A milkweed by an other name ...

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
- Juliet, Romeo and Juliet, Wiliam Shakespeare
A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.
- Gertrude Stein, various
I started to get into a little tiffle on a post (since removed) on one of the insect ID groups in Facebook. The original poster was trying to ID a tight cluster of orange eggs on a leaf of a plant she identified as "milkweed vine." One of the responders commented: "Milkweed vine? Not likely." And then we were off.


Coccinella novemnotata, nine-spotted lady beetle, aka "C9"

New York State Gardeners: You can help re-introduce our state insect! See Links below.

A decade ago, shortly after I launched this blog, I wrote the following:
[Coccinella] novemnotata was once common. How did New York State get to have a once-native-but-no-longer-resident state insect?
Not just common; C. novemnotata, or C9 for short, was once the most common lady beetle in the eastern U.S.


Eastern Native Groundcovers

I started to reply to a Facebook post and quickly realized I had enough content for a blog post.
Hello from Long Island NY..looking for suggestion for ground cover that won't eat my plants. I would like somthing a bit tamer the vinca . The area is slightly damp..part sun/part shade. Any suggestions. See posted pics! Thanks!!
The accompanying photos show a mix of young trees, shrubs, and perennials in a nice non-lawn streetside garden. The photos show a lot of sun, with some shade. The shade will increase over time as the trees and shrubs fill in.

Another commenter suggested Lamium and Galium, neither of which I would describe as "tame." Either can take over an area in the right conditions.

These are some of the Eastern North American species I've grown and can recommend as groundcover. Some of these prefer shade, some prefer sun. Most of these will spread by runners, stolons, and the like, as "true" groundcovers. Others are effective as groundcovers because of their habit and crown expansion over time.


10th Blogiversary

10 years ago today, I wrote the first post of Flatbush Gardener, a reflection on my first garden in NYC, started in 1981 in the East Village. I don't think I can summarize all the changes I, and the gardens, have gone through over the past decade. Blogging itself is nearly a lost art, monetized and franchised, aggregated and amplified

Still, the gardens endure, transformed and transforming, embodying and expressing my evolution as a gardener.

The Back Yard
Backyard Over the Years

The Front Yard
Front Yard Over the Years

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Event: Sunday 5/15 NYCWW Tour of my Gardens

The Gardener's Nook this weekend
The Gardener's Nook, May 2016
10 years ago, on May 16, 2006, I wrote the first post for this blog. To celebrate my 10th Blogiversary, on Sunday, May 15, I'm opening my garden for a tour with NYC Wildflower Week. The event is free, but registration is requested, as space is limited.


NYC-Regional Native Plant Sales, Spring 2016

2016-04-12: Added the LINPI Plant Sale dates.

Seasonal sales are one of the best ways to acquire a wide variety of native plants. It's best to do your homework before you go, so you have an idea of your conditions, the kinds of plants that would do well on your site, and your goals for your native plant garden, e.g.: habitat, fall foliage, flowers for cutting. If you're planting to attract insects and wildlife, prefer straight species over cultivars, and local growers over mass-market names.

All the events listed here are within a 90 minute drive from my home in the geographic center of Brooklyn. If you know of any that aren't listed here that you think should be, please let me know, either with a comment below, or by sending me a link to the event on Twitter.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) Native Plant Sale
MWA River Resource Center, 10 Maple Avenue, Asbury, NJ. 08802
Includes plants that are only distantly native, e.g. Midwest natives, and more cultivars than straight species. But they also offer plants from local growers.

Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) Earth Day Native Plant Sale
PPA Headquarters, 17 Pemberton Road, Southampton, NJ 08088
Growers include Pinelands Nursery and New Moon Nursery.
Hit or miss. Two years ago they had a great selection. Last year was a complete bust. They were already sold out of nearly everything when I arrived there shortly after they opened. For this reason, I'm reluctant to waste the time, fuel, and tolls to return on what's essentially a gamble. They have a members-only preview sale the day before, but that's a work day for me.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Time TBA
Great Flatbush Plant Swap
Flatbush Food Co-op, 415 Cortelyou Road (between Rugby & Marlborough Roads), Brooklyn, New York 11226
You don't to bring anything to take home a plant, and all plants are free! Quantities are limited; bring plants or seedlings from own garden to add to the swap, and "earn points" to take home more plants!
I will bring native plants from my own garden, and curate the native plants contributed by others.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Manhattan Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society (MCNARGS) Annual Plant Sale
El Sol Brillante Community Garden, 522-528 East 12th St (between Avenue A & B), New York, NY 10009
While not specifically a native plant sale, they have a wide selection of native plants. The garden is also beautiful in its own right, and worth a visit.

