Albemarle Road, Local Landscape

One block from my home, in the landmarked Prospect Park South Historic District, Albemarle Road spans six blocks, from Coney Island Avenue to the B/Q subway cut. Albemarle Road is part of the Flatbush Malls, an extended series of streetscape gardens created by some of the developers who carved suburbs out of Flatbush farmland starting in the late 1890s.

A photograph of Albemarle Road as viewed from the train tracks 100 years ago, in 1909.
Albemarle And Buckingham Roads, Prospect Park South, 1909 Postcard

One of the class projects for my Urban Garden Design class with Nigel Rollings at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a written project, for which there were several options. I chose to write about a "local landscape." And Albemarle Road certainly is that. I've been captivated by this landscape since we first started househunting in the area. The more extensive stretches of Flatbush Malls lie south and east of me, along Glenwood Road and East 17th Street. Albemarle Road is a 2-minute walk from my home. It's given me a chance to inhabit and study this landscape close-hand.

I've been photographing Albemarle Road since we moved to the area. I'm compiling more reference material on the history of this landscape and its designer, which I'll save for a future post. In the meantime, please enjoy these views of Albemarle Road in all four seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, and - saving what I think is the best for last - Fall.

Much of the character of Albemarle Road is, by design, imparted by the deep private gardens of the front yards. So I've also highlighted two properties I've photographed at different times of the year, each of which captures, in its own way, the seasonal beauty of Albemarle Road.


Looking west from Buckingham Road, similar to the view in the 1909 photograph, January 2009.
Albemarle Road, looking west from Buckingham Road

1306 Albemarle Road, December 2008
1306 Albemarle Road, Prospect Park South

Composite panoramic view from the corner of Westminster Road
Corner of Albemarle and Westminster Roads


Western end of Albemarle Road, at Coney Island Avenue, April 2008
Albemarle Road, Prospect Park South

Rugby Road, East side, South of Albemarle Road, April 2007
Rugby Road, East side, South of Albemarle Road


1314 Albemarle Road, September 2006
1314 Albemarle Road

1510 Albemarle Road, September 2006
1510 Albemarle Road

131 Buckingham Road, September 2006
131 Buckingham Road, "The Japanese House"


Corner of Albemarle and Marlborough, looking east, November 2007
Corner of Albemarle and Marlborough, Prospect Park South

Corner of Marlborough and Albemarle Roads, looking northwest November 2007
Corner of Marlborough and Albemarle Road, Prospect Park South

Albemarle Road, looking west from Rugby Road, November 2007
Albemarle Road, looking west from Rugby Road, Prospect Park South

1406 Albemarle Road, October 2006
1406 Albemarle Road

1423 Albemarle Road, November 2007
1423 Albemarle Road, Prospect Park South

1510 Albemarle Road, November 2006. The trees at the left in the adjacent vacant lot were all downed by the Brooklyn tornado of August 2007. It's now the location of the Flatbush CommUNITY Garden.
1510 Albemarle Road

On the same block, looking from the other direction, with the vacant lot on the left, on August 8, 2007.
Albemarle Road, South side, looking West from Buckingham Road

1305 Albemarle Road

1305 Albemarle Road
1305 Albemarle Road
1305 Albemarle Road

1505 Albemarle Road

1505 Albemarle Road
1505 Albemarle Road
1505 Albemarle Road, Prospect Park South
1505 Albemarle Road, Prospect Park South

Related Content

Winter Wonderland, 2009.01.19
The Flatbush CommUNITY Garden, Brooklyn's (and NYC's!) newest community garden, 2008.09.16
One Year Ago [Tornado recap], 2008.08.08
Albemarle Road in Prospect Park South featured in the Times, 2008.06.21
Forgotten Flatbush: The Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge, 2007.11.25


13th Annual Plant-O-Rama

2009.02.05: Added link to Ann Raver's report.

This morning I attended part of the Metro Hort Group's (MHG) 13th Annual Plant-O-Rama at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Exhibitors in the Palm House at BBG at the beginning of lunch break. It got much more crowded than this.
Plant-O-Rama 2009

This was my first time attending a horticultural trade show, so I didn't know quite what to expect. I attended as a member of the general public, interested in becoming, but not yet, a horticultural professional. I wanted to see what local resources might be available to the retail consumer. And I certainly was interested in the speakers.

I got to see Dan Hinkley, founder of the former Heronswood Nursery, and Dr. Michael Dosmann, curator of living collections at the Arnold Arboretum, speak about newly discovered, and newly appreciated, plants coming into the horticultural pipeline.

[Begin rant]

I did not get to see Ken Druse speak. Only when I returned from lunch for his 1pm lecture was I told I could not re-enter without a "green ticket." My admission fee did not cover the whole day, it only covered the morning. This restriction was not published anywhere, and I was not informed of this when I registered in the morning and they took my money from me. Sort of like paying for a double feature and being told to leave when the first movie finishes. So I left.

