2014-06-14

Event: Saturday 6/21 NYCWW Pollinator Safari of my Gardens

On Saturday, June 21, in partnership with NYC Wildflower Week, in observation of Pollinator Week, I'm opening my gardens for a guided tour, what I'm calling a "Pollinator Safari." This is only the third time, and the first time in three years, I've opened my gardens for a tour.

This Hylaeus modestus, Modest Masked Bee, 1/4" long, was visiting the blooms of Viburnum dentatum, Arrowwood, in my garden just two weeks ago. I've documented scores of insect pollinators in my gardens over the years, including bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies, and beetles.
Hylaeus modestus modestus, Modest Masked Bee sensu stricto

Here's the information from the Evite page, with a couple of extra links thrown in:
NYC Wildflower WeekPollinator Week in Flatbush, Brooklyn

Date & Time: Saturday, June 21 from 11:00 am - 12:30 pm (rain date Sunday, June 22)
Location: Stratford Road at Matthews Court in Flatbush, Brooklyn

Guides:
Event Description:
  • Since 2005, Chris has transformed a dusty, weedy backyard into a garden oasis. His gardens now incorporate over 80 species of native trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses and wildflowers. He's documented the process on his gardening blog, Flatbush Gardener. In honor of National Pollinator Week, Chris will give us a behind-the-scenes tour!
  • Our bee expert will help us identify some of the gardens' winged visitors, and review tips for creating an insect-friendly sustainable garden in urban settings.
A view of my urban backyard native plant garden, as it looked in 2011, six years in.
The View North in my urban backyard native plant garden, May 2011
The same view as above, when we bought the house, in May 2005
Backyard, view away from garage, May 2005

Related Content

On the blog
My Photography on Flickr

Links

NYC Wildflower Week
Pollinator Week

2014-05-19

Off-Topic: Vows

Two years ago, on May 19, 2012, I married my husband, John. These were my vows:
John:

I don’t know what I can say to you that I’ve not already said.

In front of family, friends, neighbors, and community, I can say this:

Today is not a beginning – We began many years ago.

Today is not an ending – There is much more for us to explore together.

I am grateful, that having moved apart, our separate journeys prepared us to come together again, and see each other with new eyes.

I love you, more than I could have imagined I would ever love anyone.

Today is a milestone on the path.

I want always to travel that path with you.
"We began many years ago"
John and I first met nearly 30 years ago at one of the then-many, now long-gone, gay bars in the East Village.
"having moved apart"
Somewhere explained in an earlier blog post. I moved from the East Village to Brooklyn
"our separate journeys"
Both John and I have spoken publicly about being in recovery. Speaking for myself, I needed a lot of work.
We've been "together" for 17 years or so. (John keeps track of these things.) We've been living together for 14 years. A few years ago, as the possibility of legal marriage in New York state seemed increasingly likely, I "pre-proposed" to John. I told him that, if and when it became legal in our home state, I would propose to him. He initially objected, "What if I want to propose to you?!"

In the Summer of 2011, marriage equality became law in New York state. The next day, we had a voice message from a couple of our straight neighbors: "When's the wedding?!" All the pressure to marry came from straight friends and neighbors.

In the Fall of 2011, I ambushed John with a "surprise engagement." I secretly gathered family and friends, and proposed to John on our second floor porch. We shared dinner after at a nearby restaurant.

Many years ago, when our partnership had not yet been secured, I vowed to John: "I commit to exploring relationship with you." I maintain that vow.

Related Content

Bees, a Mockingbird, and Marriage Equality, 2009-05-22
David Joseph Wilcox, 1957-1996, 2008-01-22

Links

Wikipedia: Marriage Equality Act (New York)

2014-05-10

What's Blooming

Updated 2014-05-11: At the request of one of my readers, I started adding photos of the flowers.
Retracted Erythronium; I checked, and its petals have fallen. Hoping for seedset; I have plenty of ants to disperse them!

My backyard native plant garden is bursting with blooms right now. This is probably the peak bloom for the year. It happens to coincide with NYC Wildflower Week, which started today and runs through Sunday, May 18.

