iNaturalist Workshops, The High Line, Saturday September 25

Updated 2021-09-25: Added Links and QR Codes to “Getting Started with iNaturalist”.

I’m pleased to announce that Saturday, September 25th, I will be leading two iNaturalist Workshops “in the field” at The High Line. This is one of several workshops, and many other events, they have scheduled for Insectageddon, which runs from 3-6pm that Saturday afternoon.

Self-Portrait of an iNaturalist as an old man

I’ll be doing two walks:

  • 3:15-4:15 pm
  • 4:45-5:45 pm

When not out on one of the walks, I’ll have a table in The High Line’s Chelsea Market Passage, between 15th and 16th Streets. Please sign up there for one of the two workshops, as space will be limited. Each walk will start out from that location.

iNaturalist Workshop
Hosted by Chris Kreussling, aka “Flatbush Gardener”
Join Chris Kreussling for a walk on the High Line to explore plant and insect interactions and learn about the citizen scientist observation gathering tool iNaturalist. Tours begin at 3:30 and 4:45; please sign up upon arrival at Chris’s table in Chelsea Market Passage. Chris is a Brooklyn naturalist and gardener specializing in gardening with native plants to create habitat for pollinators and other invertebrates.

Visiting the High Line

Note that there are weekend restrictions in place for visitors to The High Line. You must register for timed entry; pre-registration is highly recommended. The only weekend entrances open are at Gansevoort Street, 23rd Street, and 30th Street. 

Please give yourself plenty of time to get to my table in Chelse Market Passage for the start of the walk. The 14th Street entrance is exit-only on weekends. The closest weekend entrance is Gansevoort Street, at the corner of Washington Street, the southern end of The High Line. This entrance is just three blocks south of 14th Street.

Getting Started with iNaturalist

  1. Sign up at


    • You must be 13 or older.
    • You can link to your existing social media account, such as Twitter or Facebook
    • If you don’t have an existing social media account you want to link to, you can create a new account with a valid email address
  2. If you have existing photos you want to identify, you can begin uploading them to iNaturalist through your Web browser.
  3. Recommended: Also install the iNaturalist app on your Android phone or iPhone or other Apple device. Be sure to link it to the account you just created. You can then take photos on your phone and upload them directly to iNaturalist.




Related Content

Native Pollinator Walks, Wave Hill, Sunday, June 27, 2021-06-14
Pollinator Safari: Urban Insect Gardening with Native Plants, 2019-06-23
NYC Wildflower Week  Tour of my Gardens, 2016-05-15
NYC Wildflower Week Pollinator Safari of my Gardens, 2014-06-21



Getting Started

Central Park Rabies Outbreak

This month, 23 raccoons in and around Central Park have tested positive for rabies. In addition, 11 animals tested positive during December 2009, bringing the two-month total to 34.

Animal Rabies in Central Park, 12/1/2009-1/29/2010, NYC DOH

In contrast, from 2003-2008, only one raccoon tested positive in Manhattan. In 2008, only 19 animals tested positive for all of New York City.

This increase may be the result of increased surveillance by the Health Department:

With the identification of three raccoons with rabies in Manhattan’s Central Park in recent months – two during the past week – the Health Department is cautioning New Yorkers to stay away from raccoons, skunks, bats, stray dogs and cats and other wild animals that can carry rabies. The recent cluster of findings suggests that rabies is being transmitted among raccoons in the park. The Health Department is increasing surveillance efforts to determine the extent of the problem.
– Press Release, 2009-12-07

Historically, raccoons are by far the most commonly reported animal, comprising about 3/4 of reports from 1992-2008. Raccoons are nocturnal, and should be active only at night. Anyone observing a raccoon active during the daytime, or any animal that appears disoriented, placid, or aggressive, should call 311 immediately to report the location. Animal attacks should be reported to 911.

