Grief and Baking: Rolled Holiday Butter Cookies

Today is World AIDS Day. By coincidence, the 41st president also just died, reminding me - and the cohort of survivors from his dark reign - how many more of us died on his watch from inaction, and more active hatred.

It's also my dad's mortiversary, the 10th anniversary of his death.

As I did ten years ago, I turned to baking. In anticipation of our upcoming tree-trimming party, and a hoped-for cookie-decorating side activity, I chose a rolling cookie recipe from King Arthur Flour. Since I'm unfamiliar with this type of cookie, I stayed as close as I could to the original recipe.

Holiday Butter Cookies, December 2018

I consider these a qualified success. There are some improvements I can make, mostly about technique. I'm happy with the basic recipe.


Extinct Plants of northern North America 2018

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 2015, 2015-11-29
    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)


    100 Years Ago

    On November 1, 1918, the worst transit disaster in New York City history occurred just outside Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The wooden cars of the Brighton Beach line of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit (B.R.T.) company left the tracks, crashing inside the tunnel beneath the busy intersection where Flatbush Avenue, Ocean Avenue and Malbone Street met [Google map]. The Malbone Street Wreck killed nearly 100 people and injured more than 250. Criminal trials and lawsuits arising from the accident dragged on for years, contributing to the bankruptcy of the BRT. The name "Malbone Street" became associated with the disaster; it's known today as Empire Boulevard.


    Plant Blindness and Urban Ecology

    A small patch of biodiversity - i.e.: weeds - from my driveway.
    Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

    A recent article in the Wall Street Journal has people talking about it, e.g.: on the Twitter. The term "plant blindness" has been in use for a while, especially among those of us intensely interested in the subject of plants, from gardeners to botanists.

    "Apps" and Social Media

    I've seen folks get more interested in plants when they can reduce, or eliminate, the risk of being shamed by others for ignorance. (Which is nothing to be ashamed of, nor to shame others for. We all start out ignorant. Choosing to remain so, on the other hand ...)


    NPILC 2018 - Speaker Notes and Handout

    2018-06-23: Updated with more links.

    Following is the outline, speaker notes, and references of my talk at this year's Native Plants in the Landscape Conference. This was to have been published as a speaker handout for attendees, but it never made it to the conference Web site. So I'm publishing it here.

    This isn't intended to stand alone. This post has many links to my blog posts and photos for further reading and viewing. And the presentation itself is available on Slideshare.


    NPILC 2018 - Books

    I spoke this year at the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference at Millersville University in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The organizers asked speakers for a list of books we recommend.

    Just a few of the books for sale at the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference 2018

    This is my list, grouped roughly by category.


    City Nature Challenge 2018

    Viola sororia, common blue violet, in the front yard, April 2018
    The "weedy" remnants of my front lawn, where Viola sororia, common blue violet, has taken charge. Easily overlooked, it seeds itself readily without any help from me (or any other gardener). Yet this species is native to New York City. It's one of my iNaturalist observations from my garden for this year's City Nature Challenge.

    Today, Sunday, April 29th, is day 3 of the global City Nature Challenge, which continues into tomorrow. Building on the explosive popularity of iNaturalist as a platform for observations, this gamified bioblitz pits cities against each other, to see which can identify more taxa of living species in a 96-hour period.

    NYC is currently is 6th place globally, and 4th nationally. There are still plenty of opportunities to join special events organized for New York City, with events in 4 of our 5 boroughs today, and more tomorrow.

    I wasn't able to take part in yesterday's festivities. This weekend, I have to get my garden ready for this season's garden tours. Armed with only my phone, I kept an eye out for anything I might see, uncover, or unearth. I was rewarded.


    Native Plant Acquisitions, Gowanus Canal Conservancy Plant Sale

    Today I made my way to my first Gowanus Canal Conservancy Native Plant Sale. Today is Earth Day 2018, and today's sale was held at their nursery location, the Salt Lot where Second Avenue ends at the Gowanus Canal. They have two more sales this season. The next, on May 19th, conflicts with the NYC Wildflower Week tour of my garden.

