Brooklyn Botanic Garden, December 2007

Center Hall, BBG Lab and Admin Building
Center Hall, BBG Lab Admin Building

Last Friday I visited the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It started out as a beautifully sunny day, clouding over as the afternoon progressed.

Admission to the gardens is free for non-members on weekdays through February.

The occasion or excuse for my visit was to register for the first course in their Certificate in Horticulture program. Their Winter sessions were already booked, but I was able to sign up for the Spring session, which starts in April. Outside of work, this will be my first classroom education since I studied American Sign Language over 25 years ago.

All that aside, it was a beautiful day. Here are some highlights from my visit.


Baby, BBG’s specimen of the Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanum, is in leaf this year. Each year, the Titam Arum will either flower or, more usually, put out a single leaf.

Baby, with humans for scale
Baby, with humans for scale

This whole structure is a single, giant compound leaf.
Amorphophallus titanum "Baby"

The petiole, shown here, has the same distinctive mottling I saw on the base of last year’s inflorescence.
Petiole detail, Amorphophallus titanum

“Baby” in bloom in August of last year
Titan Arum "Baby", Full View

Bonsai Museum

Camellia japonica “Julia Drayton” trained as a bonsai in the literati style
Camellia japonica Julia Drayton, Bonsai, Literati style

Detail of the roots and moss at the base of a cascade style bonsai of Pinus mugo
Detail, Cascade Bonsai

Three bonsai
Three Bonsai

Magnolia Plaza

The photo at the top of this post is from inside BBG’s Laboratory and Administration Building. That’s where I went to register for my course. Here’s a view of the center hall from the outside of the building, taken in March of 2007.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Laboratory Administration Building

And here’s a view of that main entrance from the inside.
Main Entrance, BBG Lab Admin Building

BBG’s Lab Admin building was landmarked earlier this year.

The Magnolias themselves seemed to be in bud, a couple months too early.
Magnolia Bud

Hopefully, they’re smart enough to not get too optimistic. We’ll have lows in the teens this week.
Magnolia in Bud

Not everything was as monochromatic as the photo above suggests.
Magnolia Plaza

Athyrium nipponicum and Helleborus foetidus
Athyrium nipponicum and Helleborus foetidus

Japanese Hill & Pond Garden

The highlight of my visit, as I expected, was the Japanese Garden.



It being a weekday, and the middle of winter, and the middle of the holiday week, I almost had the garden to myself. I even had a precious couple of minutes when there was noone else there, which has never happened on any of my previous visits. It was lovely.

Entrance to Viewing Pavilion

Stone Basin


Focal Planes

Viewing Pavilion

Solstice (the sun stands still)

Illumination of Earth by Sun at the southern solstice.

It’s the longest night and shortest day of the year for my half of the world. This season’s Solstice (Winter in the Northern hemisphere, Summer in the Southern), is at 6:08 UTC on December 22, 2007. That’s 1:08 Eastern Time, my time zone. For folks on the West coast of North America, it will occur late Friday, December 21, at 22:08. That’s right now.

Etymology: Latin solstitium (sol “sun” + stitium, from sistere “to stand still”)

Sunday, December 16: Beverley Square West Holiday Caroling

Update, 12/16: I corrected the date: it’s DECEMBER, obviously, not January!

If it’s raining this afternoon, we won’t go caroling. We’ll meet at a local home instead.

I had to delete and re-create the original post. The Google Map was interfering with the Google post editor.

This Sunday, January 16, from 1:45 to 4pm, the Beverley Square West Association holds its annual neighborhood Holiday Caroling. Everyone is welcome. Singing in key is not necessary! Bring your musical instruments, tambourines, bells, whatever, anything that will add to the festivities.

All are welcome to join us. At 1:45pm, we meet up at the Tot Lot at the southeast corner of Cortelyou Road and Argyle Road. There we’ll warm up and tune up (as best we can!). We then proceed to the firehouse, give them a holiday gift, and regale them with song.

After that, we will randomly wander and rove along the streets of Beverley Square West: Stratford, Westminster, Argyle, Rugby and Marlborough Roads between Cortelyou and Beverly Roads. We gather afterwards at a local home for hot chocolate, cookies and such.

Upcoming Local Events

Some quick notes of things happening within a couple blocks of me over the next few weeks. Details for all these events are available from the Google calendar in the sidebar.

