When you gotta go ...

... in Brooklyn, go to the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge, or the corner of Marcus Garvey Boulevard and Broadway in Bed-Stuy. These are two of the next four locations announced by the Department of Transportation today for the latest APTs: Automated Public Toilets.
Like all of the new street furniture, the APT's have a simple, contemporary design, created for the City by Grimshaw Architects, incorporating stainless steel and tempered glass. The APT's clean themselves after each use, and tamper-proof automatic doors that open from the inside will ensure security.
- Press Release
The APT's cost 25 cents to operate, with a time limit of 15 minutes and will be open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Each APT is climate-controlled and includes a toilet, a wash basin with running warm water, and a mirror. An automated system controls the door and prevents unauthorized entrance, and the APT's are fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

After 12 minutes of use, an acoustic alarm and red flashing lights go off for three minutes before the door opens. Once a user has exited, the APT doors will close and the 90-second automatic cleaning cycle will begin. During the cleaning cycle the interior surfaces of the APT are cleaned and dried. Once the self-cleaning process is complete, a new user can access the APT.

Tomorrow, May 31: Extra-Crunchy Brooklyn Compost Bike Tour

"Compost Happy"
Compost Happy

This just in. This is also listed in the Flatbush Gardener Google Calendar in the sidebar.

Bike Tour to Explore Brooklyn's Composting Sites, Saturday May 31

Come one, come all to the Compost Tour de Brooklyn. It's free, fun and good for you.
You're welcome to meet at the market [Fort Greene Greenmarket], too, to see us off on this maiden (for maids and gents) two-wheeled journey of evolution (of carbon cycle) and revolution (of bike wheels).

Take a two-wheeled tour of Brooklyn compost sites on Saturday, May 31 and learn how to reduce household waste and convert food scraps into fodder for new plant life.

Licensed New York City sightseeing guide and newly minted Master Composter Laura Silver will don a worm costume to show off some of the "greatest local innovations in eco-consciousness" and the people who make it happen.

Brooklyn Compost Project table at Making Brooklyn Bloom 2008
Brooklyn Compost Project table at Making Brooklyn Bloom 2008

Tour goers will have a chance to meet local heroes who turn castoff food stuff into "black gold." They'll escort the vegicycle, a trike made to transport food scraps, from the Fort Greene market to local community gardens.

Detail of convection composting aeration tube used at a Brooklyn community composting site
Detail, Convection Composting Aeration Tube

Day: Saturday, May 31, 2008
Time: 10:30 am (until about 3pm, stay as long as you'd like)
Place: Meet at Fort Greene Park Greenmarket near trash cans used to collect food scraps. Corner of DeKalb Avenue and Cumberland Street

Tour stops include:
  • Composting toilet at Hollenback Garden in Clinton Hill
  • Compost piles at Bed-Stuy?s Greene Acres garden
  • A worm bin in a private home in Midwood
  • Tour concludes at Floyd Bennett Field Garden with a demonstration of lasagna (layered) gardening
  • Demonstration begins at 2pm. Barbeque to follow
  • Spots are limited. Please RSVP to compost.cycle@mac.com by May 30.
  • Participation is free.
  • Helmets preferred.
  • Cyclists are requested to bring fruit or vegetable scraps to compost (apple cores, lettuce leaves and coffee grounds encouraged) and full-figured food to grill at the end of the tour.


A report on last night's Flatbush Unity Garden kickoff meeting

Anne Pope reports on last night's meeting regarding the community garden for Flatbush, now named the Flatbush Unity Garden:
A group of 20+ people met at P.S. 217 to share their ideas of what they’d like this community resource to become. In addition to growing vegetables and fruits and flowers, what many of us expressed was the desire for a place where we can meet our neighbors, form ties to our community, and enjoy a peaceful outdoor environment. New York City has many examples of gardens that serve as hubs of neighborhood cultural and social interaction as well as providing beautiful green spaces (and in some cases food as well). Clearly there is a longing for such a place here in Flatbush, and our goal is to create one.
- Flatbush Unity Garden kicks off!, Sustainable Flatbush
I've added a new tag, Flatbush Unity Garden, for all my posts and photos of this project.

