Update 2014-11-23:

  • Completed Step #4 today, nearly injuring myself in the exertion. Did I mention that established grasses have deep and extensive roots?
  • Also completed Step #5, replacing the Panicum.
  • Added Step #9. I’d overlooked this shrub, and need to find a place where it can be featured, while still kept in bounds with the garden. I think where the Aronia once stood, a transplant I did in the Spring of this year.

Update 2014-11-10:

  • I’m taking photos as the work progresses. See Before and After below.
  • Reordered based on the progress I’m making. Because the Rhododendron is shallow-rooted, I decided to leave that until the last weekend before Thanksgiving, when I’ll visit my sister and deliver her plants.

It’s a long weekend for me. The weather favors gardening.

I’ve got seven shrubs – and one or two mature perennials – to plant, transplant, and move out. Here’s the plan.

  1. I’m moving Cornus sericea ‘Cardinal’ moving from the backyard, by the Gardener’s Nook, to the front-yard. In the winter this will look great against the red brick of the front porch.
  2. Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’ moves from being lost beneath the Viburnum and Amelanchier to the nook, to highlight its foliage.
  3. A now-gigantic Hydrangea also came with the house. I’m moving that, as well, to my sister’s. It has to be cut back hard, so we’ll see if it survives.
  4. Next to the driveway, a large specimen of Panicum virgatum ‘Cloud Nine’ flops and blocks passage. I’m moving that to replace the Hydrangea. That spot needs height, and it can flop a little without getting out of hand. A second, smaller specimen of the Panicum is also going to my sister, to replace an ornamental grass she had in the front yard that died on her.
  5. I purchased Prunus maritima, beach plum, at this Spring’s Pinelands Preservation Alliance Native Plant Sale. This will replace the Panicum in the bed along the driveway. This will be easy to prune upright to prevent any obstruction.
  6. I purchased Rosa virginiana from Catksill Native Nursery four years ago. I’ve been growing it in container, and it’s never been happy about it; it’s never bloomed. I’m planting that in the bed next to the new location of the Panicum. It’s going in beneath a window, which I hope will dissuade burglars.

    Catskill Native Nursery
    Panorama: Catskill Native Nursery

  7. A no-name white-flowering Rhododendron came with the house. This has grown wild and rangy, and it’s large leaves are out of scale with the backyard, which is “only” 30’x30′. That’s large for an urban garden, but small for a large-leaved rhodie. I’ll move this to the woods of my sister’s place in New Jersey.
  8. I purchased a Kalmia, mountain laurel, also from the Pinelands Alliance Plant Sale and still in container. This will go where the Rhododendron is. Its finer leaf texture better fits the scale of the backyard than the rhodie.
  9. Somewhere still I need to find a place for Rhododendron periclymenoides, also purchased at the Pinelands sale. Since I saw this on a NYC Wildflwoer Week hike through Staten Island’s High Rock Park, I knew it would work beautifully in my garden. Just not quite sure where yet …

Before and After

The Gardener’s Nook, before transplant
The Gardener's Nook, pre-shrub transplant, November 2014

The Gardener’s Nook, after transplant
Fothergilla 'Mount Airy' newly planted in the Gardener's Nook, November 2014

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Flickr photo set


Fall in Miniature: BBG’s Bonsai in November

A yose (group-style) bonsai specimen of Acer palmatum, Japanese Maple, developed by Stanley Chinn currently on display at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Yose typically group multiple specimens of the same, or closely related species, in the same planting to simplify cultural requirements. Chinn’s masterful touch is the selection of cultivars with different fall foliage colors. This specimen is unusual in that there appear to be only two, rather than the typical three or some other odd number, of the trees in the grouping.
Acer palmatum, Group-style Bonsai, BBG

There is no better time of year to visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s C. V. Starr Bonsai Museum than right now. Most of the trees on display are in peak fall foliage color. And while the wind has knocked the leaves off many of the trees on the grounds, the sheltered bonsai have been spared those indignities.

This season, they’ve placed an additional display table at the northern end of the greenhouse, opposite the entrance.
Bonsai Museum, BBG


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Flickr photo set


C. V. Starr Bonsai Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Japanese Garden, BBG, Veteran’s Day

Stone Basin with Cherry Leaves, Japanese Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Stone Basin

The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden was another station on my tour of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Veteran’s Day with Blog Widow. What’s the connection between Veteran’s Day and BBG’s Japanese garden? Its designer, Takeo Shiota, died in a U.S. internment camp during World War II.