Westchester Community College Native Plant Center Native Plant Sale
Westchester Community College, 75 Grasslands Road, Valhalla, NY 10595
Parking in Visitor Lot #1
Wide variety of plants, from many different sources. Many/most are cultivars, rather than straight species.

May 20 & 21

Friday, May 20, 3-6pm, Saturday, May 21, 9am-12noon
D&R Greenway Land Trust Spring Native Plant Sale
D&R Greenway Johnson Education Center, One Preservation Place, Princeton, New Jersey 08540

Saturday, May 21, 9am-1pm
Hudson Highlands Nature Museum Native Plant Sale
Outdoor Discovery Center, Muser Drive, across from 174 Angola Road, Cornwall, NY 12518

June 3-4

Friday&Saturday, June 3&4
Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI) Native Plant Sale Fundraiser
Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) Eastern Campus, 121 Speonk-Riverhead Road, Riverhead, NY 11901
Offers Long Island regional ecotypes propagated by NYC Parks' Greenbelt Native Plant Center, the only retail source for these plants.

Saturday, June 4
New Jersey Audubon Native Plant Sales
Two sales the same day, at two different locations:
9am-4pm, NJ Audubon's Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, 11 Hardscrabble Rd, Bernardsville, NJ 07924
11am-3pm, NJ New Jersey Audubon's Plainsboro Preserve, 80 Scotts Corner Road, Cranbury, NJ 08512

June 10&11

Friday&Saturday, June 3&4
Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI) Native Plant Sale Fundraiser
Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) Eastern Campus, 121 Speonk-Riverhead Road, Riverhead, NY 11901
Offers Long Island regional ecotypes propagated by NYC Parks' Greenbelt Native Plant Center, the only retail source for these plants.

Dates to be announced

Audubon Greenwich Native Plant Sale
613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, CT 06831
Pre-Orders due April 30

Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI) Native Plant Sale

Related Content

Native Plants Planting Plan, 2015-04-18
FAQ: Where do you get your plants?, 2015-01-03


Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI) Plant Sale
Pinelands Preservation Alliance Plant Sale

Spring Native Plant Sales Near Fairfield County (Warning: Site has pop-ups), Kim Eierman, Norwalk Daily Voice, 2016-04-18


Off-Topic: The Conversation

I moved to NYC the first weekend of 1979. By Spring, I had moved to the East Village, an epicenter of what was first called "gay cancer," then "Gay-Related Immunodeficiency Disease," or GRID. Four years later, by 1983 - the year of the symposium that led to this anthology - it was being called AIDS.
Book Cover, "The AIDS Epidemic," 1983, anthology of a NYC symposium


Recipe: Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies, finished and still warm, February 2016

These cookies have been taste-tested recently at a going-away party and after-church coffee hour. Adults rave about this cookie. You will have no leftovers, even from a double batch.

I've been working on this recipe for a while, and I think I've finally got it to where I want it.


One Score Years Ago

David Joseph Wilcox at Wigstock in Union Square, early 1990s. Scan from original slide, date unrecorded.
David Joseph Wilcox - Wigstock, Union Square

20 years ago, on January 22, 1996, my friend, David Joseph Wilcox, died from AIDS.

The last time I saw him was December 12, 1995. I wrote this on my return trip home on the F train back to Brooklyn from the East Village.


Standing Still

Persephone with her pomegranate. Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Proserpine (Oil on canvas, 1874) - Tate Gallery, London

This season's solstice (Winter in the Northern hemisphere, Summer in the Southern), occurs at 04:48 UTC, December 22, 23:48 Eastern Standard Time (UTC-05:00), December 21.

Illumination of Earth by Sun at the southern solstice.
Etymology: Latin solstitium (sol "sun" + stitium, from sistere "to stand still")
The name is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, its apparent movement north or south comes to a standstill.
- Solstice, Wikipedia
We've had no clear winter here in NYC. It finally got "cold" over the weekend, with temperatures threatening frost, but not quite making. So far, Central Park has had the 3rd longest run of frost-free days in history, and we are within reach of breaking the record.

