BBG 2012 Calendar: Your Take

Updated 2011-11-20
My photo of Patrick Dougherty's "Natural History" blanketed in January's snow opens Brooklyn Botanic Garden's 2012 calendar.
Natural History

Earlier this year, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden solicited submissions for a visitor-sourced calendar:
Among the Garden’s most passionate visitors are photographers, who capture the beauty each season brings to the Garden’s 52 acres. Their images, taken from unique vantage points, offer perspectives that are at once stunning and unexpected. The 2012 calendar celebrates BBG through their eyes, with a selection of the best visitor-contributed photos from an online competition hosted last year.
Today, the winners met for a reception and guided tour of the Garden.
2012 Calendar Photographer Reception @BklynBotanic

After coffee and munchies, following a brief welcome and introduction from BBG's Claire Hansen, we set out on our own guided tour of the "Your Take" trail, a temporary exhibit on the grounds of the Garden, highlighting each of the photos in the calendar, and its photographer, at the location the photo was taken. Here I am posing with my sign.
Chris Kreussling, Natural History, BBG
Photo: John Magisano

The signs will be up through January. Here's the complete list of all photos in the calendar.


Related Content

Flickr photo set


BBG's Flickr set of copies of the photos used in the calendar
BBG 2012 Calendar, 66 Square Feet (Marie Viljoen)


Fall in Miniature: BBG's Bonsai in November

A yose (group-style) bonsai specimen of Acer palmatum, Japanese Maple, developed by Stanley Chinn currently on display at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Yose typically group multiple specimens of the same, or closely related species, in the same planting to simplify cultural requirements. Chinn's masterful touch is the selection of cultivars with different fall foliage colors. This specimen is unusual in that there appear to be only two, rather than the typical three or some other odd number, of the trees in the grouping.
Acer palmatum, Group-style Bonsai, BBG

There is no better time of year to visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's C. V. Starr Bonsai Museum than right now. Most of the trees on display are in peak fall foliage color. And while the wind has knocked the leaves off many of the trees on the grounds, the sheltered bonsai have been spared those indignities.

This season, they've placed an additional display table at the northern end of the greenhouse, opposite the entrance.
Bonsai Museum, BBG



What's a tree worth?

You can quantify the relative benefits of an individual tree, and project its future benefits as it grows through the years, with i-Tree Design:
i-Tree Design (beta) allows anyone to make a simple estimation of the benefits individual trees provide. With inputs of location, species, tree size and condition, users will get an understanding of the benefits that trees provide related to greenhouse gas mitigation, air quality improvements and storm water interception. With the added step of drawing a house or building footprint—and virtually "planting" a tree—trees' effects on building energy use can be evaluated.

This tool is intended to be a simple and accessible starting point for understanding individual trees' value to the homeowner and their community.
Using it is straightforward:
  1. Enter a street address.
  2. Select the common name of the tree species or genus.
  3. Enter the size, indicated by DBH: diameter at breast height (5' off the ground).
  4. Select the general health or condition of the tree, from "Excellent" to "Dead or Dying."
The results are returned quickly. Details are available from the different tabs.

The application requires Flash to be supported and enabled in your browser, so it won't work behind many corporate firewalls.


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Urban Forestry


i-Tree Design benefit Calculator


Gardening with the Hymenoptera (and yet not)


One of the great pleasures of gardening is observing the activity the garden invites. I can lay out the welcome mat, and set the table, but the guests decide whether or not the invitation is enticing enough to stop by for a drink, a meal, or to raise a family. While charismatic megafauna such as birds and mammals are entertaining, the most common and endlessly diverse visitors are insects.

The Hymenoptera includes bees, wasps, and ants. Although my garden also provides amply for ants, we'll stick with the bees and wasps today. Following are some of the few portaits I've been able to capture of the many visitors to my gardens. The pollinator magnet, Pycnanthemum, Mountain-mint, in the Lamiaceae, provides the stage for many of these photos. I'm always amazed at the variety and abundance of insect activity it attracts when blooming.