I will double-check this list tomorrow, but I think this is what I've got blooming:
  1. Anemonella thalictroides
  2. Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern Red Columbine, Canadian Columbine
  3. Asarum canadense, Wild Ginger
  4. Carex, Sedge
  5. Claytonia virginica, Spring Beauty
  6. Cornus sericea 'Cardinal', Red-Twig Dogwood
  7. Dicentra eximia
  8. Fothergilla gardenii
  9. Fragaria virginiana, Wild Strawberry
  10. Geranium maculatum, Spotted Geranium
  11. Mertensia virginiana, Virginia Bluebells
  12. Phlox stolonifera, Creeping Phlox
  13. Photinia pyrifolia (Aronia arbutifolia) 'Brilliantissima', Red Chokeberry
  14. Polemonium reptans, Jacob's Ladder
  15. Polygonatum biflorum, Solomon's Seal
  16. Podophyllum peltatum, Mayapple
  17. Stylophorum diphyllum, Celandine Poppy
  18. Vaccinium angustifolium, Lowbush Blueberry
  19. Vaccinium corymbosum, Highbush Blueberry
  20. Viola, white-flowering and "vigorously" self-seeding, either V. canadensis or V. striata
  21. Viola sororia, Dooryard Violet, the common "weed" of gardens
  22. Trillium, unsure of species
  23. Tiarella cordifolia, Foamflower
Not all of these photos were taken this weekend, but here are some of the flowers appearing in my backyard.

Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern red columbineAsarum canadense, Wild GingerClaytonia virginica blooming in my urban backyard native plant gardenDicentra eximia 'Aurora'Phlox stolonifera

2014-01-20

Brooklyn Botanic Garden removes science from its mission

After all their protests that eliminating their research staff in August 2013 was not "the end of science" at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, BBG's Board of Trustees quietly voted at the end of September to change their mission. In contrast to their earlier spin machine, BBG has issued no press release, nor any Message from the President, Scot Medbury, to announce this.

2013-12-12

Lemon Cardamon Sugar Cookies

A few weeks ago, I had a craving to do some baking with cardamon (cardamom). A few Google searches later, I found a recipe for lemon cardamon sugar cookies.n

Other than doubling the recipe, and substituting all butter instead of the blend of butter and shortening, I stuck pretty closely, at first, to the original recipe. The batter, however, was overpoweringly lemony; not bad! but the cardamon was lost. So I doubled the cardamon in the original. Still way more lemon than I wanted, so I added a touch of ground cloves.

Even after adding the flour, the dough was very wet and soft. I baked one batch directly after mixing. They spread a lot in baking. I chilled the rest of the dough, which made it easier to manage. They still spread a lot.

Those were the most lemony cookies I ever had. Delicious, but still a waste of good cardamon. I adjusted the recipe further:
  • I reduced the amount of lemon to balance the spices.
  • Reducing the lemon juice also reduces the liquid, for a firmer dough.
  • I added some ground ginger.
  • To save time and reduce waste, I zested a frozen lemon instead of separately zesting and juicing fresh lemons.
The trick of using a frozen lemon and zesting the whole thing is something I picked up from my husband. He came across it, as he says, "on the computer."

This recipe is good enough for all you beta testers out there, but it's not "finished." Although the flavors balance beautifully, my adaptation is now a little dry for my taste. I've made notes in this revision of things I would do differently next time. If you try this recipe - the original, my adaptation, or your own variant - let me know what you did and how it turned out in the comments!

Adapted from: Lemon Cardamom Sugar Cookies, Full Measure of Happiness

Yield: 60 (5 dozen) cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
  • ½ frozen lemon, zested
  • 3 cups (12 ¾ oz) all-purpose flour, sifted, whole wheat or white to taste
    NEXT TIME: Reduce by ¼ or ½ cup
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Let the butter soften to room temperature.
  2. Zest the frozen lemon (pick out seeds, as needed) into a small bowl and set aside to thaw.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together and set aside.
    NEXT TIME: Try adding baking powder and soda LAST to the batter, instead of sifting it with the flour.
  5. Cream the butter until smooth.
  6. Cream the butter and sugar together at high speed until light and fluffy.
  7. Add the zested lemon, extracts, and spices. Add salt to taste, if desired.
  8. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix until just blended together and no flecks remain.
  9. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  10. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  11. Scoop tablespoons of the chilled dough, roll lightly in sugar, and place on the parchment. Flatten them gently with the back of a flat spoon. Leave space between them; they will roughly double in diameter.
  12. Bake for 10 minutes until just brown on the edges. Your sense of smell is the best guide; remove them when you can just smell the sugar caramelizing.
  13. Remove and cool for a few minutes, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

