Sunday, October 31, 2010

What's Blooming Bouquet from late October

A mix from Joe's garden and mine. An orange Marigold, pink Dahlia, reblooming Lavender, Parsley and Hyacinth Bean vine.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall Buds in the Vegetable Plot


A volunteer coneflower, I think, growing outside a raised bed. I'm not sure. It could be Echinacea I tried to grow from seed last year that finally came up this year or maybe it's a plant grown from seed blown in from someone else's plot. It looked liked a coneflower plant or rudbeckia while it was growing, so I left it in the ground to see what it would become. Maybe it will bloom despite the coming cold spell and the mystery will be solved.

and a flower from some early fall lettuce that bolted already.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Still Blooming

The leaves are changing and falling, yet some flowers still persist. Monkshood, above in the Perennial border and in the Plant Family Collection. Salvia lucantha below in the Fragrance Garden and Rose Garden.

And of course, the roses and the anenomes too. I needed three layers outside today, but these thin- petaled flowers that people think are dainty are out there in the elements night and day. How fierce.

The High Line

I'm a fan of Rails to Trails for their vision in taking defunct passageways that were once vital for shipping or passenger travel and reinventing them as cycling/pedestrian/horse trails all over the country, so touring the High Line here in New York city was pretty cool. Land use might not seem like a hip topic, but when you get down to it, it really is the only game in town and always has been, especially in a town as populated and developed as Manhattan. The High Line is also a good place to learn about designing an urban landscape, gardening or growing plants in tough or unusual places and to think about how to use the space here, this city, now and in the future. It was a beautiful, unseasonally warm day to boot.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Walk to Native Flora with Susan

Just getting close to the Native Flora Garden right now, you know you are in for a treat. The Native Flora is always a pretty cool spot, but in autumn it's downright dazzling.

Nearby is a Witchhazel in bloom. Susan noticed one blooming in Prospect Park this weekend, two weeks earlier than I saw it blooming last year.

There's that Sumac, which is an incredible greeting as you enter the gate.

And on and on it goes. We walked the different paths of the garden, where there was always some spectacular fall color to see just around the bend.

I'll miss these walks through Brooklyn Botanic's grounds and through Native Flora, whether studying for ID tests or getting ideas for our projects. Just watching the grounds change daily and through the seasons has been one of the highlights of my year.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More fall color

in the Japanese Garden today.

Even the conifers are in on the action here, with the Golden Larch changing to its brilliant gold before shedding its needles and even our own Pinus strobus, which is evergreen, showing some yellowing needles, and its beautiful long cones. It's not a bad week to have a rotation in the Japanese Garden.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Afternoon in the Japanese Garden

Holy moly. Is that tree bloody blood red or what? The Japanese Garden is pretty spectacular any day of the year, but it's unreal right now and I don't think it's quite peak yet. And as if I needed anymore to wonder at today while sweeping up some stinko Gingko fruit, the Camellias that Brian planted this spring are blooming too.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's Eating My Dahlia?

I hope my nephew retains his love for beetles and bugs because perhaps someday he can tell me what's eating my Dahlia. I don't know what type of caterpillar it is, but it looks like it's chosen to wear plaid for fall.

Friday, October 22, 2010


A Sugar Maple inside the Native Flora Garden and maple leaves from just outside it, where a Japanese Maple, Sourwood and a few others are also putting on a bit of a fall show. It felt almost wintery today but we are still waiting on most of the fall color here.

Leaves of the Amur maple.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mums the Word

It's really time for the trees to take over the show, but one last flower, the Chrysanthemum wants some time in the spotlight. They're common, it's true. Simple too. And there are many that I don't really appreciate. But this pink mum blooming in the Perennial border near the Lily Pool is one I do.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In the Muck

Cleaning out the lily pools is a pretty mucky job, no doubt about that. The highlight of the week so far has been our constant companion, the Great Blue Heron. I wonder if the bird remembers that this is the week that one of the lily pools at BBG gets cleaned and it makes for good fishing, or if he's just especially hungry this week. No matter because it's been thrilling to be around him for hours at a time this week.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Until next year's show

We ripped out the annual border plants today, saving some Cannas, Dahlias and other bulb-like plants (Geophytes) that can be stored for next year, composting the rest. The ground is bare right now until next year's spring tulip show, when the border will come alive again under a new design by Caleb. And when the tulips fade, it will be time for next year's interns to help plant the annual border again, with the pretty showy flowers of summer like the Emilia coccinea (Tassel Flower, Flora's paintbrush) from Caleb's centennial annual display this year. You always know what time of year it is when you are in this area and it's never the same place twice.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Last of the Summer Vegetables Harvest

