Brooklyn Garden Tour Calendar

Most of these are house tours which also feature gardens, some are garden-only tours.

Brooklyn Heights, May 9

Five houses and their gardens will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. for the 24th annual tour of the Brooklyn Heights Association. There will be an 1842 Greek Revival house on a street once known as Mansion Row, with its original mahogany woodwork and a collection of contemporary art by American and German artists, and an 1846 house on a corner lot with formal-style gardens, interior front and back staircases and a Federal doorway that was salvaged from a neighborhood building. No children under 13 except infants in front packs. Reservations are recommended. Tickets, $30, by calling (718) 858-9193 and brooklynheightsassociation.org. On the day of the tour only, tickets will be sold starting at 12:30 p.m. at 129 Pierrepont Street (near Clinton Street). [Via New York Times, 2009-04-30]

East New York, May 17

East New York Community Gardens Bike Tour
As part of Bike Month NYC, join GreenThumb Community Gardeners for a bike tour starting in East New York, part of NYC's densest concentration of community gardens. Learn about the tumultuous history of gardening in NYC and see the fruits of the gardens.
Sunday, May 17, 2009, 9:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Start at Green Gems Community Garden, 947-953 Glenmore Avenue, between Fountain and Crystal Street

Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, May 31

Eleven houses will be open from noon to 5 p.m., including a 1907 limestone house renovated with a mix of pocket doors, antique chandeliers, an exercise room and a contemporary galley kitchen; a 1911 townhouse with original Arts and Crafts interior details and a staircase decorated with vintage maps; and the home of the 2006 Silver Award winner of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, which has a back garden with two waterfalls, charming seating areas and winding paths. Infants in front packs only. Tickets, $25, at K-Dog & Dunebuggy Cafe, 43 Lincoln Road (between Flatbush and Ocean Avenues). Advance tickets, $20. Information: (718) 284-6210 or (718) 462-0024 and at leffertsmanor.org. [Via New York Times, 2009-04-30]

PROSPECT HEIGHTS, FORT GREENE AND CLINTON HILL, BROOKLYN, JUNE 14 The Brownstone Brooklyn Garden District’s Garden Walk, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., will feature a dozen private and five community gardens. This year’s sites include two gardens that occupy neighboring yards behind adjacent town houses. One evokes ancient Rome, with shards of masonry, sculptural fragments and embedded plaques set among perennials and tropical plants. The other, centered by a cherry tree planted by the jazz singer Betty Carter, features perennial plantings and flowering trees.

Tickets, $20, at the Forest Floor, 659 Vanderbilt Avenue (Prospect Place) in Prospect Heights; Greene Grape Provisions, 753 Fulton Street (South Portland Avenue) in Fort Greene; and Root Stock and Quade, 471 Myrtle Avenue (Washington Street) in Clinton Hill. Advance tickets, $15, and information: (718) 858-7968, e-mail to brownstonebgd@gmail.com or bbgd.wordpress.com.

CROWN HEIGHTS NORTH, BROOKLYN OCT. 4 Eight houses, two churches and a community garden will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets, $25, at St. Gregory’s Parish School, 991 St. Johns Place (between Brooklyn and New York Avenues). Advance tickets, $20, and information at (917) 748-4664 and crownheightsnorth.org. [Via New York Times, 2009-04-30]


Wildflower Week in NYC, 5/1 through 5/9

Mertensia virginica, Virginia Bluebells blooming yesterday afternoon in the Native Flora Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Mertensia virginica, Virginia Bluebells

This Friday, May 1, through next Saturday, May 9, is the Second Annual New York City Wildflower Week (WFW):
The 2nd annual NYC Wildflower Week celebrates all things green and wild in the Big Apple—the hundreds of native flowers, trees, shrubs and grasses that are found in the five boroughs. It gives New Yorkers numerous ways to connect with and be inspired by their local environment. Free activities throughout the city include: botanical walks, garden tours, ecology lectures, children’s events, planting opportunities, cooking classes, and food tastings at top restaurants. It is the largest celebration of National Wildflower Week, an initiative begun by Lady Bird Johnson.
Events are two numerous to list here. Please see the WFW calendar for a complete listing of and details on all events. They cover all five boroughs. See below for events in Brooklyn, which are also listed in the Flatbush Gardener calendar in the sidebar.

Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern Columbine blooming in the Union Square Native Plant Garden in May 2008.
Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern Columbine, Native Plant Garden, Union Square

Sunday, May 3, 11am: Native Plants of the Marsh of Marine Park

Guide: Ranger Allison McCarthy (allison.mccarthy@parks.nyc.gov)
Location: Meet outside Salt Marsh Nature Center, 3302 Avenue U
For more information, call 311 and ask for the Brooklyn Urban Park Rangers.
Description: Join the Urban Park Rangers for a hike through the salt marsh and learn about New York City’s beautiful native flora that flourish in the wetlands of Brooklyn. Dress for the weather, bring comfortable walking shoes and water, hat. You may also like to have a camera, hand lens, field guides, water, bug spray.

Sunday, May 3, 3:00pm: Prospect Park

Guide: Anne Wong, Director of Landscape Management (awong@prospectpark.org)
Location: Meet at Prospect Park Audubon Center
Description: Tour recent restorations in the woodlands and along the waterways in Prospect Park. The walk will focus on native plantings as well as invasive plant problems.

Dodecathon meadia, Eastern Shooting-Star, yesterday afternoon, Native Flora Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Dodecathon meadia, Eastern Shooting-Star

Wednesday, May 6, 11am: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Native Flora Garden,

Location: Meet at the front entrance of the Native Flora Garden (by the wooden gates, across from the Lilac Collection)
Guide: Ulrich Lorimer, Curator of BBG's Native Flora Garden
Description: Highlights will include many spring ephemerals such as trillium species (Trillium spp.), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) and violets (Viola spp.). Native azaleas will also be in bloom including the flame, pinxterbloom and sweet azaleas (Rhododendron spp.). A multitude of fern species will be emerging as well as aquatics such as golden club (Orontium aquaticum) and blue flag iris (Iris versicolor).

Lilium canadense, Canada Lily, July 2006, Native Flora Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Lilium canadense, Canada Lily

Thursday, May 7, 3:30-5:00pm: Brooklyn Bridge Park

Location: Meet at corner of Main Street and Plymouth Street in DUMBO
Description: This program is presented by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy with guest speaker and native plant specialist Sara Stopek. It features a guided tour of native plants and wildflowers in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The tour is followed by a native wildflower planting project by students from Science Skills High School.
To sign up please contact: Kara Gilmour, Education and Stewardship Coordinator, email: kgilmour@bbpc.net, or call 718-802-0603 x18

Berries of Phytolacca americana, Pokeweed, in my backyard native plant garden in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in October 2007.
Berries, Phytolacca americana, Pokeweed


Related Content

My photos of BBG's Native Flora Garden (Flickr Collection)


New York City Wildflower Week (WFW)
Native Flora Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy


Native Flora Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The Native Flora Garden was how I hoped it would be. Some of my favorite native woodland wildflowers were in bloom.

That was before our weekend heat wave and record high temperatures. Starting this week, I'll be returning on Tuesday afternoons, when I take my Soil Management course toward my Certificate in Horticulture at BBG. The instructor is Uli Lorimer, who is also the curator of the Native Flora Garden.


Selected Photos

The view just inside the southern entrance to the garden.
Native Flora Garden

There is a large drift of Viola sororia forma priceana, Confederate Violet, just inside the southern entrance to this garden. I would not mind this growing as a "weed" in my garden in place of the common purple violets I'm constantly digging out.
Viola sororia forma priceana, Confederate Violet

Dicentra eximia, Eastern Bleeding-Heart, grows inside and outside the entrance, and throughout the garden. I have a white-flowering form in my backyard garden which is just starting to bloom.
Dicentra eximia, Eastern Bleeding-Heart

D. cucullaria, Dutchman's Breeches, blooms nearby with similar wands of dangling flowers and lovely ferny foliage.
Dicentra cucullaria, Dutchman's Breeches

Erythronium americanum, Trout-Lily (yellow) and Trillium grandiflorum (white). When I visited, the Trout-Lily were blooming in fields of thousands all over the Native Flora Garden.
Erythronium americanum and Trillium grandiflorum

T. erectum, Purple Trillium, was bashful despite its specific epithet.
Label, Trillium erectum, Pruple Trillium

From repeated visits, I'm coming to appreciate the subtle charms of Uvularia sessilifolia, Wild Oats. This is one of the few upright flowers I found, just emerging from the bud; as the flowers mature, the peduncle extends, and the flowers dangle below like narrow bells.
Uvularia sessilifolia, Wild Oats

Caltha palustris, Marsh Marigold, growing in the Bog habitat.


Related Content

Flickr Set


Plant Trees in Ditmas Park West, Sunday, 4/26

I helped plant this Zelkova serrata, Japanese Zelkova, last year.
Tamping in

Part of the Arbor Day weekend activities in Flatbush, on Sunday you can help plant 9 trees in Ditmas Park West, one of the neighborhoods of Victorian Flatbush.