Related content

Blog posts


Flatbush Unity Garden kicks off!, Sustainable Flatbush


Gardening Resources, Cornell University

Cornell University is the Land-Grant University for New York state. They operate New York state's Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agricultural and Life Sciences. They also operate the state's Cooperative Extension, including their NYC office.

Still, resources for home gardeners are hard to come by. Most of the information available through Cooperative Extensions focuses on issues and practices with economic importance. Cornell has addressed this with a Web portal for Gardening Resources.

Most, but not all, of the links on the portal home page lead to other pages on Cornell's Gardening or their school of Horticulture. A Web portal consolidates information and arranges it by theme regardless of its location or origins. This is especially helpful when the information has been developed independently over time. For example, on the sidebar of Cornell's Gardening Resources home page is a link to their Allstar Groundcovers section. The URL for the groundcovers section places it under Cornell's Entomology department, not the first place I would look for information about groundcovers.


Here are a couple more examples of information available through Cornell's Gardening Resources portal:

Cornell University Links

Gardening Resources Portal
Department of Horticulture


Colletes thoracicus (Colletidae), Cellophane Bees

Update 2009.05.09: Cellophane Bees Return
Update 2008.05.28: Many thanks to John Ascher for the id!

Colletes thoracicus (Colletidae), Cellophane Bee

While spending most of the weekend gardening, I discovered that the garden is home to a small colony of mining cellophane bees. At first I thought they Andrenidae, mining bees, based on photos and this description on BugGuide.Net:
Many small, ground-nesting bees observed in areas of sandy soil are members of the family, Andrenidae. Characteristics of this family (of which there are approximately 3000 species) are: Small size, 20 mm, (or smaller) brown to black in color, and nesting in a burrow in areas of sparse vegetation, old meadows, dry road beds, sandy paths. Although the nests are built in close proximity of one another, the bees are solitary (each female capable of constructing a nest and reproducing). Many species are active in March and April when they collect pollen and nectar from early spring blooming flowers. The female bee digs a hole 2-3 inches deep excavating the soil and leaving a pile on the surface. She then digs a side tunnel that ends in a chamber (there are about 8 chambers per burrow). Each chamber is then filled with a small ball of pollen and nectar. An egg is laid on the top of each pollen ball and the female seals each brood chamber. The emerging larval bees feed on the pollen/nectar ball until they pupate.
- Family Andrenidae - Mining Bees, BugGuide.Net
I contacted Kevin Matteson, contact person for the Bee Watchers 2008 project here in NYC. I wasn't able to attend any of their orientation session last week, so I forwarded him a link to this post. He in turn forwarded the link to his "colleague at the museum." Thus turned out to be John Ascher, a BugGuide contributing editor, and all-around big bee guy, who identified the species in the first comment below. Considering I don't have a Ph.D. in Entomology, I don't feel so bad.
[Colletes] are virtually indistinguishable from some of the Andrenidae mining bees. Colletes are honey bee size, and have dramatic black and white banding on the abdomen. Some andrenids have similar markings, but are usually slightly smaller. Colletes tend to nest in dense aggregations, while andrenids are not usually as populous.
- Genus Colletes - Cellophane Bees, BugGuide.Net
I noticed the first entrance mound a couple of weeks ago, shortly after I put up the bat house. I saw a discoloration on the ground directly below the bat house, and thought it might be guano. On closer inspection, I thought it was an anthill.

This weekend, I was doing a lot of work near that corner of the house, and the presence of bees was more obvious, especially when I started digging up and dividing perennials (Hemerocallis and Hosta) from a bed I was preparing for a new sunny native plant border.

I also noticed that the bees were entering and leaving what I had taken to be ant hills. Here's the area where they're all nesting. There are six entrance holes visible in this photo. There are a couple more hidden beneath leaves. The area is less than a square foot.

Colletes thoracicus (Colletidae), Cellophane Bees in the garden

Here's a closer view of the three entrances to the left. Zoom in and check out the leftmost one. There's a little bee in there checking me out.

Colletes thoracicus (Colletidae), Cellophane Bees in the garden

When I saw all this activity around numerous holes, I thought I might have a hive. Since they're adjacent to the house, I was worried that they might move in. Before I did anything with them, I wanted to identify them to find out what they were.

