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Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program

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    BCAP Summer Camp

    For students ages 7–10
    10-day sessions start in July

    Go behind the scenes of Brooklyn’s most treasured cultural institutions—Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Children's Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park Alliance, and Prospect Park Zoo—in this two-week summer day camp. Adventurers take part in fun, hands-on experiences that weave connections between art, world culture, literature, history, nature, technology, and science. Register early. Financial aid available.

    Visit the Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program for more information and to register.

For 4, 5, and 6-year-olds. Seeds work together in small groups to care for their garden plots and participate in cooking, exploring the wonderful outdoors, crafting, and other fun activities.

This is a drop-off program.

Cost

Participation Requirements

City Farmers dig gardening! Students develop basic horticulture skills to bring garden plots to life with fresh, seasonal vegetables and enjoy crafting, cooking, nature exploration, and other hands-on activities.

This is a drop-off program.

Cost

For 2- and 3-year-olds with an adult. Learn about the wonders of gardening with your 2- or 3-year-old during this active hands-on program offered during spring and fall. Our youngest gardeners work with their adult partner to tend to their garden plots, sing songs, taste new foods, and create nature crafts.

This is not a drop-off program. Consistent weekly attendance of one adult per child is required. Fee includes one adult and one child. No additional children including infants or older siblings, please.

Cost

  • 60-minute sections: $250 ($225 for members)
  • 90-minute sections: $350 ($325 for members)
  • In addition, there is a 4.5% registration fee for all classes.

Participation Requirements

  • One-hour and 1.5-hour programs are offered. We recommend the 1.5-hour class for 3-year-olds or returning families.
  • The class is for one adult-child pair only; no siblings or additional adults please.
  • Children should wear clothing that can get dirty and closed-toe shoes (no sandals).

Latest News!

june 2024: Brooklyn Community Board 9 will discuss this up-zoning proposal at their next ULURP/Land Use Committee meeting, Tuesday, June 18, 6 p.m. at Clara Barton High School, 901 Classon Avenue (across from the Garden’s 990 Washington Avenue entrance). You may also view the meeting live-streamed on YouTube. The CB9 recommendation is due to the City by July 22, 2024.

Fight for Sunlight

A New Proposal Would Harm BBG

On May 10, 2024, an application by Continuum Company to up-zone 962–972 Franklin Avenue was entered into the City’s land use review process. The application seeks to allow construction of buildings up to 14 stories plus bulkheads on lots that are currently zoned for seven stories. BBG is opposing this project.

The proposal’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) shows the rezoning would cause unavoidable “adverse impacts due to direct shadows effects on open space and natural resources in Brooklyn Botanic Garden” [download PDF]. Last July, when the application for this project was first submitted to the City, representatives of the Garden spoke at the Department of City Planning’s public scoping meeting to express our concerns and to urge that the environmental review process take into consideration the impact of the loss of sunlight on this important resource.

BBG is not alone in this fight. City Council Member Crystal Hudson and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso have already stated publicly that they will not approve any project that harms the Garden.

As the land use review process proceeds, there will be opportunities for public comment. We will update this page as news of the project develops. Thank you for your continued support!

FAQ: About the Threat

What is the proposed project?

Real estate developers Continuum Company are asking for a new zoning designation at 962–972 Franklin Avenue, which would result in a 14-story/145-foot-tall tower, plus bulkheads, roughly twice the height permitted under current zoning.

Is this the same project BBG fought a few years ago?

No, it’s the same developer but a new proposal for part of the site. Continuum Company sought a rezoning for 7 lots in 2019–2021 that would have resulted in a 40-story complex. The Garden and community members opposed this massively oversized development, gaining support from City officials and tens of thousands of New Yorkers. The City Planning Commission ultimately rejected that rezoning application in 2021.

