Volunteers keep library garden beautiful

Nancy Smith runs the volunteer garden group at the Mt. Lebanon Public Library.

The array of vibrant pinks, yellows and greens surrounding the Mt. Lebanon Public Library quickly captures your attention. 

The garden—which encircles the entire building, fills the courtyard and lines the parking lot—is immaculately kept. 

On Monday mornings from April to the first week in November, a group of faithful workers can be seen on the grounds, pulling weeds, pruning plants and making sure everything looks exquisite. 

They’re volunteers, led by Nancy Smith, Avon Drive, and a part of the Friends of Mt. Lebanon Public Library, who do this weekly out of the goodness of their hearts and for the love of nature. 

“It makes you feel good,” Smith said of gardening. 

The idea for the garden came as the library underwent a $4.2 million renovation from 1995-1997. The courtyard, in the back of the library, was funded almost entirely by the Friends. 

At some point in the process it was decided to add a garden. Five people, including Smith, sat around a dining room table and drew up the plans. The garden was planted in 1999. In 2000, it was introduced as a part of the library’s garden tour. 

Smith stuck around over the years and now oversees the upkeep of the garden. 

“Right now, we have a good group of volunteers,” she said. There are about a dozen or so people who show up every week to help. 

Each has their own reason for being there. 

Smith’s love for gardening came from her parents, who loved to be outside. She has a background in design and sees gardening as a form of art. 

Will Ford, Jonquil Place, was looking for something to do. “The library needs a lot of help,” he said. “I like to help the library and I like gardening.” So, the master gardener started to volunteer to keep the garden growing and vibrant. 

Sandy Palumbo drives all the way from Pittsburgh’s Morningside neighborhood to help. 

“I love to be part of something so beautiful with people who are so nice,” she said. 

One thing all of the volunteers have in common, Smith said: “We all like being outside.” 

The garden consists of a wide mix of annuals, evergreens, perennial and native plants. 

As Smith shows off the garden, she can name nearly every plant. There also is signage that identifies the plants for those who aren’t as botanically knowledgeable. The group even has a garden guide to help folks identify what is planted in the garden’s 21 areas. 

New and different plants are added each year. With a mix of evergreens, the library gardens look lovely year round. 

If you’re interested in helping with the gardens, contact Smith at mistflower45@gmail.com.