Related Content

Rabies reminder from NYC DOH, 2009-07-21
Rabies in NYC: Facts and Figures, 2008-07-08
Meta: Rabies More Popular Than Sex, 2007-03-07
News: Raccoon Tests Positive for Rabies in Manhattan, 2007-02-28


Animals Testing Positive for Rabies in New York City in 2010, year to date
Health Department Cautions New Yorkers to Avoid Wild Animals and Vaccinate Pets against Rabies, NYC DOH Pres Release, 2009-12-07
Rabies, Communicable Diseases, NYC DOH

Blessing of the Animals, Chelsea Community Church

Update 2009-10-12: Added story about Smokey.

Blog Widow and Annie, the new kitten, at the Blessing of the Animals service at Chelsea Community Church earlier today.
Blog Widow and Annie

An off-topic, i.e. non-gardening, post.

In some recognition of National Coming Out Day, some non-gardening factoids about me:

  • I’m an atheist.
  • My partner, known as Blog Widow, is an ordained minister, among many other talents.
  • People who’ve known me a long time think that’s hysterical.

It takes some enticement to get me into church. Filling the pews with dogs and other companion animals kinda does it for me.

This is also an opportunity to introduce Annie.

Annie is a six-month old kitten we adopted two weeks ago from Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Kensington. We’ve been wanting to adopt a second cat, thinking that Ripley, the old soul, would do better with some companionship when we’re out during the day. Ummm, yeah. That’ll work. Eventually.

Today was Annie’s “coming out,” as we took her to the Blessing of the Animals service at Blog Widow’s church, Chelsea Community Church. Mostly dogs were present; Annie was one of four cats, by my count, in attendance. She even made an appearance on stage when Blog Widow introduced her to the congregation for his general blessing over those assembled, human and otherwise.

Blog Widow and Annie


I shared this story here two-and-a-half years ago. This is an appropriate context to revisit it.

My atheism is life-long, forged in the fires of Catholic catechism during childhood, such as this exchange:

Me: When I go to Heaven, will my dog, Smokey, be there?
Nun: No.
Me: Why not?
Nun: Animals don’t have souls.

Smokey was a magnificent animal, a German Shepherd we obtained as a puppy. I named him during the ride home. Sitting in the back seat, trying to hold onto him: a writhing mass of long, shaggy fur all the colors of smoke. He became my companion, my protector, my model of perfect love. Setting aside, for the moment, the overweening confidence that I would go to Heaven, as a child I recognized that any place that would not grant Smokey admittance was beneath my interest and unworthy of my attentions.

Certainly, there were other, more pernicious, influences that drove me from religious indoctrination. Conversion to active disbelief became a logical extension; without the possibility of evidence, there is no reason to believe. It’s taken me a long time to accept that, nevertheless, I am a spiritual person. There’s no life after death, but there is life; that’s remarkable enough to celebrate it, and reason enough to grieve its inevitable end. Events such as the Blessing of the Animals remind me that, on this point at least, I share some common ground with others, regardless of the differences in our beliefs, or disbeliefs.



Related Content

Flickr photo set

Blog Against Theocracy: Childhood


Chelsea Community Church
Sean Casey Animal Rescue

Rabies reminder from NYC DOH

Not to fan the annual flames of rabies hysteria we usually get in the Brooklyn blogosphere, but the New York City Department of Health, in response to recent identification of rabid animals in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens, issued a press release today to remind New Yorkers to 1) avoid contact with wild animals, and 2) have your pets vaccinated for rabies. Note that NYC law requires rabies vaccinations of pets.

Six rabid animals — all raccoons — have been identified in New York City this year. Four were found in the Bronx, one in Manhattan (near Inwood Hill Park), and one in Queens (Long Island City). Raccoons are the most commonly reported rabid animals in New York City. Rabid raccoons are a relatively common occurrence in Staten Island and the Bronx, but rare in Queens and Manhattan. Bats with rabies have also been found in all five boroughs.

People and unvaccinated animals can get rabies, most often through a bite from an infected animal. Infection leads to a severe brain disease that causes death unless the person is treated promptly after being bitten. To reduce the risk of rabies, New Yorkers should avoid all wild animals, as well as any animal that seems sick, disoriented or unusually placid or aggressive. Report such animals by calling 311. Animals that have attacked or may attack should be reported to 911.