There are different styles of Japanese gardens. The hill-and-pond style is intended to be viewed from a fixed point, in this case, the pavilion that reaches out over the shore of the pond. The stone basin above adorns the entrance to the pavilion.

It is a blend of the ancient hill-and-pond style and the more recent stroll-garden style, in which various landscape features are gradually revealed along winding paths. The garden features artificial hills contoured around a pond, a waterfall, and an island while carefully placed rocks also play a leading role. Among the major architectural elements of the garden are wooden bridges, stone lanterns, a viewing pavilion, the Torii or gateway, and a Shinto shrine.

The steep hills, representing distant mountains, are a maintenance nightmare: they cannot be mowed by walking a mower across them. Instead, the mower must be rigged to bypass its safety features, and carefully lowered and raised down and up the slopes using ropes controlled from the tops of the hills. BBG staff are gradually replacing the turf of the original design with slow-growing dwarf Ophiopogon, Mondo grass. These will eventually provide the same scale and texture as lawn without the hazards to life and limb.

One of the treacherous slopes along an idyllic path.
Japanese Garden, BBG

Cherry leaves reach over one end of the pond.
Cherry Leaves

The view from the other end of the pond.
Japanese Garden, BBG



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Flickr set

Natural History: Patrick Dougherty at BBG, 2010-11-22
Fall Foliage at BBG’s Bonsai Museum, 2010-11-16

Japanese Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2008-02-18
Gardening Matters: The death of Takeo Shiota (Grief & Gardening #4), 2006-10-29

Labels: Japanese Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden


Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Natural History: Patrick Dougherty at BBG

The view from within.
Natural History, Patrick Dougherty at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Blog Widow and I observed Veteran’s Day by visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The Fall foliage was still brilliant, especially in the Bonsai Museum. My other must-see destination was “Natural History,” BBG’s first site-specific installation, by Patrick Dougherty. This was my first visit to the Garden since it was installed in August:

The sculpture at BBG is woven from nonnative woody material that was collected from Ocean Breeze Park on Staten Island. The harvesting site was chosen by BBG’s director of Science because of its proximity to the Garden and its large population of nonnative willow (Salix atrocinerea), which is designated an invasive species in New York State. Removal of saplings of this species helped protect the site’s excellent assemblage of herbaceous plants. The park is owned by the City of New York and is targeted for restoration under the City’s PlaNYC sustainability initiative.

During a visit to BBG a year before beginning the work, Dougherty drew sketches and made word associations based on the feelings he experienced while exploring the potential work site. When asked about some of the words that came to mind as he contemplated what he wanted to build in Brooklyn, Dougherty smiled and said “lairs; a place for feral children and wayward adults.”

The sculpture will be on display until August 2011, when it will be dismantled. It’s going to look awesome in snow.


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Flickr photo set

Fall Foliage at BBG’s Bonsai Museum, 2010-11-16

Labels: Brooklyn Botanic Garden


Natural History at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Patrick Dougherty

Fall Foliage at BBG’s Bonsai Museum

Detail of the fall foliage of a Moyogi (informal upright) specimen of Acer palmatum in BBG’s Bonsai Museum.
Acer palmatum, Bonsai, Informal upright style (Moyogi)

Bonsai, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Detail of a Moyogi, informal upright style, specimen of the native Larix laricina, Tamarack.
Larix laricina, Tamarack, Bonsai, Moyogi (Informal Upright)

This Sekijoju, root-over-rock style, specimen of Acer buergerianum by the late Stanley Chinn is one of my favorite photographic subjects at BBG.
Acer buergerianum, Bonsai, Root over Rock style (Sekijoju) by Stanley Chinn
Acer buergerianum, Bonsai, Root over Rock style (Sekijoju) by Stanley Chinn



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Flickr photo set
My photos of BBG Bonsai (Flickr Collection)
Labels: Bonsai, Brooklyn Botanic Garden


C. V. Starr Bonsai Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Local Leafin’: Street Tree Walking Tour Sunday 10/24

Japanese Maple leaves (red), with Linden in the background (yellow), at the corner of Rugby Road and Cortelyou Road in Beverley Square West, Flatbush, Brooklyn, November 2007.
Japanese Maple Leaves, P.S. 139, Beverley Square West, Brooklyn

The Sustainable Flatbush Fall 2010 Street Tree Walking Tour will be this Sunday, October 24. Tours begin at 11am and 12noon. I’m proud to once again be one of your guides. Your other guide will be Sam Bishop, Director of Education of Trees NY. As in the past, tours will start at Sacred Vibes Apothecary, our other community partner. This is also listed as a NeighborWoods Month event.