Plant-O-Rama 2009

I feel like a victim of Plant-O-Rama's success. They were disorganized, and no-one had correct information, or any information. Volunteers were dropped into their places with no orientation. They seemed overwhelmed by the numbers attending, and clearly have outgrown the space at BBG. In future years, MHG should not return there; instead, they should find a larger venue, such as the New York Botanical Garden. And MHG needs to get their act together, regardless of the venue. Their bait-and-switch admission policy is inexcusable for an "association of ... professionals."

[End rant]

In the morning, I tried some live micro-blogging ("tweeting" via Twitter) of my attendance. It would have been more fun if there were more of us doing it. Here are some highlights of my tweets from Dan Hinkley's presentation:

  • His recipe for Bald Eagle (just kidding!)
  • "It's about the foliage."
  • "It's taken me 25 years to 'get' grasses."
  • Actinidia is cat crack.
Dan focussed on the discovery of new plants in the wild and their introduction to horticulture. Also interesting to me was the perspectives he's gained from moving from a largely shaded location to a sunny, south-facing sloping overlooking Puget Sound (Hardiness Zone 8b, most of the time). It's there he's developed his new-found appreciation of grasses, now that he's been able to grow them and see them thrive in the conditions they require.

My first garden in New York City was a shaded backyard of a tenement building. It's there that I eventually learned to appreciate the pleasures of foliage form, texture and color, without the "distraction of flowers" as Hinkley put it during his talk. Our gardens teach us, and with each new garden we add something to our appreciation of plants.

From a very different perspective, Michael Dosmann spoke of the legacy of the Arnold Arboretum, and some of the things we are still learning about seemingly familiar genera, such as Malus, Forsythia, Syringa, and Hydrangea. "Ecotype is King" might have been a subtitle for his talk. The natural origins of plants embeds itself in their genetic material, and the significance of that may takes years, or decades, to reveal itself through horticultural experience.


Plant-O-Rama 2009

Between speakers there was a brief coffee break. I went to the Rotunda of BBG's Lab & Admin building to visit the catalog tables and browse the used gardening books on sale.

Plant-O-Rama 2009

Catalogs make me giddy, and greedy, with abundance. I will never grow all these things. But knowing they're out there, and that there are so many people passionate about the plants they grow, makes me feel good.

Just a few of the catalogs on display. Most of these were display copies only. There were many more catalogs for the taking at other tables.
Plant-O-Rama 2009


The Palm House was packed with exhibitors. Here's just a sampling of what, and who, was there. Some of these interested me because of specific projects I have in mind. Others just caught my eye.

Seeds of native plants on display from the Greenbelt Native Plant Center. I have a few plants of local ecotypes propagated by them.
Plant-O-Rama 2009

Hamptons Grass & Bamboo. I really want a Fargesia for the shady, northern side of the house, perhaps alongside a rain garden.
Hamptons Grass & Bamboo

Glover Perennials. A local grower, I'm familiar with them from buying their plants retail at places such as Gowanus Nursery.
Glover Perennials

Couple of glam shots.

Black Meadow Orchids
Black Meadow Orchids

Otto Keil Florists. The mother plant looked to me like a Sempervivum, but I've never seen a flower like this on one of them.
Otto Keil Florists

Related Content

#plantorama Twitter stream
Flickr photo set
Metro Hort Group (MHG)
Plant-O-Rama (on BBG Web site)
Brooklyn Botanic Garden

New This Year: The Tried and True, Ann Raver, New York Times, 2009.02.04


Community Blogging at HDC Coffee Talk, February 2

I am very proud to have been invited to speak at the Historic Districts Council's (HDC) next event in their Coffee Talk series on the morning of February 2, on the topic of "Community Blogging".

Site of a teardown of a detached Victorian house in Ditmas Park West, Flatbush, Brooklyn
Teardown Site, 480 Stratford Road (East 11th Street)

Community Blogging
Monday Morning Coffee Talk, with the Flatbush Gardener

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Neighborhood Preservation Center
232 East 11th Street
New York, NY 10003

Community bloggers are increasingly the voice of local neighborhoods. As larger newspapers focus less and less on the day to day, neighborhood-based blogs have assumed the role of providing updated, detailed accounts of the issues that directly affect built environment and quality of life. With little more than an internet connection and a digital camera, these activist reporters monitor communities with a passion and in the process end up mobilizing their fellow neighbors to take action and make change.

Join Chris Kreussling, otherwise known as the Flatbush Gardener, as he recounts his blogging experiences since launching his site in 2006. Mr. Kreussling's blog covers a number of local issues in great detail - including the proposed Flatbush rezoning, citywide greenspace concerns, and Brooklyn community gardens - and he's learned a great deal along the way.From attracting new readers, to launching related email list-serves, to understanding what "Twitter" and other social media sites are all about, February's talk will tackle the blogging industry head-on and give you the tools for starting your own.

This event is FREE to the public. Reservations are required, as space is limited. For more information, please contact Lauren Belfer at (212) 614-9107 or lbelfer@hdc.org.

The Historic Districts Council Neighborhood Partners Program is sponsored in part by Deutsche Bank, The New York Community Trust, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Assembly Members Deborah J. Glick & Richard N. Gottfried, and State Senators Thomas K. Duane, Liz Krueger, Andrew J. Lanza & Diane J. Savino.

