The 10th Annual Brownstone Brooklyn Garden Walk

Update, 2007.06.07: All the Prospect Heights photos are up as of this morning. Clinton Hill photos are up as of Tuesday night.

I made it to all 16 stops on the Brownstone Garden Walk today. I think I should get some kind of prize.

I took about 350 photos today. I'll be uploading them as I can. Here are the placeholders for the photos from each neighborhood, in the order I visited them.
  1. Fort Greene
  2. Clinton Hill
  3. Prospect Heights
I had no time to visit any of the community gardens. It was all I could do to visit each garden on the walk. I was going to bail out after Clinton Hill, but I started getting requests from some of the organizers for photos, since they had no one "official" taking photos and had no time themselves to do so.

Some general observations.

There was a lot of imagination demonstrated in the approaches taken and solutions to the challenges of each site. Making the best use of limited space is a common challenge, but so is shade, competition from tree roots, where to store your garden necessities, and so on. Yet even with these common challenges, the solutions were different. Lots of ideas for techniques to apply in similar situations.

I also gained an insight into why a garden-only tour would be preferable to a mixed house and garden tour. On a house tour, though I might get some ideas about what to do with my house, what if I don't own a house? The gap between what I'm seeing and what i could imagine doing myself is more likely to be insurmountable with a house tour than a garden tour.

Even if it's a single plant in a pot, everyone can garden, even those who don't own any land. And the gardeners I met today were talkative. Everyone had some insight to share, some experience, some history. It just had a warmer feeling than I get when I'm on a house tour. Maybe it's just how gardeners are. Maybe it's just that I like gardens, and gardeners, more than "house people."

Overall the event was well-organized. They had ample volunteers covering each stop. Most of them also seemed to be avid gardeners, and I had several enjoyable conversations with them, as well as owners and gardeners at several gardens. I gave out all my remaining Flickr cards. I need to order another set for the upcoming Brooklyn Blogade meetup in three weeks on June 24.

Some things I hope they improve upon next year:
  • The promised "free shuttle van service" didn't materialize. It took me over four hours to cover all three neighborhoods. But the neighborhoods are well served by bus service, at least better served than my neighborhood. The map provided showed the bus routes, which was a big help, since I hadn't brought my own Brooklyn bus map.
  • It wasn't clear ahead of time that there were multiple locations to purchase tickets the day of the walk. I don't know why, but somehow I thought that the BAM Triangle Garden was the starting point for the tour, and that you had to purchase tickets there the day of if you hadn't purchased them in advance. Only when I got my map did I learn that there were ticket locations in all three neighborhoods. I would have planned my trip differently had I known that in advance.
  • For someone who is not familiar with the neighborhoods, some things were confusing. It took me a half-hour just to find the BAM Triangle Garden. Once I did, I found this sign:
    Placard, Garden Walk.
    Well, I have no idea where St. Felix Street is. A simple arrow drawn on the sign might have sent me in the right direction. Just some additional wayfinding for out-of-towners such as myself.
But those are my only complaints. The event was otherwise well-organized, the gardens varied and all worthwhile. I got lots of ideas for my own gardens, and how we might be able to organize a garden-only tour for our area.

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