To photograph this individual, I captured it in a plastic jug and placed it in the refrigerator for a few hours. When I retrieved it, it was inert, and I first feared I had killed it. When I took it into the backyard, where temperatures were still in the 70s, thankfully it slowly revived. I placed it on a piece of graph paper from my notebook for scale. The squares are 1/4".

Here are two more views of the same individual. When I was done, I returned it back to the nesting area. Not realizing these are solitary bees, I thought it would return to the hive. It flew off, instead. I hope it returns and is able to find its own nest, again.

Colletes thoracicus (Colletidae), Cellophane Bee

Colletes thoracicus (Colletidae), Cellophane Bee

I want to take some more shots. I think I can get a shot of the wing venation without harming the individual. I'll be more careful to not keep the subject away from its nest for so long next time. Maybe only a half-hour of chilling is all I would need to get my shots.

I'm not satisfied with the depth of field (DOF) in any of these shots. My macro lens has a focal length of 105mm (digital, around 150mm equivalent 35mm), which compresses DOF. Using the flash helped a lot. A tripod would be better. I'll try some different options on my next attempts.


Colletes thoracicus, Discover Life
Bee Watchers 2008
Family Andrenidae - Mining Bees, BugGuide.Net


May 28: Public forum on the Flatbush Community Garden

Future site of the (potential) Flatbush Community Garden
Future Site of Flatbush Community Garden

Since last November, when the vision for a community garden in Flatbush was first made public, a lot of meeting, brainstorming and planning has been going on behind the scenes. Yesterday, Sustainable Flatbush made the formal announcement for a public forum next Wednesday evening at P.S. 217:
Are you someone who loves all things green?
Have you always wanted to grow your own flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs?
Here is your opportunity!
We have a potential space for a Flatbush Community Garden!

Come to a meeting to learn more!

WHEN: Wednesday, May 28, 2008, 6:00 - 8:00PM
WHERE: P.S. 217 Cafeteria, 1100 Newkirk Avenue, at Coney Island Avenue
Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it. My Pest Management class at BBG started last Wednesday.
Food, drinks, and child care will be provided.
Get involved and grow!

For more information, contact:
Susan Siegel at: 718-282-5595
Anne Pope at: anne [at] sustainable flatbush {dot} org

Sponsored by Sustainable Flatbush (Fiscal Sponsor Flatbush Development Corporation)

Related content

The Future Home of the Ex-Lax Gardens, November 1, 2007
My photos of the site


Flatbush Community Garden Meeting, Sustainable Flatbush
Flatbush Development Corporation

The Times discovers Kensington

"Pink Shell", Coney Island Avenue, Kensington, Brooklyn
Pink Shell
The "Living In" feature of tomorrow's NY Times Real Estate section focuses on Kensington:
... a quiet, verdant area, just below Windsor Terrace, straddling McDonald Avenue and Ocean Parkway. The neighborhood, which is almost one square mile in size, has several long-established immigrant groups among its roughly 70,000 people.
- Name From London, People From Everywhere, New York Times, May 25, 2008
Even though it's right across Coney Island Avenue from me, I have been neglectful of Kensington and haven't spent much time there in the three years I've lived in Flatbush. Kensington and Flatbush both enjoy a rich diversity. With 7 lanes and no median, Coney Island Avenue serves as an (un)natural barrier between our neighborhoods. I have visions of more pedestrian-friendly streetscapes fostering streetlife along C.I.A. Maybe I'll live to see that.
Once part of Flatbush, Kensington was developed after the completion of Ocean Parkway in 1875, according to the Encyclopedia of New York City. It was later named for the borough in West London; much of its housing was built in the 1920s. The wave of immigration that brought the neighborhood much of its ethnic diversity began in the 1980s.
Besides Church Avenue, smaller shopping districts can be found along Ditmas Avenue and Cortelyou Road, though the latter is not as developed in Kensington as it is in Ditmas Park, the neighborhood of Victorian houses to the east, where it is a major commercial street. A Food Town supermarket on McDonald Avenue recently expanded, to accolades from many residents.
Most of Kensington is a short walk from the southern tip of Prospect Park, including the park’s Parade Grounds, with its tennis courts and baseball and soccer fields. Prospect Park Lake is also close by. Kensington Stables, just outside the park, offers riding lessons.
Individual Plots, East 4th Street Community Garden, Kensington
Individual Plots, East 4th Street Community Garden

Related content

Other posts about Kensington
My photos of Kensington

Some Kensington Blogs and Bloggers

Bad Girl Blog
New York City Garden
Porochista Khakpour


Name From London, People From Everywhere, New York Times, May 25, 2008


Looking for love in all the wrong places

Bufo americanus, American Toad, by Henry McLin.