The current proposed rezoning is slightly smaller—6 lots—but would have significant and unmitigable harmful impacts on the Garden. With a new massing even closer to BBG’s Conservatory, greenhouses, and nursery, the proposed building would block sunlight year-round. The impact statement shows aggregated shadow for up to 3 hours a day. Around 15% of available sunlight would be lost to the Conservatory through the winter and the nursery through the summer—exactly when the plants in these spaces most need light.

How would shade from this project affect BBG’s plant collections?

Plants need sunlight! In the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the developer disclosed “significant unmitigated environmental impacts,” including loss of sunlight and increased shading, particularly on the Conservatory complex and nursery area.

Loss of sunlight would significantly impact BBGs ability to grow plants for the entire 52-acre Garden, and would harm plant health, plant diversity, and our ability to grow and display plants from around the world.

Isn’t this area zoned for low-rise buildings?

Yes, zoning on the lots where this project is proposed, bordering BBG near Washington Avenue, is now capped at 75 feet (approximately seven stories). These parameters were legislated in 1991 in order to prevent shadows on BBG’s conservatory complex.

Does BBG oppose other developments in the area?

The Garden pays close attention to all proposed developments in the neighborhood and has not opposed proposals for buildings farther from the Garden that we have determined will not significantly impact our collections. The Garden will oppose projects or rezoning that could harm the Garden and its collections.

Is the Garden opposed to affordable housing?

Categorically not. The Garden is keenly aware of the affordability crisis faced by New Yorkers, including many in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like ours, Crown Heights. We would be thrilled to see development of affordable housing within the guidelines that were set to protect the Garden’s growing facilities and collections.

I’d like to support the Garden—what can I do?

We will keep our supporters updated on the public review process including moments for community input and how and when to reach out to public officials.

If you have further questions please contact [email protected].

Recent Press

Brooklyn Botanic Garden battling high-rise proposal that would cast shadow over greenhouses: ‘Existential impact’  ›
New York Post, June 4, 2024

New fight blooms over proposed tower next to Brooklyn Botanic Garden  ›
WNYC/Gothamist, June 3, 2024

Radio Spotlight  ›
1010 WINS, June 3, 2024

Constant gardener: Bruce Eichner pursues new project by Brooklyn institution  ›
The Real Deal, May 20, 2024

The Former Fight

From 2019 to 2021, Brooklyn Botanic Garden fought off a serious threat from a proposed development complex that would have blocked hours of sunlight to the Garden’s 23 conservatories, greenhouses, and nurseries, which grow plants for the entire 52-acre Garden site and its community programs. Read about that victory.

Current zoning protects the Garden’s access to sunlight by capping building height at this location. These laws must remain in place to prevent irreparable damage to the Garden.

This is Brooklyn’s Garden, a vital educational and environmental resource for our community, and it’s up to all of us to protect it.

Learn and play together in the Discovery Garden. Hands-on stations throughout the garden’s courtyard, meadow, woodland, and marsh habitats encourage families to explore nature alongside our volunteer educators. Be sure to check out Discover Pollinators, too!

This is a drop-in program for families with children of all ages. Free with Garden admission.

All programs are outdoors and canceled in inclement weather. Check this webpage for updates.

Support

Major Supporter, Discovery Programs

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Learn and play together in the Discovery Garden. Hands-on stations throughout the garden’s courtyard, meadow, woodland, and marsh encourage families to explore nature alongside our volunteer Discovery Docents.

This is a drop-in program for families with children of all ages. Free with Garden admission.

All programs are outdoors and canceled in inclement weather. Check this webpage for updates.

Support

Major Supporter, Discovery Programs

National Grid logo

Calling all explorers up to 4 years old (and their caregivers)! Pot up a plant, create a craft, read a story, and use your senses to explore nature at special Discovery Garden activity stations designed for early learners.

This is a drop-in program for children ages 4 & under and their caregivers. Free with Garden admission.

All programs are outdoors and canceled in inclement weather. Check this webpage for updates.

Support

Major Supporter, Discovery Programs

National Grid logo

Dr. Suzanne Simard, professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia in Canada, sparked the popular imagination with her groundbreaking scientific research on fungal networks in forests.

