Native Plants and Transplants: Meet Our New Zone Gardener

December 18, 2014 by Parks Conservancy Staff

When I told my family I was moving to Pittsburgh after college, they could not understand why I would want to live in such a dirty city.

It was noisy, dreary, crowded and depressing. Green, open spaces -- besides where the Pirates or Steelers played -- were not what came to mind when they thought about Pittsburgh.

Rosie, embracing her new home in Frick Woods.


After all, I enjoyed the simplicities of a rural upbringing; a world without cable. Play time included exploring the woods, creeks and meadows -- my backyard. Traffic involved not being able to pass an Amish horse and buggy or farm tractor on a country road.

Invasive grapevine choking a tree.

I admit moving to an urban area was an adjustment -- especially before I knew what the “Pittsburgh left” meant. But folks here are friendly and happy to share their favorite spots in and around the city. I found great comfort and relief in discovering the many nearby parks and exploring them. A short drive or long walk and I could be in the middle of the woods.

Before coming to the Parks Conservancy, I established the Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Garden in Bellevue, an urban garden that provides fresh produce to two food pantries. I was also a grower at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and the Watershed Coordinator/ Environmental Educator at the Snyder County Conservation District. I hold a BS in biology from Lycoming College.

Sedum groundcover growing on shaded slope.

I am excited to be a part of the Parks Conservancy team, serving as the Zone Gardener for the Frick Woods Nature Reserve. My focus will be identifying and regenerating native plants and developing sustainable, multi-purpose gardens while tackling the removal of invasive species in the Reserve.

The winter months are ideal for familiarizing oneself with the park. I will be spending time journaling my observations and prioritizing restorations sites. I will also be in charge of the gardens surrounding the new Frick Environmental Center. These gardens will showcase native plant species of western Pennsylvania, allowing park visitors to see them in their native habitat throughout the Nature Reserve.

Orange bark of invasive Norway maple.

Managing over a hundred acres is not an easy task and I’ll need your help, Pittsburgh. I look forward to working with Urban EcoStewards and volunteers. Conquering invasive plants and restoring native habitats will be a rewarding experience that we can reach together.

Rosie Wise, Zone Gardener with Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Ecological Restoration, Park Threats, Frick Environmental Center, Frick Park, Flowers and Gardens, Volunteering