Teachers Come Free October 11 for Special Workshop & The Edible Garden
Jamie Boyer, Ph.D., is Director of Children’s Education.
Now that autumn has arrived, most gardeners are turning their attention to harvesting and preparing their garden beds for winter. It would seem an unlikely time to think about starting a garden, especially at a school. However, anyone who has ventured down this road of creating and integrating a garden into a school curriculum knows there is a fair amount of needed preparation. In order to make the garden everything that is desired, school teachers and administrators need a planning period; autumn is the perfect time to start that process.
What many may not realize is that there are many different reasons to create a garden as well as many designs to accommodate the needs of the school community. For example, a garden may seem like an easy fit for those who teach science and desire a display garden to explore life cycles, soils, and plant-animal interactions.
Less obvious may be the important math, literacy, cultural, and community connections that a garden can offer. A garden that demonstrates dazzling patterns and quick-germinating plants to measure growth may be perfect for learning real-life math. A theme garden that displays a concept or a culture, such as a Native American three-sisters garden, is a great way for students to understand how plants are integral to communities.
Whatever the need or desire, The New York Botanical Garden has school garden experts who can help.
To this end, the Children’s Education department will be hosting its annual Teacher Open House from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Columbus Day, October 11. In addition to learning about the engaging nature programs in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, and forest explorations with the GreenSchool, this year’s event will include workshops at the Howell Family Garden to help teachers learn about building, managing, and integrating a garden into their everyday school routine.
So come for free (20 percent discount for family members) and enjoy The Edible Garden, see celebrity cooking demonstrations, chat with Children’s Education staff, and participate in gardening workshops. For more information or to RSVP, please call 718.817.8157. See you there!
Linda R. Cox is Executive Director of the Bronx River Alliance and Bronx River Administrator for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Photos: Steve Zack for the Bronx River Alliance.
On an overcast evening last month, five canoes set off on the cool, still waters of the Bronx River amid the shaded forests of the Bronx Zoo and The New York Botanical Garden. We were four Bronx River Alliance staff and seven intrepid adventurers, all on the search for José the Beaver.
José, named in honor of Congressman José E. Serrano for his unstinting support of the Bronx River’s revitalization, has lived on the Bronx River since 2006. Nonetheless, he is seldom seen. Even Josue Garcia and Miguel Rodriguez, who led hundreds of paddlers down the river this summer, had not seen him. But this time we had chosen José’s favorite hour for activity—dusk. Our hopes were high. Five wildlife biologists were with us to help witness José’s life on the river.
We paddled upstream, passing under Fordham Road into the Botanical Garden, and there he was, floating in the water under a willow tree. With the top of his head and back visible, José swam away from the tree, gave two mighty thwacks with his tail, and dived under the water, suddenly gone, invisible.
Susan Cohen, Portfolio Series Founder, Named to ASLA Council of Fellows
Jeff Downing is Vice President for Education.
Often, landscape design is most successful when it is least apparent. Perhaps because landscapes serve partly as transitions from the natural to the built world, many great landscape projects are noteworthy for being so harmonious with their surrounding environments that they seem timeless, as though they were always there.
The same could be said for the Landscape Design Portfolio Lecture Series. The Portfolio Series, which features renowned landscape architects from around the world discussing their most important projects, is presented each year in midtown Manhattan on Monday evenings in October and November. Over the years, the series has become so ingrained in the Garden’s fall calendar as a must-see event that it is easy to believe it has always existed. But it did not.
The Portfolio Series is the brainchild of Susan Cohen, Registered Landscape Architect and Coordinator of the Garden’s Landscape Design Certificate Program. From its inception in 1998, Susan envisioned the series as a platform to showcase world-renowned landscape architects, and a logical extension of the Garden’s popular landscape design program. In the 12 years since, the portfolio series has featured 50 influential designers of outdoor spaces large and small, public and private.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” said John, who this year celebrated two milestones: turning 50 and marking his 30th anniversary at the Botanical Garden, where he works in the mailroom. He got to rub elbows with Joe Girardi, Reggie Jackson, and others.
John, who lives in the Bronx, has participated in the Special Olympics in bowling for more than 20 years. He is an avid Yankees fan, as everyone who works at the Garden well knows. Today he donned his Derek Jeter jersey to work, and in addition to his usual commentary about the weekend’s Yankees and New York Giants games, he received well wishes for his stadium appearance from his own fan club among employees.
“My favorite part was when I threw the ball and hearing my name announced,” said John, who had a wonderful time watching the game from a field box. The only downside: the Yanks lost to the Boston Red Sox 7-3.
