Plant Sales This Week in and near Brooklyn

BBG Plant Sale, May 2009
BBG Plant Sale

It's the week for the annual plant sale frenzy. All listed here are benefits for their respective gardens. It's a great way to support your local gardens, meet other gardeners, and pick up some cool plants.


NYC Wildflower Week, 5/1-5/9

The Native Flora Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, May 2009. This was the first garden constructed after BBG was established on the site of a municipal ash dump 100 years ago, and the first public garden devoted to native plants. Next Wednesday's tour of this garden with Uli Lorimer, curator of BBG's Native Flora Garden and an instructor in their Certificate in Horticulture program, is one of over 45 FREE events in all - available during NYC Wildflower Week.
Native Flora Garden

NYC Wildflower Week kicks off Saturday 5/1. This is the third year for the event, and it's bigger and better than ever. There are events all over the city, including tours of locations otherwise closed to the public. I'm looking forward to visiting, for the first time, the Greenbelt Native Plant Center on Staten Island, "the only municipal native plant nursery in the country."

You can get all the details at the official, extensive, NYCWW Web site, or at the Parks Department event page:
From Friday, May 1, to Saturday, May 9, we're celebrating the hundreds of native flowers, trees, shrubs and grasses in the Big Apple. Take advantage of the spring weather, and come out for a week of environmental learning, with free activities, walks, and talks galore.
I'm proud that this year, for the first time, I've been invited to participate in an official capacity. This Saturday morning, May 1, I'll be on-hand at the information booth at Union Square to help answer questions and provide information about native plants.


Cellophane Bees Return

Cellophane Bee

Colletes thoracicus, Cellophane Bee, is a native species of solitary, ground-nesting bees. Solitary, because each nest is burrowed out by a single queen, who constructs several chambers in which to lay individual eggs. Solitary, yet communal: where they find the right conditions, the nests can be densely packed.Here's a short video showing the activity on Saturday morning.

This is the third year for what I've come to think of as "my little bees." I noticed the holes earlier last week, and saw all this activity last Saturday, as I was readying for the Plant Swap. This is the earliest in the year that I've noticed them.

Make Your Garden Bee-Friendly

These bees took up residence in a "neglected" spot of the garden, one of the benefits of being a lazy gardener/ecosystem engineer. Different species of bees have different requirements. Here are some things you can do to make your garden bee-friendly.


White-Nose Syndrome Reaches Missouri

White-nose Syndrome (WNS) continues to spread north, south, and west. It was discovered earlier this year in Ontario and Tennessee. It has now also been confirmed in a Missouri cave.
In mid-April, 2010, the Missouri Department of Conservation confirmed Missouri’s first signs of a new disease in bats that scientists have named “White-Nose Syndrome." The name describes a white fungus, Geomyces destructans, typically found on the faces and wings of infected bats.
- MDC monitoring new bat disease in Missouri, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC)
White-Nose Syndrome and Bat Hibernation Areas - April 19, 2010, Bat Conservation International
White-Nose Syndrome and Bat Hibernation Areas - April 19, 2010

This is the westernmost spread of WNS since it was first discovered in bat winter-hibernation caves - hibernacula - in New York in the Winter of 2006-2007. This reaches far past even the discovery of WNS in Tennessee, within the bounds of Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Biologists at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have received confirmation that one Little Brown bat collected from its hibernating refuge in the Park’s White Oak Blowhole cave tested positive for Geomyces destructans [the fungus and the presumptive causative agent of White Nose Syndrome (WNS)]. White Oak Blowhole cave contains the largest known Indiana bat hibernacula in Tennessee. The Indiana bat is a federally listed endangered species which has seen declines in the Northeastern U.S. due to WNS. White Nose Syndrome has killed in excess of 90% of the bats in many of the caves and mines in the Northeast, and is just now showing up in the Southeast.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park Bat Tests Positive for White Nose Syndrome Fungus, Press release, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 2010-04-19
I put up my bat house two years ago in response to learning about WNS. I fear it may never receive any tenants. Without critical scientific breakthroughs on the mortality of this disease, we may see the extinction of several bat species within a decade.

The new bat house
Mortality rates approaching 100 percent are reported at some sites. White-nose Syndrome has now moved into Canada, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and Maryland. It threatens some of the largest hibernation caves for endangered Indiana myotis, gray myotis, and Virginia big-eared bats. Ultimately, bats across North America are at imminent risk.
- White-Nose Syndrome, Bat Conservation International

Related Content

Bats, Bat Houses, and White-Nose Syndrome, 2009-03-26
Bat Houses, 2008-04-13
Northeastern Bats in Peril, 2008-03-18


Great Smoky Mountains National Park Bat Tests Positive for White Nose Syndrome Fungus, Press release, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 2010-04-19
MDC monitoring new bat disease in Missouri, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC)
White-Nose Syndrome, Bat Conservation International


40 Years of Earth

Earthrise over the moon as seen by the astronauts of Apollo 8 on December 22, 1968.
Earthrise, Apollo 8

This iconic image has become my regular Earth Day illustration. It was not the first image of the isolated Earth from space. It was the first which contrasted in the same image the wet, blue and green, atmospheric Earth with the barren, dusted, lifeless Moon.

