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Ryan Gott's Garden Tour Members Only

Saturday, June 29th, 2024
to (Eastern Time)

Members Only Home Garden Tour

Ryan Gott’s Garden Tour

Location: Etna, PA

Date: June 1st

Time: 10am

I have been gardening with plants native to southwestern Pennsylvania since 2018. My small 0.1 acres was originally all turf and overgrowth of unkempt European roses, hostas, and bramble in 2019. I have since removed around 70% of the lawn to make space for the homes of over 160 different native plant species. Overall, at least 90% of my plants are native plants. The plants have brought back an enormous diversity of animal life to the space as the plants are the source of food, shelter, and nesting sites. The plants of course also create the organic matter building the soil and all its flora and fauna. And in return the animals spread the plant’s seeds and the fungi build the nutrition in the soil as they recycle.

I focus on a sustainably regenerative and systems-minded garden philosophy. In other words, I try to listen to these microcosm communities to discern what they would do and how they would behave naturally. They take care of themselves and each other to survive out in the wild - they certainly should be able to in a garden. You just have to know when and how to help. I try to assist the plants in achieving what they would if a person hadn’t put them in a yard. For example, I stopped removing anything from the garden. Everything is mulched in place if it falls on its own. Before that point, old stems are left to help form the perennial scaffolding that forms an important part of the architecture that supports plants and especially their heavy flowers. Just how it would be outside of a garden.

The various gardens I care for emerged out of the conditions already present. I try to limit any large-effort terraforming and instead aim to match plants to the characteristics of each site. A rain garden occupies a long low space, spanning shade to full sun. A deep shade corner has woodland ephemerals and ferns. A hot exposed site has a mix of meadow-type plants mingling around one another. Where I do get a little more experimental are places like my miniature “Pennsylvanian desert.” Rock and sand support native Eastern prickly pear cacti alongside (non-native to our corner of PA) spurge, American agave, and liveforever. My dream project in the garden is a sizeable pond with spaces designed for riparian, emergent, and open water conditions to host plants like pickerel weed, trumpet pitcher plants, and American lotus.

I also grow food for myself, not just for other animals. I’ll often grow tomatoes or other crops amongst the native plants. I recently planted juneberries and American persimmons to work towards having native fruit trees as well. I’m patiently tending to a patch of ramps started from seed in the hopes of starting to harvest in the next few years. The packed herb bed is definitely the most formal looking space among all my gardens, featuring oregano, rosemary, lavender, green onions, sage, and native wild strawberries.

My gardens are Penn State Master Gardener Pollinator-Friendly Habitat Certified, National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat, Penn State Extension Watershed-Friendly Property Certified, Audubon Society of Pennsylvania Bird-Friendly Habitat Certified (before they merged with Audubon Maryland-DC), and are a part of Homegrown National Park. I won Sustainable Garden of the Year and second place garden overall in the Shaler Garden Club’s 2023 Great Gardens Contest. I am currently pursuing Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania’s Backyard Habitat Certification.

Registration is required for all garden tours. Due to the small capacity of this tour, it is only open to Wild One's members at this time.

An email with the address, parking details, and other important information will be sent a few days ahead of the event.

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