The Centennial Annual Border Display - Brooklyn Botanic Garden
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The Centennial Annual Border Display

In honor of BBG’s centennial, Cayleb Long, the curator of Lily Pool Terrace and Magnolia Plaza, developed a display for the Annual Border that is inspired by plants and design styles popular at the time of BBG’s inception in 1910.

While giving a tour and talk to the Garden Guides this morning, Cayleb pointed out various plants of interest and explained how he researched, designed, and planted the border. Using vintage plant and seed catalogs, gardening publications from 1850 to 1909, and early BBG records, Cayleb gathered inspiration from carpet bedding designs, historic formal bedding schemes such as parterres and knot gardens, and the palette of heirloom species that were popular in the Victorian era.

With those resources as a guide, Cayleb drew a plan for different bed displays and then used a water-based spray paint to lay down the shapes and lines that would be used to symmetrically plant his unique scheme.

While grand, intricate annual ornamental plantings were often seen at large institutions and on private estates in the early 1900s, the first priority of working-class citizens with usable land would have been to grow food. For this reason, the centennial Annual Border includes food crops like beets, sage, basil, chile peppers, and kale as well as traditional ornamentals such as verbena, sweet alyssum, tuberose, castor bean, and canna. The border also maintains a connection to today’s modern garden with contemporary cultivars and varieties of heirloom annuals and tender perennials planted in several beds.

For more information on BBG's centennial displays and events, visit BBG Celebrates 100 Years.

Rebecca Bullene is a former editor at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. She is the proprietor of Greenery NYC, a creative floral and garden design company that specializes in botanical works of art including terrariums, urban oasis gardens, and whimsical floral arrangements.

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Image, top of page: Antonio M. Rosario