    Gowanus Canal Conservancy Salt Lot entrance, April 2018

    A wide range of species are listed are available on their nursery page. Not all of them are still in stock. In compensation, they had other unlisted species available at today's plant sale.


    Emerald Ash Borer Discovered in Prospect Park

    Terrible news.

    Until this announcement, Agrilus planipennis, emerald ash borer, or EAB for short, had been found throughout New York state, but the locations closest to NYC were in Westchester County. This is quite a leap. One of the ways invasive forest pests get spread is through moving firewood. I wonder if that was the case here.

    I live 1/2 mile south of Prospect Park. I am going to visit the ash trees in my neighborhood. They may not be here next year.

    Press release from Prospect Park Alliance, 2017-10-27:
    Today, the New York State Departments of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) and Environmental Conservation (DEC) confirmed the first-ever discovery of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in New York City in Prospect Park. Of an initial survey of 10 suspected trees in Prospect Park by Prospect Park Alliance—the non-profit that cares for the Park in partnership with the City, three were confirmed to be infested by this invasive pest by a Cornell University researcher.


    Remembering Sandy, Five Years Later

    Rockaway Beach Boulevard, between Beach 113th & 114th Streets, Rockaway Park, Queens, November 4, 2012Rockaway Beach Boulevard, between Beach 113th & 114th Streets, Rockaway Park, Queens, November 2012

    The storm surge flooded this block to at least five feet. Fire broke out and was quickly spread by 80-mph winds. These buildings burned down to the water line.

    This was the site of a heroic rescue by FDNY Swift Water Team 6 and other firefighters attached to this unit for rescues during the storm. Firefighters Edward A. Morrison and Thomas J. Fee received awards for their actions during these rescues.

    Investigators later determined this fire was caused by downed electrical wires falling onto 113-18 Rockaway Beach Boulevard. 16 homes were destroyed by the fire.

    There was worse destruction than this on Beach 130th Street, between Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach Channel Road. That fire started at 239 Beach 129 St. and destroyed 31 buildings.

    Related Content



    Blooming Now

    NYC-Native Species

    Asarum canadense, wild ginger

    Fragaria virginiana, Virginia strawberry

    Geranium maculatum

    Geum rivale, purple avens
    Geum rivale, water avens, purple avens

    Podophyllum peltatum, mayapple

    Polygonatum biflorum

    Rhododendron periclymenoides
    Rhododendron periclymenoides, pinxterbloom azalea

    Thalictrum thalictroides

    Vaccinium angustifolium, lowbush blueberry

    Vaccinium corymbosum, highbush blueberry

    Viola lanceolata, bog white violet

    Viola sororia, dooryard violet (several different varieties)

    Zizia aurea, golden alexanders

    Eastern Regional Native Species

    Dicentra eximia
    Fothergilla major
    Phlox stolonifera (in bud)
    Polemonium reptans, Jacob's ladder
    Sedum ternatum
    Stylophorum diphyllum, woodland poppy
    Tiarella cordifolia, foamflower
    Trillium grandiflorum, great white trillium


    Standing Still 2016

    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 10:44 UTC, December 22, 05:44 Eastern Standard Time (UTC-05:00), December 21. 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
    This year feels darker than most. Yesterday, as expected, the U.S. presidential electorate election was affirmed. "Standing Still" takes on a different meaning if there's a chance the light won't return.

    A Single Candle

    So we light a candle against the darkness, and try to keep it lit. If I'm feeling hopeful, I might reflect on these lyrics from Peter Gabriel's song written in memory of Stephen Biko, who would have been 90 this past week:
    You can blow out a candle
    But you can't blow out a fire.
    Once the flames begin to catch
    The wind will blow it higher.
    Wishing for peace, wishing you peace, these dark days.

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

    Illumination of Earth by Sun at the southern solstice.

    Related Content


    Wikipedia: Solstice


    Lemon-Cardamon Sugar Cookies

    This is an updated version of a recipe I published 3 years ago. This version reflects the adjustments I've made since then. I feel like I've perfected this one. If you try this recipe, let me know what you did and how it turned out in the comments!

    Lemon-Cardamon Sugar Cookies, cooled and ready for consumption


    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

    Related Content



    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