Related Content

Other recipes on this blog

Links

2013-09-16

Sign the Petition to Restore Science to Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Updates:
2013-10-05: Guest post on Garden Rant.
2013-09-26: Thanks to the Brokelyn link, the petition surges past 2,500, adding 800 new signatures in two days, nearly all of them from Brooklyn.
2013-09-24: Brokelyn favorably summarizes the issue and links to the petition.
2013-09-22: The NY Times mentions the petition, but doesn't link to it. It briefly quotes me and links to this blog. The article is a puff piece largely written by BBG.
The petition has reached 1,750 signatures, and continues to grow.
2013-09-19: Brooklyn Daily Eagle and NY Daily News have picked up the petition.
We reached the 1,500 signature mark earlier today.
2013-09-16: Added selections of some of my favorite comments from signatories to the petition.

Contents

Seeds, Asclepias incarnata, Swamp Milkweed, NYC-local ecotype, growing in my urban backyard native plant garden and wildlife habitat in November 2010. Monitoring and propagation of rare and endangered native plants from local, wild populations is one of the activities Brooklyn Botanic has eliminated with its latest round of cuts.
Seeds, /Asclepias incarnata/, Swamp Milkweed, NYC-local ecotype

Three weeks ago, I wrote about the elimination of the last science staff, programs and activities at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG). Since then, I've learned much more about the history of just how far BBG has drifted from its mission, which is supposed to include:
Engaging in research in plant sciences to expand human knowledge of plants, and disseminating the results to science professionals and the general public.
Several of us have continued working to formulate a response. Over the weekend, we launched a petition on Change.org to Restore Science to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden:
Reinstate Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s field work, herbarium and library access, and the scientists needed to support these programs and services.

Restore science as a priority, as required by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s mission: “Engaging in research in plant sciences to expand human knowledge of plants, and disseminating the results to science professionals and the general public.”

Include Brooklyn, its neighborhoods, and scientific communities – the public for which Brooklyn Botanic Garden was founded, and is funded, to serve – in all decisions affecting its research and education programs and activities.
In less than 24 hours, we reached the 100-signature mark. Even this early, after seeing the responses in one day, there's hope we may see thousands of signatures in this campaign.

2013-09-04

Hempstead Plains, Long Island's Remnant Prairie

Updated 2013-09-05: CORRECTION - The white-flowering plant is Eupatorium hyssopifolium, Hyssop-leaf Throughwort, not E. perfoliatum, Common Boneset, as I misidentified it.

At a glance - say, highway speed - this may appear to be yet another old-field meadow, biding its time before it transitions into shrubland and eventually forest. This is Hempstead Plains, one of several mature grasslands on Long Island, and the only true prairie east of the Allegheny Mountains.

Hempstead Plains
Hempstead Plains on the grounds of Nassau Community College in East Garden City, Nassau County, NY. The white-flowering plants are Eupatorium hyssopifolium, Hyssop-leaf Throughwort.

On Sunday, August 25, I joined three other native plant lovers for a whirlwind tour of Hempstead Plains. We had only an hour; I could have spent several hours there. For me, this was a pilgrimage. I spent most of my childhood on Long Island.

2013-08-23

Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Slash and Burn "Campaign for the 21st Century"

Sign the Petition to Restore Science to Brooklyn Botanic Garden! (Added 2013-09-16)

Updates:
2013-08-29: Added more links. I will continue to do so as this story begins to get more exposure.
2013-08-24: Expanded analysis. Added more external links to relevant sections of BBG's Web site.
2013-08-23 18:00: Added response from BBG.