It is easy to deceive ourselves that we can exploit the Earth and dehumanize others - basically, sh*t where we eat and sleep - without consequences. It is hard to see, concretely and measurably, how interconnected and interdependent we are.

Images like those above remind us that we are alone, isolated, and fragile. We are stewards of the Earth. We are gardeners of the world. It's our responsibility now.


Not just for Tree-Huggers: Street Tree Tour Sunday, 5/2

RESCHEDULED: The Tree Tour has been rescheduled for the rain date of Sunday, May 2, same times and location.

340 Argyle Road, Beverley Square West, April 2007
340 Argyle Road

Sustainable Flatbush's 3rd Annual Spring Street Tree Walking Tour will be Sunday, May 2. I'm proud to once again be one of your guides.

Sustainable Flatbush Street Tree Walking Tour, Arbor Day 2009. That's me in the middle, next to the tree. Photo by Keka (Flickr)

Tours start at 11am and 12noon from Sacred Vibes Apothecary, 376 Argyle Road, between Cortelyou & Dorchester Roads, and loop through the historic neighborhoods of Beverley Square West and landmarked Prospect Park South. In addition to architectural beauty, the area boasts a rich variety of street trees, as well as ornamental trees and shrubs.

View Sustainable Flatbush Spring 2010 Street Tree Walking Tour in a larger map

On the tour, you can see:
  • Acer platanoides, Norway Maple
  • Aesculus hippocastanum, Horsechestnut
  • Amelanchier, 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.

The suggested donation for the tour is $5. From the Sustainable Flatbush Web site:


Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Peak Everything

Today, after this morning's rains ended, Blog Widow and I went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It was my scheduled date to pickup my signature plant order: a pair of Paw-paws, and another native, unfamiliar to me: Meehania cordata. I shall be glad to make its acquaintance.

The Garden was peaking today. Like the King in Amadeus, I wanted to declare, simply: "Too many colors." I didn't get to see everything I wanted today. The Rock Garden was also peaking, but I only got to walk past that on my way to the plant pickup area. But I got enough to satisfy my jones for the day.

I've learned to carry deep photographic backup when I'm out on an excursion: two cameras, and two batteries for each. Today it paid off. The battery on my primary camera died just as I was taking the final shot for the panorama of the Cherry Esplanade.

The First Annual Great Flatbush Plant Swap, Saturday, April 24

Got some perennial divisions or extra seed-starts you don't need? Looking to start a new garden, and want some free plants? Looking to meet your gardening neighbors and pick up some tips?

Not the most ideal weekend to be digging in the garden, but if you're lifting, removing or dividing perennials, or have extra seed-starts, bring them to the First Annual Great Flatbush Plant Swap next Saturday, April 24, in front of the Flatbush Food Co-Op.

Co-sponsored by the Flatbush Food Co-op and Sustainable Flatbush, this is an opportunity to share or swap plants, meet your gardening neighbors, and get some free plants.

When: Saturday, April 24, 12noon-3pm, Rain or Shine
Where: Flatbush Food Co-op, 1415 Cortelyou Road, corner of Marlborough Road

Plant Swap Flyer


Plant Swap at Flatbush Food Co-op on April 24th!, Sustainable Flatbush
Flatbush Food Co-op

BBG has a new look (on their Web site)

As one of the first public gardens to use the internet to connect with its constituents, Brooklyn Botanic Garden has been online since 1995. Over the years, our site has grown to thousands of pages of content. As the size of the site grew, its architecture made much of this valuable information increasingly difficult for staff to keep up-to-date and for visitors to navigate.

We have now moved the site into a robust content management system, built using Expression Engine. We hope you enjoy our new format!

Look for new features including:

* Drop down navigation menus
* Related content in page sidebars
* More photos and clean page layout
* An improved Events Calendar
* Opportunity to comment on select pages

If you have feedback on our new site, contact webmaster@bbg.org.
out the new
- About the New Website


The Plight of NYC's Native Flora

Local ecotypes - propagated from local sources by the Staten Island Greenbelt - for sale by Oak Grove Farms (now Nature's Healing Farm) at the Union Square Greenmarket during the first annual NYC Wildflower Week in 2008. I bought one of each; two years later, all are thriving in my backyard native plant garden.
Native Plants at Oak Grove Farms

Earlier this week, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden issued a press release summarizing findings from 20 years of research through their New York Metropolitan Flora Project (NYMF). The results are not surprising, but disheartening nevertheless:
At least 50 varieties of native plants are locally extinct or nearing elimination, say project scientists. Nuttall’s mudflower (Micranthemum micranthemoides), last collected from the region in 1918, is likely extinct throughout its former range. Scarlet Indian paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea), pennywort (Obolaria virginica), sidebells wintergreen (Orthilia secunda), and sundial lupine (Lupinus perennis) are among the wildflower species to have seriously declined in the region. Black crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) is locally extinct, without a trace of a population remaining today in the New York City metropolitan area.
- Some Plants Native to NYC Area Have Become Locally Extinct As New Flora Has Moved In, Finds Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Press Release, 2010-04-05
The story has been widely covered in blogs and other media, including New York Times Science. I've included the complete press release below for reference.