This Weekend

Saturday December 8 and Sunday, December 9, 1-6pm, Prospect Park South resident Karen Friedland hosts an Art Show and Sale.

Sunday, December 9, 10am-3pm, P.S. 139 has their annual Holiday Craft Fair.

Next Week

Wednesday, December 12, starting at 6:30pm, Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #2 at Brooklyn College.

Next Weekend, Sunday December 16

1:45-4pm, Beverley Square West Holiday Caroling. Meet at the Tot Lot at Cortelyou and Argyle Roads at 1:45pm.

3-5pm, Cortelyou Road Tree Lighting, at the Tot Lot.

3:30-5:30pm, The Regina Opera, at the Victorian Place Cultural Center / Temple Beth Emeth.

12/13: Hearing on Parks’ use of artificial turf

Field 11, part of nearly 40 acres of artificial surface at the Parade Grounds, on Caton Avenue south of Prospect Park in Brooklyn
Field 11, Parade Grounds, Caton Avenue

Next Thursday there will be an oversight hearing on the use of artificial turf in NYC’s parks:

The New York City Council Parks and Recreation Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the use of artificial turf in the City’s parks. New Yorkers for Parks published, “A New Turf War: Synthetic Turf in New York City,” which provides background on this issue and offers recommendations for determining when and where to use artificial turf in city parks and athletic fields. New Yorkers for Parks will use this opportunity to voice some of the recommendations of our policy report on the topic.
The Dangers of Fake Green Grass

The hearing will be held from 10am-12pm, at 250 Broadway, 14th Floor Hearing Room.

New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) has become increasingly reliant on synthetic turf as a replacement for asphalt and natural grass athletic fields across the city. Through the installation of the “new generation” of synthetic turf, DPR seeks to increase community access to fields as well as to solve the maintenance challenges of grass and the aesthetic and safety problems associated with asphalt. This surface offers all-weather playability and lower maintenance costs than grass; however, synthetic turf has some negative environmental impacts and requires a significant capital investment. The important environmental benefits of natural turf, such as its ability to absorb and filter rainwater and pollutants, and to decrease the impact of the urban heat island effect, must be considered in the debate.
– Executive Summary, A New Turf War, Spring 2006

Sign: Lawns Closed, Union Square Park, Manhattan
Sign: Lawns Closed, Union Square Park, Manhattan


The Dangers of Fake Green Grass, Katia Kelly, Pardon Me For Asking
Parks Dept. denies health study of synthetic turf, April 4, 2007, Patrick Arden, Metro New York
A New Turf War: Synthetic Turf in New York City Parks, Spring 2006, New Yorkers for Parks

Notes from Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #1

Your host, reporting the observations of his breakout group to the larger assembly at IF2030 Workshop . Credit: Municipal Art Society.

Yesterday’s Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC has brought wider awareness of and interest in Imagine Flatbush 2030. For those who are curious about the process, or might even be interested in attending Workshop #2, here are the notes which the Municipal Art Society facilitators compiled from the first workshop back in November.

Imagine Flatbush 2030 kicked off on Monday, November 19 at Temple Beth Emeth, with a preliminary stakeholders meeting. (A list of approximately 150 stakeholders was cultivated with help from FDC, neighborhood groups, and elected officials. Stakeholders who attended were asked to serve as project ambassadors and assist with outreach for the next meeting.) [At least three of us who live within the study area and write about it on our blogs – Sustainable Flatbush, Brooklyn Junction, and I – attended the first workshop.] Approximately 50 of those invited attended—representing Brooklyn College, tenant associations, city government, homeowners associations, the local YMCA, merchants groups, community development groups, and civic and faith-based groups.

After an introduction by the Planning Center to MAS, Jane Jacobs, and the goals of the project, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE led a discussion of the meaning of neighborhood sustainability, the Mayor’s PlaNYC, and why neighborhoods needed to create their own agendas to work in tandem with the Mayor’s plan.

Attendees were asked to work in groups to brainstorm neighborhood assets and challenges, as a way of beginning a dialogue. Six groups produced observations that they first recorded on paper, then shared with the entire group at the end of the workshop. [A full transcript of all the notes from all groups will be available from MAS. I’ve asked for a copy as soon as its available. In my group, we covered both sides of two large sheets of paper!]

