January 2011
President's Message

The Board and I are really excited about the great response received from the Annual Appeal letter.  What a nice year end gift for U City in Bloom.  Thanks to all of our supporters!


Barbara Santoro

photo by Norma Schechter 

We have started the year with a newly elected board of directors and one new board member. Barbara Santoro, who has been a long time U City resident and has served on many other U City boards, has joined us. Barbara brings to UCB her experience from the Education Foundation-grants chair, Arts & Letters commission photo show co-chair and her love of U City.

Congratulations to Nancy MacCartney on her retirement as director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. We owe a huge debt of gratitude. Nancy not only helped direct us, she brought many ideas to us, and shared our vision of public

Nancy MacCartney
Nancy MacCartney.

gardens. She was also an important advocate for funding from the city. Nancy was and remains a great friend to U City in Bloom.  We will miss her.  We congratulate Nancy on her new opportunity to assist Washington University with the Parkview Gardens project.  This will keep her in town and keep her "hands on" for a while.


You may be looking outside and seeing nothing but snow and gloom, but UCB wants to remind you that under that blanket of white are spring bulbs getting the much needed nutrition to start popping up when the ground gets warm enough.  Also there are many perennial plants that are resting and waiting their turn to start blossoming again.  And speaking of perennials, mark your calendar for the UCB Perennial Plant sale, Saturday April 30, and Sunday May 1 at the Community Center

                                                                                                  Judy Prange

Featured Article

Every issue of the U City in Bloom newsletter allows you to tap into the savvy of our Horticulture team as well as outside experts. Articles featured in this edition are a variation from that theme. They call attention to the role of neighborhood gardens as well as public gardens in enriching the life of our community - as well as some tips for anyone interested in a neighborhood "edible" garden.


Director's Report

Cent com garden
 Centennial Commons photo by Kate Fuller

Is anybody in your neighborhood talking about starting a community garden? It seems that these days, more people in more neighborhoods are. And not just vegetable gardens but entrance and median flower beds and many other kinds. Expert help and professional support are available. The article below describes three long-established community vegetable gardens in University City's north Loop, and how they have flourished with the help of Gateway Greening and the neighborhood association.


Community gardens are often intimate, almost hidden gems that escape our attention. Our focus is typically on public spaces - those high visibility gardens whose beauty grabs us as we drive by. Those of us who live with and work in those gardens don't always focus on what they mean to the city.  Our expansive public gardens reflect pride in our city and in ourselves. Along with the feelings of welcome and peace transmitted by those gardens is also an underlying feeling of safety - as Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago puts it, "Someone is in charge who cares about this city and softens its rough urban edges."


If an "edible" community garden can create a 'common language' in a neighborhood, beautiful public gardens create a sense of civility. Along with that common language and civility in gardens large and small is a corresponding decrease in litter and undesirable behavior. They make the city and its neighborhoods more attractive and in general improve the public welfare.


Our public gardens feed the need for beauty that is important to our overall quality of life - especially in our relationship with nature. This need is neither a recent nor a Western phenomenon. It is stated in the Koran, "If I had but two loaves of bread - I would sell one and buy Hyacinths - for they would feed my soul".


"Beautiful parks and gardens in a city are not a frill: they are essential to the well-being of the city. They can transform city life and the way people behave and feel about their city." -Lynden P. Miller, in "Parks, Plants, and People; Beautifying the Urban Landscape."


Mary Ann Shaw


We dedicate this column to our community gardeners. University City is full of gardeners with varying degrees of interest and passion for their gardens, no matter what the size. We recognize it's not necessary to be a professional landscaper or horticultural expert to have a lovely or edible garden. Our goal is to be a resource of information and experience. Just ask lots of questions and get your hands dirty!


Just because I live in an apartment, it doesn't mean I can't grow vegetables!


 My garden is across the street, in Syracuse Community Garden. It's a 5 X 10' raised bed - the only way to go, because the garden occupies a vacant lot, and the ground is full of brick fragments from the building that once stood here. My main crops are basil, sage and tomatoes. It's inconvenient to have to descend the stairs and cross the street whenever I want basil for a sauce, but there are compensations. Next to my bed is a dense thicket of raspberry bushes, put in to form a barrier to the parking lot behind the garden. They freely offer us a bounty of delicious berries every June. They're always invading my bed, and I'm tempted to let them take over. Often I see my own bees, whose hive is in another garden a few blocks away, pollinating my plants. The best thing about the community garden is the pooling of expertise that makes it possible for someone who doesn't know much about gardening, like me, to grow plants.


Syracuse is the oldest of the three community gardens in the Parkview Gardens neighborhood, just north of the Loop. It was begun in 1995, when the neighborhood was in transition. Five years before it had been a borderline slum, and there were still drug dealers on the streets and abandoned buildings. A landlords' group called the Parkview Gardens Association was leading improvement efforts, and its President Mike Giger thought a garden could play a cohesive role, like a community center. Theresa Kragnes, longtime resident and experienced gardener, contacted Gateway Greening to get the garden going.


Once Syracuse was established, Leland (later renamed Vito's) and Clemens followed within a couple of years. The gardens are within blocks of each other, but each has a distinctive character - and challenges. Clemens, the largest and most diverse, has been expanded twice to serve its population of long-term residents, including Bosnian immigrants, and students. Under the leadership of Christine Michael, it hosts the most occasions and special projects. Vito's is even more international, with most its gardeners being Chinese, Russian or Ukrainian. It has ongoing problems with language barriers and water supply. It's the smallest, but the gardeners are experts at tier-gardening to make the most of the space. Syracuse gardeners are mostly Washington University graduate students, so turnover is high. In 2004, we thought the garden would go under because we had no leader and many empty beds. At the last moment a leader and new gardeners stepped forward. Today, there's a waiting list for beds. 


We grow a lot of the usual vegetables, herbs and flowers in our individual beds, but sometimes we come together on more unusual projects, like a sweet potato or pumpkin bed. Clemens gardeners have a green roof on their shed and built a "sod sofa" (with ottoman). "Its fun," said Christine Michael. "People are surprised the first time they see it, and enjoy sitting in it. It makes the garden a nice gathering place."  Clemens has won the best community garden award from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


There's a social side to community gardening. Events, in addition to the monthly workdays, have included hosting National Night Out Against Crime parties, midsummer parties, harvest parties, tours of other gardens, and field trips, usually to the Bell Garden, Gateway Greening's biggest, for seeds and plants.


Of course, there have been some problems. Even gardeners don't always get along, and a garden leader needs diplomatic skills as well as horticultural expertise. My wife, Claire Linzee, is a Master Gardener who does double duty as leader of Syracuse and coordinator of all three gardens. Vegetable thefts are a recurring problem. But the worst threat to community gardens is becoming victims of their own success. They help inspire community revival, and then the vacant lots they generally occupy become valuable, and the gardeners are evicted.


We were worried as Parkview Gardens gentrified. It "came back" in dramatic fashion in May 2000, when Washington University bought about half the buildings in the neighborhood. Theresa Kragnes wrote a letter to our neighborhood newsletter,

making a plea to continue the gardens. Fortunately,

vito's community garden

Vito's Garden photo by David Linzee

Washington U. has been friendly to the gardens, and owns half the lot Clemens garden occupies. Syracuse, owned by PGA treasurer Dennis Lutsky, is secure. But Vito's lot has been for sale for years. Only the economic downturn has preserved the garden. 


"U. City can't do better than these three gardens," which have thrived for so long, said Gwenne Hayes-Stewart, executive director of Gateway Greening. Neighborhood association President Giger said," The community gardens have served as a unique focal point for dedicated long-term residents. They're a place to meet and greet, grow vegetables and share recipes. They also provide opportunities for new residents to key into the neighborhood."


 If you want to start a community garden...

Gateway Greening helps gardeners who want to improve their neighborhoods. Your project doesn't have to be vegetable plots; GG also supports tree and shrub beds and street entrance designs. "Boulevard plantings and school projects are hot right now," added Gwenne Hayes-Stewart. You'll have to demonstrate that you have enough volunteers to start the garden and keep it going, that your project will add to your neighborhood's "curb appeal," and that you're coordinating with any other community improvement initiatives ongoing. If they select you, you get a lot: planning help, soil and plants, workshops for your gardeners. GG wants you to go it alone by the end of your first year, but they will stay in touch, with annual inspections and regular advice from Master Gardeners. More on the Website: gatewaygreening.org

         by David Linzee

clemens community garden smr 04
Clemens garden photo by David Linzee
Linda Fried
Linda at the Sale
Volunteer Highlight

We're grateful to all our volunteers, without whom UCB couldn't operate. As a way of saluting their generosity and capabilities, from time to time we'll spotlight remarkable-even astonishing-individuals.


For most of us, spring seems to be far away. But Linda Fried and a team of volunteers are gearing up for UCB's most financially vital event - the Perennial Plant Sale. Linda runs this complicated operation every year. We don't know how she does it - but we're grateful!