The six reported animals lags far behind the 19 reports for 2008. In recent history, Staten Island has the highest incidence of rabies among wild animals, followed closely by the Bronx. Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn lag far behind. See Rabies in NYC: Facts and Figures for more info.

To protect yourself against rabies

  • Do not touch or feed wild animals, or stray dogs or cats.
  • Keep garbage in tightly sealed containers.
  • Stay away from any animal that is behaving aggressively or a wild animal that appears ill or is acting unusually friendly. Call 311 or your local precinct to report the animal.
  • If you find a bat indoors that may have had contact with someone, do not release it before calling 311 to determine whether it should be tested. For information on how to safely capture a bat, visit

To protect your pet against rabies

  • Make sure your dog or cat is up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
  • Do not leave your pets outdoors unattended.
  • Do not try to separate animals that are fighting.
  • If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact your veterinarian, and report the incident to 311.
  • Feed pets indoors.

If you are bitten by an animal

  • Immediately wash the wound with lots of soap and water.
  • Seek medical care from your health care provider.
  • If you know where the animal is, call 311 to have it captured.
  • If the animal is a pet, get the owner’s name, address and telephone number to give to the Health Department so they can ensure the animal is not rabid.
  • Call the Animal Bite Unit (212-676-2483) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or file a report online at
  • For information about medical follow-up, call 311 or your medical provider.


Related Content

Rabies in NYC: Facts and Figures, 2008-07-08
Meta: Rabies More Popular Than Sex, 2007-03-07
News: Raccoon Tests Positive for Rabies in Manhattan, 2007-02-28


Press Release

Community Blogging at HDC Coffee Talk, February 2

I am very proud to have been invited to speak at the Historic Districts Council‘s (HDC) next event in their Coffee Talk series on the morning of February 2, on the topic of “Community Blogging”.

Site of a teardown of a detached Victorian house in Ditmas Park West, Flatbush, Brooklyn
Teardown Site, 480 Stratford Road (East 11th Street)

Community Blogging
Monday Morning Coffee Talk, with the Flatbush Gardener

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Neighborhood Preservation Center
232 East 11th Street
New York, NY 10003

Community bloggers are increasingly the voice of local neighborhoods. As larger newspapers focus less and less on the day to day, neighborhood-based blogs have assumed the role of providing updated, detailed accounts of the issues that directly affect built environment and quality of life. With little more than an internet connection and a digital camera, these activist reporters monitor communities with a passion and in the process end up mobilizing their fellow neighbors to take action and make change.

Join Chris Kreussling, otherwise known as the Flatbush Gardener, as he recounts his blogging experiences since launching his site in 2006. Mr. Kreussling’s blog covers a number of local issues in great detail – including the proposed Flatbush rezoning, citywide greenspace concerns, and Brooklyn community gardens – and he’s learned a great deal along the way.From attracting new readers, to launching related email list-serves, to understanding what “Twitter” and other social media sites are all about, February’s talk will tackle the blogging industry head-on and give you the tools for starting your own.

This event is FREE to the public. Reservations are required, as space is limited. For more information, please contact Lauren Belfer at (212) 614-9107 or

The Historic Districts Council Neighborhood Partners Program is sponsored in part by Deutsche Bank, The New York Community Trust, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Assembly Members Deborah J. Glick & Richard N. Gottfried, and State Senators Thomas K. Duane, Liz Krueger, Andrew J. Lanza & Diane J. Savino.

Related Content

Flatbush Rezoning

New Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Gets It Right, 2008.10.07

Community Gardens

Gardens are not Parks, Parks are not Gardens: New challenges facing Brooklyn’s community gardens, 2008.11.06

Green Space

Barbara Corcoran Hates the Earth, 2007.11.18
Basic Research: The State of the Forest in New York City, 2007.11.12
Landscape and Politics in Brooklyn’s City Council District 40, 2007.02.14
NASA Earth Observatory Maps NYC’s Heat Island, Block by Block, 2006.08.01


HDC Community Blogging: HDC Monday Morning Coffee Talk, February 2nd
Historic Districts Council Web site

Events for a Brooklyn Gardener-Blogger

[Updated 2007.05.01 21:00 EDT: Added Merchant’s House Museum Plant Sale.]

