Harvesting Woody Plant Material on Staten Island

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    • Artist Patrick Dougherty evaluates a sapling of nonnative willow (Salix atrocinerea), which is designated an invasive species in New York State. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.Artist Patrick Dougherty evaluates a sapling of nonnative willow (Salix atrocinerea), which is designated an invasive species in New York State. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • Ocean Breeze Park in Staten Island is populated by a variety of plants that have sprouted over the past 60 years, representing both native and nonnative species. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.Ocean Breeze Park in Staten Island is populated by a variety of plants that have sprouted over the past 60 years, representing both native and nonnative species. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • L–R: director of NYC Parks and Recreaction Greenbelt Native Plant Center Ed Toth, artist Patrick Dougherty, BBG senior forman Lou Provost, and BBG director of Science Gerry Moore discuss plans for plant harvesting. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.L–R: director of NYC Parks and Recreaction Greenbelt Native Plant Center Ed Toth, artist Patrick Dougherty, BBG senior forman Lou Provost, and BBG director of Science Gerry Moore discuss plans for plant harvesting. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • BBG rosarian Sarah Owens, one of the project volunteers, harvests a stand of invasive willow. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.BBG rosarian Sarah Owens, one of the project volunteers, harvests a stand of invasive willow. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • A volunteer shows off tools of the day: lopers, shears, folding saw. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.A volunteer shows off tools of the day: lopers, shears, folding saw. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • Volunteers harvest invasive willow saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.Volunteers harvest invasive willow saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • The harvesting site was rife with poison ivy; precautions were taken. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.The harvesting site was rife with poison ivy; precautions were taken. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • A volunteer harvests invasive willow saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.A volunteer harvests invasive willow saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • A volunteer harvests invasive willow saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.A volunteer harvests invasive willow saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • Patrick Dougherty and his son Sam harvest invasive willow saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.Patrick Dougherty and his son Sam harvest invasive willow saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • Dougherty's assistant, Andy Lynch, bundles harvested willow saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.Dougherty's assistant, Andy Lynch, bundles harvested willow saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • Heather Liljengren of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center bundles harvested willow saplings.Heather Liljengren of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center bundles harvested willow saplings.
    • Harvested saplings are loaded onto a truck for transport to BBG. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.Harvested saplings are loaded onto a truck for transport to BBG. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • BBG arborist Chris Roddick loads harvested saplings onto a truck for transport to BBG. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.BBG arborist Chris Roddick loads harvested saplings onto a truck for transport to BBG. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • Andy Lynch, Sam Dougherty, and Patrick Dougherty scout for larger saplings to use as structural elements. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.Andy Lynch, Sam Dougherty, and Patrick Dougherty scout for larger saplings to use as structural elements. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • Patrick and Sam Dougherty harvest larger saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.Patrick and Sam Dougherty harvest larger saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • Patrick Dougherty removes a larger sapling from the collection site. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.Patrick Dougherty removes a larger sapling from the collection site. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • Lou Provost stacks larger saplings on a trailer. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.Lou Provost stacks larger saplings on a trailer. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • Returning from the wooded harvest site at the end of the collection day. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.Returning from the wooded harvest site at the end of the collection day. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • BBG arborist Travis Wolf secures the final load of larger saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.BBG arborist Travis Wolf secures the final load of larger saplings. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.
    • Some of the woody material that will form the site-specific construction at BBG. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.Some of the woody material that will form the site-specific construction at BBG. Photo by Elizabeth Peters.

    For three days in early August, a group of intrepid volunteers helped harvest the saplings that will become artist Patrick Dougherty's latest construction, a woven-wood sculpture created in honor of BBG's Centennial.

    On Tuesday I joined the crew that collected the woody material at Ocean Breeze Park on Staten Island. This 110-acre park, located south of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge by the Staten Island University Hospital, contains wetlands, grasslands, and shrub forest that have been left in their natural state. I was surprised to learn how young this site is; it was created from landfill excavated during the construction of the Verrazano Bridge in the 1950s. The plant population reflects whatever has since then landed here and thrived, including both native and exotic species.

    I worked along with Dougherty, his son, and his assistant; professional staff and horticulture interns from BBG; and some of BBG's wonderful garden volunteers. The team targeted Salix atrocinerea, a nonnative willow that is designated an invasive species in New York State. (Staff from the Greenbelt Native Plant Center along with BBG's director of Science made sure we didn't enthusiastically harvest any other species, like the sweet-smelling bayberry which is native to this region.) These weedy willow saplings grow in clumps all over the site, and cutting them back might slow their spread and help some other species establish themselves. We quickly settled into an efficient rhythm, with some volunteers loping and sawing down saplings, others dragging them to the truck, and others bundling and loading them. Altogether the crew harvested three truckloads of small, supple saplings and two trailers of larger trees.

    Today Dougherty started work at BBG, in the Plant Family Collection meadow. He'll be at work daily between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and Garden visitors are welcome to stop by and watch the construction take shape.


    Comments

    October 8, 2010
    Susan Perrine

    I am doing something similar, constructions with twigs, on a smaller scale with students in public and private schools, at fairs, festivals.  My goal has been to share hands on weaving experience and invite collaborative effort. images at http://www.susanperrine.com/susanperrine.com/Garden_Structures.html


    May 10, 2012
    dottie moss

    I visited BBG last month for the first time. I was absolutely amazed with the sculpture by Patrick Dougherty. I enjoyed reading more about him as well as seeing his works located around the world. Curious to know if he has any projects scheduled for the Miami area. The Garden is a true delight.



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