Dona nobis pacem / Let there be peace

This page has a little MIDI file which bangs out the tune so you can follow the score.

Related Content

2010: From Dark to Dark: Eclipse-Solstice Astro Combo
2009: Standing Still, Looking Ahead
2008: Stand Still / Dona Nobis Pacem
2007: Solstice (the sun stands still)


Wikipedia: Solstice


Extinct Plants of northern North America 2015

I'm limiting this list to northern North America for two reasons:
  1. Restricting this list geographically is in keeping with my specialization in plants native to northeastern North America.
  2. There are many more tropical plants, and plant extinctions, than I can manage; for example, Cuba alone has lost more plant species than I've listed on this blog post. 
If you have additions to this list, please let me know, and provide a link which I can research.
  • Astilbe crenatiloba, Roan Mountain false goat's beard, Roan Mountain, Tennessee, 1885
  • Narthecium montanum, Appalachian Yellow Asphodel, East Flat Rock Bog, Henderson County, North Carolina, before 2004?
  • Neomacounia nitida, Macoun's shining moss, Belleville, Ontario, 1864
  • Orbexilum macrophyllum, bigleaf scurfpea, Polk County, North Carolina, 1899
  • Orbexilum stipulatum, large-stipule leather-root, Falls-of-the-Ohio scurfpea, Rock Island, Falls of the Ohio, KY, 1881
  • Thismia americana, banded trinity, Lake Calumet, IL, 1916

Extinct in the wild (IUCN Red List code EW)

  • Franklinia alatamaha, Franklin Tree
  • Extinct versus Extirpated

    I often come across misuse of the word "extinct," as in: native plant extinct in New York City.
    • "Extinct" means globally extinct. No living specimens exist anywhere in the world, not even in cultivation. 
    • "Extirpated" means locally extinct, while the species persists in other populations outside of the study area. To correct the above example: extirpated in New York City. Any regional Flora lists many extirpated species.
    When a species is known only from one original or remaining population, as those listed above were, loss of that population means extinction for the species. In this case, extirpation and extinction are the same thing.

    Another category is "extinct in the wild," when the species still exists under cultivation, like an animal in a zoo. A famous example of this is Franklinia alatamaha.

    Related Content

    Extinct Plants of northern North America, 2014-11-30


    Wikipedia: List of extinct plants: Americas
    IUCN Red List: List of species extinct in the wild
    The Sixth Extinction: Recent Plant Extinctions
    Extinct and Extirpated Plants from Oregon (PDF, 5 pp)


    Former BBG Herbarium property for sale

    Want to build next to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens? This might be your one and only chance.
    - Development Site Adjacent to Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Hits Market, Terrance Cullen, Commercial Observer, 2015-09-10
    More like building on the grave of BBG's science and research mission. This is not just "walking distance from the Botanic Gardens;" it's the former site of Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Herbarium, known as BKL.
    The 22,000-square-foot plot at 111 Montgomery Street in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn is hitting the market for a potential developer looking to likely build condominiums.
    According to the NYC Department of Buildings, the property is 109-111 Montgomery Street. BBG quietly announced almost a year ago that they would be "disposing" of:
    ... BBG’s building at 109 Montgomery Street, which has foundation problems and is not cost effective to repair.

    The disposition is expected to generate significant revenue ...
    - BBG Announces Disposition of Montgomery Street Building, 2014-10-24
    Indeed. The Observer article gives "an asking price in the mid-$40 million."

    BBG's October announcement made no mention of the herbarium. In their "Freedom is Slavery" double-speak, they claim the sale as "the first step in reintroducing a science research program at the Garden." "Reintroducing" because BBG removed science from their mission in September 2013, with no announcement, just a month after firing their remaining science staff,

    BBG planned to transfer the herbarium - again, without announcement - out of state, either to the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT) or the Smithsonian. This would have been a disaster for the natural history and cultural heritage of New York state. It was only through last-minute, behind-the-scenes advocacy and intervention in March of this year that the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) instead accepted the contents on loan. That move was completed in April.

    In June of this year, BBG sold the property to the holding company, 109 Montgomery LLC, for $24.5 million.

    According to the president of the brokerage handling the sale of the herbarium property, “There’s a real need for families moving into Brooklyn to buy apartments within the $1 to $2 million range.” But no room for science, at any price.