Multiple pollinators on Pycnanthemum
Multiple Pollinators on Pycnanthemum


There are over 250 species of bees native to New York City alone. I'm still learning to identify just a handful of the dozens of species that frequent my garden.

My current favorite is the bejeweled Agapostemon, Jade Bee
Agapostemon, Jade Bee, on Pycnanthemum


Solstice: Summer Abundant

Illumination of Earth by Sun at the northern solstice.

This season's Solstice (Summer in the Northern hemisphere, Winter in the Southern), occurs at 17:16/5:16pm UTC on June 21, 2011. That's 13:16/1:16pm where I am, in the Eastern Time zone, under Daylight Savings Time (UTC-4).
The name is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, its apparent movement north or south comes to a standstill.
- Solstice, Wikipedia
As the sun stands still, everything else seems to be in motion. Summer is in sway. The succession of insect emergences quickens its pace even as it near its end. Blooms seem to explode, with something new opening each day. Even so, the day after tomorrow will be shorter, the day after shorter still. The arc of gravity's rainbow is masked by this abundance. So we celebrate it, as we should.

Some shots from past solstices in my gardens.

Garden #2 in Park Slope, 2001


Gardening with the Lepidoptera

Tomorrow, Sunday, June 12, my garden will be opened for its second tour of the season: the Victorian Flatbush House (and Garden!) Tour, to benefit the Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC). Earlier this week, I wrote about the transformation of the garden over the six past years, since we bought our home. Today, I'm providing details about one part of that transformation, one which is easy to replicate on a small scale, even in a tree bed or on a balcony.

After readying my backyard native plant garden for its debut tour for NYC Wildflower Week in May, I decided to complete the requirements to register my garden as a Certified Wildlife Habitat (#141,173) with the National Wildlife Federation. With over 80 species of native plants, I easily met three of the four requirements: shelter, food, and places to raise young. All I lacked was water, a requirement satisfied by placing some birdbaths and a terra-cotta cistern.

On Friday, May 27, I mounted the plaque on the entrance arbor.
Certified Wildlife Habitat sign

The morning after I put out this welcome mat, I saw butterflies visiting a vine in the garden. I was puzzled, since the plant wasn't blooming yet. Closer observation revealed that they were laying eggs on the vine.


The Years Have Been Kind

This Spring has been a season of garden anniversaries for me. Six years ago, my partner and I bought our home in Flatbush. In the first month after closing, I began weeding, composting, and envisioning the gardens. Five years ago, I started this blog to document what I was doing and record my explorations.

It's also been a season to celebrate the gardens. Last month, for New York City Wildflower Week (NYCWW), I opened my native plant garden for a garden tour for the first time. This Sunday, June 12, the gardens will be opened again, this time for the Victorian Flatbush House Tour, to benefit the Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC). And in May, I registered my garden as a Certified Wildlife Habitat (#141,173) with the National Wildlife Federation.

My original vision for the backyard native plant garden is largely realized. I'm close to completing development of the planting beds. The shrubs and perennials have grown and spread; there is little bare ground. Unlike me, the garden looks better than it did six years ago. Take a look, and let me know what you think.


By view of the garden


Happy Arbor Day from Brooklyn's Trees

Many thanks to all the great Brooklyn photographers and tree-lovers who continue to contribute to the Flickr photo pool I started a few years ago.

Related Content

Urban Forestry page
Urban Forestry blog posts


Brooklyn's Trees (Flickr photo pool)


Happy Earth Day

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

This 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.
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.


Street Tree Walking Tour, Sunday 4/17

Update 2011-04-16: As nasty as the weather is as I update this on Saturday night, it will be beautiful tomorrow for the tour, windy, but temperatures reaching into the upper 50s and low 60s. Added a Google Map of the tour below.