Her work, which suggests that trees can share resources and communicate through underground networks (or a “wood wide web”) of mycorrhizal fungi, helped to inspire Richard Powers’ The Overstory and Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees—and, more recently, Simard’s own 2021 bestselling memoir Finding the Mother Tree.

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Dr. Suzanne Simard. Photo by Felicia Chang.

Today, Simard leads the Mother Tree Project, a long-term experiment exploring the ecological and climate benefits of protecting large, old trees in forests. She’s also polishing up a sequel to Finding the Mother Tree.

Finding the Mother Tree was really about discovering the connection of the forest,” says Simard. “Saving the Mother Tree is about, how do we protect these spaces and restore them?”

We spoke with Simard, who is this year’s honoree at Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Spring Gala, about facing climate change, connecting with forests, and cultivating hope.

This time last year at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the sky was turning orange from wildfires in Canada. That destruction was preceded by immense forest fragmentation from industrial logging, which inspired your life’s work. What was your experience with those fires like? What were you thinking?

The fires in Canada have been pretty severe and intense since, I would say, 2015. Climate change is an ongoing thing, but it was almost like a threshold had been passed.

Here in British Columbia, where I live, it’s become a way of life. Instead of the summer, we talk about the fire season. Smoke, and the dangers of fire, has really changed a lot about how we live now. So last year, when New York was getting so much of our smoke—you know, it was the worst fire year in Canada on record, but we’ve been living with this for quite a while already.

The good thing is, it’s made people more aware of the situation we’re in with climate change and forest management, and how they come together to create this explosive situation.

How has forest management contributed to climate change and wildfires?

In several ways. One of them, of course, is the clearing of the forest. Not just in Canada—it’s a global problem. When we convert forests to other uses or other managed ecosystems, we release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. I think that we really underestimated the impact of that land use change on greenhouse gases, but it’s been massive.

In Canada, industrial forest management hit a critical point probably in the 50s and 60s and 70s, when clear cutting became the common method of clearing forests. And then planting flammable species over vast areas, and also getting rid of those species that are less flammable or actually resist fire, like deciduous species and old trees and so on.

And then a third thing—suppressing fire. In Canada, Indigenous cultural burning processes that had been in place for thousands of years were outlawed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. And therefore fuels have built up into our forests as well.

So here you have all these things conspiring together to create this perfect storm that we’re in now, which is a flammable landscape.

You’ve watched the decline of these forests that you identify closely with. Many researchers across disciplines are struggling with this. How can we cultivate optimism in these conditions? You seem to have been able to hold on to that a little bit in your writing.

Definitely. Scientists watch these things happen, alarm bells are going off, we’re publishing our articles, and then we watch the decline. And that’s very frustrating.

As people say, and I agree somewhat with this, it’s not so much a scientific problem, because the science has been solid on climate change for a long time. It’s more a sociological problem: How do we put all of that knowledge into action? And so that’s where the work needs to be done.

It also is a scientific problem, from a forestry point of view, because—and this is where the optimism comes in—there’s so much we can do with land. People have been interacting with land, and managing land, since there were people, and there’s a great deal of knowledge about how to do that. It’s ancient knowledge. And it’s also a worldview combined with that knowledge, that worldview being tending the earth instead of exploiting the earth, and having reciprocal, respectful relationships with other creatures.

And that is actually in us already. But we’ve gotten on this other track of economic growth, that we can continue to take and take and take and grow and grow and grow, and it’s just not possible. Every day, old-growth forests are falling, because we have not moved away from that exploitative mentality.

In my lifetime of working in forests, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the good things that we can do in forests, to reestablish diversity and productivity. It can be done. But it takes time, it takes knowledge, it takes careful work, it takes science.

We think a lot about urban forests here in New York City, and the unique challenges that they face. How do you think about that distinction?

Both the wild and the urban forests are extremely important for different reasons.