Like most big problems, this annual grass will not go away easily. Repeated treatments are needed and the area needs to be maintained to discourage the plant’s growth. While this may sound daunting, it is reassuring to know that all you have to do is follow some simple and healthy gardening practices to slow down the return of stilt grass.
Most invasive plants are opportunists—colonizing areas that have been disturbed. So whenever you pull out any invasive plant, the first line of defense is to tamp down the disturbed soil (gently firming it with your feet).
If you are not replanting the area, the next course of action is to apply a thick layer of mulch over the surface. This will inhibit the germination of weed seeds uncovered in the soil disturbance and will provide a protective layer to prevent any introduced seeds from settling the area.
Having grown up on a farm in Indiana, the process of growing my own produce is basically genetically linked. I come from a long line of “farm women”: My mother, Linda, and both my grandmothers worked the farm and prepared fabulous meals from its bounty to nourish our family. Nothing makes me happier than going to the garden, plucking from the vine or stalk what’s at its peak, and cooking it up simply to create a gourmet meal.
I started gathering from the garden at an early age. When I was five years old, I would get up early to cook breakfast for my parents, first gathering produce to incorporate into my scrambles. My mother and father would awaken to breakfast in bed—and a HUGE mess from my “creations” waiting for them in the kitchen. Not much has changed except now I have a staff to help with cleaning.
Now as a chef living just outside New York City, the land, space, and time isn’t available for me to grow my own crops. Local farmers markets have replaced the need to grow crops for the freshest of ingredients. It’s refreshing to know where the food on your plate comes from, too. Farmers markets are the best! I am a big advocate in supporting local farms. I always try to create from the best the season has to offer.
It’s a wonderful way to see your favorite chefs in person in action—often creating original dishes. You can take notes during the demos, but you can save time by looking up the recipes on the Garden’s Web site, where they are posted the week following the event.
So impress your friends and family by whipping up some of these seasonal, delicious inventions. Bon appétit.
Butterflies Migrate Through the Garden on Way to Mexico
Dorrie Rosen and Anita Finkle-Guerrero are Plant Information Specialists at The New York Botanical Garden.
The annual celebrated journey of monarch butterflies is now under way. Perhaps you’ve already seen individual monarchs floating past as they head south to their winter home in Mexico on one of the most unique migrations in the natural world—a round-trip that spans three or four generations of monarchs. Each fall these beautiful black-and-orange creatures migrate to a relatively small geographic area in central Mexico where they huddle in masses on trees to conserve heat and be protected from buffeting winds and rains.
Severe weather in Mexico last winter—drought, wind, and mudslides, which took down trees—as well as continual illegal logging, land development, and pesticide use have negatively impacted the monarch population.
To view some of the plants at the Botanical Garden that the monarch feeds on, visit the Home Gardening Center, the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, the Jane Watson Irwin Perennial Garden, and other living collections within our 250-acre landscape. Milkweed is the preferred host plant for monarch caterpillars and can be seen in the Children’s Adventure Garden. Also look there for other butterfly favorites: goldenrod, Joe-pye weed, and sedum. We saw monarchs on butterfly bush, lantana, sedum, and zinnia in the Home Gardening Center.
With cooking demonstrations every day, a Greenmarket filled with regional foods, a festival honoring Hispanic Heritage Month, and other food-related programming during The Edible Garden, the Botanical Garden is the place to be to kick off and participate in Eat Drink Local Week.
This second annual celebration of local foods is more than a restaurant week—and it’s more than a week! From September 26 through October 6, this statewide event co-produced by Edible magazines and GrowNYC, is a time to get to know your neighborhood markets and area farmers.
Wine tastings, lectures, garden tours, farm-to-table dinners, and many other events, including edible programming at the Botanical Garden, will be held throughout New York during Eat Drink Local Week.
The Garden’s Fiesta de Flores y Comida Weekend, September 25 and 26, features flowers, food, dancing, cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs, home gardening demonstrations, food and wine tastings, cookbook signings, and family activities.
Sonia Uyterhoeven is Gardener for Public Education. Join her each weekend for home gardening demonstrations on a variety of topics in the Home Gardening Center.
This past summer I attended a workshop given by NOFA Organic Land Care on the organic management of invasive plants in the landscape. I want to share some of the information I learned, especially as it relates to Japanese stilt grass (Microstegium vimineum), which I wrote about last week.
Since Japanese stilt grass is an annual grass, the primary goal is to prevent it from producing seeds. Let’s look at how to work with its life cycle in order to get rid of it.