Contents


I was alarmed to read the following on Twitter yesterday [2013-08-21]:
Brooklyn Botanic Garden suspends science program and lays off botany staff. Express concerns to president Scot Medbury scotmedbury@bbg.org.
- New York Flora Association, 2013-08-22, ~06:00 EDT

My Letter

For over a century, since its founding, science has been a foundation of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It is a primary reason why I have supported them. This morning [2013-08-23] I wrote the following email to Scot Medbury, President, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), and the Director of Major Gifts at BBG's Development Department:

2013-08-18

The Supermodel in the Sewer: /Dolichovespula maculata/, Bald-Faced Hornet

Setting aside for a moment the less-than-appealing staging, this is a beautiful creature.
/Dolichovespula maculata/, Bald-Faced Hornet
This is Dolichovespula maculata, the Bald-Faced Hornet. Despite its prevalence, this is my first direct encounter with one.

2013-08-13

Cry Wolf: /Philanthus gibossus/, Beewolf

Philanthus gibossus, Beewolf, on Pycnanthemum muticum, Clustered Mountain-Mint, in my native plant gardens this past weekend.
/Philanthus gibbosus/, Beewolf, on /Pycnanthemum muticum/, Clustered Mountain-Mint

This thirsty little wasp face down in a cup of nectar is a Beewolf, so-named because they provision their larvae with bees. Despite the size of the image, these wasps are small; the individual flowers of this Pycnanthemum are about the size of a pencil point.

2013-08-03

Cupido comyntas, Eastern Tailed-Blue

Cupido comyntas, Eastern Tailed-Blue.


A lifer butterfly for me. Very lucky to get a few good shots of it while it was resting, wings open, to take in some sun. They're small and fast.

2013-07-02

Rainbow Garden

My front garden bloomed all the colors of the rainbow just in time for this past Pride Weekend.
Rainbow Garden

The plants in bloom include natives, heirlooms, passalongs from past plant swaps, and weeds. Not everything in bloom is visible in the photo. Some are too small to stand out at this scale. Others are just off-frame to the right.

2013-06-29

Physocephala tibialis, Thick-Headed Fly

2013-12-29: Identified as Physocephala tibialis by Aaron Schusteff, Contributing Editor of BugGuide.

A few weeks ago, I tweeted:
2013-06-11 19:57: Found - or rather one of our cats did - an incredible wasp-mimic fly. Chilling in refrigerator for later identification.

2013-06-11 20:01: The fly looks very similar to /Physocephala/
http://bugguide.net/node/view/7190/bgimage except all-black at first glance. Will examine more closely later.
This is what she found:
Physocephala, Thick-headed Fly

Yes, that is a fly, not a wasp. You can tell it's a fly from the antennae in the center of the face, instead of the top of the head, the large, rounded eyes that cover both sides of the face, instead of being restricted to the upper part of the head, and the "forked" feet.

Amphion floridensis, Nessus Sphinx Moth

Amphion floridensis, Nessus Sphinx Moth, on Rhododendron viscosum, Swamp Azalea, in my urban backyard native plant garden and wildlife habitat. The two bright yellow bands are a key for this species.
Amphion floridensis, Nessus Sphinx Moth, on Rhododendron viscosum, Swamp Azalea

Another lifer moth for me, I saw this in my backyard a few weeks ago. Fortunately, I had my camera with me. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to break out the flash, or the tripod. This was a fast-moving moth.

2013-06-05

Long Island Native Plant Sale, June 7&8, 14&15

2013-06-09: Updated from my visit on Saturday, 6/8.

The Sale

Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI) Plant Sale

This Friday and Saturday, June 7 and 8, and next week as well, June 14 and 15, is a rare opportunity to purchase local ecotypes - plants propagated from local wild populations - of plants native to Long Island. The sale is organized by the Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI). Proceeds benefit LINPI.

2013-05-28

Magicicada Brood II

UPDATED: Expanded and organized into topics.