The NYC Health Department issued an alert today about an illegal aphrodisiac derived in part from toad venom. A man died last week after ingesting it:
The Health Department today warned New York City residents about an illegal aphrodisiac known as “stone,” which can cause serious poisonings and death. The product is also known as Piedra, Jamaican Stone, Love Stone, Black Stone or Chinese Rock. Last week, an area hospital alerted the New York City Poison Control Center that a man had died after ingesting the aphrodisiac. Similar products were linked to poisonings and deaths during the 1990s.

These products are banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but are imported illegally. Selling them in New York City is also a violation of the New York City Health Code.
Stone, a hard dark brown substance, is typically sold as a solid chunk less than a square inch in size. It may be packaged in a clear plastic bag with some labeling. The product is sold in some adult stores and can also be found in other neighborhood stores. Its active ingredients include several chemicals known as bufadienolides. They are derived from toad venom and some trees and can disrupt the normal rhythm of the heart.
Stone, a hard dark brown substance, is typically sold as a solid chunk less than a square inch in size. It may be packaged in a clear plastic bag with some labeling. The product is sold in some adult stores and can also be found in other neighborhood stores. Its active ingredients include several chemicals known as bufadienolides. They are derived from toad venom and some trees and can disrupt the normal rhythm of the heart.

Stone can cause serious heart problems or death when ingested, but can also be harmful when applied to the skin – its typical use. Symptoms of poisoning may include chest pain, abdominal pain and vomiting.


Press Release

Flatbush Rezoning Proposal

Update, 2008.06.13: Read my report from the preliminary hearing.

457 Rugby Road, Ditmas Park West, Flatbush, Brooklyn
457 Rugby Road, Ditmas Park West

This was just a bullet in my listing of upcoming local events earlier this week. CB14 has scheduled a preliminary public hearing of DCP's proposed zoning changes for the northern half of CB14, ie: Flatbush, for Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 7pm at Public School 249 at the corner of Caton Avenue and Marlborough Road.


(Magi)Cicada Watch

Note: I'll continue to update this as I learn more.

Photo of Brood XIV Magicicada septendecim taken May 18, 2008 in West Virginia by Jason Scott Means
Photo of 2008 Brood XIV Megacicada from West Viriginia by Jason Means

I just learned (from News12 Brooklyn) that the 17-year cicadas are about to return to Brooklyn. There have already been sightings on Long Island, in Otsego Park in Deer Park. There have also been sightings to the north of the city, along the Hudson Valley.
Magicicada is the genus of the 13- and 17- year periodical cicadas of eastern North America. These insects display a unique combination of long life cycles, periodicity, and mass emergences. They are sometimes called "seventeen-year locust"s, but they are not locusts.
- Magicicada, Wikipedia
13 and 17 are prime numbers. Evolution "discovered" prime numbers.

Periodical Cicadas appear earlier in the year than our regular, annual "dog-day" Cicadas, which don't show up until later in the summer. If they are still here, we should begin to see signs of them now, certainly by the end of May. They can be readily distinguished by their red eyes (dog-day Cicadas have black or dark brown eyes), darker bodies, and smaller size. For comparison, here's a photograph I took of a dog-day cicada, Tibicen canicularis, in my backyard last October.

Dog-day cicada - Tibicen canicularis, Flatbush, Brooklyn, October 2007
Dog-day cicada - Tibicen canicularis

17 years ago, in 1991, I still lived in the East Village in Manhattan. We didn't have them there. I didn't move to Brooklyn until the next year, 1992, so I just missed the last cycle. They won't be here again until 2025. I'm hoping - yes, hoping - that I'll be in the thick of things here: detached houses, lots of open ground, and just a half-mile or so from Prospect Park.