The Sustainable Flatbush Street Tree Walking Tour of April 2009. Photo: Sustainable Flatbush (Flickr)
Sustainable Flatbush Street Tree Walking Tour '09

The 4th Annual Sustainable Flatbush Street Tree Walking Tour will be Sunday, April 17, the day after the Plant Swap. (It's a busy weekend for us!) We're following the same route as past tours, so if you've only been able to enjoy our fall foliage in the past, come enjoy the spring blooms!

Once again tours leave from Sacred Vibes Apothecary at 11am and 12noon. Your tour guides will be Sam Bishop of Trees NY, neighbor and gardener Tracey Hohman, and me. 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
  • Styphnolobium japonicum (Sophora japonica), Japanese Pagoda Tree, Scholar Tree
  • Taxodium distichum, Bald Cycpress
  • Tsuga canadensis, Eastern Hemlock
  • Ulmus americana, American Elm
... and many more.


Dividing Ornamental Grasses

As we approach the Second Annual Great Flatbush Plant Swap, I'm hoping to post some tips on how to divide perennials to bring to the event. Now is the time to do it, as foliage has just emerged, plants are actively growing, and most will recover quickly from any perceived insult of being lifted out of the ground and ripped into pieces.

I have to do with this with perennials in my gardens, so I'll use them as examples. Today I divided one of my larger grasses.

Second Annual Great Flatbush Plant Swap

Do you have extra seed-starts? Leftovers from dividing perennials? No place for that shrub you just dug out? Bring them to the Second Annual Great Flatbush Plant Swap on Saturday, April 16. No plants? No problem: everyone can bring home a plant, even if you have none of your own to swap. And it's a great way to meet other local gardeners, whether you're a beginner or a pro.

Plant Swap 2011

Sponsored by Sustainable Flatbush and the Flatbush Food Coop, the First Annual was, coincidentally, just last year. It was a great success, especially for an inaugural event: we distributed over 330 plants. Let's see if we can distribute even more this year!

When: Saturday, April 16, noon to 3pm
Where: Flatbush Food Coop, 1415 Cortelyou Road, at Marlborough Road


Related Content

The First Annual Great Flatbush Plant Swap, 2010


Flatbush Plant Swap, April 16th, Sustainable Flatbush
Flatbush Food Coop


Upcoming Events for Brooklyn Gardeners

Saturday, April 16

Rain Barrel Giveaway, NYC DEP
9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Marine Park Parking Lot
Avenue U

Millions Trees NYC Tree Giveaway
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Green-Wood Cemetery
500 25th St, Brooklyn

2nd Annual Great Flatbush Plant Swap
12noon to 3pm
Flatbush Food CoOp
1415 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn
Sponsored by Sustainable Flatbush and the Flatbush Food Coop

Sunday, April 17

4th Annual Sustainable Flatbush Spring Street Tree Walking Tour
11am & 12noon

Sunday, April 23

Millions Trees NYC Tree Giveaway
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Restoration Plaza
1368 Fulton St, Brooklyn

Sunday, May 1

Millions Trees NYC Tree Giveaway
Grand Street Campus
10:00 a.m. – noon
850 Grand Street, Brooklyn

Friday, May 6, through Sunday, May 15

NYC Wildflower Week
Events city-wide

Saturday, May 7

Millions Trees NYC Tree Giveaway
Neighborhood Housing Services of East Flatbush
noon – 2:00 p.m.
Holy Cross Church School Yard
2530 Church Ave., Brooklyn

Sunday, May 15

My garden will be on tour for NYC Wildflower Week!

Saturday, June 4

Millions Trees NYC Tree Giveaway
Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Blessed Sacrament Church
198 Euclid Avenue, Brooklyn


Persephone Returns

Happy Equinox.

The Return of Persephone (1891), by Frederic Leighton (1830–1896). Leighton depicts Hermes helping Persephone to return to her mother Demeter after Zeus forced Hades to return Persephone.
The Return of Persephone (1891), by Frederic 
Leighton (1830–1896)

Related Posts

Finally, Spring!, 2010
Happy Spring , 2009
Persephone Rises, 2008
Happy Vernal Equinox, 2007


Wikipedia: Equinox


Brooklyn Dirt #2, 3/16, Sycamore Bar and Flower Shop

The second night of the speaker event series Brooklyn Dirt: Monthly Talks on Urban Garden and Farming is this Wednesday, March 16. The topic is Garden Design.

