Debbie Becker has been leading weekly Bird Walks at the NYBG for over 25 years. You can often find her on Saturday mornings, guiding new and veteran “birders” alike through the Garden’s 250 acres with binoculars in tow.
While leading my weekly Bird Walk at The New York Botanical Garden I observed a large woodpecker flying by me. I was able to see its wings with their black feathers and white markings. My first and only thought was that I had just seen a Pileated Woodpecker.
After leading birdwatching tours at NYBG for 27 years, the one bird that has always remained elusive is the Pileated Woopecker. Although they are common just miles north of the Garden, not many of these birds have ever been spotted south of Westchester County. But after careful research, I discovered that males wander during the month of April, presumably seeking new territory. It was on May 5 that I had what I hoped was a Pileated–the first for NYBG in decades.
What’s a forest without the chatter of songbirds, or a pond without a curmudgeonly duck or two? Tom Andres, an Honorary Research Associate at the NYBG, won’t even consider the possibility. He’s too busy snapping pictures of our avian population.
It’s no great secret that The New York Botanical Garden is a northern birder’s paradise, home to owls, hawks, herons, and woodpeckers. Debbie Becker’s Saturday Bird Walks remain a staple at the Garden, now over 25 years since she began guiding groups of amateur and veteran birdwatchers alike through our 250-acre landscape. Even so, populations change with the seasons–migrants flood the Garden with song and color one week, only to disappear the next.
Tom doesn’t let the fickle nature of the birder’s obsession hamper his photography, much less his fascination. “The Garden plays an important role for feathered visitors,” he writes, “especially as a refueling point during migration season.” The Bronx River Corridor–winding through the Garden–is a major draw for neotropical birds migrating toward northern breeding grounds, or heading south for warmer climates. This explains the sudden influx of loud and bright warblers arriving early in spring, making a much-needed pit stop before they move on.
Look to have a bird-brained afternoon as we set aside this beautiful Thursday to celebrate the treetop tweeters of The New York Botanical Garden! We’re flora people, yes, but there’s a majesty (and, at times, comedy) to the diverse fauna of the Garden. Nothing speaks of elegance and grace quite like a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk fumbling its lunch all over Tulip Tree Allée.
If you’re looking to get better acquainted with our feathered friends, stop by on Saturday mornings for the weekly Bird Walk with resident expert Debbie Becker! Binoculars, cameras, and gasps of awe welcome.
New Summer Intensive classes in Horticultural Therapy start July 9!
Among the lesser-known public gardens in New York City is the Enid A. Haupt Glass Garden, an amazing urban oasis located at the Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation. That’s where Lori Bloomberg first learned about horticultural therapy and where she fell in love with the people and the curriculum of the program.
Lori majored in fine arts and design in college and she worked in graphic arts most of her career. Discovering the field of horticultural therapy was like finding a new way not only to heal the body and mind, but the spirit as well.
I have to wonder why we don’t have a spring groundhog popping up to predict six more weeks of chilly mornings and refreshing afternoons. Anyone who spent the Memorial Day afternoon in the boroughs will commiserate (at one point I felt compelled to fashion my jeans into capris–only the lack of scissors stopped me). But there’s relief beyond the swamp that is your conveniently central air-free apartment!
Get to the NYBG, find a patch of shade (there’s plenty), and note that an easy Forest breeze beats that rickety floor fan in your bedroom any day.
When I was in Paris last June, it was hot–hotter than it is today in New York City–with temperatures flirting with the mid-90s. I was not in Paris for work, but since I’m a bit of a workaholic, I convinced my friends to accompany me to Giverny, where we found a serene, green oasis. Despite my friends having little interest in plants and gardening, they loved our trip to Claude Monet’s jardin, because you don’t go to Giverny to look at plants; you go to Giverny to experience Monet. You go to find a deeper understanding of the great Impressionist, and we’re hoping you come to Monet’s Garden for the same reason.
Inside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory are the stars of the show, the recreation of Monet’s flower garden and his iconic water garden. But outside, in the paths of the Perennial Garden and the environs of the Conservatory, you can read works–in English and French–from Monet’s contemporaries, the Symbolist poets. Impressionism was a full-blown artistic movement that extended to the very edges of the bohemian circles of Paris and beyond. Linger amid poppies and peonies and phloxes and contemplate what Charles Baudelaire meant when he wrote, “Voici venir les temps où vibrant sur sa tige/Chaque fleurs s’évapore ainsi qu’un encensoir” (“Now comes the time when swaying on its stem/each flower offers incense to the night”).
Sonia Uyterhoeven is the NYBG‘s Gardener for Public Education.
Today I would like to tackle a few problems that we commonly encounter in the vegetable garden. How do we maximize space? How do we prevent the feast or famine cycle where we either have nothing to show for our labor, or too much? If you are working with limited space, as most of us are, organizing your vegetable garden in such a way that you maximize productivity and get the right bang for your buck is important. There are several strategies that can help you plan your garden creatively and effectively.
The first thing we need to do is to take a look at how our vegetables grow. Are we planting a vegetable that will, once it reaches the age of maturity, produce consistently throughout the season? Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers fall into this category. You will just need to add a few of these vegetables into your garden to get a steady supply throughout the summer. Or are we planting crops that either grow quickly or produce one large harvest? I am thinking now of head lettuce, beets, radishes, carrots and turnips.
I’ll admit I have a softness for roses, a fondness for orchids, and a weakness for flame-orange poppies. Still, it’s seldom I find an eyeful of flowers so inspirational as an hour spent under the leaves of the trees.
You’ll best understand what I mean while walking the trails of the NYBG‘s Forest around this time of year, arched over in each direction with lacing branches of every shape and angle. The effect is something like slipping a green gel over a stage light. Sun filters down through the canopy and dapples the forest floor with piebald images both cloudy and sharp. It cools you, or seems to, on the most scorching afternoons. And there’s a freshness to the scene that chimes in to remind you–with something resembling pride–of winter’s distance.