Garden Photo of the Day

Revisiting Ned Wolf Park

Spring in a small community garden

A square stone patio surrounded by green plants, purple tulips, and backed by a painted wall.

Today Eric Sternfels is taking us to visit a beautiful community-created garden in Philadelphia called Ned Wolf Park. He introduced us to this lovely garden before (A Garden Made by a Community ), and I’m excited to take a trip back.

A few years ago you featured an ornamental community garden in Northwest Philadelphia, in a neighborhood called Mt. Airy. As the spring has progressed, I’ve taken more photos of new features. Ned Wolf Park is just 50 feet by 150 feet, but it manages to pack lots of rich planting combinations in successional planting strategies. Because of the pandemic, the park’s gardens have become a more special destination for the community to meet and to practice tai chi or yoga.

pink tulips surrounded by green foliageThis is a tulip that definitely steps out of the ordinary. The pink petals of ‘China Town’ are each painted with a flame of green, and the foliage is outlined with white variegation. Here is an elegant standout paired with the silver-and-green leaves of Brunnera macrophylla (Zones 3–8).

Garden bench fronted by pink flowersIn front of this bench is a low mass of lavender-pink flowers from Cardamine quinquefolia (Zones 6–8), an unusual spring ephemeral that goes dormant and disappears after it finishes flowering.

Pale green and white tulipAnother unusual tulip, this is the variety ‘Green Star’.

Pale green tulipAnother view of the beautiful flowers of ‘Green Star’.

Dangling pink flowers shaped like heartsA bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia, Zones 3–9), with its nodding pink flowers and ferny foliage.

Large pink peony bloomThis spectacular tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa, Zones 3–8) has a single layer of petals, the better to show off the dramatic dark eye in the bloom. (Learn more about tree peonies here.)

Japanese maple with burgundy new leavesJapanese maples (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9) may never be as beautiful as when their leaves are just opening in the spring.

Spring blooms in the gardenGrape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum, Zones 3–9) make a wonderful purple-blue backdrop to these melon-colored tulips.

A square stone patio surrounded by green plants and purple tulipsI love this view. There is something so peaceful and beautiful about this space, and the row of purple tulips is just the perfect complement to the art on the wall.

Purple tulip surrounded by purple leavesThe flower color of this tulip is perfectly echoed by the foliage of the heuchera (Heuchera hybrid, Zones 4–9) planted around it.


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View Comments


  1. gardendevas 05/13/2021

    What lush and beautiful plantings! They create such a serene and welcoming space.

  2. nwphilagardener 05/13/2021

    A few additional plant ID's:
    The Heuchera beneath the painted emblem is "Berry Smoothie".
    The purple tulips that feature a pale green margin are 'Caravelle Design'
    The Heuchera underplanted with those tulips is 'Carnival Rose Granita'
    The Japanese Maple is Acer 'Pung kil'
    The orange tulips are 'Dordogne'
    Planted with the 'Green Star' tulips are Euphorbia myrsinites and Pushkinia bulbs
    Planted with the 'China Town' tulips are Sea Kale (Cranbe maritima) and Brunnera 'Sea Hearts'

  3. sagebird52 05/13/2021

    Diverse and beautiful. Great job by whoever planned/ planted this . So much to enjoy

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/13/2021

    Oh, my, how very, very lovely.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 05/13/2021

    I'm so impressed with this community garden.
    I read the link about going from a gas station to what an improvement, what a gem...there should be more of this kind of green space usage/improvement in residential areas.
    What is also impressive is that the garden has been around since the 70s...I've seen community gardens get "un-done" so easily.
    Great post!

    1. nwphilagardener 05/13/2021

      Actually, the City parks department put in trees, and paving, a few azaleas and little else in the 1970s. The great gardens were begun by a neighbors group in 2007, so 14 years ago.

  6. btucker9675 05/13/2021

    What a wonderful community garden! That tree peony is breathtaking! Thank you so much for sharing this lovely space with us.

    1. nwphilagardener 05/13/2021

      Sorry there wasn't a better photo of the tree peony which is around 42" tall and wide and it had 20 flowers this year. It's a Paeonia rockii cultivar that translates from the Chinese as "Purple butterfly in the Wind"

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