Related Content

Flatbush Rezoning
New Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Gets It Right, 2008.10.07
Community Gardens
Gardens are not Parks, Parks are not Gardens: New challenges facing Brooklyn's community gardens, 2008.11.06
Green Space
Barbara Corcoran Hates the Earth, 2007.11.18
Basic Research: The State of the Forest in New York City, 2007.11.12
Landscape and Politics in Brooklyn's City Council District 40, 2007.02.14
NASA Earth Observatory Maps NYC's Heat Island, Block by Block, 2006.08.01


HDC Community Blogging: HDC Monday Morning Coffee Talk, February 2nd
Historic Districts Council Web site


Save the Baltic Street Community Garden in Park Slope

Tomorrow night, Thursday, January 22, is an important meeting at MS 821, 4004 4th Avenue, btw 39th & 40th Streets, 7-9 p.m. This meeting is for the general public and concerned parties to share information and opinions about the proposed new school bldg at PS 133 where the Baltic St Garden is located.
- email, Julie Claire, Baltic Street Garden
You may not know the Baltic Street Garden [GMAP] by name, but many of us have travelled past it at high speed. Here's an exterior view, from 4th Avenue and Baltic Street.
Baltic Street Community Garden

During the summer, the huge, two-story tall and wide, brilliant orange-flowering Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans, is its own 50mph garden (a garden that can be seen while driving past it at 50mph).
Baltic Street Community Garden

This garden was on the first 2008 Green With Envy tour, organized by the Brooklyn Community Gardeners Coalition (BCGC). At last Saturday's BCGC meeting, we learned that the Garden is threatened by plans to build a new school on the site. Several plots have already been destroyed without warning by drilling equipment for soil sampling to determine the precise location of a new school building.

The Baltic Street Garden was a pioneer garden in Park Slope. According to Jon Crow, co-chair of BCGC:
This was the pioneer garden in Park Slope, originally located on the site where the Key Food now stands [on 5th Avenue]. I believe the garden was recreated around 1980 in its current location.
This garden predated and inspired the creation of many other gardens in the area. This is not just an active, thriving garden. It's part of the history of the community gardening movement in Park Slope and Brooklyn.

Baltic Street Community Garden
It is a public meeting open to all, and we will probably have a chance to speak. [Rosemary Stuart, superintendent of District 15] was not sure exactly how it would be run, but the Board of Ed will be there along with the School Construction Authority, and anyone else who would like to attend. Please come if at all possible, so we can show them we care about preserving our present garden or creating a new garden space within the new school design.

There may or may not be a sign in sheet for people who wish to speak. I plan on speaking for sure, and if you would like to, look for a speaker sign in sheet at the entrance.
Baltic Street Community Garden

Related Content

Baltic Street Community Garden, Park Slope, Green With Envy Tour, I.6
My Flickr photo set of this garden


Winter Wonderland

The south side of Albemarle Road looking east from Rugby Road around 10am this morning.
Albemarle Road, south side, looking east from Rugby Road

After shoveling and de-icing the steps and sidewalk this morning, I walked over to the landmarked Prospect Park South Historic District for the photo op. I'm glad I did. I was rewarded with these beautiful, snowy images.

I concentrated on Albemarle Road as part of my research into the history of its design and documentation of the current landscape for my Urban Garden Design class at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Somebody has to do it.

Looking toward the northwest corner of Albemarle and Rugby Roads
Albemarle and Rugby Roads, Northwest corner

Albemarle Road, South side, looking west from Buckingham Road. Behind the chain link fence on the left lies the Flatbush CommUNITY Garden.
Albemarle Road, South side, looking west from Buckingham Road


The border of Prospect Park South is delineated by these brick posts surmounted with concrete planters. The street labels have been replaced at least once, having been weathered to near-illegibility from a century of exposure. The monogram is "PPS": Prospect Park South.
Gatepost, Beverly and Westminster Roads

Some of Brooklyn's famous parrots were flocked high up in the top of this snowy American Elm tree on Albemarle Road. There are three parrots in this cropped image. If I were to produce an invasive species calendar, this would be a good image for it.
Brooklyn Parrots in Snowy American Elm

Oak Leaves
Oak Leaves

Holly, Flatbush Malls, Albemarle Road

Branches, Flatbush Malls, Albemarle Road
Branches, Flatbush Malls, Albemarle Road

Lantern, 131 Buckingham Road, "The Japanese House"
Lantern, 131 Buckingham Road


1203 Albemarle Road
1203 Albemarle Road

1305 Albemarle Road
1305 Albemarle Road

1406 Albemarle Road / 135 Rugby Road, Prospect Park South, Flatbush, Brooklyn
135 Rugby Road / 1406 Albemarle Road
1406 Albemarle Road / 135 Rugby Road

1505 Albemarle Road
1505 Albemarle Road

1510 Albemarle Road
1510 Albemarle Road

143 Buckingham Road
143 Buckingham Road

131 Buckingham Road
131 Buckingham Road

Related Content

Flickr photo set