In the urban environment, it’s really important that people can connect with trees and forests and natural ecosystems. It makes us healthier, and it also makes us care about them, and understand that we have agency in helping these ecosystems.

I went to the Bronx last summer and learned the story of the restoration of the Bronx River. Those stories are so important for people—demonstrating how you can transform in such a short period of time from a very unhealthy system to a very healthy system.

And I feel like the work I do in forests is so affected by attitudes in the city, right? Those have a bigger impact on my landscape than anything I ever do as a forester or as an ecologist, because it’s in cities where policy is getting made.

People in New York have a big say in global policy, in meeting our commitments to international agreements for climate change and biodiversity loss. Those actions are essential to prevent the fires that are coming, or to mitigate them.

But until we do, it’s going to get worse. And I don't like to say that, it sounds very pessimistic. But it’s meant to propel people to act, because I think we deserve a better future.

Even before you wrote Finding the Mother Tree, your work on fungal networks really captured the zeitgeist, and several authors’ imaginations. Now there’s a movie in the works. Why do you think your research has resonated so vividly with the public?

I think we’re in a moment where people are seeing these big changes, and it’s scary, and we need solutions. And not just solutions, but we need action, and we need to put our hearts into this. And I think that what my work has done is show that we are spiritual beings who understand these connections.

I was able to, in the work, demonstrate to people what they already have inside of them, which is this innate connection to land and trees. We’re all connected. So that is a homing message in a way, right? It says, Yeah, you know, these feelings I have inside of me about loving the earth and loving trees, it’s real, and it belongs to us.

That spiritual perspective can be challenging to weigh in on as a scientist, right?

It is true, but it’s absolutely essential that we discuss this. I think that in Western science, for hundreds of years now, we’ve created this almost religious scientific methodology that says we’re separate from nature, that we’re these objective observers. But really, we do bring ourselves into our science, and we should acknowledge that.

All things have this spirit running through them—the air, the water, the rocks, the soil, the animals, the fish, the plants. And we’ve said no, they don’t. And seeing things as objects, pretending that things are not connected, that can result in massive problems.

I have had a really tough time myself, publishing Finding the Mother Tree and having been criticized so heavily, but I will not walk away from it, because it is the essence of what we need to solve climate change, or global change in general. We have to grapple with this.

Western science, Indigenous science, Indigenous knowledge—it’s got to come together, or we’ll continue to make these massive mistakes.

Your book came out three years ago, after other books—Richard Powers’ The Overstory, Peter Wohlleben’s The Secret Life of Trees—featured elements inspired by your research. What made you decide to take your story into your own hands?

A couple things. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, so I’ve always had that in me. For years, I just wrote scientific articles, and it was increasingly frustrating, because you have to use a very strict language.

But the other thing was that, you know, other people were starting to write my story. And I thought, they don’t know the story! There is a real story here. I wanted to write this story myself.

I had many reasons for writing it the way I did. And one of them is to say that science is a human thing. I did this work because I came from the forest, and I lived in the forest, and I asked questions because I was seeing things happening. I didn’t just pluck these questions out of the literature. They came from me, and the forests I lived in, and my ancestry.

I also wanted to say something else. All these other writers are men, and this thing I’m talking about is a very female way of seeing the world; it's very different than how I was trained as a forester or a scientist. I was trained by men to think like men, and I saw the forest in a different way.

And so I was bringing in this idea that we are connected, that we’re networked, that we’re collaborative, it’s not just about competition. And I wanted to also tell the story of what it’s like to be a female scientist in this world. We didn’t have professors that were female when I was coming through, and so I wanted to fill that little hole that needed to be filled.

As you mentioned, you had this upbringing that was very entwined with the forest, and then in your book you describe a professional journey that seems very focused and directed. Do you think those two things are related—that having this deep rootedness to the land informed a lifelong dedication to a particular line of inquiry?

Yeah, you absolutely got that right. I think that I’m here for a reason. I didn't really know that when I was in my 20s and 30s or even my 40s.

