Sunday 6/23: Pollinator Safari: Urban Insect Gardening with Native Plants

Me hosting the NYCWW Pollinator Week Safari in my Front Yard. Photo: Alan Riback

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be hosting a pollinator-focused garden tour and citizen science workshop in my garden for Pollinator Week, in association with NYC Wildflower Week.

Event Details

Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019
Time: 1-4pm
Location: Brooklyn, NY, corner of Stratford Road and Matthews Place
Cost: FREE!
RSVP: Eventbrite

1-2pm: I’ll be focusing in using iNaturalist to observe and identify insects in the garden. Create a free account on iNaturalist, and install the app on your smart phone. I’ll show you how to make observations in the garden with your phone!
2-4pm: We’ll explore the garden, see examples of how to garden for insects and pollinators, look at insect-plant associations happening in the garden, and, optionally, make observations with iNaturalist.

These times are a rough guide. You can drop by any time.

What can you see?

With roughly 200 NYC-native species of trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, and wildflowers, my garden hosts scores of native insects that use these plants throughout the year.

I’ve been documenting these residents and visitors on iNaturalist. Here’s what I’ve seen in June over the years:

My garden is registered with several programs dedicated to creating and preserving habitat:

  • National Wildlife Federation: Backyard Wildlife Habitat # 141173, May 2011
  • Xerces Society: Pollinator Habitat, June 2012
  • North American Butterfly Association: Butterfly and Monarch Garden and Habitat, July 2017

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2014 Pollinator Safari

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Native New Yorkers: My Garden’s NYC-Native Plant Checklist

This is a checklist of just the plant species native to New York City I’m growing in my garden. I’m posting this for the benefit of anyone attending the NYC Wildflower Week tour of my garden, Friday, May 15, from 1-3pm. It may also be of interest to those who attended Tuesday night’s meeting of the Long Island Botanical Society. I only had time during that talk – Place, Purpose, Plants: Urban Gardening with Native Plants – to highlight a handful of plants I’m growing.

Visitors are also going to get to witness a rare treat: “My little bees”, Colletes thoracicus, are actively nest-building in the garden right now. Most years, they would be finished by now, not to be seen until April of the next year. If we’re lucky, we will also get to see the Nomada sp. cuckoo bees I just noticed in my garden for the first time this year.