Meet at 10am at 458 Rugby Road [GMAP]. Bring your own tools and gloves, if you have them. Wear sturdy work boots, and prepare to get dirty! No rain is predicated through the weekend, so you won't have to deal with last year's mud. Possibly record highs - temperatures in the upper 80s - are predicted for Sunday, so wear your sunscreen and bring lots of water to stay hydrated.

At the meeting place, they will form work crews which will fan out to different locations. Some will plant trees, some will do cleanups. At 1pm, folks meet up for lunch.

[bit.ly] [TinyURL]

Related Content

2008 Ditmas Park West Tree Planting


Happy Earth Day

Earthrise, Apollo VIII, December 22, 1968
Earthrise, Apollo 8

I remember when we first received images of the earth from space. This image, taken by Apollo VIII astronauts returning to Earth after circumnavigating the moon, was not the first. But, showing the green, wet, full-of-life, and finite Earth in stark contrast to the dry, lifeless Moon, it helped energize the environmental movement.
The rising Earth is about five degrees above the lunar horizon in this telephoto view taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft near 110 degrees east longitude. The horizon, about 570 kilometers (250 statute miles) from the spacecraft, is near the eastern limb of the Moon as viewed from the Earth. On the earth, the sunset terminator crosses Africa. The south pole is in the white area near the left end of the terminator. North and South America are under the clouds. The lunar surface probably has less pronounced color than indicated by this print.
- NASA Earth Observatory


Flatbush Tree Tour, Saturday, April 25

2009.04.23 IMPORTANT TRANSIT SERVICE ADVISORY: The Manhattan-bound Q train will only stop at Church Avenue between Kings Highway and Prospect Park this weekend. Coney Island bound trains will make all stops.

Argyle Road in my neighborhood of Beverley Square West in Flatbush, Brooklyn, one of the blocks that will be on Saturday's tour.
364 (left), 358, and 352 Argyle Road, Beverley Square West

This Saturday, April 25, join Sustainable Flatbush in our second year of celebrating Arbor Day and the magnificent street trees of Brooklyn's Victorian Flatbush. The Sustainable Flatbush Arbor Day 2009 Street Tree Walking Tour reprises last year's route, visiting the Victorian Flatbush neighborhoods of Beverley Square West and Prospect Park South.

Tours will depart at 11am and 12noon from Third Root Community Health Center at 380 Marlborough Road, just south of Cortelyou Road. [GMAP] Take the Q train to Cortelyou Road and walk one block west (left) to Marlborough Road after exiting the station.

View Sustainable Flatbush Arbor Day 2009 Street Tree Walking Tour in a larger map

Your tour guides will be my neighbor, Tracey Hohman, a professional gardener, and yours truly. Throughout the tour, we will:
  • identify trees and their characteristics
  • share interesting facts
  • explore local tree history
  • discuss the many ways street trees benefit the environment
  • explain how to obtain and care for street trees
  • and more
This FREE tour is a little over a mile in length and lasts approximately 90 minutes. Tours will take place rain or shine. Please gear appropriately for the weather and walk: sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, water, and so on.

The area boasts a rich variety of both street trees and ornamental trees and shrubs. On the tour, you will see:
  • Acer platanoides, Norway Maple
  • Aesculus hippocastanum, Horsechestnut
  • Amelancier, Serviceberry
  • Betula nigra, River Birch
  • Cercis canadensis, Redbud
  • Cornus florida, Flowering Dogwood
  • Cryptomeria japonica, Japanese Red Cedar
  • Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgo
  • Gleditsia triacanthos, Honey Locust
  • Liquidambar styraciflua, Sweetgum
  • Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Dawn Redwood
  • Pinus strobus, White Pine
  • Platanus x acerifolia, London Plane
  • Pyrus calleryana, Flowering Pear, Callery Pear
  • Quercus palustris, Pin Oak
  • Quercus robur 'Fastigiata', Columnar English Oak
  • Sophora japonica, Japanese Pagoda Tree, Scholar Tree
  • Tsuga canadensis, Eastern Hemlock
  • Ulmus americana, American Elm
  • ... and many more
For more information about the tour, please email garden AT sustainableflatbush DOT org.

Sustainable Flatbush brings neighbors together to discuss, educate, and advocate for sustainable living in our Brooklyn neighborhood and beyond.


Related Content

Arbor Day posts


Sustainable Flatbush


To request a free street tree, fill out the form at http://www.nyc.gov/freetree

Million Trees NYC
Trees New York

Online Tree ID Guide, Arbor Day Foundation
Dirr, Michael A. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Timber Press. ISBN-13: 9780881924046


Viburnum dentatum, Arrowwood

When we moved to our new home in Flatbush four years ago, my garden moved with me. Rather, the plants from my garden. All were planted hurriedly, with the intent of moving them "later in the season." In some cases, "later" has become four years later. Case in point: Viburnum dentatum, Southern Arrowwood. (Some botanists recognize a separate species, V. recognitum, Northern Arrowwood, for variants with smooth twigs.)

