The New York Botanical Garden is a museum of plants, an educational institution, and a scientific research organization. Founded in 1891 & now a National Historic Landmark, it is one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world. http://www.nybg.org/
Joel Kroin is many things—a horticulturist and NYBG Member among them. But his passion, or at least the one passion that we see most often, lands behind a lens. And, sure, these pictures of the Rock Garden might look like any batch of film photographs at a casual glance. But the reality is far more interesting.
Not (at least in these moments) a DSLR man, or as often a fan of 35mm, Kroin prefers the quirks of anachronism. Staffers sometimes find him crouched for minutes at a time in spots around the Garden; often he’s working an old coffee pot, other times, a wooden box with an aperture.
But strange as the process looks to the idle observer, Kroin’s photography is maybe the most well-established format there is—at least if we’re going by seniority. And while the practice of pinhole photography may take an age compared to digital, there’s an antique satisfaction to the art that you probably won’t find in a modern camera. Click through for more on one of our favorite visitors. —MN
Say it with me now: Spring. So perfect, so monosyllabic—it rolls off the tongue. ~Spring~
We’ve had fun this winter; honestly, too much. The Holiday Train Show was dazzling, Tropical Paradise left us looking all-too-happily for daiquiri ingredients, and, of course, there was the snow. Seeing Tulip Tree Allée dusted with white is like taking a daytrip to Narnia. But it’s high time we get back to the green, eh? Or purple, white, blue, et cetera.
Be still my wintry heart, spring is a thing again! (We know, the equinox isn’t until March 20th—but let’s not waste celebration time on formalities, hm?) —MN
(Photos by our lovely resident shutterbug, Ivo M. Vermeulen, who’s been out documenting [gallivanting around in] spring’s new Garden growth)
Why space your garden to a rigid grid, with mountains of mulch to fill the gaps? Well, generally speaking, traditional methods persist because they work. Spacing, spacing, spacing, and all that. But Ari LeVaux has another method that’s slightly more… lackadaisical. You can think of it as the “lazy gardener’s” garden, but with a little forethought, it may very well turn out more productive than a traditional dirt square.
“At the core of my low-effort, high-return gardening style is a practice I call throwing seeds at the garden. This technique is exactly what it sounds like: After preparing the soil and deciding what I’m going to plant in a given plot, I blanket the area with seeds cast by the handful. These aren’t seeds for the plot’s designated crops, but seeds for a supplementary blanket of leafy plants to cover the space between the crop plants.”
Of those “mulch” plants, LeVaux suggests mostly edible varieties—carrots, spinach, cilantro—to not only cover, protect, and inject the soil with nutrients, but to fill out your harvest, as well. At this point you’re probably saying to yourself, “How are my main crops supposed to grow to a healthy size with such a crowded plot?” Well, he has an answer for that, too: careful selection.
As some plants, like garlic, tend to have a vertical growing habit both above and below ground, space for wandering leaves and roots won’t be an issue. Just be sure that your main crops are suited for this kind of garden party, and you’ll be okay. Click through for Ari’s individual suggestions when it comes to planting—or throwing. —MN
As much as archaeology is a study of the past, you might also say it’s a study of imagination—in being able to visualize civilizations as they once were, despite the dusty excavations that now remain. In the case of Ramat Rahel, the hilltop site of what was once an ancient royal palace now overlooking modern Jerusalem, a little botanical science is aiding that visualization process—and then some.
When researchers discovered a complex irrigation system at the dig site—tunnels, gutters, functional fountains fed on rainwater—it was clear they were dealing with a royal garden. But how to figure out what once grew there was another ordeal. Using a unique method for separating ancient pollen grains from the plaster of the garden’s waterways, scientists were able to pinpoint to the exact species which plants were cultivated at Ramat Rahel, including a few exotics which found their start in Israel through this very garden.