Periodical cicadas are identified by broods categorizing the species, cycle, and years and range of a particular emergence:
In any given area, adult periodical cicadas emerge only once every 13 or 17 years, they are consistent in their life cycles, and populations (or "broods") in different regions are not synchronized. Currently there are 7 recognized species, 12 distinct 17-year broods, and 3 distinct 13-year broods, along with 2 known extinct broods, found east of the Great Plains and south of the Great Lakes, to the Florida Panhandle.
- Magicicada Mapping Project
Brooklyn is part of Brood XIV (Brood 14), one of the 17-year broods. We can expect to see (and hear) any or all of the three 17-year species in Brood XIV:
Three 17-year cicada species exist, each with distinctive morphology (shape and color), behavior, and calling signals:
- Magicicada species, Magicicada Mapping Project
All three species are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as low risk, but near threatened, ie: close to being "promoted" to vulnerable species. Because they spend most of their lives underground, periodical cicadas are at risk from development which covers their routes to emergence at the surface. When they emerge, without sufficient woody plants - trees and shrubs - upon which to feed and lay their eggs, that generation will be irreversibly reduced for at least another 17 (or 13) years. Some broods are already extinct. Consider, for example, this observation from an unidentified entomologist:

Have you an ideal of the absolute in hopelessness? Well, let it be said that the house in which you live is comparatively new - built within 17 years. The ground on which ti stands was originally woodland. In the Summer of 1902 all the tree thereabouts were full of seventeen-year locusts. Eggs were deposited in the branches, the larvae came out, dropped lightly to the ground, and dug in. The long period of subterranean existence is almost ended. In the summer of this year the insects will start toward the light and air - and will come in contact with the concrete floor of your cellar! There may be another situation as hopeless, but certainly none more so.
- New York Times, June 23, 1919

You can help

If you see or hear periodical cicadas, you can report your observations online. The reporting page has photos so you know what to look for. Adult periodical cicadas are easily distinguished from our annual, "dog-day" cicadas by their red eyes, as shown in the lead photo above. The species pages, listed above, also have audio recordings so you know what to listen for.



Brood XIV, Massachusetts Cicadas

Cicada Central, University of Connecticut
Cicada Web Site, College of Mount St. Joseph, Cincinnati, OH
Chicago Cicadas
Magicicada, Wikipedia
Mathematicians explore cicada's mysterious link with primes, Michael Stroh, Baltimore Sun, May 10, 2004


Hear that cicada chorus, taste that cicada crunch, Cape Cod Times, June 11, 2008
Cape is again abuzz, Boston Globe, June 10, 2008
New brood on its way to the top, Jennifer Smith, Newsday, June 8, 2008
Dogs rejoice, people duck: Cicadas are back, Columbus Dispatch, Ohio, June 7, 2008
City's Giant Insect orgy, NY Post, June 5, 2008
After 17 years, cicadas ready to rumpus, Cape Cod Times,
Massachusetts, May 31, 2008
It's the year of the cicada, South Coast Today, Massachusetts, May 24, 2008
Noisy return of cicadas expected after 17 years, Jennifer Smith, Newsday, Long Island, May 22, 2008
Amorous singing cicadas grate on nerves, News & Record, Greensboro, North Carolina, May 20, 2008
Cicadas looking for love, Centre Daily Times, State College, Pennsylvania, May 19, 2008
Singing cicadas emerge in 13 states, USA Today, May 18, 2008
The cicadas are coming! The cicadas are coming ... again!, Wilimington News Journal, Ohio, May 14, 2008
Cicadas coming to Clermont County, Community Press & Recorder, Kentucky, May 14, 2008
Coming Soon: The song of the cicada, New Albany Tribune, Indiana, May 10, 2008
The Kentucky Derby: Beware the Year of the Cicada, Minyanville, New York, May 2, 2008
Scientist awaits cicadas' noisy return, UPI, April 25, 2008


Forbes discovers foodies

The story comes out of Associated Press, but I came across it first on Forbes:
High prices at the pump and the produce aisle have sent home gardeners into their yards with a mission: Grow-it-yourself dining. Sales of vegetable seeds, tomato transplants and fruit trees are soaring as enterprising planters grow their own food.
- As economy stumbles, gardeners turn to yard-grown produce, Ellen Simon, AP
One of Brooklyn's own gets a quote:
GRDN, a shop in the New York City borough of Brooklyn [specifically, Boerum Hill], is getting a lot of questions about which edible plants can be grown on a fire escape, said staffer Cindy Birkhead. "There's lots of interest in herbs, blueberry bushes, tomato plants, any transplants or shrubs that bear edible fruit."


