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Sprouting Possibilities at 49th and Parkside

Sprouting Possibilities is a response by an artist and landscape architect team to the shifting environmental conditions and the impact of climate change on native plants in the Philadelphia region. Artist Laura C C

arlson and Landscape Architect Moya Sun have created a temporary piece that pays homage to nine species of native plants of Philadelphia: Flowering Dogwoods, Sugar Maples, Honey Locusts and six others. Images of the 9 plants are printed on a series of transparent screens which are stretched across a vacant lot, the site of the future home of Urban Arboreta ( On June 3rd, Sprouting Possibilities will invite the community to act as germinators for 500 new tree seeds—each an individual locus of possibility for the future of Philadelphia’s natural ecosystem.

Sprouting Possibilities is invested in spreading knowledge about the changing hardiness zones. As the locations in which plants can thrive are altered due to climate change, where and how will ecosystems morph? Can we trace it, can we delay the shift, can we intervene so that the Sugar Maples we plant today will thrive here in 400 years?”

We envision ourselves as seed propagators and catalysts, akin to the wind or creatures that disseminate seeds across the landscape. We consider our partners -Urban Arboreta, Land Health Institute and community members, to be harmonizers, the environmental factors that provide the perfect conditions for life to thrive. The community who plants and moves the seeds to their homes are the germinators. They are the actionable growers and nurturers of the seeds.

By recognizing our project and our collaborators as part of the lifecycle of the tree, we hope to not only plant 500 tree seedlings and seeds in Philadelphia, but also to communicate the idea that people are nature themselves – we are integral parts of ecosystems, whether we are detrimental or beneficial and constructive. By expanding the topiary of Philadelphia, we hope to engage the public and ourselves as beneficial and constructive parts of the ecosystem for the present and future.

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