A Philodendron on Philly Street Trees

This Philadelphia street becomes resplendent in spring, with an arching canopy of blossoming cherry trees. Image © Dennis McGlade.

This Philadelphia street becomes resplendent in spring, with an arching canopy of blossoming cherry trees. Image © Dennis McGlade.

Throughout his career, Partner Dennis McGlade has applied his horticultural expertise to projects around the world, chronicling the natural conditions of trees, shrubs and other plantings, and examining their potential uses and benefits within the urban realm. He turned his sensibilities closer to home in an article for Hidden City Philadelphia, in which he documents Philadelphia’s abundance of street trees and explores how they have been cultivated, installed, maintained and engaged within the city’s infrastructural and cultural milieu.

Left: An unknown Philadelphian has knitted “sweaters” around the trunks of some trees in Philadelphia. Right: Families enjoy the shade of these street trees as they dine along Market Street in Old City. Images © Dennis McGlade.

Dennis pairs photos taken on walks through the city with observations on how everyday Philadelphians interact with their trees. People are captured enjoying a tree’s shade as they lunch outdoors, others have imparted traditional pruning methods to engineer their trees’ growth patterns, and some have even taken to knitting sweaters around tree trunks. Dennis also documents how the trees themselves have fared within—and sometimes despite—the city’s dense infrastructure, including tiny tree pits, dangling electrical wires, fences, sidewalks, roads and storm drains. Through all of these images, he deduces a common theme: Philadelphians do appear to love their trees. Is Philadelphia full of “philodendrons?” It might be a matter of perspective.

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