After a dry summer, October brought ample rains just in time to salvage some fall foliage. Dogwoods, Locusts, and Ash Trees are showing strong color. The neighborhood should be at near-peak foliage conditions for the year for the tour.

On the tour, you can see:

  • Acer platanoides, Norway Maple
  • Aesculus hippocastanum, Horsechestnut
  • Amelanchier, Serviceberry
  • Betula nigra, River Birch
  • Cercis canadensis, Redbud
  • Cornus florida, Flowering Dogwood
  • Cryptomeria japonica, Japanese Red Cedar
  • Fraxinus americana, White Ash
  • Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgo
  • Gleditsia triacanthos, Honey Locust
  • Liquidambar styraciflua, Sweetgum
  • Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Dawn Redwood
  • Pinus strobus, White Pine
  • Platanus x acerifolia, London Plane
  • Pyrus calleryana, Flowering Pear, Callery Pear
  • Quercus palustris, Pin Oak
  • Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’, Columnar English Oak
  • Sophora japonica, Japanese Pagoda Tree, Scholar Tree
  • Tsuga canadensis, Eastern Hemlock
  • Ulmus americana, American Elm

… and many more.


View Sustainable Flatbush Fall 2010 Street Tree Walking Tour in a larger map

Press Release

Brooklyn, NY October 17, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ever wanted to leaf peep without leaving NYC? The Sustainable Flatbush 2nd Annual Fall Street Tree Walking Tour is a perfect opportunity to enjoy beautiful — and local — fall foliage in Brooklyn’s historic Victorian Flatbush! The neighborhood is filled with an incredible variety of breathtaking street trees—including some that are more than 100 years old! This year, our tree-expert tour guides will be Sam Bishop of Trees NY and neighborhood resident Chris Kreussling, aka Flatbush Gardener.

Throughout the tour, your street tree guide will…

  • identify trees and their characteristics
  • share interesting facts
  • explore local tree history
  • discuss the beneficial role of street trees in the urban environment
  • explain basics of street tree stewardship

and much more!

Tours start at Sacred Vibes Apothecary, 376 Argyle Road, just south of Cortelyou Road.

Take the Q train to Cortelyou Road and walk west after exiting the station toward Argyle Road. As a reminder, check the MTA website for schedule and service advisories before you head out.

Tours depart at 11:00 AM and 12:00 NOON.
Tours take about 2 hours to complete and are 1 mile in length.
This is a rain or shine event — please dress for the weather!

Suggested Donation: $5

CONTACT: / (718) 208-0575

Sustainable Flatbush brings neighbors together to mobilize, educate,
and advocate for sustainable living in our Brooklyn neighborhood and
beyond. For more information, please visit


Related Content

Previous Tree Tour Posts:

Factoids: Street Trees and Property Values, December 2, 2007
Factoids: NYC’s Street Trees and Stormwater Reduction, November 15, 2007
Basic Research: The State of the Forest in New York City, November 12, 2007

Albemarle Road, Local Landscape


Sustainable Flatbush
Sacred Vibes Apothecary
Trees NY
NeighborWoods Month

Fall Back, 2010

Persephone with her pomegranate. Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Proserpine (Oil on canvas, 1874) – Tate Gallery, London

This year’s autumnal or September equinox occurs at 03:09 Universal Time (UTC) on September 23. In my local time, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), it’s 23:09, 11:09 PM, on September 22.