    Related Content

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Slash and Burn "Campaign for the 21st Century", 2013-08-23
    Brooklyn Botanic Garden removes science from its mission, 2014-01-20



    Bombus fervidus, golden northern bumblebee, yellow bumblebee

    Sunday, while cutting up edited plants into my compost tumbler, I caught sight of something unusual out of the corner of my eye. It turned out to be Bombus fervidus, golden northern bumblebee, or simply, the yellow bumblebee.
    Bombus fervidus, golden northern bumblebee, on Vernonia noveboracensis, New York ironweed, in my garden, August 2015

    This is at least the 21st bee species I've found in my garden. And this brings to 20, or more, the number of new insect species I've identified in my garden this year alone.

    Bombus fervidus, golden northern bumblebee

    Related Content

    Flickr photo set
    All my bee photo albums


    BugGuide: Bombus fervidus, Golden Northern Bumble Bee
    Discover Life: Bombus fervidus
    Encyclopedia of Life: Bombus fervidus


    Garden Insect Species Records 2015

    2015-09-19: Added Homeosoma, observed 10 days ago and just identified, bringing the total to 23.
    2015-09-13: Two more Hymenoptera species identified from the last weekend in August: Bombus fervidus, golden northern bumblebee, and Gnamptopelta osidianator, an Ichneumon wasp. And a new Diptera species identified today: Hermetia illucens. That brings the number of species to 22.
    2015-07-12: Added two I'd forgotten about: Orius insidiosus, and Anthrenus verbasci. That brings the number of species to 19.

    These are the insect species I've discovered or identified in my garden for the first time this year.

    Hymenoptera - Bees

    • Bombus fervidus, golden northern bumblebee, yellow bumblebee, 2015-08-30
    • Ceratina calcarata, spurred ceratina, small carpenter bee
    • Cerceris, two different species, not identified down to species.
    • Nomada, cuckoo bee
    • Osmia pumila, mason bee
    • Stelis louisae, Megachilid bee, cleptoparasite of Megachile campanuelae and perhaps related bees

      Stelis louisae (ID correction welcomed) on Heliopsis helianthoides, smooth oxeye, false sunflower, in the front garden, July 2015


    Pyrrhalta viburni, viburnum leaf beetle (VLB)

    Pyrrhalta viburni, the viburnum leaf beetle, or VLB for short, is native to Europe. It was first discovered in North America barely two decades ago, in Maine in 1994. Both larvae and adults eat leaves. Our native Viburnum species are extremely vulnerable; they aren't adapted to this species of leaf beetle. With ample food supply, and no native predators to control its spread, VLB has rapidly expanded its range since.
    The viburnum leaf beetle, Pyrrhalta viburni (Paykull), is an invasive, non-native beetle that first appeared in New York along Lake Ontario in 1996, and has steadily spread across the state and down the Hudson Valley. It is a voracious eater that can defoliate viburnum shrubs entirely. Plants may die after two or three years of heavy infestation, particularly when larvae strip plants after hatching out in spring followed by heavy adult feeding later in summer.
    - Viburnum leaf beetle invading NYC?, Cornell Horticulture Blog, May 2009
    It's been in New York City less than a decade. In Brooklyn, I first observed the damage on Viburnum dentatum, arrowwood, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in May 2012. Last year, I found it in Prospect Park; by May, arrowwoods there were shredded.
    Pyrrhalta viburni, Viburnum leaf beetle, on Viburnum dentatum, arrowwood, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, May 2014


    What I'm About

    Notice anything different about me? Until a few minutes ago, the by-line at the header of this blog read:
    Adventures in Neo-Victorian, Wild, Shade, Organic and Native Plant Gardening, Garden Design, and Garden Restoration.
    It now reads:
    Urban Gardening with Native Plants
    This better communicates the focus of my interests and expertise than the "anything goes" byline it replaces.

    How I got here

    We bought our house and garden 10 years ago. I started this blog 9 years ago.

    The byline I just replaced reflected the experimental approach I was taking to having so much space to play with. Heirloom plants in the front yard, which might have been available to the original gardener of our home. Shade gardening because what urban gardener doesn't have to deal with shade somewhere? Wild, because something has to be left uncultivated. And always organic gardening.

    I've gardened with native plants since my first garden in the East Village. Each of the 4 gardens I've worked on in New York City has incorporated native plants. When we bought our house 10 years ago, I had pretty much a blank slate to work with. I quickly decided that the backyard would be a woodland garden, populated with ephemerals, ferns, and others plants native to the forests of northeastern North America.


