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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

      Showing posts with label Bronx. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label Bronx. Show all posts

      Wednesday, October 6, 2010

      Garden Guide:New York City

      all photos © Joseph DeSciose

      If you live in New York City or visit New York City, you need this book. It will help you find engaging, interesting, beautiful, novel, important, or hidden gardens in the five boroughs. The authors Nancy Berner & Susan Lowry describe details of design and history with a dollop of NYC political wrangling, that will help you enjoy each space to the fullest. The writing is far more than the didactic prose of a typical tour guide. It's worth sitting down and reading this small book even if you have no immediate plans to visit a garden.

      I bought the first edition right after it was published in 2002, to help prepare me for living in New York. The first GardenGuide:New York City offered up the hidden gems and unknown garden riches of the city as well as describing the best features of the major botanic gardens. Since then, ten important new gardens have been added as well as smaller ones. There are also must-see features in existing gardens, like the new award-winning Visitor center in the Queens Botanic Garden, with its greenroof design.

      Photographer Joseph De Sciose has captured images of the gardens that opened my eyes to what's happening, and allowed me to view gardens I thought I knew in a whole different way. How could I have missed this water canal when I went to the QBG? I'll have to go back and look.

      Joe's Eye View
      I especially love the many images shot from on high, like this of The High Line, that fabulous new(ish) restoration project in Chelsea.

      I knew the tracks of the old railroad bed were still there but the pattern of the ties stands out in a way that doesn't happen when they're right at my feet. Now when I visit, I'll have a mental picture of both views.
      Who Knew
      that in Red Hook you can visit two waterfront gardens and a Community Farm and picnic in this industrial area while viewing New York Harbor.
      My only quibble with this valuable book is the cut- size. The original publishers decided to serve up a 4" X 6" book, that could be slipped into pocket or purse and carried along. The second edition maintains that size. I want the font bigger and the photos MUCH bigger so I can fully enjoy this book at home as the delightful record of the NYC gardens that it is, then plan my outing for the day without increasing the weight of my backpack.

      Garden Guide: New York City, revised ed. by Nancy Berner & Susan Lowry, photos by Joseph De Sciose, W.W. Norton & C0 2010.

      Friday, March 5, 2010


      photo courtesy New York Botanical Garden, John Peden photographer
      The only orchid show in the five boroughs is wowing visitors in the landmarked Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden, but only until April 11. The theme of this year's show is "Cuba in Flower" designed by Cuban reared landscape architect Jorge Sanchez.
      photo courtesy NY Botanical Garden, Ivo M Vermeulen photographer.
      The show designer has planned the tour so you start with a tantalizing water view of the Castillo de la Fuerza, the oldest stone fortress in the Americas. Orchids cascade from the walls, drip into the pool, and are reflected in the water. From there you're on a path that takes you through the entire conservatory, where orchids are strategically placed among the permanent collection of tropical trees and vines. You'll can find the vanilla orchid, a native of Mexico, which is pollinated by a bee that lives only there. Vanilla orchids grown in Madagascar and elsewhere must be pollinated by hand, because the bee hasn't traveled.
      Hunt for my favorite plant in the show, Darwin's star orchid ( Angraecum sesquipedale) with its eleven inch long nectar tube. Marc Hachadourian, Curator of the show and of the NYBG orchid collection, provided this fascinating story: because the flower opened only at night, Darwin's theory of evolution was able to predict the existence of a moth pollinator whose long tongue would be able to reach inside the nectar tube to pollinate the plant. Actual photos of of this event are now available to all on Youtube.

      Stroll by more plants of
      botanical interest until
      you emerge into the
      main theater of the
      show. With Cuban royal
      palms soaring, brilliant
      flowers at every level,
      and water reflections,
      your eye flits from
      image to image.

