How We Got Started
Twenty years ago after a short career in teaching and a longer one in nonprofit management, I
formed a business to consult with community based and advocacy groups on how to grow their
organizations. About six years ago, to counterbalance my long hours in meetings, on the road
and at the computer, I volunteered once a week at a local nature reserve to work on invasive
plant management. As I lopped and sawed away at non-native Tree of Heaven and buckthorn, I
began to wonder. If these are invasive, unwanted introduced plants, what was here before this?
So, on regular weekend forays with the Western Pennsylvania Botanical Society, I began to learn
from incredibly knowledgeable people about native plants, first hand, in their natural settings.
And as things tend to do, one thing led to another. And finally, in 2002, building on a number of
years of valuable volunteer experience in native plant propagation, I opened sylvania natives.
We started propagating in my mother’s garage in Indiana, PA and moved seedling plants to my son’s
yard in Pittsburgh. Last year we expanded onto a purchased hillside property reached by a typical
Pittsburgh alley way.
We are an urban nursery for sure!. We’ve cleared away -- and continue to clear away -- thick stands
of invasive non-native Japanese Knotweed, escaped garden ivy, garlic mustard and multiflora rose
to build the cold frames for growing our plants outside. We’ve installed a rainwater catchment
system as a water source for irrigation. And this season we plan to put in native demonstration
plantings on the site and establish a rain garden.
It's hard work but we are having fun! It’s deeply satisfying to gather seed, propagate and grow
these plants native to our area.
We have thousands of plants and we’re pleased to be playing a part in making locally native plants
available to others to grow here in Western Pennsylvania. Do come visit us. We’d love to
"talk natives" with you!
In addition to providing you with a wide variety of locally grown native plants, we are available to:
- Talk with you at the nursery about native plants that will be good choices for your particular growing situations.
- Provide you with specific plant culture, growing and care information.
- Visit your site and advise on native plant species and communities that will grow well in your location and conditions. We charge a fee for this so just ask.
- Grow plants on contract for larger projects. Ask us about volume discounts for nonprofit groups.
- Speak to garden clubs and community groups about native plants and their use in the landscape.
- Advise on species selection for larger community projects and habitat programs.
- Create native plant propagation and planting projects with schools and other educational programs
- Payment for purchases is accepted in cash and by check with identification.
- Plants are guaranteed to be correctly named and in good health when they leave the nursery. If you are not completely satisfied with the condition of any plant, you may return in within five days and we will replace the plant or refund the purchase price – whichever you prefer. Responsibility for plant loss for non-propagator reasons such as neglect, weeds, drought, floods and varmints is not covered.