Fig and grapevine were common enough for the area, but the Persian walnuts, birch, willow, and water lilies were imported to impress. And the imported citron, which until Ramat Rahel had never seen the soil of Israel, has since worked its way into Jewish tradition. Now, the site’s caretakers hope to recreate this ancient garden in the modern era. Click through for more. —MN
Front, back, side, or all of the above—if you own a house, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got a lawn to take care of. But while we Americans in particular pride ourselves on our lush, neatly-trimmed green spaces, increasing suburban sprawl and the rampant rise in fertilizer use have certainly smeared the yard’s image.
So where did our obsession with Kentucky Blue and St. Augustine blades come about in the first place? What drives us to spend $30 billion a year on caring for our yards? Well, the fixation handily predates the picket fences and pushmowers of the 1950s, if you must know. Click through for a short history of the lawn, and thoughts on how it still dominates so much of our property. —MN
Beautiful! Our friends at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden deserve a visit if you find yourself in Richmond, Virginia this holiday season. They’re holding their own seasonal event with the Dominion GardenFest of Lights through early January, and it’s got the Mid-Atlantic positively glowing. —MN
Today’s warm weather & gorgeous sky remind me that tonight would be a perfect night for Dominion GardenFest of Lights. Arrive right at 5 p.m. if you want to see a sky like this & enjoy the twilight time at the Garden — my favorite! Many thanks to Valerie Kopp for letting us share her gorgeous photo.
Just one of the many Monarch butterflies dawdling through the Garden right now on their way to Mexico. It’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll find them in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, along with a few hives’ worth of honeybees. —MN
I’ve seen enough shuttle launches streak the sky off the Atlantic coast to count myself a NASA fanboy. So when I caught this article, I felt a touch of warmth inside, knowing that the pioneers of the cosmic frontier still take time away from the business of combing Mars to decompress in the garden. Or, at least one NASA scientist does, a man with a killer limoncello recipe and perfect hair.
“A lot could go wrong, and it’s now out of his hands, but here in the garden, Steltzner takes charge. Surrounded by morning glory and fish peppers, kafir lime bushes and zinfandel grapes, he weeds and snips. Soon, instead of worrying about the rover, he’s wondering what would happen if he mixed lavender in with his apricot jam.”
I admire these people like few others. A belated congrats to NASA on getting Curiosity to the red planet in one piece! —MN
The Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey in Cornwall, are one of the most popular botanical gardens in the UK. The style of the gardens is typical of the nineteenth century Gardenesque style, with areas of different character and in different design styles.
The gardens were created by members of the Cornish Tremayne family, over a period from the mid-18th century up to the beginning of the 20th century, and still form part of the family’s Heligan estate. The gardens were neglected after the First World War, and only restored in the 1990s, a restoration that was the subject of several popular television programmes and books.
The gardens now boast a fabulous collection of aged and colossal rhododendrons and camellias, a series of lakes fed by a ram pump over a hundred years old, highly productive flower and vegetable gardens, an Italian garden, and a stunning wild area filled with primaeval-looking sub-tropical tree ferns called “The Jungle”. The gardens also have Europe’s only remaining pineapple pit, warmed by rotting manure, and two figures made from rocks and plants known as the Mud Maid and the Giant’s Head.
I’d like to visit some day. I imagine it’s something like a joint effort between Where the Wild Things Are and The Neverending Story. The NYBG’s been known to hold a renowned sculpture exhibition now and again, though the way these pieces share such an intrinsic link with their surroundings is sort of beyond fantastical. —MN
New Yorkers have a talent for the tiny. They owe it to years spent cozying shoebox studios and kitchenettes, opening up spaces with illusory paint schemes and fold-in furniture. It’s the cost of living in metropolis. And, of late, they’re getting just as good with their outdoor spaces, be it a forgotten, tarpaper square of roof or otherwise.
Working a few paint bucket planters out onto the fire escape is one thing, but what about turning it into a functional garden? A place for summer dusks where you can sit and have a drink without folding yourself into an origami crane.
True to form, New Yorkers have tackled the challenge. And they’re seeing success. Click through for the New York Times’ tale of tiny trellises, tables, and tree spaces. —MN