Sunset Park Garden Club Needs YOU!

Uncle Sunflower Needs YOU!

Volunteers tend several gardens within Sunset Park. They need your help. The Chinese Garden was vandalized a few weeks ago:
There is now no sign of what was once a ceramic pagoda, a bridge, and a swimming dragon. The sparkling stream (created with glass beads) still exists, but many of the beads have been extracted. Apparently, some person (or persons) who dislike all things Asian-inspired felt it necessary to use a large boulder within the Chinese Garden to smash the decorations to pieces over two or three days. The items had been bought with a grant given to the Club.

Other difficulties the garden, which sits close to the 6th Avenue and 44th Street entrance, has experienced include plants stolen, a wonderful tree forcibly removed, and parents allowing children to romp about within the confines of the garden.
- Sunset Park Garden Club is looking for members, Best View in Brooklyn

And they need volunteers for ongoing weeding, planting and other maintenance of the multiple gardens in Sunset Park.

View Larger Map

On Saturday, members of the SPGC weeded, cleaned up, and replanted many plants. On Sunday, another member was continuing with the planting and spoke about replacing some of the glass beads in the stream. The lovely garden at the 7th Avenue and 41st Street entrance looks wild and wonderful, and it will also be tended to for weeding and cleaning. Eager and willing hands are always needed to continue the efforts. There are several areas of the park that are nurtured and cared for by the Club. No experience is necessary!

Contact information is available at Best View in Brooklyn.


Sunset Park Garden Club is looking for members, Best View in Brooklyn
Sunset Park, NYC Parks & Recreation

Upcoming local events

It's a busy season for tours and such. Here is a highly selective (ie: things I would go to, if I have the time and/or my schedule permits) list of (mostly) local events. Details for all these as I know them are in my Google Calendar in the sidebar.
  • Wednesday, May 21, 6pm, Prospect Park Audubon Center: Bee Watchers 2008 Orientation
  • Thursday, May 22, 3pm: Cortelyou Road Streetscape Project Ribbon Cutting & Opening Ceremony
  • Sunday, June 1, 12noon: Prospect Lefferts Gardens House Tour
  • Saturday, June 7 and Sunday, June 8: The 1st Annual Flatbush Artists Studio Tour (FAST)
  • Sunday, June 8, 11am: Brownstone Brooklyn Garden Walk (not Flatbush, but not to be missed if you're interested in urban gardens and gardening)
  • Sunday, June 8, 1pm: Victorian Flatbush House Tour
  • Thursday, June 12, 7pm: City Planning Commission presents proposed zoning changes for Victorian Flatbush (northern half of CB14)
  • Saturday, June 21, 11am: Newkirk Avenue Block Party
I am always on the lookout for opportunities to visit and promote gardens in Brooklyn. If you are organizing or know of any garden walks or tours in Brooklyn and would like me to publicize it, please email me the details. My email address is in my profile, available in the sidebar.

The Bluebell Wood at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The Bluebell Wood at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden as it appeared last Thursday, May 15th, 2008.
Bluebell Wood, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

One of the things that great public gardens offer is large-scale displays of which gardeners of more modest means, and space, can only dream. The Bluebell Wood at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one such display:
More than 45,000 bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica 'Excelsior') are planted under a mature stand of oak, birch, and beech trees just south of Cherry Esplanade. In May, the bluebells burst into flower and create an enchanting woodland display.
I'd also like to know how much area they cover. It feels like an acre, but it's probably "only" a quarter-acre. City gardeners don't get much sense of garden space measured in acres. We're usually dealing with space on the order of square feet.

These photos show how it looked last Thursday, when I also took the photos of the Osborne Garden. I don't know how long this show lasts. I'll be back there Wednesday evening for the start of my Pest Management class and see how it's holding up.

The path in the photo above and immediately below leads to the meandering Cherry Walk and the two western entrances to the Japanese Garden.
Bluebell Wood, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

This path leads from the formal fountain and roses - part of the Cranford Rose Garden - at the foot of the Cherry Esplanade.
Bluebell Wood, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Photos don't do it justice. It's hard to capture and adjust for the blue and light filtering through the trees. Morning or mid-day would probably be a better time for this than evening, when I visited.