Adiantum pedatum, Maidenhair Fern, Pteridaceae
Ageratina altissima, white snakeroot, Asteraceae
Allium tricoccum, ramps, Liliaceae
Andropogon gerardii, NYC-local ecotype, Big Bluestem, Poaceae
Andropogon virginicus, Broom Sedge, Poaceae
Anemone canadensis, Canadian anemone, Ranunculaceae
Angelica atropurpurea, purplestem angelica, great angelica, American angelica, high angelica, masterwort, Apiaceae
Antennaria plantaginifolia, plantain-leaved pussytoes, Asteraceae
Aquilegia canadensis ‘Little Lanterns’, Eastern red columbine, Ranunculaceae
Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern red columbine, Ranunculaceae
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, bearberry, Ericaceae
Arisaema triphyllum, Jack in the pulpit, Araceae
Asarum canadense, Canadian wild ginger, Aristolochiaceae
Asclepias incarnata, NYC-local ecotype, swamp milkweed, Apocynaceae
Asclepias syriaca, NYC-local ecotype, Common Milk Weed, Apocynaceae
Asclepias tuberosa, NYC-local ecotype, Butterfly Weed, Apocynaceae
Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady in Red’, ladyfern, Dryopteridaceae
Baptisia tinctoria, NYC-local ecotype, False Indigo, Fabaceae
Carex laxiculmis ‘Bunny Blue’, spreading sedge, Cyperaceae
Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania sedge, Cyperaceae
Caulophyllum thalictroides, blue cohosh, Berberidaceae
Chelone glabra, white turtlehead, Scrophulariaceae
Chrysopsis mariana, NYC-local ecotype, Maryland Goldenaster, Asteraceae
Claytonia virginica, Virginia springbeauty, Portulacaceae
Clematis virginiana, virgin’s bower, devil’s darning needles, Ranunculaceae
Cunila origanoides, NYC-local ecotype, common dittany, Lamiaceae
Dichanthelium clandestinum, NYC-local ecotype, Deer Tongue, Poaceae
Elymus hystrix, NYC-local ecotype, eastern bottlebrush grass, Poaceae
Equisetum hyemale var. affine, scouring rush, Equisetaceae
Eragrostis spectabilis, Purple Lovegrass, Poaceae
Euthamia caroliniana, Slender Goldentop, Asteraceae
Eutrochium maculatum, NYC-local ecotype, spotted joe pye weed, Asteraceae
Fragaria virginiana, Virginia strawberry, Rosaceae
Gentiana andrewsii, Andrews bottle gentian, Gentianaceae
Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso’, spotted geranium, Geraniaceae
Geranium maculatum, spotted geranium, Geraniaceae
Helenium autumnale, NYC-local ecotype, sneezeweed, Asteraceae
Heliopsis helianthoides, smooth oxeye, Asteraceae
Hydrophyllum virginianum, eastern waterleaf, Hydrophyllaceae
Ilex verticillata ‘Southern Gentleman’, winterberry, male, Aquifoliaceae
Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’, winterberry, female, Aquifoliaceae
Ionactis linariifolius, Stiff Aster, Asteraceae
Juncus effusus, NYC-local ecotype, common rush, Juncaceae
Juncus tenuis, Path rush, Juncaceae
Krigia biflora, Two-Flower Cynthia, two-flowered dwarf dandelion, Asteraceae
Lespedeza capitata, Round-headed Bush Clover, Fabaceae
Lilium superbum, Turk’s Cap Lily, Liliaceae
Lobelia cardinalis, cardinal flower, Campanulaceae
Lobelia inflata, indian tobacco, puke weed, Campanulaceae
Lobelia siphilitica, great blue lobelia, Campanulaceae
Lonicera sempervirens, NJ-local ecotype, trumpet honeysuckle, Caprifoliaceae
Monarda fistulosa, NYC-local ecotype, wild bergamot, Lamiaceae
Oenothera biennis, common evening-primrose, Onagraceae
Onoclea sensibilis, sensitive fern, Dryopteridaceae
Opuntia humifusa, Eastern Prickly Pear, Cactaceae
Osmunda cinnamonea, cinnamon fern, Osmundaceae
Osmunda regalis, royal fern, Osmundaceae
Oxalis stricta, upright yellow wood-sorrel, Oxalidaceae
Packera aurea, golden ragwort, Asteraceae
Packera obovata, round-leaved ragwort, Asteraceae
Panicum virgatum ‘Cloud Nine’, switchgrass, Poaceae
Panicum virgatum, NYC-local ecotype, switchgrass, Poaceae
Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Virgina creeper, Vitaceae (Grape Family)
Penstemon digitalis, NYC-local ecotype, talus slope penstemon, tall white beardtongue, Scrophulariaceae
Phlox subulata, Moss Phlox, Polemoniaceae
Podophyllum peltatum, mayapple, Berberidaceae
Polygonatum biflorum, smooth Solomon’s seal, Ruscaceae
Polystichum acrostichoides, Christmas fern, Dryopteridaceae
Prunus maritima, beach plum, Rosaceae
Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium, Sweet Everlasting, Asteraceae
Pycnanthemum muticum, NYC-local ecotype, clustered mountain-mint, short-toothed mountain-mint, Lamiaceae
Pycnanthemum tenuifolium, Slender-leaved Mountain Mint, Lamiaceae
Pycnanthemum virginianum, NYC-local ecotype, Virginia Mountain Mint, Lamiaceae
Rhexia virginica, Virginia meadow-beauty, Melastomataceae
Rhododendron periclymenoides, pinxterbloom azalea, Ericaceae
Rhododendron viscosum, Swamp Azalea, Ericaceae
Rosa virginiana, Virginia rose, prairie rose, Rosaceae
Rudbeckia laciniata, cut-leaved coneflower, tall coneflower, Asteraceae
Saururus cernuus, lizard’s tail, Saururaceae
Schizachyrium scoparium, Little Bluestem, Poaceae
Solidago caesia, NYC-local ecotype, blue-stemmed goldenrod, Asteraceae
Solidago juncea, NYC-local ecotype, early goldenrod, Asteraceae
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Chilly Winds’, New England aster, Asteraceae
Thalictrum pubescens, NYC-local ecotype, tall meadow-rue, king of the meadow, Ranunculaceae
Thalictrum thalictroides, rue anemone, Ranunculaceae
Thelypteris noveboracensis, NYC-local ecotype, New York fern, Thelypteridaceae
Thelypteris noveboracensis, unknown provenance, New York fern, Thelypteridaceae
Thelypteris palustris, marsh fern, Thelypteridaceae
Trillium erectum, red trillium, Liliaceae
Vaccinium angustifolium, lowbush blueberry, Ericaceae
Vaccinium corymbosum, multiple cultivars, highbush blueberry, Ericaceae
Verbena hastata, Blue Vervain, Verbenaceae
Vernonia noveboracensis, New York ironweed, Asteraceae
Veronicastrum virginicum, Culver’s root, Scrophulariaceae
Viburnum dentatum, southern arrowwood, Caprifoliaceae
Viola lanceolata, Bog White Violet, Violaceae
Viola sororia, common blue violet, Violaceae
Zizia aurea, golden alexander, Apiaceae

About this list:

  • This isn’t all of the “native” plants visitors will see in my garden. I have half again as many eastern North American species that are not native to NYC. 
  • This list doesn’t include any plants I’ve acquired this year; I don’t “count” anything until it’s survived a year of my gardening.
  • My most treasured plants are those listed as “NYC-local ecotypes.” These have been propagated by the NYC Parks’ Greenbelt Native Plant Center from populations in and around New York City.

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The Years Have Been Kind

This Spring has been a season of garden anniversaries for me. Six years ago, my partner and I bought our home in Flatbush. In the first month after closing, I began weeding, composting, and envisioning the gardens. Five years ago, I started this blog to document what I was doing and record my explorations.

It’s also been a season to celebrate the gardens. Last month, for New York City Wildflower Week (NYCWW), I opened my native plant garden for a garden tour for the first time. This Sunday, June 12, the gardens will be opened again, this time for the Victorian Flatbush House Tour, to benefit the Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC). And in May, I registered my garden as a Certified Wildlife Habitat (#141,173) with the National Wildlife Federation.

My original vision for the backyard native plant garden is largely realized. I’m close to completing development of the planting beds. The shrubs and perennials have grown and spread; there is little bare ground. Unlike me, the garden looks better than it did six years ago. Take a look, and let me know what you think.


By view of the garden

Entrance from the driveway.
Backyard, view along the back path
Arbor Entrance

View West, toward the back of the house.
Backyard, view toward the house
View West

View North, toward our next-door neighbor.
Backyard, view away from garage
View North

View East, toward our back neighbor.
Backyard, view away from the house
View East

View South, toward our garage. The entrance from the driveway is to the right.
Backyard, view toward the garage
View South

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My Garden


NYC Wildflower Week
Victorian Flatbush House Tour, Flatbush Development Corporation
Garden for Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation