in blacktop,” Andrew Yergiyev said.

So Oleksandr, an experienced gardener, and Andrew, who was looking for an aesthetically pleasing sanctuary, made it happen.

The garden is filled with a wide range of plants, from wildflowers to fruits and vegetables. “I like the bitter melons. They’re really beautiful, the way the vines drape over everything. Pollinators love the flowers,” Oleksandr said.

“I just keep marveling … you see a monarch butterfly land on a rose, and you think it used to be blacktop. We worked well as a team and we made it,” Andrew said.

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Louis Ruediger | Tribune-Review

The garden of Andrew and Oleksandr Yergiyev

 

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