I first wrote about NYMF in June of 2006, shortly after I launched this blog, four years ago next month. I've written about native plants countless times (see: , ). I have a lifelong interest in the nature around me, especially that which is right around me, where I live. Learning about and understanding the ecosystems where I live is part of finding my place in the world. I come to feel this connection deeply. Without it, my life is impoverished, and I am lost.

The greatest threat to native plants, and the ecosystems they support, is habitat loss. The second is competition and displacement, and further habitat loss, from invasive species, whether they be insects, infectious organisms, or other plants. Roughly half of invasive plant species were deliberately introduced, through agriculture, for civil engineering purposes such as erosion control, and for horticultural purposes.

Put Down Roots: Million Trees NYC Tree Giveaway

Once again, MillionTreesNYC is offering free trees, first-come, first-served, at limited locations around the city. Trees must be planted in the ground, not a container or planter, within New York City.  They can be planted on private property, with permission of the property owner.

Here are some Brooklyn locations. Check their Tree Giveaway page for the latest updates and other locations and dates around NYC.

SOLD OUT - All 200 trees were claimed in 1/2 hour
Green Fort Green and Clinton Hill & FAB Alliance Giveaway
Saturday April 17th and Sunday April 18th 10 am – 3 pm
Putnam Triangle (Putnam Avenue & Fulton Street)
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Grand Street Campus Giveaway
Saturday, May 1st and Sunday May 2nd 10 am – 4 pm
850 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

April is MillionTreesNYC month. In addition to the tree giveaway, there are many other events and activities scheduled.


The Fallen

The Fallen

Due to circumstance and inclination, my three decades of urban gardening have been devoted to mostly ornamental private gardens. I have dabbled in the occasional strawberry jar potted up with herbs (successful) and sweet corn in container (wretched). Nevertheless, most of my experience is with perennials and bulbs.

I label my plants. Rather, I label where I plant them. This is most helpful in the off seasons, to dissuade me from scanning some patch of deceivingly barren soil and imagining all the new plants I could acquire to populate it.

In the first garden, in the East Village, I carefully labeled all the little bulbs and plants with plastic labels. The white plastic contrasted strongly with the dark earth. This led one visitor to describe it as a "plant cemetery."

I've since graduated to aluminum labels. They are durable, erasable and reusable. Perhaps most important, less conspicuous. I've also gotten into the habit of scribing the provenance onto the back of the label: the year, and usually also the source from which I purchased the plant.

Nevertheless, they sometimes still serve as markers for those plants that have passed on. This is so common that gardeners have a euphemism for it: "adventurous." I am an adventurous gardener, in that I will plant things I've never grown before, perhaps never ever heard of before reading about it or spying it in some nursery and "rescuing" it.

Here then is a sampling of The Fallen, transcribed from markers I've found in different stashes, collecting dust with years-old seed packets, rusting pruners, and forgotten catalogs.


Hanami begins tomorrow, April 3, at BBG

Cherry Blossoms, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, April 2007, All Rights Reserved
Cherry Blossoms

via BBG Press Release

From April 3 to May 2, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) celebrates Hanami, the Japanese cultural tradition of viewing each moment of the cherry blossom season, from the first buds to the pink blossoms that fall like snow.

During Hanami, visitors can take a free Seasonal Highlights Tour (Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m.) focusing on the ethereal beauty of BBG’s Japanese plant collections and specialty gardens, including the more than 220 exquisite flowering cherries, the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, and the Tree Peony Collection. Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s curator of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Brian Funk, will also host a Meet the Curator session (Wednesday, April 14, at 4 p.m.). Throughout Hanami, the cherry display will be tracked in real time on BBG’s web-based CherryWatch feature, which maps the entire collection and provides daily blossom updates.

The four weeks of Hanami culminate in the Garden’s legendary two-day festival Sakura Matsuri — popularly referred to as “New York’s rite of spring” — a thrilling tribute to the Garden’s iconic collection of flowering cherries. Sakura Matsuri is scheduled for May 1 and 2, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, with over 60 performances, demonstrations, and exhibits—many of which are new and specially commissioned for the dynamic weekend celebration. Visitors of all ages are welcome to Sakura Matsuri, the nation’s largest event in a public garden.