Shared observations about Flatbush’s assets included:

  • diversity (cultural; economic; ethnic; racial; religious);
  • proximity to Prospect Park;
  • good public transportation;
  • good schools;
  • proximity to Brooklyn College;
  • distinctive, historic neighborhood character;
  • strong and active community-based organizations;
  • aesthetically pleasing;
  • long tenure of many residents;
  • and locally-owned businesses.

Shared observations about challenges included:

  • lack of neighborhood parks;
  • school overcrowding;
  • lack of space for artists;
  • lack of active ways to engage youth;
  • lack of space for public assembly, such as community, senior, and youth centers; gentrification;
  • lack of affordable housing;
  • traffic;
  • achieving energy efficiency in buildings;
  • gang activity (both real and perceived);
  • lack of parking;
  • and inadequate sanitation in some areas.

Some interesting macro-level impressions: the neighborhood is large and varies in character and composition from place to place and consequently assets and challenges vary from place to place.

Next step: Workshop 2 at Brooklyn College Conference Center, Wednesday, December 12. [Note: This will start at 6:30pm, not 7pm as reported in these notes as sent out to Workshop participants.] Agenda: public forum to identify sustainability goals.

Related Posts

Posts tagged “Imagine Flatbush 2030”


Municipal Art Society
Flatbush Development Corporation
Sustainable Flatbush
Brooklyn Junction

12/12: Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #2

Imagine Flatbush 2030 Winning Logo, Credit: Imani Aegedoy, 11-9-2007
Imagine Flatbush 2030 Logo
Next week, on Wednesday, December 12, the second community workshop of Imagine Flatbush 2030 will be held at Brooklyn College:

Come and participate in a special dialogue about the future of Flatbush. The Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC) and the Municipal Art Society (MAS) are inviting you to take part in Imagine Flatbush 2030—a community visioning and dialogue process—designed to get you together with other Flatbush community members to collectively create a more sustainable neighborhood. If you care about the environment, community health, protecting diversity, ensuring affordable housing and a whole host of other community issues, this is the meeting for you!

When: Wednesday, December 12th @ 6:30 pm
Where: Brooklyn College Student Center, 6th Floor
East 27th St. & Campus Road
(ramp entrance near Amersfort Place, see map below)

The star highlights the location of IF2030 Workshop . The closest subway stop is the 2/5 Brooklyn College-Flatbush Avenue / Nostrand Avenue station. North is to the lower-right in this map.
Imagine Flatbush 2030: Location of Workshop#2

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Sideya Sherman, at the MAS Planning Center, at 212/935-3960 or via email at

Please be advised that there will be a supervised homework room provided for school aged children. If you need to bring a child, please contact us in advance.

Refreshments will be served

Related Posts

IF2030 on the Brian Lehrer Show, earlier today
The Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge, November 25
Imagine Flatbush 2030, November 20


Imagine Flatbush 2030, Municipal Art Society

First Snow, and Snowbirds, of the Season

Updated 12/6: Added Brian of Brooklyn, who has the most photos I’ve seen so far.
Updated throughout the day Monday, December 3, to add links to other blogs with photos of the first snow.

Slate-Colored Junco, Junco hyemalis hyemalis, in my Flatbush backyard
Slate-Colored Junco, Junco hyemalis hyemalis

We had our first snow of the season overnight. It was in the 20s all day, gradually warming, and it will be in the 30s tomorrow, so it will all be gone soon. I didn’t get any pictures of it myself, but others did:

A Brooklyn Life
Bay Ridge Rover
Brian of Brooklyn
Ditmas Park Blog
Gowanus Lounge
Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn
Pardon Me For Asking
Self-Absorbed Boomer
Sustainable Flatbush

I didn’t get out of the house today. Too busy cleaning, getting ready for guests tomorrow evening. But I was keeping an eye on the bird feeders yesterday and today. The winter migrants are firmly established now: Juncoes, Chickadees, and a little crested one whose name escapes me at the moment. I was looking for nuthatches, my favorites, but I didn’t see any this weekend.

American Goldfinch, Cardulis tristis, in winter plumage. I think this is a female. Thanks to Flickr pals megankhines and PhotoJeff for the id!
American Goldfinch, Cardulis tristis, in winter plumage