Contents

Magicicada in Staten Island's Clove Lakes Park

Yesterday, Matthew Wills and I traveled to Staten Island in search of Magicicada, the periodical cicada, specifically, Brood II. We both had examined the online reports and articles; although the south shore of Staten Island is their stronghold, Cloves Lake Park - not that far from the ferry terminal - kept turning up as one of the places they'd been sighted. As a bonus, I had the car, and this park was closest to the Verrazano narrows bridge.

2013-04-29

My Plant Giveaway

2013-04-30 UPDATE: Full house! Sorry, but the response was enthusiastic. I already have all my availability booked for this weekend. If I have any time on subsequent weekends, I will post another update here.

I'm reorganizing some of my planting areas this Spring. I have many overgrown perennials taking up too much space in my garden. I would love to share them with you.

I'll be working in the garden this weekend, weather permitting, from Saturday May 4 about 12 noon on, and Sunday May 5. I'm on Stratford Road in Beverley Square West (between Cortelyou and
Beverly Roads). Email me at xr...@gmail.com to set a time to stop by and we'll dig the plants fresh out of the ground for you.

If you don't know what will grow, tell me what you have to garden in and I'll give you something that will grow well for you. I have plants for sun, shade, or anything in between:
  • Corydalis cheilanthifolia (ferny foliage, yellow flowers, blooming now)
  • Hemerocallis, Daylilies (mostly the common orange H. fulva, but also some fragrant yellow ones)
  • Iris siberica, Siberian Iris
  • Bearded Iris, Purple-flowering, smell like grape jelly
  • Hosta (plain green leaves, purple flowers)
I also have some native plants - my specialty - that have thrived enough for me to be able to give some away.
  • Asarum canadense, Wild Ginger
  • Helianthus, tall perennial sunflowers, including H. tuberosa, Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Onoclea sensibilis, Sensitive Fern
  • Phlox stolonifera, Creeping Phlox
  • Pycnanthemum, Mountain-Mint, a great pollinator plant
  • Viola, violets, both purple- and white-flowering
... and maybe others if we hunt around the grounds.

All of these are "outdoor" plants. They need the cold of Winter to rest each year. Some of them can be grown in containers; you don't need to have ground to garden!

Happy Gardening!

2013-04-19

A Busy Flatbush Gardener's Weekend

I'll be out and about in the community at two events this weekend. Stop by and say hello! And maybe pick up some tips and plants while you're at it.

Saturday, April 21, 9:30-1:30
Sustainable Flatbush Church Garden - Earth Day Open House
Flatbush Reformed Church
2121 Kenmore Terrace, off East 21st Street, one block south of Church Avenue

View Larger Map

Sunday, April 20, 12-3pm
Great Flatbush Plant Swap 2013
Flatbush Food Coop
1415 Cortelyou Road, corner of Marlborough Road

View Larger Map

Related Content

Great Flatbush Plant Swap 2013, Sunday, 4/21, Noon-3pm

Links

Sustainable Flatbush: Save the date for our Earth Day Open House!

2013-04-17

Great Flatbush Plant Swap 2013, Sunday, 4/21, Noon-3pm

This Sunday, April 21, from noon to 3pm, join your fellow green-thumbs, and brown-thumbs, for the 2013 Great Flatbush Plant Swap.

Got some extra seed-starts you don't need? Leftovers from dividing perennials? No place for that shrub you just dug out? Looking to start a new garden, and want some free plants? Looking to meet your gardening neighbors and pick up some tips?

Each year we've done this, we've re-distributed hundreds of plants. No plants? No problem: everyone can bring home a plant, even if you have none of your own to swap. You don't need to bring something to be able to take something away.

Co-sponsored by the Flatbush Food Co-op and Sustainable Flatbush, this is an opportunity to share or swap plants, meet your gardening neighbors, and get some free plants.

When: Sunday, April 21, 12noon-3pm, Rain or Shine
Where: Flatbush Food Co-op, 1415 Cortelyou Road, corner of Marlborough Road

2013 Plant Swap Flyer
Credit: Baly Cooley

Related Content


2011: Second Annual Great Flatbush Plant Swap
2010: The First Annual Great Flatbush Plant Swap, Saturday, April 24

Links