The Earth’s seasons are caused by the rotation axis of the Earth not being perpendicular to its orbital plane. The Earth’s axis is tilted at an angle of approximately 23.44° from the orbital plane; this tilt is called the axial tilt. As a consequence, for half of the year (i.e. from around March 20 to around September 22), the northern hemisphere tips toward the Sun, with the maximum around June 21, while for the other half of the year, the southern hemisphere has this honor, with the maximum around December 21. The two instants when the Sun is directly overhead at the Equator are the equinoxes.
– Wikipedia: Equinox

This image shows the orientation of the Earth from the perspective of the Sun at the March/Vernal Equinox: North is to the upper right, and Earth orbits to the left. At the September/Autumnal Equinox, the only difference is that North would appear to the upper left from the same perspective. Illustration: Dennis Nilsson

Bas-relief in Takht-e Jamshid (Throne of Jamshid), Parseh, also known as Persepolis. On the day of an equinox, the power of an eternally fighting bull (personifying the Earth) and that of a lion (personifying the Sun) are equal. The September equinox marks the first day of Mehr or Libra in the Persian calendar. Photo: Anatoly Terentiev

So, what’s with the chick with the fruit at the top of this post? Persephone/Proserpina was the daughter of Demeter/Ceres and Zeus/Jupiter. Demeter hid her daughter from the other gods, but Hades/Pluto abducted her:

She was innocently picking flowers with some nymphs — Athena, and Artemis, the Homeric hymn says — or Leucippe, or Oceanids — in a field in Enna when Hades came to abduct her, bursting through a cleft in the earth. Later, the nymphs were changed by Demeter into the Sirens for not having interfered. Life came to a standstill as the devastated Demeter, goddess of the Earth, searched everywhere for her lost daughter. Helios, the sun, who sees everything, eventually told Demeter what had happened.

Finally, Zeus, pressed by the cries of the hungry people and by the other deities who also heard their anguish, forced Hades to return Persephone. However, it was a rule of the Fates that whoever consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Before Persephone was released to Hermes, who had been sent to retrieve her, Hades tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds, which forced her to return to the underworld for the winter each year.
– Wikipedia: Persephone

But it’s not Persephone’s return to the underworld that brings on Winter. Demeter was the goddess of the harvest, agriculture, forests, and the earth. It’s Demeter’s grief for her daughter that that cools the nights, shortens the days, triggers the harvest, and brings on the “sleep” of the earth.

Related Content



U.S. Naval Observatory: The Seasons and Earth’s Orbit
Wikipedia: Equinox, Persephone

Citizen Pruner Training Fall Schedule

The London Plane Tree in front of my house.
London Plane Tree, Street Tree, Stratford Road

TreesNY’s Citizen Pruner Tree Care Course is being offered in Brooklyn and Manhattan this season, covering basic tree biology, street tree identification and care. Upon successful completion of the final exam, participants receive a license that certifies them to legally prune trees owned by the City of New York. In New York City where there is limited money for tree maintenance but significant need, Citizen Pruners provide a tremendous benefit to our urban environment.

The twelve hour course consists of four weekly two-hour classes and four hours of hands-on experience in the field. Participants may miss up to one classroom session. The weekend field outing is mandatory. Specific dates vary by location. Locations and Dates for classes in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island are still to be determined.

The course fee is $100 and includes a comprehensive manual and other materials. Course fee is non-refundable.You can register and pay online with Visa, Mastercard or Discover. To pay by check, make your check payable to Trees New York, and indicate the course location on the check


Brooklyn Borough Hall
Borough President’s Conference Room
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Wednesdays, 6-8pm, Sep 15, 22, 29 and October 6, 6 – 8 PM
Saturday, October 2, 10 AM – 2 PM

Downtown Manhattan

51 Chambers Street, Room #501
New York, NY 10007
Thursday, September 23 & 30, and October 7 & 14, 6-8pm
Saturday, October 9, 10am-2pm

Uptown Manhattan

The Arsenal in Central Park, Third Floor
830 Fifth Avenue, at 64th Street
New York, NY 10065
Mondays, Oct 18 & 25, and November 1 & 8, 6-8pm
Saturday, November 6, 10am-2pm

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About Trees NY

Trees New York is an environmental and urban forestry nonprofit organization. Our mission is to plant, preserve and protect New York City’s urban forest through education, active citizen participation and advocacy.

Trees New York • 51 Chambers Street, Suite 1412A • New York, NY 10007 • (212) 227-1887 • •

Saturday, October 24: Meet the Trees

Fraxinus americana, White Ash, one of the street trees that will be on the tour.
Fraxinus americana, White Ash, 1216 Beverly Road

On Saturday, October 24, Sustainable Flatbush will host its first Fall Street Tree Walking Tour. And I’m looking forward to once again be one of the guides for the tour.


