Bryn Mawr’s 'Wellness' Garden Wins Philadelphia Flower Show Ribbon

June 21, 2022
Bryn Mawr Flower Show Entry 2022

Surrounded by sweet-scented blooms and nodding ferns, a young woman basks in the sun on a grassy knoll, happily engrossed in her paperback. All is peace and serenity. Except for the crowds, that is, who mill around and point with delight at this idyllic scene before moving on to the next exhibit.

Our reader, a stone figurine, along with her artfully designed surroundings, comprise Bryn Mawr’s prize-winning entry into this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, held in June at South Philly’s FDR Park.

The College has been part of the Flower Show since 2020, when Lisa Armstrong, associate director of volunteer programs, connected Daisy Shepherd ’22 and Shirin Sabety ’22—students active with Bryn Mawr’s Community Garden—with Dawn DiGiovanni, the campus’s associate director for grounds.

This year, Bryn Mawr’s entry, with the theme of “Grounded,” won a blue ribbon as the Philadelphia Horticultural Society Garden Class winner.

The team’s goal, says Director of Civic Engagement Ellie Esmond, was to create a garden that integrated the idea of wellness and engaged each of the five senses. “We had strawberries and herbs for taste,” says Esmond, “roses—and other fragrant flowers—for smell, a bubbling fountain for sound, lush grass underfoot for touch, and a beautiful combination of colors and greenery for sight. We envisioned a garden that would provide a respite from a busy life, a place to engage in your senses and find peace.”

Traditionally, the Flower Show is held in the Philadelphia Convention Center. For the last two years, due to the pandemic, it has been relocated outside and moved from March to June. Since Shepherd and Sabety graduated from Bryn Mawr in May and were no longer in the area, Armstrong enlisted the help of community partners including Neighbors Helping Neighbors in nearby Ardmore.

“Community members give so much to BMC that we wanted to ensure they were part of our efforts,” says Armstrong, who credits DiGiovanni and her team with much of the success of the exhibit. “Dawn is our foundation. Her education and research in forestry make us top competitors, and the students contribute but also learn a lot from her knowledge about soil.”

While the project, with many hours of brainstorming, designing, planting, and constructing, is hard work for all, Esmond says it’s also “a real highlight” of the year. “Having the chance to work with staff and students we don’t always collaborate with in our daily roles adds so much fun and allows us to create relationships across campus that last as we look forward to the next Flower Show!”


The Bryn Mawr College team that worked on the Philadelphia Flower Show entry comprised:

Ellie Esmond, Career & Civic Engagement Center
Augustin Jimenez, Facilities Landscaping Crew
Andrea Kaldrovics, LITS
Laura Kemper, Athletics
Sharon Kenny, Career & Civic Engagement Center
Becky Ross, Career & Civic Engagement Center
Halle Ruane, Facilities
Shirin Sabety '22
Daisy Shepherd '22
Gabriel Torres, Facilities Landscaping Crew
Jorge Torres, Facilities Landscaping Crew
Roberto Valencia, Facilities Landscaping Crew

This year, the BMC team also welcomed Nancy Gullo and Trinity Nixon, board members from the community organization Neighbors Helping Neighbors of the Main Line, a non-profit organization in Ardmore that partners with Civic Engagement.