Bluebell Wood, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Bluebell Wood, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Earlier in the Spring, it really doesn't look like much at all.
Bluebell Wood

Related Content

The Osborne Garden and Shade Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, May 16, 2008
My photos of BBG's Bluebell Wood


The Bluebell Wood, Brooklyn Botanic Garden


The Osborne Garden and Shade Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Wisteria and Azaleas blooming in the Osborne Garden of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Osborne Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

There are some stunning vistas to be had right now at the Osborne Garden of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The Wisteria on the arbors and the azaleas bordering the central lawn are both in full bloom.

Wisteria, Osborne Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Osborne Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Osborne Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

There's also a sizable yet nearly hidden area of shade gardens. Right now, these are dominated by the flash of the Azaleas and Rhododendrons in bloom.

Entrance to the shade gardens of the Osborne Garden

Rhododendrons and Azaleas, Osborne Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Rhododendrons and Azaleas, Osborne Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Rhododendrons and Azaleas, Osborne Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

But the long shady borders have their own attractions, and provide lots of ideas for sun-challenged urban gardeners. Granted, this is "ideal" shade: a high canopy of shade provided by widely spaced trees with little competition from roots. Still, I'm getting some ideas for the shady border on the north side of my house.

Shade gardens, Osborne Garden

Shade Gardens, Osborne Garden

Shade gardens, Osborne Garden, BBG

I really like this Saruma, in the Ginger family. I saw one on the Brownstone Brooklyn Garden Walk last year. I never imagined drifts of it as I saw yesterday evening.

Saruma henryi
Saruma henryi
Detail, Saruma henryi

This is Chrysogonum virginianum "Pierre". I've got the "Allen Bush" cultivar blooming in the native plant garden in my backyard right now.
Chrysogonum virginianum "Pierre"

Last night was the last session of my Botany class, the first of eight courses I need to complete to receive a Certificate in Horticulture from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I start Pest Management next week, and Woody Plant Identification after that. Expect more periodic, if irregular, updates of the garden as I get to witness and record its changes every week through the summer.

Related Posts

The Osborne Garden, April 6, 2008


Osborne Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden


Garden Blogging Bloom Day, May 2008

2012-01-14: Corrected ID of Bearded Iris 'Gracchus', which I had incorrectly id'd as I. neglecta.

Part of my backyard native plant garden.
Part of the Native Plant Garden

It's Garden Blogging Bloom Day, the 15th of the month, when garden bloggers all over the world report on what's blooming in their gardens.

I've organized this by the four gardens, one for each side of the house: the native plant garden in the backyard, the shady and sunny borders on the north and south, and the heirloom garden in the front yard. The heirloom bulbs in the front yard are nearly done; just one Tulip lingers on. The wildflowers in the native plant garden have most of the action right now.

This is my first report for Garden Blogging Bloom Day. I didn't get to take any shots specifically for this post. I've uploaded an added what I have. If there's something in particular you're curious to see, let me know in a comment.

Native Plant Garden

Wildflowers in the native plant garden
Wildflowers in the Native Plant Garden

In alphabetical order by botanical name.
  • Amsonia tabernaemontana, Eastern Bluestar
  • Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern Columbine
  • Chrysogonum virginianum "Allen Bush", Green & Gold
  • Dicentra eximia "Aurora", white-flowering Eastern Bleeding Heart
  • Iris setosa canadensis
  • Lonicera sempervirens, Trumpet Honeysuckle
  • Phlox stolonifera "Sherwood Purple", Creeping Phlox
  • Stylophorum diphyllum, Celandine or Woodland Poppy
  • Tiarella "Running Tapestry"
  • Viola, white-flowering, unidentified species, possibly Viola striata, Creamy Violet
  • Zizia aurea, golden zizia
Iris setosa canadensis
Iris setosa canadensisIris setosa canadensisIris setosa canadensis

Lonicera sempervirens
Detail, Lonicera sempervirens

Here's the unknown violet. I think it's Viola striata, Creamy Violet. Any ids?
Violet, unknown white-flowering species