    Native Plant Acquisitions: LINPI 2015 Plant Sale

    Saturday, June 13 was the last open day in 2015 for the Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI) Plant Sale. I picked up another 13 species to add to my list, which has already grown this Spring to over 200 species of plants native to eastern North America. We'll see how many of them survive my, um "gardening."

    As with all the plants available through LINPI, all are local ecotypes propagated by NYC Parks' Greenbelt Native Plant Center from wild populations on Long Island and Staten Island. It so happens all these species are also native to New York City.


    (or Asclepiadaceae, depending on taxonomy)

    Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed
    I bought a 6-pack of these from the LINPI Plant sale two years ago. They are blooming now. I bought a flat (6 x 6-packs = 36 plants) this time. I want to have larger groups of them in several sunny areas to see where they thrive.


    Eupatorium hyssopifolium, hyssop-leaved throughwort, hyssop-leaved boneset

    Eupatorium perfoliatum, common boneset, boneset thoroughwort
    This species is only found in wetlands (Wetland indicator status OBL/"obligate"), so I'm planting this in and around the garage, for runoff, and planters, where it will benefit from overflow from watering.

    Eupatorium serotinum, late-flowering thoroughwort
    This was listed incorrectly as Eutrochium serotinum on LINPI's web site. This is the odd one out for nativity, which is challenged by some, e.g.: NEWFS.

    Solidago nemoralis, gray goldenrod
    One of the shade-tolerant goldenrods, I bought a flat of these to plant them all around the house as an experiment to see where/how they fare from sun to shade.

    Solidago speciosa, showy goldenrod


    Vaccinum macrocarpon, cranberry
    This is one of the species available on-site at the plant sale that wasn't listed on LINPI's web site. I already have two of these, one in each bog planter. I bought a 6-pack as an intentional duplicate. I planted 4 in the two bog planters I have. I need to fill in these planters so the squirrels won't keep digging them out. As an experiment, I planted the other two nearby, alongside the garage, where they'll get runoff from the roof and gutter downspout.


    Chamaecrista fasciculata, prairie senna, partridge pea, partridge sensitive-pea
    Lespedeza hirta
    Lespedeza virginica


    Hibiscus moscheutos, swamp rosemallow
    Another obligate wetland species, I planted this by the side of the garage to benefit from runoff from the roof, and to server as a backdrop for this mixed shrub-perennial bed.


    Panicum virgatum, switchgrass
    Sorghastrum nutans, indian grass
    Tridens flavus, purple top


    Rosa carolina, Carolina rose


    Cephalanthus occidentalis, buttonbush

    Related Content

    Other blog posts about my native plant garden


    Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI) Plant Sale


    Ripley, 2000-2015

    Our Ripley died with us around 1:30 this morning.

    It's still the middle of the night. We had an 8am appointment with the vet for an ultrasound exam to find out what was going on. Instead, I'll be taking his body in for cremation.

    I need to try to get at least a few more hours sleep. I needed to write something first.

    We adopted him when he was almost 8 years old.


    Native New Yorkers: My Garden's NYC-Native Plant Checklist

    This is a checklist of just the plant species native to New York City I'm growing in my garden. I'm posting this for the benefit of anyone attending the NYC Wildflower Week tour of my garden, Friday, May 15, from 1-3pm. It may also be of interest to those who attended Tuesday night's meeting of the Long Island Botanical Society. I only had time during that talk - Place, Purpose, Plants: Urban Gardening with Native Plants - to highlight a handful of plants I'm growing.

    Visitors are also going to get to witness a rare treat: "My little bees", Colletes thoracicus, are actively nest-building in the garden right now. Most years, they would be finished by now, not to be seen until April of the next year. If we're lucky, we will also get to see the Nomada sp. cuckoo bees I just noticed in my garden for the first time this year.


    Place, Purpose, Plants: Urban Gardening with Native Plants

    At last night's meeting of the Long Island Botanical Society, I spoke about my experiences gardening with native plants in an urban setting. These slides accompanied my talk.

    Related Content

    All my blog posts about My Garden
    Other Native Plants blog posts, resources, and references
    My insect photography on Flickr


    Bennington, J Bret, 2003. New Observations on the Glacial Geomorphology of Long Island from a digital elevation model (DEM) (PDF). Long Island Geologists Conference, Stony Brook, New York, April 2003.