Some quick notes on upcoming events, most of which I’ve previously written about.

This Weekend

Today and Tomorrow, April 28 & 29, 10am-6pm
Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The single most popular annual event at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, tens of thousands of people turn out for the Cherry Blossom Festival every year. Entrance lines and waits are long. BBG’s Blossom Status Map shows that the only cherry trees not in bloom at BBG right now are those that have already finished their show. This will surely pump up the crowds even more.

Rain is predicted both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. This morning started out beautiful and sunny, with blue skies, but it’s already clouding over. The rains will keep the crowds down. I have other commitments this weekend, or I would be there right now.

Next week

May 1-3, hours vary
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Plant Sale

This may be BBG’s second most popular annual event. The Garden closes early on Tuesday, May 1, to re-open for the Members-Only Preview Sale from 4:30-8pm. This is a feeding frenzy of plant fanatics. If you’re not already a BBG member, you can purchase a membership on-site. I’m going to try stopping by there after work on Tuesday if I can get out early enough. Anyone can visit the public sale on Wednesday, May 2, from 9am to 7pm, or Thursday, May 3, from 9am to 12noon.

Thursday, May 3, 11am-5pm
Second Annual Battery Plant Sale, The Battery, Downtown Manhattan

After September 11, the Gardens of Remembrance were planted along The Battery, at the southernmost tip of Manhattan. The plants and gardens are now entering their fifth year. As in any mature garden, the plants need to be divided and replanted. The extra divisions go into their plant sale.

The post card says the plants are “organic, pest-free, and hardy.” They have to be “hardy”. They’re growing more or less on the shore of downtown Manhattan, subject to winter winds and salt spray. Judging from the plant list for last year’s sale, selections are varied and interesting. Most of the plants, all perennials, require or prefer full sun. I could use some in the developing sunny, mixed border along the south side of the house. The only chance I have to get there is on my lunch break.

Following Week

Sunday, May 6, 10am-12noon
Merchant’s House Museum Annual Plant Sale

Located in Manhattan at 29 East 4th Street, between Lafayette St. and the Bowery, the Merchant’s House Museum plant sale benefits the Museum’s Garden Fund. Selections include divisions and seedlings from their historic garden, such as astilbes, hostas, and epimediums.

Thursday, May 10, 8pm
Second Annual Brooklyn Blogfest

This will be at the Old Stone House in J. J. Byrne Memorial Park at 5th Avenue and 3rd Street in Park Slope. I’m really looking forward to meeting some of the other Brooklyn bloggers I read. And I should have my Flickr cards in hand to give out. Collect the whole set!

Gardening Don’t

Gardening Don't

If you’re going to water your garden with a hose held at waist level, at least wear pants.

This was a window display for Paul Smith at a clothing store on 5th Avenue near 17th Street in Manhattan a few weeks ago. Note the backdrop of pretty flower pictures. And the hose unreeling from the satchel bag. I guess gardening fantasies sell to their demographic.

Gardening Don't

Event, April 14, Manhattan: Identification Day at the American Museum of Natural History

An annual event at the American Museum of Natural History, Identification Day provides “the public” with an opportunity to pick the brains of experts:

If you like PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, you’ll love ID Day at the Museum, an annual favorite when Museum scientists and experts are at the ready to solve your mysteries of natural history. Bring in backyard finds, basement curios, and flea market discoveries to find out if that funny rock is a fossil or not, or if a certain artifact is a cultural treasure. Whatever the outcome, the event is sure to be fun and informative!
– AMNH email

Unlike Roadshow, however, they don’t do appraisals.

I’ve never gone with anything to identify. It’s just as much fun to stand by a table, listen in, and watch.