It has to happen sometime, but it's always a little sad when you rip out your summer vegetable plants. Today was that day. We have some cooking to do and a little research on different ways to use our green tomatoes. We're going to see if some will ripen in newspaper with an apple and fry some up too. The garden looks a little empty now, but there are carrots almost ready to harvest and other cool weather crops and next year's plot plan and seed buying to look forward to.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Tabernaemontana divaricata 'Flore Pleno', Tropical Pavilion

How can you not be wowed by a tree with such a pure white flower, beautiful glossy foliage and then, as if that wasn't good enough, this incredible muscular bark? I took these pictures back in June, but today it still has blooms and of course, year round that incredible bark. Watering in the tropical pavilion isn't a bad way to spend a cool windy day. It's not Hawai'i, but it's pretty lush.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


When I hear the term Oxalis, I usually think of the pretty clover-like weed that I continually pull out of my vegetable beds, a type commonly called creeping woodsorrel or the showy purple shamrock Oxalis triangularis of Caleb's annual border this year. Today, the word means something different to me after seeing Carla's Oxalis collection in the warm temperate greenhouse. One pretty but very persistant weed had soured me (pun intended) on what is a large genus of pretty plants mostly from South Africa and South America, but including some North American woodland natives. I like how there are some without the characteristic clover-shaped foliage and always these beautiful dainty flowers. Seeing them today was a special treat.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Geophytes In the Morning

...and Geophytes at night.

We spent the morning digging up the Sweet Potatoes (Ipomoea batata 'Margarita') that were shredded by the hailstorm in the Rose Garden and the evening dissecting tubers, bulbs and corms in propagation class. Who knew that the tuberous part of the Cyclamen pictured below is really an enlarged hypocotl? And here I thought that growing your basic bulbs and tubers like garlic and potatoes was pretty cool. That Cyclamen hypocotl is something else entirely.

Cyclamen graceum (Bonsai Musem)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

After The Hail

Lots of leaves to pickup. The good news: trees still standing, unlike some recent freak storms lately in New York city. The bad: less leaves to enjoy for fall color. The trees fared better than the tender annuals of the Rose Garden, Lily Pool Plaza and Herb Garden, which were more or less shredded by the hail. But annuals can be replanted next season and I imagine the new herb garden will be even more spectacular in its second year. So life goes on at Brooklyn Botanic. And today, lots of birds. Like these little guys, the Ruby-Crowned Kinglets (Regulus calendula). If my ID is correct, this little bird is migrating through the area now, but some might stay on through the winter. I think Susan identified it yesterday and she knows her birds, so I'll see if she confirms. I did see a red spot on the heads of some of these little birds, which would make them the male of the species. No red spots on these, so they are female, possibly.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Of Hornets and Hail

Dolichovespula maculata (Bald-faced hornet)

The Bald-faced hornet isn't really a hornet but tonight it did hail in Brooklyn. Dolichovespula maculata is actually a type of wasp, a yellowjacket. So much for common names. It's doubly beneficial in that it eats the larvae of other insects including caterpillars and even other wasps, and as seen above acts as a pollinator late in the season when it feeds on nectar. The Polistes sp. wasp pictured below is a similar beneficial. I'm not sure of the species but they can be identified when in flight because their legs dangle beneath their body. I'm pretty sure both wasps are natives and doing their thing in the right place. Here's hoping that tonight's wild hail storm hasn't blown down their paper nests and all the ripening produce down at Floyd Bennett.

Polistes sp. (Paper wasp)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

DIY Community Gardening Style

Marilyn's soil-saving saavy...blanching fennel bulbs.

Martha Stewart and the crafters at Etsy have nothing on the average community gardener or at least the ones at Floyd Bennett. Whether it's an owl decoy to scare off voles and other critters or a willow branch stretched over a doorway as an arbor to grow vines on, there's always a lesson to be learned from the craftiness of your neighbors. Plastic pots are cut into strips to protect seedlings from cutworms or ingeniously planted to aid blanching, as above. Empty water or milk jugs become cloches and scraps of wood salvaged from the garbage build gardens. I've learned a lot about vegetable gardening from books but at least as much about the craft from my neighbors.

Pumpkin patch compost..materials and design inspiration by Marilyn

Margaret's critter scare tactic.