Viburnum dentatum, before transplant

Very handsome, but not what I thought I had acquired. This individual was supposed to be V. dentatum 'Christom' (Blue Muffin®), a dwarf cultivar reaching 4-5 feet in height and 3-4 feet in breadth. (The species is highly variable, height can range from 3 feet up to a maximum of 15 feet.) It's now over 6-1/2 feet high and has extended across the narrow concrete path at its feet. So I can be forgiven some poor planning on my part that the plant has far exceeded its expected bounds.

I needed to move it from this location because it was blocking the path. However, in this location it was doing an excellent job of screening some "necessaries": cans and bins for garbage, recycling, and composting. And that suggested I could solve two problems at once by transplanting it to the backyard to screen the gardener's nook from the street.

Folks walking by on the sidewalk get a straight view into this corner of the backyard. I want this to be an intimate, sheltered location.
View to gardener's corner

When I did the garden design for my backyard, I doubled the depth of the bed along the north edge of the property, visible on the left of the photo above and the plan below.
Final rendering, backyard garden design

Earlier this season, I executed that part of the plan. On the right, the gardener's nook is located where the deck will extend to accommodate a bench, as shown on the upper left of the plan above.
Gardener's corner

I transplanted the Viburnum to roughly the location indicated by the shrub marked "L" in the plan. I had specified Lindera benzoin, which I don't have, for that location, but the Arrowwood should do as well there. You can see that it does a great job of screening the view, even though it hasn't fully leafed out yet. During the summer, the nook will now be completely shielded from the street.
View to gardener's corner, after transplant

It also dramatically changes the character of the space. Compare these before and after shots. The backyard now has a sense of enclosure it didn't have before, even within the parts of the backyard that are not visible from the street. This validates a key strategy of the design: enclosing the space with shrubs to create the feeling of being in a woodland garden.

Before transplant, lateral view

After transplant

Related Content

Woodland Garden Design Plant List, 2009-02-18

Native Plant Profiles


Viburnum dentatum
Connecticut Botanical Society
V. dentatum 'Christom'


Parks Turf Lead Results

Synthetic Turf on Field 11, Parade Grounds, Caton Avenue, Flatbush
Field 11, Parade Grounds, Caton Avenue

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) has released a report detailing the results of testing for lead levels in synthetic turf from playgrounds and sports fields across the city:
The Health Department found an elevated lead level in the crumb rubber infill material at Thomas Jefferson Park in Manhattan in 2008. ... Using protocols developed by the Health Department, an accredited lab working for the Parks Department has since tested the remaining synthetic turf installations throughout New York City for lead and has not found a lead hazard at any other fields.
Aside from Thomas Jefferson Park, the test results for the remaining 102 fields and play areas were below the acceptable EPA lead level for soil (400 parts per million [ppm]), the best standard available, and no potential lead hazards were found. Lead levels for the 102 fields ranged from ‘not detected’ to 240 ppm and 96% of the results were less than 100 ppm.
- Synthetic Turf Lead Results, Parks
The highest level of the new study, 240 ppm, was found in J.J. Walker Park in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. The second highest, 154 ppm, was found at Parade Ground Field 9, just south of Prospect Park in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

Via New Yorkers for Parks on Twitter

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Hearing on Parks' use of artificial turf, 2007-12-06


Synthetic Turf Lead Results, Parks


Robert Guskind Memorial Video

Update 2010.01.03: Corrected all links to the old Gowanus Lounge domain to the new memorial domain.

This is the video that opened the Memorial on Saturday. If you didn't know Bob, or you're one of my distant gardener-readers who by now must be wondering why I've written so much about him the past few weeks, please watch this.

via Gowanus Lounge

Robert Guskind 1958-2009, Blue Barn Pictures, Inc. Directed by Stephen Duke
As it has been so eloquently stated in the past, the departed live on in the memories of the living.

Related Content

Memorial for Robert "Bob" Guskind, April 4
Remembering Bob, 2009-03-14
Robert Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge, 1958-2009, 2009-03-05


At the Robert Guskind Memorial Gathering: Heartfelt Thanks and Fellowship, Gowanus Lounge, 2009-03-06


Robert Guskind Memorial Gathering

Update 2010.01.03: Corrected all links to the old Gowanus Lounge domain to the new memorial domain.