Brooklyn Dirt, March 16, 2011

Prospect Farm and Sustainable Flatbush are proud to present Brooklyn Dirt: Monthly Talks on Urban Farming and Gardening.

Sycamore Bar and Flowershop
1118 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, NY, 11218

21 and over only

Directions: Q train to Cortelyou Road

Talk Two: Garden Design
With Speakers Tom Angotti with Jesse Alter (Hunter ) and Chris Kreussling (AKA Flatbush Gardener)
Talk One: Dirt and Soil
Wednesday, February 16, 2011, 7-9:30pm
With Speakers Jay Smith and Chris Kreussling (AKA Flatbush Gardener)

$5 suggested donation. Proceeds benefit Prospect Farm and the Urban Gardens and Farms Initiative of Sustainable Flatbush.


Brooklyn Dirt, 2/16, Sycamore Bar and Flower Shop

I am honored and excited to be one of the inaugural speakers for a new event series: Brooklyn Dirt - Monthly Talks on Urban Garden and Farming. The topic of this first event is, appropriately, Dirt, aka Soil. If you have questions about soil, or dirt, let me know and Jay and I will try to cover the topic in our talk.

Brooklyn Dirt, February 16, 2011

Prospect Farm and Sustainable Flatbush are proud to present Brooklyn Dirt: Monthly Talks on Urban Farming and Gardening.

Sycamore Bar and Flowershop
1118 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, NY, 11218

21 and over only

Directions: Q train to Cortelyou Road

Talk One: Dirt and Soil
Wednesday, February 16, 2011, 7-9:30pm
With Speakers Jay Smith and Chris Kreussling (AKA Flatbush Gardener)

$5 suggested donation. Proceeds benefit Prospect Farm and the Urban Gardens and Farms Initiative of Sustainable Flatbush.

Event on Facebook


Dare we Dream of Spring? Happy Imbolc (Groundhog Day) 2011

Update 2011-02-02: Flatbush Fluffy didn't see his shadow this morning. He did see his reflection in the sheet of ice that covers everything. Not sure what that means.

The snow in the backyard - undisturbed by shoveling, snowblowers, drifts, and pedestrian traffic, save for a few small, furry quadrupeds - is above my knees, about two feet. As I write this on the eve of the last day of January 2011, there is yet another Winter Storm Watch in effect, the billionth this Winter.

For the first day of February, the National Weather Service predicts snow, snow and sleet, freezing rain, sleet and snow, ice, freezing rain, snow and sleet, snow, then freezing rain, in that order. That's just Tuesday. It continues into Wednesday, Groundhog Day, with much the same result. The sole consolation is that come Imbolc morn, Flatbush Fluffy, the resident Marmota monax, will not see his shadow. Dare we dream of Spring?

Flatbush Fluffy

The groundhog, Marmota monax, also known as a woodchuck, groundhog, or whistlepig, is the largest species of marmot in the world.


Sustainability Guidelines for NYC Parks

Panorama, Frozen Lullwater at Prospect Park at Sunset
Panorama, Frozen Lullwater at Sunset, Prospect Park

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) recently released new sustainability guidelines for the design and maintenance of NYC's green spaces, High Performance Landscape Guidelines: 21st Century Parks for NYC:
High Performance Landscape Guidelines is the first document of its kind in the nation: a comprehensive, municipal design primer for sustainable parks and open space. The product of a unique partnership between the Parks Department and the Design Trust, a nonprofit organization that helped create sustainable guidelines for NYC buildings, High Performance Landscape Guidelines covers every aspect of creating sustainable parks, from design to construction to maintenance, and feature many best practices for managing soil, water, and vegetation resources.
- Press Release, January 6, 2011
The Guidelines, running over 270 pages, cover site assessment; design, construction and maintenance; and soils, water and vegetation. the final section of the manual includes several case studies, including two of Brooklyn's Parks: Calvert Vaux and Canarsie Parks.