      With about 7000 orchid
      plants on display,
      flowers are groomed
      daily. Whole plants are
      replaced as needed by
      understudies waiting
      in the wings so the show
      will always look
      Photo to the right courtesy NY Botanical Garden, Robert Benson photographer

      Remember to take your cell phone so you can dial in to the narrative, greatly enhancing your experience, or plan on attending one of the guided tours, lectures or demos scheduled.
      Every visitor has a camera or at least a cell phone and is vying for the best angle to capture the color and the drama. Hey, you just walked in front of my best shot. Well, it would have been my best shot if I had remembered to charge my back-up battery. But since I failed, NYBG came to my rescue with these memorable scenes of the show.
      As you leave walk under the palm allee draped with orchids, and breath the air mixed with sweet and spicy scents of over thousands of orchid plants.photo courtesy of New York Botanical Garden, Ivo M. Vermeulen photographer

      Tuesday, October 21, 2008

      Free Trees, Really!
      If you want a free tree for your backyard, terrace, community garden, apartment house, or business and you live in one of the five boroughs, go get a free tree. These are not houseplants; these are the real deal, 5-10 feet tall, meant to go out in the garden. Choose a tree for its foliage and/or flowers, and your sun /shade conditions. Some on offer this past weekend in a terrific selection were Redbud, Magnolia, Scarlet Oak, Plum, Black Tupelo, Hawthorn, Pear, Cherry, Sweet Gum and Linden. Through the good works of the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) and the City of New York Dept. of Parks and Recreation, you still have an opportunity to adopt and plant this fall. Experts will give you free tips.
      Your Promise
      Before you pick up your tree and wheel it away, you must sign an agreement to plant it on your own property or a place where you have permission; give it TLC; water once a week; and promise to weed, mulch, prevent and remove waste and litter. Part of the adoption procedure calls for registration after you plant, so NYRP can keep track of the number planted and growing. They hope to reach 1,000,000 new trees planted in the city by 2017 with the city planting 600,000 in parks, on streets and other public places, and individuals, businesses and other non-profits like churches, synagogues and mosques planting 400,000. So you’d better get busy.

      Sunday, October 2
      Atlas Greenmarket, Cooper Ave. & 80th St. Queens, 9am-2pm
      Crotona Park, Fulton Ave. & Crotona Park North, Bronx, 10am-3pm.
      Saturday, November 8
      All five boroughs, volunteer to help plant trees.
      More information about the Million Trees program, tips on planting, volunteer for the planting day, register your adopted tree or one you bought elsewhere since 2007, go to:

      Thursday, October 16, 2008

      The Bronx is Blooming

      The Bronx is Blooming, and Moore
      The Henry Moore Show has just been extended from its original closing date of Nov.2 but still you have no time to lose! On January 11,2009 with a crane and a few flat bed trucks this exhibit is scheduled to move out of the Bronx forever. There’s no better place to see sculpture than in a garden, and no better match-up than the sculpture of Henry Moore (1898-1986) and the landscape of the NY Botanical Garden. Among the gently rolling hills, dramatic rock outcroppings, native forest, rose garden, ornamental conifers and reflecting pool, are twenty massive abstract pieces by the British sculptor. He said “Landscape has been for me one of the sources of my energy… all natural forms are a source of unending interest” and here his chickens have come home to roost.

      After seeing the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit at the NY Botanical garden two years ago, I had a fervent wish to see sculpture only in garden settings and the Garden graciously obliged with it’s current display.

      The leaves in the NYBG landscape get more magnificent by the day and their colors are a perfect foil for the mostly dark sculptures. Late blooming monk’s hood, dahlias, asters, grasses anemone, and chrysanthemums still grace the borders. The sculpture enhances the garden as the garden adds to the sculptures. Although signs everywhere say ‘keep off the grass’ the three-dimensional pieces are obviously meant to be seen from all angles, even stroked, even the most law-abiding viewers like me were blithely ignoring the warnings. This exhibit will travel to the Atlanta Botanical garden in 2009.

      Instead of the Children’s Garden
      If you bring kids along, after dragging them through the art, go on a treasure hunt for the black cotton (Gossypium herba-
      cium ‘Nigra’) now bursting with fluffiness near the Enid Haupt Conservatory. Look on the flower border to the right side of the magnificent structure as you face it. The leaves of cotton are black (well, really maroon), but the cotton is pure white. Most Northerners have never seen cotton growing and you may have to convince the kids that it’s the real deal.

      If you go: Visit www.nybg.org for train, bus and driving directions, hours and fees. There is a tram and you can ride to most of the Moore sites, but walking is easy and you get an added sense of discovery. If you don’t mind using your cell minutes, dial in to hear commentary from the curators at many sites. The all- inclusive ticket to the grounds, all of the Moore show, and the tram is a hefty $20 for adults. If you’re willing to forego seeing three of the pieces, opt for the main grounds only ticket, $6 for adults, $5 adult Bronx residents, free on Wednesdays and Sat mornings.

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