Zizia aurea
Zizia aurea

Shady Border

  • Corydalis cheilanthifolia
  • Corydalis "Berry Exciting"
  • Epimedium x versicolor "Sulphureum", Barrenwort
  • Rodgersia podophylla? This has a tall, 3-foot spike on it, and it's still only in bud.
Epimedium x versicolor "Sulphureum", Barrenwort
Epimedium x versicolor "Sulphureum"

Sunny Border

Part of the sunny/long border
Part of the Sunny Border
  • Geranium macrorrhizum, another pass-along.
  • Geranium macrorrhizum "Variegatum"
  • Bearded Iris "Dee's Purple." Not a real cultivar name, just what I call it. It's a tall, purple Beared Iris, a pass-along I got from Blog Widow John's mother's (Dee) house in upstate New York after she died several years ago.
  • Tradescantia, Spiderwort, a pass-along I got from a neighbor
Geranium macrorrhizum
Detail, Geranium macrorrhizum

Iris "Dee's Purple"
Iris "Dee's Purple"

Heirloom Garden

  • Heirloom Bearded Iris 'Gracchus', introduced 1884
  • Tulip "Clara Butt" (Heirloom, 1880)
  • The Tree Peony just finished up a few days ago.
Heirloom Bearded Iris 'Gracchus', introduced 1884
Iris neglecta

Related content

Flickr photo set
Growing a Native Plant Garden in a Flatbush Backyard, August 6, 2007
Native Plant Profiles
Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern Red Columbine, May 2006
Dicentra eximia, Bleeding-heart, May 2006


GBBD, May 2008, May Dreams Gardens


No news is not good news: Courier-Life Publications Web sites displaced

Earlier this afternoon, Brooklyn Junction noticed that the Web site for Flatbush Life was down:
No one ever accused www.flatbushlife.com of being the most regularly updated website in the world. Coming from me, that doesn't mean much these days. But gone? Say it ain't so.
At first, the Flatbush Life Web site was responding with "404 - Not Found." Shortly after, it was redirecting to an unfamiliar Web site: YourNabe.com. I contacted the Webmaster for courierlife.net and got this response:
www.flatbushlife.com [is] redirecting to the newly-designed www.yournabe.com. www.YourNabe.com combines the newspapers of the Courier Life publications, Times Ledger publications, and Bronx Times/ Times Reporter.
The YourNabe.com domain is owned by Courier-Life's parent company, News Community Newspapers Holdings, Inc. Within YourNabe, there are sections for different neighborhoods. For example, the new URL for Flatbush Life is http://www.yournabe.com/flatbush/front/.

All Web sites for Courier-Life Publications' Brooklyn neighborhood newspapers are affected by this change:
  • Bay News
  • Bay Ridge Courier
  • Brooklyn Graphic
  • Canarsie Digest
  • Flatbush Life
  • Kings Courier
  • Park Slope Courier
  • Brooklyn Heights Courier
  • Carroll Gardens / Cobble Hill Courier
  • Fort Greene / Clinton Hill Courier


Last day to vote for the Mousies

Acer buergerianum, Bonsai, Root over rock style, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, November 2006
Acer buergerianum, Bonsai, Root over rock style, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Voting for the 2008 Mouse & Trowel Awards, the "Mousies," closes at midnight Eastern Time tomorrow, May 13th. Flatbush Gardener is a finalist in the category of "Best Photography in a Garden Blog."

The photo above is one of six I submitted for inclusion in the video A Photoblog Tribute to Brooklyn which premiered at the Brooklyn Blogfest last Thursday evening. Four of the six are from gardens in Brooklyn.

Front Garden, 320 Stratford Road, Beverley Square West, Flatbush, Brooklyn, June 2007
Front Garden, 320 Stratford Road, Beverley Square West, Flatbush, Brooklyn

Hibiscus, Pier 44 Waterfront Garden, Red Hook, Brooklyn, July 2007
Hibiscus, Pier 44 Waterfront Garden, Red Hook, Brooklyn

Sanguinaria canadensis, Bloodroot, Native Flora Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, April 2007
Sanguinaria canadensis, Bloodroot, Native Flora Garden, BBG

Related Posts

You can see my photographs in posts labeled with Photos on this blog. You can also browse my Flickr Collections; most of my Flickr photographs are linked back to the posts in which they appear.


VOTE NOW!, Mouse & Trowel Awards