Sign the Petition to Restore Science to Brooklyn Botanic Garden

2013-10-05: Guest post on Garden Rant.
2013-09-26: Thanks to the Brokelyn link, the petition surges past 2,500, adding 800 new signatures in two days, nearly all of them from Brooklyn.
2013-09-24: Brokelyn favorably summarizes the issue and links to the petition.
2013-09-22: The NY Times mentions the petition, but doesn't link to it. It briefly quotes me and links to this blog. The article is a puff piece largely written by BBG.
The petition has reached 1,750 signatures, and continues to grow.
2013-09-19: Brooklyn Daily Eagle and NY Daily News have picked up the petition.
We reached the 1,500 signature mark earlier today.
2013-09-16: Added selections of some of my favorite comments from signatories to the petition.


Seeds, Asclepias incarnata, Swamp Milkweed, NYC-local ecotype, growing in my urban backyard native plant garden and wildlife habitat in November 2010. Monitoring and propagation of rare and endangered native plants from local, wild populations is one of the activities Brooklyn Botanic has eliminated with its latest round of cuts.
Seeds, /Asclepias incarnata/, Swamp Milkweed, NYC-local ecotype

Three weeks ago, I wrote about the elimination of the last science staff, programs and activities at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG). Since then, I've learned much more about the history of just how far BBG has drifted from its mission, which is supposed to include:
Engaging in research in plant sciences to expand human knowledge of plants, and disseminating the results to science professionals and the general public.
Several of us have continued working to formulate a response. Over the weekend, we launched a petition on Change.org to Restore Science to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden:
Reinstate Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s field work, herbarium and library access, and the scientists needed to support these programs and services.

Restore science as a priority, as required by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s mission: “Engaging in research in plant sciences to expand human knowledge of plants, and disseminating the results to science professionals and the general public.”

Include Brooklyn, its neighborhoods, and scientific communities – the public for which Brooklyn Botanic Garden was founded, and is funded, to serve – in all decisions affecting its research and education programs and activities.
In less than 24 hours, we reached the 100-signature mark. Even this early, after seeing the responses in one day, there's hope we may see thousands of signatures in this campaign.


Hempstead Plains, Long Island's Remnant Prairie

Updated 2013-09-05: CORRECTION - The white-flowering plant is Eupatorium hyssopifolium, Hyssop-leaf Throughwort, not E. perfoliatum, Common Boneset, as I misidentified it.

At a glance - say, highway speed - this may appear to be yet another old-field meadow, biding its time before it transitions into shrubland and eventually forest. This is Hempstead Plains, one of several mature grasslands on Long Island, and the only true prairie east of the Appalachian Mountains.

Hempstead Plains
Hempstead Plains on the grounds of Nassau Community College in East Garden City, Nassau County, NY. The white-flowering plants are Eupatorium hyssopifolium, Hyssop-leaf Throughwort.

On Sunday, August 25, I joined three other native plant lovers for a whirlwind tour of Hempstead Plains. We had only an hour; I could have spent several hours there. For me, this was a pilgrimage. I spent most of my childhood on Long Island.


Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Slash and Burn "Campaign for the 21st Century"

Sign the Petition to Restore Science to Brooklyn Botanic Garden! (Added 2013-09-16)

2013-08-29: Added more links. I will continue to do so as this story begins to get more exposure.
2013-08-24: Expanded analysis. Added more external links to relevant sections of BBG's Web site.
2013-08-23 18:00: Added response from BBG.


I was alarmed to read the following on Twitter yesterday [2013-08-21]:
Brooklyn Botanic Garden suspends science program and lays off botany staff. Express concerns to president Scot Medbury scotmedbury@bbg.org.
- New York Flora Association, 2013-08-22, ~06:00 EDT

My Letter

For over a century, since its founding, science has been a foundation of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It is a primary reason why I have supported them. This morning [2013-08-23] I wrote the following email to Scot Medbury, President, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), and the Director of Major Gifts at BBG's Development Department:


The Supermodel in the Sewer: /Dolichovespula maculata/, Bald-Faced Hornet

Setting aside for a moment the less-than-appealing staging, this is a beautiful creature.
/Dolichovespula maculata/, Bald-Faced Hornet
This is Dolichovespula maculata, the Bald-Faced Hornet. Despite its prevalence, this is my first direct encounter with one.


Cry Wolf: /Philanthus gibossus/, Beewolf

Philanthus gibossus, Beewolf, on Pycnanthemum muticum, Clustered Mountain-Mint, in my native plant gardens this past weekend.
/Philanthus gibbosus/, Beewolf, on /Pycnanthemum muticum/, Clustered Mountain-Mint

This thirsty little wasp face down in a cup of nectar is a Beewolf, so-named because they provision their larvae with bees. Despite the size of the image, these wasps are small; the individual flowers of this Pycnanthemum are about the size of a pencil point.


Cupido comyntas, Eastern Tailed-Blue

Cupido comyntas, Eastern Tailed-Blue.

A lifer butterfly for me. Very lucky to get a few good shots of it while it was resting, wings open, to take in some sun. They're small and fast.


Rainbow Garden

My front garden bloomed all the colors of the rainbow just in time for this past Pride Weekend.
Rainbow Garden

The plants in bloom include natives, heirlooms, passalongs from past plant swaps, and weeds. Not everything in bloom is visible in the photo. Some are too small to stand out at this scale. Others are just off-frame to the right.


Physocephala tibialis, Thick-Headed Fly

2013-12-29: Identified as Physocephala tibialis by Aaron Schusteff, Contributing Editor of BugGuide.

A few weeks ago, I tweeted:
2013-06-11 19:57: Found - or rather one of our cats did - an incredible wasp-mimic fly. Chilling in refrigerator for later identification.