Brooklyn, NY October 16, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009—Rain or Shine

Based on the success of the annual walking tour events in celebration of Arbor Day and spring in bloom, Sustainable Flatbush is now introducing the inaugural Fall Street Tree Walking Tour. The tour guides will be Tracey Hohman, professional gardener, and Chris Kreussling, aka Flatbush Gardener, both neighborhood residents.

Sustainable Flatbush Street Tree Walking Tour, Arbor Day 2009. That’s me in the middle, next to the tree. Photo by Keka

Throughout the tour, your street tree guide will:

  • identify trees and their characteristics
  • share interesting facts
  • explore local tree history
  • discuss the many ways street trees benefit the environment
  • explain how to obtain and care for street trees
  • and much more!

This free event is a perfect opportunity to visit Victorian Flatbush in the heart of Brooklyn and experience the neighborhood’s breathtaking street trees—including some that are more than 100 years old!

Tours start at Sacred Vibes Apothecary, 376 Argyle Road, just south of Cortelyou Road

View Sustainable Flatbush Fall 2009 Street Tree Walking Tour in a larger map


  • Take the Q train to Cortelyou Road Station and walk west after exiting the station toward Argyle Road.
  • Buses that stop on or near Cortelyou Road include the B23, B103, B68, and BM1,2,3,4 and x29 express busess.
  • As a reminder, check the MTA website for schedule and service advisories before you head out.

Tours depart at 11:00 AM and 12:00 NOON.
Tours take about 2 hours to complete and are 1 mile in length.
This is a rain or shine event – please dress for the weather!

For more information, please contact Sustainable Flatbush

Foliage Report

The New York State Fall Foliage Report for the week of October 14-20 is reporting that NYC is “just changing.”

FoliageMap 20091016

I can confirm that, with Dogwoods, White Ash and now Locust trees all in full color. Sweet Gum and Oaks are starting to turn. If cooler weather persists through the week, peak colors will probably arrive just in time for Halloween on the 31st. Still, there should be lots of color for us to enjoy on the 24th.

A Japanese Maple on Marlborough Rad in Prospect Park South, part of the tour, November 2007
196 Marlborough Road, Prospect Park South


Related Content

Fall Approaches, 2009-09-26


Fall Foliage Walking Tour October 24th!, Sustainable Flatbush

Fall Approaches, 2009

September Dogwood, Beverly Road, Flatbush, Brooklyn, 2009September Dogwood

My clear signal for the onset of Spring is the blooming of Snowdrops, Galanthus species. The reddening leaves of Dogwoods, Cornus species, tell me that Fall has really begun in my neighborhood of Flatbush, Brooklyn. Soon to come are the yellows of the Locust trees, Gleditsia and Robinia species, and the psychedelic rainbows of White Ash, Fraxinus americana. The big show is put on by the Maples and Oaks.

Conditions are ideal for spectacular foliage this year. We’ve had ample rains over the summer following near-record Spring rains. The NY State Foliage Forecast predicts that peak foliage will reach New York City around the last week of October. This timing couldn’t be more perfect. On Saturday, October 24, fellow gardener Tracey Hohman and I will be guiding the first Fall Foliage Street Tree Walking Tour for Sustainable Flatbush. We’ll be walking the same route we’ve visited the past two Springs, so participants can see the same trees this Fall that they’ve seen in the Spring.

Sustainable Flatbush Street Tree Walking Tour, Arbor Day 2009. That’s me in the middle, next to the tree. Photo by Keka

Brilliant, near-peak foliage will make its first appearance in New York State this weekend in parts of the Adirondacks, while rapidly changing colors in the Catskills will bring most of the region to around the midpoint of change …
I Love NY Fall Foliage Report, week of September 23-29


Related Content

Fall Approaches. 2008-10-22

The Luminous Streets, 2007-11-25
Fall Approaches, 2007-10-01

More Fall Color in Beverley Square West, 2006-11-11
Fall Color in Beverley Square West, 2006-10-28

All Fall posts


I Love NY Foliage Forecast

Sustainable Flatbush