Starting in late February, Linda and her team will be digging, dividing, potting, labeling and pricing loads of over-wintered and newly-donated plants and shrubs.  Based on her clear vision of how the far-off sale day will go, Linda's intricate choreography of workers, plants, pots and soil mix will look simple and routine - as you'll see for yourself, for the volunteers will be working at the UCB nursery on Vernon Avenue.


But what you won't see is the important work of  'identification and labeling' of plants for the sale.  Dalene Tiers has long labored with Linda over calling the plants for sale by their right names - both English common and Latin botanical. Those labels with their color-coded price stakes don't just miraculously appear the day before the sale! This, too, is a work in progress like all the moving parts of the Perennial Sale. Dalene also keeps in her memory banks what plants sold well, what plant varieties were not in such great demand and what plant varieties should be added the following year - all necessary to Linda's plan for the next Perennial Sale.


Months of work through unpredictable early spring weather climax at the U City Community Center as the final hours tick away before the doors are thrown open to the public. And yet, year after year, as far as eager plant-buyers know, the actual 2-day plant sale falls into place naturally and painlessly.  


When the sale is over, does Linda flop? No; she catches up with her  work as a Board member of the Green Center,  participant with the River des Peres Watershed Coalition, tutor at the International Institute - oh, and her other duties with U City in Bloom!


The Perennial Plant Sale is no small feat and our gratitude to Linda and the volunteers who work most closely with her is immeasurable. All we can say is "Thanks" to Linda Fried, 'Volunteer Extraordinaire'.



                    lion with rosewww.ucityinbloom.org

Keep an eye on the UCB website ucityinbloom.org for its new look, its Calendar of Events and a U City Weather link! For gardeners and farmers weather is a most important topic! Thanks to our webmaster, Arno Perlow, for all of the time he's spent revising and trouble shooting our site.


It is now possible to sign up to receive UCB's e-news by going to our websiteucityinbloom.org. Just click on "The Lion and the Rose." The link will take you to Constant Contact. You only have to add your name and email address.


U City in Bloom never sells or shares its email list with anyone and will not send you junk mail.

 Donations Received

We have received donations in memory of Don Snyder from Janice Hobson; Walter Daniels from Gloria Nickerson and a donation to replace the memorial garden for Beverly Frazier at the High School (destroyed during building renovations) from William Dimmit.


Tribute donations were received in honor of Willard Nelson from Sandy Marsh, U City in Boom Volunteers from Dolores Miller and in honor of Andre Buehler from Stephen Zwolak.


Thanks to all for these thoughtful donations




You want to give a friend or family member a gift, but their attics and garages are already too full of stuff. Instead, make a contribution in their name to UCB, to mark a birthday, anniversary or holiday or any other occasion. If a friend or relative has passed away a memorial contribution honors and preserves their name, and is a gift that will benefit the entire community.


To make donating more convenient, we've made it possible for you to use MasterCard, Visa, and Discover. Go to our website,
www.ucityinbloom.org. , for donor information

Job Opportunities

Contact Information


To help in the Gardens:


Mary Ann Shaw - mashaw5@sbcglobal.net 

Betsy Sweeny - sweenerd@sbcglobal.net

 Flower bed preparation all year round, spring planting, summer garden maintenance,  fall cleanup, and bulb planting need lots of hands to get the work done. We need your help working in the 150 flower beds we have created and care for.



Watch for these Dates 


 Perennial Plant Sale

Saturday, April 30th & Sunday, May 1

Community Center

(You will be receiving e-blast "call for volunteers" to help with potting at the Vernon gardens in the not too distant future! We will need volunteers to help with setting up the Community Center for the sale on Friday, April 29th as well as volunteers to work the two days of the event, April 30 & May 1.)


2nd UCB Garden Tour

Sunday, September 18th



publicgarden pic

photo by Ed Nickels


Who We Are 

U City in Bloom is a volunteer not-for-profit organization that plants and maintains over 150 public flower gardens throughout University City. Started in 1985 by three citizens, U City in Bloom now has over 200 volunteers and a staff of several part-time professional gardeners. Our gardens are located all over University City...in the Civic Plaza, The Loop, at all of our schools, in parks, along major streets, and in quiet neighborhoods all over our city.


The Lion and The Rose 


Editor:  Helen Fuller

Lead Writer: David Linzee

Contributing Writers: Mary Ann Shaw, Claire Linzee, Susan White, Harry Asher & Ted Slegesky

Arborist Consultant: Norma Schechter