Nonprofit Spotlight: U City in Bloom

U City in Bloom maintains over 200 gardens in University City, enhancing the neighborhood through artfully designed public gardens, community involvement, partnerships, and environmental education. Click here to view an interactive map of some of the gardens the organization maintains. 

Part of U City in Bloom’s efforts revolve around native plantings. Their spaces and container gardens serve as monarch waystations, havens for native pollinators, and as bird gardens. U City in Bloom helps people “bring conservation home” by educating on native gardening and “leaving the leaves,” a no-mow philosophy that has gained traction locally in recent years. 

Garden at Washington and Hanley.

Jesse Gilbertson, Director of Horticulture, designed the garden found at the intersection of Washington and Hanley. “This garden is one of my favorites because it ties into the neighborhood,” said Gilbertson. The garden features teak benches, a pathway, and a bird bath. 

Volunteers at work in the garden in front of Centennial Commons.

The organization relies on volunteers who work outside at the gardens and in lesser-known areas, including a woodland renovation project at Ruth Park Woods, a 26-acre tract of woodland adjacent to the Ruth Park Golf Course in University City. U City in Bloom is seeking funding to be able to remove invasive plants such as honeysuckle, maintain the 2-mile trail system, and redo existing educational signage with a focus on tree identification. The organization has partnered with the Green Center and the City of University City on this project. 

“We hope to turn Ruth Park Woods into a place of reflection and respite,” said Gilbertson. “It’s a way to bring wild areas to an urban environment.” 

U City in Bloom hosts a variety of events throughout the year and are currently looking forward to their annual plant sale April 30–May 1. Click here to learn more about upcoming events. 

U City in Bloom is participating in Give STL Day. Their fundraising efforts on Give STL Day will go towards the Ruth Park Woods project. Give STL Day returns May 5, 2022.