Some student of archaeology or anthropology, presumably working on some thesis or other, and having no knowledge of his own of vertebrate anatomy, brought in several shoeboxes of animal bones recovered from a site. When there was noone else waiting for an identification, the woman at the table, clearly irritated but patient, was going through the boxes, bone by bone, to identify them. The student transcribed, barely able to keep up with her identifications as she picked and identified up bone after bone.

I watched as she picked up one tiny fragment of a bone, the size of a pinky nail. She took one look at it, declared “turtle femur,” and set it aside.

She was impressive. For some reason, “turtle femur” has just stuck in my mind all these years.

News: DEA busts a different kind of CSA in Washington Heights

Regardless of other issues raised by this story, as a gardener I am impressed by the horticultural prowess, discipline, and commitment it takes to keep 700 plants of any kind alive … indoors … under lights:

WNBC reported, “It took investigators several hours to remove all of the drug-related material from the location.” Also, it was “unusual” for so many pot plants to be grown in one city location.
700 Marijuana Plants Found in Apartment, Gothamist

Drug Enforcement agents raided a Washington Heights apartment building on Tuesday and found a virtual “forest” of marijuana plants being grown on one floor of the building.

Con Edison electrical experts were also called in to help dismantle the drug facility because of the advanced lighting that was installed across five rooms of the building.
Marijuana ‘Forest’ Found In Manhattan Building, WNBC

I’m strictly an outdoor gardener. I can’t even keep a houseplant alive. Nevertheless, I will state for the record that this is not the sort of CSA I hope to see in my neighborhood.

“MADAME, your attacks on our climbing hydrangeas are VANDALISM.”

Okay, other than the occasional glance over a fellow commuters’ shoulder while riding the subway, I do not read the New York Post. I heard about this story this morning on NY1‘s In The Papers segment. The most impressive thing about this story? These guys are growing climbing hydrangea in a tree pit!

A bushwhacker has become a thorn in the side of residents who love two sidewalk gardens on East 79th Street. The mystery woman has become the street’s Public Enemy No. 1 by ripping down climbing hydrangea vines, which produce brilliant white flowers in summer.

Vandal’s Vine Mess, East Side Anti-Plant Spree, New York Post, March 15, 2007

And, my spidey senses (aka gaydar) tell me this story fits the Gays in Gardening meme.

Fed up with the vine villain, Charles Dean and Skip Wachsberger, who tend the gardens, have posted signs politely ordering her to stop.

Two guys cooperatively gardening. That could be innocent enough.

“MADAME, your attacks on our climbing hydrangeas are VANDALISM. Please stop it! The gardener,” the sign reads.

Okay, they adddress the vandal as “Madame”. That’s kinda gay.

The gardens are in front of 225 E. 79th St., a high-rise between Second and Third avenues. Each [gardener?] has a tree.

Joe Cinni, the building’s super, has seen the uptown vandal and said she claims the vines are choking the trees.

“No! No! Absolutely not!” responded Dean, 58. “Hydrangeas are grown in gardens all over the world. They are not dangerous like that,” he said. “She thinks she’s doing something to protect the trees, but she’s misguided.”

Said Wachsberger, 62, “The vines co-exist with the trees. Climbing hydrangeas are very slow-growing.”

Wachsberger is a landscape designer and he and Dean edited “Of Leaf and Flower,” an award-winning book of poems and short stories about the emotions that plants inspire.

Okay, that’s really gay.

The dispute took root a year ago when Cinni saw the hydrangea snipper, a woman in her mid-50s, pulling down the vines. He stopped her. … Six weeks ago – in what appeared to be a pre-emptive strike – the “vigilante” popped up and began ripping the vines down.

“All of a sudden, I see this woman pulling down the vines with her hands. When I tell her, ‘Stop,’ she starts yelling at me that these are going to kill the trees,” Cinni said.

“I told her to stop pulling them and call 311 if she had a problem. She walked away from me and I haven’t seen her since.” Dean said he tied the vines to the trees with string, but two weeks ago the woman cut the string. He tied the vines up again.

“She has good intentions, but she’s misinformed,” Wachsberger said.

Strong words.