The close of the Robert Guskind Memorial Gathering at the Brooklyn Lyceum on Saturday, April 4, 2009
Robert Guskind Memorial Gathering

Last Saturday I attended the Memorial Gathering to celebrate the life and work of Robert Guskind and mourn his passing. A recap, with thanks to the many organizers and contributors, is on Gowanus Lounge. My contribution was baking 20 dozen cookies for the event:

Cookies, Guskind Memorial

Steve Duke of Blue Barn Pictures compiled a video tribute of Bob's own photos, recorded interviews, and video footage. It was surreal to see him up there on the screen - There he is! - speaking to the camera, just like I remember him, as if it was a bad joke and he would step out and great us. Intellectually, I recognize that feeling as dissociation, a manifestation of denial, and part of the grieving process. That understanding doesn't diminish how it felt to be there that afternoon.

There were a lot of speakers. Some whose words stuck with me:
  • Jake Dobkin spoke of meeting Bob for the first time and being surprised, first that he was not a 20-something geek, and second that Bob treated him with respect, as an equal, despite their difference in age. Being Bob's age myself, I was struck that "young people" still get shit from "older people," but ageism is bidirectional.
  • Brenda Becker nailed it when she described Bob's love of "broken" things, such as Coney Island and the Gowanus Canal, and his ability to see the beauty in them.
  • Marc Farre, a friend of Bob's since their college freshman days, spoke at length. He provided important biographical background, and shared insights gained from practically a lifelong friendship. He spoke of Bob's hunger for "transcendence." He also admonished us (with more passion and anger than my words here convey) that the details of Bob's death don't matter, that whatever we write of Bob's life or death, it's really about us, the writers, and not Bob.
The event ran much later than I expected, well past the original 5pm scheduled end time. I stayed late to speak with others attending, and helped (a little) clean up.

When I RSVP'd, I indicated that I wanted to speak. Baking all those cookies was itself a kind of meditation. Line a cookie sheet, scoop out balls of dough, roll or shape them, place the tray, set the timer, remove the tray, remove the cookies, cool and wipe the tray. Repeat 20 times. So I had thought a lot about what I wanted to say.

But I hadn't written anything down until Miss Heather informed me that I would be second up to speak (I was third, I think). I scribbled some notes, and scrounged a wireless connection to lookup my own blog and copy some lines from my remembrance post. I'll try to recreate here some of what I spoke about.

I knew Bob only as "Gowanus Lounge," as he knew me only as "Flatbush Gardener." I related some stories about our early email correspondence, our few meetings. Mainly I talked about recovery, which - as I learned only after his death - was an important aspect of Bob's life, and something we had in common.

Two weeks ago was my 16th sobriety anniversary. But sobriety, or abstinence, is not the same as recovery. Recovery is not black and white, it's not binary. I got sober because drinking was interfering with my recovery, my need for which reaches from childhood with multiple, intertwined, roots. For me, sobriety was just part of my journey through recovery.

Recovery chooses life. Those choices take many different forms, as varied and creative as we are. Recovery is complex, and highly individual.

I don't know whether this is identification or projection, but I believe that Bob and I also shared a difficult relationship with community. Community can be a source of connection, and a source of betrayal. My model of recovery reflects that struggle:
  • I can't do it alone.
  • I don't have to do it alone.
  • I don't want to do it alone.
Our online personae are lenses, which necessarily magnify some aspects of our selves while leaving others in the shadows. I've been online a long time, and I've developed some skill of inference from this medium. I only knew Bob from Gowanus Lounge. But from what I could see through that lens, I believe that Bob was choosing life, that he didn't want to do it alone.

I wish we'd had more time.

I hate seeing photos of myself. In my mind, I'm still young and thin. I'm neither these days. Here's a photo of me speaking at the Memorial, taken by one of the many other Brooklyn photo-bloggers and Gowanus Lounge contributors who also attended the event.

Photo: Meghan Groome, Liberty on 10th Street (a fellow Brooklyn garden blogger), megunski (Flickr)


Related Content

My Flickr photo set from Saturday's event

Memorial for Robert "Bob" Guskind, April 4
Remembering Bob, 2009-03-14
Robert Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge, 1958-2009, 2009-03-05


Gowanus Lounge
At the Robert Guskind Memorial Gathering: Heartfelt Thanks and Fellowship, 2009-03-06
Robert Guskind Memorial Gathering: Saturday, April 4, 2009-03-27
Best View in Brooklyn
Brooklyn 11211
Kinetic Carnival
Liberty on 10th Street
Lost City
Make No Assumptions ...
Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn
Pardon Me For Asking
A Short Story

Bob Guskind, megunski (Flickr photo set)