2013-06-11 20:01: The fly looks very similar to /Physocephala/
http://bugguide.net/node/view/7190/bgimage except all-black at first glance. Will examine more closely later.
This is what she found:
Physocephala, Thick-headed Fly

Yes, that is a fly, not a wasp. You can tell it's a fly from the antennae in the center of the face, instead of the top of the head, the large, rounded eyes that cover both sides of the face, instead of being restricted to the upper part of the head, and the "forked" feet.

Amphion floridensis, Nessus Sphinx Moth

Amphion floridensis, Nessus Sphinx Moth, on Rhododendron viscosum, Swamp Azalea, in my urban backyard native plant garden and wildlife habitat. The two bright yellow bands are a key for this species.
Amphion floridensis, Nessus Sphinx Moth, on Rhododendron viscosum, Swamp Azalea

Another lifer moth for me, I saw this in my backyard a few weeks ago. Fortunately, I had my camera with me. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to break out the flash, or the tripod. This was a fast-moving moth.


Long Island Native Plant Sale, June 7&8, 14&15

2013-06-09: Updated from my visit on Saturday, 6/8.

The Sale

Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI) Plant Sale

This Friday and Saturday, June 7 and 8, and next week as well, June 14 and 15, is a rare opportunity to purchase local ecotypes - plants propagated from local wild populations - of plants native to Long Island. The sale is organized by the Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI). Proceeds benefit LINPI.


Magicicada Brood II

UPDATED: Expanded and organized into topics.


Magicicada in Staten Island's Clove Lakes Park

Yesterday, Matthew Wills and I traveled to Staten Island in search of Magicicada, the periodical cicada, specifically, Brood II. We both had examined the online reports and articles; although the south shore of Staten Island is their stronghold, Cloves Lake Park - not that far from the ferry terminal - kept turning up as one of the places they'd been sighted. As a bonus, I had the car, and this park was closest to the Verrazano narrows bridge.


My Plant Giveaway

2013-04-30 UPDATE: Full house! Sorry, but the response was enthusiastic. I already have all my availability booked for this weekend. If I have any time on subsequent weekends, I will post another update here.

I'm reorganizing some of my planting areas this Spring. I have many overgrown perennials taking up too much space in my garden. I would love to share them with you.

I'll be working in the garden this weekend, weather permitting, from Saturday May 4 about 12 noon on, and Sunday May 5. I'm on Stratford Road in Beverley Square West (between Cortelyou and
Beverly Roads). Email me at xr...@gmail.com to set a time to stop by and we'll dig the plants fresh out of the ground for you.

If you don't know what will grow, tell me what you have to garden in and I'll give you something that will grow well for you. I have plants for sun, shade, or anything in between:
  • Corydalis cheilanthifolia (ferny foliage, yellow flowers, blooming now)
  • Hemerocallis, Daylilies (mostly the common orange H. fulva, but also some fragrant yellow ones)
  • Iris siberica, Siberian Iris
  • Bearded Iris, Purple-flowering, smell like grape jelly
  • Hosta (plain green leaves, purple flowers)
I also have some native plants - my specialty - that have thrived enough for me to be able to give some away.
  • Asarum canadense, Wild Ginger
  • Helianthus, tall perennial sunflowers, including H. tuberosa, Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Onoclea sensibilis, Sensitive Fern
  • Phlox stolonifera, Creeping Phlox
  • Pycnanthemum, Mountain-Mint, a great pollinator plant
  • Viola, violets, both purple- and white-flowering
... and maybe others if we hunt around the grounds.

All of these are "outdoor" plants. They need the cold of Winter to rest each year. Some of them can be grown in containers; you don't need to have ground to garden!

Happy Gardening!


A Busy Flatbush Gardener's Weekend

I'll be out and about in the community at two events this weekend. Stop by and say hello! And maybe pick up some tips and plants while you're at it.

Saturday, April 21, 9:30-1:30
Sustainable Flatbush Church Garden - Earth Day Open House
Flatbush Reformed Church
2121 Kenmore Terrace, off East 21st Street, one block south of Church Avenue

View Larger Map

Sunday, April 20, 12-3pm
Great Flatbush Plant Swap 2013
Flatbush Food Coop
1415 Cortelyou Road, corner of Marlborough Road

View Larger Map

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Great Flatbush Plant Swap 2013, Sunday, 4/21, Noon-3pm


Sustainable Flatbush: Save the date for our Earth Day Open House!


Great Flatbush Plant Swap 2013, Sunday, 4/21, Noon-3pm

This Sunday, April 21, from noon to 3pm, join your fellow green-thumbs, and brown-thumbs, for the 2013 Great Flatbush Plant Swap.

Got some extra seed-starts you don't need? Leftovers from dividing perennials? No place for that shrub you just dug out? Looking to start a new garden, and want some free plants? Looking to meet your gardening neighbors and pick up some tips?

Each year we've done this, we've re-distributed hundreds of plants. No plants? No problem: everyone can bring home a plant, even if you have none of your own to swap. You don't need to bring something to be able to take something away.

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: Sunday, April 21, 12noon-3pm, Rain or Shine
Where: Flatbush Food Co-op, 1415 Cortelyou Road, corner of Marlborough Road

2013 Plant Swap Flyer
Credit: Baly Cooley

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2010: The First Annual Great Flatbush Plant Swap, Saturday, April 24



Off-topic: 20 Years

Today is the 20th anniversary of my sobriety. Sobriety, abstinence, and recovery are often conflated. They're not the same things.

Salvage Path

I got sober because drinking was interfering with my recovery. I say "I got sober," not just "I stopped drinking." Abstinence was as necessary for my sobriety as sobriety was for my recovery, but I don't equate sobriety with abstinence. Today, I have the occasional glass of beer or wine with dinner. I am still sober.