Climate change is identified as a major factor, if not the single most important consideration, for the guidelines:
Climate change threatens the stability and longevity of New York City’s infrastructure, buildings, and parks; it also compromises the health and safety of the city’s population. Unless the growth of greenhouse gas emissions is curbed and reversed, experts predict that climate change will result in significant sea level rise, increased storm intensity and frequency, and increased temperatures.

Two factors will exacerbate the impacts of climate change in New York City: the urban heat island effect and the city’s overburdened stormwater infrastructure.

- Climate Change and 21st Century Parks, Part 1, Guidelines

Related Content

Sustainable Gardening


High Performance Landscape Guidelines: 21st Century Parks for NYC, available as PDF (273 pages)
Parks Press Release: A New Year Launches A New Era In Great Park Design, 2011-01-06


2010 Wrap-Up

This photo of a community garden supporter in front of City Hall was one of my photos illustrating my 2010 guest rant on Garden Rant.
Chard and Carrot

Here's my review and recap of 2010.



  • July 2010: I attend the Garden Bloggers Buffa10 meetup of garden bloggers.
  • Fall 2010: I received my Citizen Tree Pruner's certification.

Most Viewed

According to Google Analytics, from which I've collected these stats, "unique page views" are the number of visits during which a page was viewed. Page views are higher, since the same page may be viewed multiple times during a single visit. Unique pageviews, however, doesn't distinguish multiple visits from the same person or IP address.


Mulchfest 2011: Recycle Those Trees!

The giant tree shredder in action at last year's Mulchfest at Park Circle in Prospect Park.
Park Circle Mulchfest 2010

It's tree recycling season in New York City. Residents can have their trees recycled into mulch for the City's parks and gardens. Note that, although recycling pickup is still suspended after the post-Christmas blizzard, you can leave trees curbside for recycling pickup.
  • Remove all lights, ornaments, tinsel and tree-stands from your tree.
  • Leave your tree unwrapped. Don't put it in a plastic bag.
  • Leave trees curbside starting Monday, January 3 for recycling pickup, OR
  • Bring your tree 10am-2pm Saturday, January 8th or Sunday, January 9th to one of 70 locations citywide.
Residents can also pick up free mulch at designated chipping locations.

Brooklyn Locations

This year's Mulchfest locations for Brooklyn are almost the same as last year's. Those marked with an asterisk (*) are on-site chipping locations.

The Amazing Garden* Columbia Street at Carroll Street Chipping
Cobble Hill Park* Verandah Place & Clinton Street Chipping
Coffey Park Dwight Street & Verona Street Drop-off only
Fort Greene Park* Washington Pk. & Willoughby Avenue Chipping
Green-Wood Cemetery 25th Street & 4th Avenue Drop-off only
Hattie Carthan Garden* Across from Von King Park: Lafayette Avenue & Clifton Place Chipping
Lincoln Terrace Park Buffalo Avenue between East New York Avenue & Eastern Parkway Drop-off only
Maria Hernandez Park Knickerbocker Avenue & Suydam Street Drop-off only
Marine Park* Avenue U & East 33rd Street Chipping
McCarren Park* Driggs Avenue & Lorimer Street Chipping
McGolrick Park Monitor Street & Driggs Avenue Drop-off only
Owl's Head Park* Colonial Road & 68th Street Chipping
Prospect Heights Community Garden 252-256 St. Marks Avenue Drop-off only
Prospect Park* Third Street at Prospect Park West Chipping
Prospect Park Circle* Parkside Avenue & Prospect Park Southwest Chipping
Sunset Park44th Street & 6th AvenueDrop-off only


View Brooklyn MulchFest 2011 in a larger map


Related Content

Mulchfest posts:


Mulchfest, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
Partnerships for Parks
Prospect Park Alliance