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

      Showing posts with label greenroof. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label greenroof. Show all posts

      Wednesday, June 10, 2009


      Stream of re-cycled graywater fascinates at the Queens Botanical Garden

      Five boroughs in New York City, four botanical gardens and I had only visited three of them until last week. It seemed a terrible schlep to Queens: two subways and a bus, and the outgoing express train not running against the morning commuter tide coming into Manhattan.

      But the story of the Queens Botanical Garden is compelling and I’m more than delighted that I ventured forth. Queens is the most ethnically diverse county in the United States, with 48% of the population foreign born and people speaking 138 languages. The QBG itself is in a largely Asian neighborhood and this is a space that's heavily used by neighbors rather than by tourists. Explanatory signs throughout the garden appear in English, Spanish, Chinese and Korean languages.

      This garden of 39 acres just opened the highest LEED rated (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) public building in the State of New York with its new Visitor & Administration Building, all under the leadership and vision of Exec. Director Susan Lacerte.Here are some of the attractions that go into the Platinum LEED rating and ones that you’ll see on a guided tour: solar panels on a large roof;
      Re-cycled water from sinks, drinking fountains and shower; some compostingIntensive green roof, six inches of soil with a large variety of native and low water plants.

      toilets; green roof over the large auditorium, one you can actually walk on; geothermal heating/cooling system; many building materials locally grown, manufactured, or recycled; captured rain runoff filtered by bacterial action of plant roots supplying a meandering stream graced with native plants and a fountain. AND THE BUILDING IS EXTREMELY HANDSOME AND SATISFYING. Currently under construction is a parking 'garden' with special paving to allow the capture and treatment of water from a typically impervious surface.

      The garden itself has many traditional areas including these themes: fragrance, herbs, flowering trees, wetlands, perennials, woodlands, weddings, bee keeping, composting sites. The
      rose garden is being
      transformed with new
      plantings of sustainable
      varieties that will need
      no spraying. To the
      right, white and red val-
      erian and bronze fennel
      in the herb garden.

      The children’s program
      offers a huge selection
      of classes for all grade
      levels planned by the
      amazing QBG Director
      of Education Patty
      Kleinberg. Neighbor-
      hood kids plant in
      a special garden area,
      and explore nature on
      weekends and summer

      But it’s not necessary to
      have an official chil-
      drens garden for kids
      to have fun. Give them
      some water to explore,
      a huge blue atlas cedar
      to climb and they’re
      happy. I heard a smart
      mother trying to lure a
      recalcitrant four year-
      old to “see the roses.”
      He wanted no parts of
      it until she changed her
      offer to “smell the
      roses” and they went
      off happily together.
      (Double-click on any
      image for better view.)

      For more information
      and directions go to QBC.

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