It came from my ancestors, right? I come from thousands of years of wood cutters in France. And I’ve been able to sort of look back and say, Oh, that makes sense. This has been in my ancestry for a long, long time.

When I finally recognized that and owned it—it’s not like it's ever been really easy, but it made it a little easier on me to understand myself, right? Like, why am I so driven to do this, and now I know that it’s just why I’m here, and I will not stop until it’s time to stop.

What are you still curious to know about trees and forest ecosystems?

My job right now, as I see it, is to help heal the land. And so my big question is, now how do you do that? That’s where I think I can make my contribution.

I’m working with the Nations, with Indigenous people, to restore these lands to whole systems, with the species and the trees and the animals and the fish that are all part of that system—working together with them to figure out how to do this, and to demonstrate to people around the world that you can do this.

Because that hope part has got to be part of the solution, too. When you can demonstrate it, that generates a lot of hope in people, and agency, and then they get out and do it. And that is what we need to do. We just need to get out and do the work.

From June through September 2024, Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosts Patrick Costello as artist in residence. Costello will create an immersive and participatory processional performance, while exploring plant-pollinator interactions as dynamic theater pieces unto themselves. The final piece will be presented at the end of September.

Public Programs

About the Artist

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Patrick Costello is an artist whose work comes alive through multispecies collaborative relationships—integrating practices of ecological horticulture, sculpture, printmaking, and performance to create ephemeral spaces for transformation.

Patrick has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia, New York. He has performed in venues including Ars Nova, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Public Theater, and at intentional communities, squats, and underground venues around the world.

Patrick has been invited to residencies at MacDowell, Shandaken Projects, the Soil Factory, and ACRE. He holds an MFA in Combined Media from Hunter College and a BA in Printmaking from the University of Virginia.

Artist website: patrickjcostello.net

Support

Art in the Garden is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Logo for New York State Council on the Arts

About 480 million years ago, during a warm and watery geologic period known as the Ordovician, the first wingless arthropods are believed to have made their way onto land.

Among the earliest terrestrial animals, these creatures’ exoskeletons protected them from the punishing radiation of a land not yet shaded. Land plants, too, were just beginning to emerge.

“Insects have been partnering with plants since their earliest beginnings,” says David Grimaldi, curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History.

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Entomologist David Grimaldi. Image courtesy of David Grimaldi.

By the time the first angiosperms (or flowering plants) evolved around 130 million years ago, insects already ruled the air. Flight allowed them to excel at tracking resources, including from plant to plant.

Pollination—the transfer of pollen from one reproductive organ of a plant to another—was an early feature of this partnership. “I suspect it was a quick courtship” between plants and insect pollinators, says Grimaldi. The earliest angiosperm pollinators included bee-like wasps, tiny moths, and even beetles and thrips.

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Entomologist Jessica Ware. Photo by Denis Finnin.

Grimaldi and colleague Jessica Ware, division chair of Invertebrate Zoology at the AMNH, are part of a team of advisors working with Brooklyn Botanic Garden on this summer’s exhibition, Natural Attractions: A Plant-Pollinator Love Story. Both are curators of the Insectarium at the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, which opened in May 2023.

We spoke with Grimaldi and Ware about the special—if sometimes a little manipulative—relationships that have evolved between plants and insect pollinators, and the threats they face today.

What makes a pollinator?

Nearly 85 percent of the world’s flowering plants rely on animal pollinators to help them produce seeds and fruits. Most of these pollinators are insects, though birds, bats, and even lizards (not to mention people) can be pollinators, too.

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A 99-million-year-old beetle covered in pollen. Image courtesy of Bo Wang.

Lured into a floral structure while seeking nectar or pollen, insect pollinators—including bees, flies, beetles, wasps, butterflies, and moths—get inadvertently dusted with pollen and spread it around as they move from flower to flower, which results in fertilization.

Bees are especially good at this, “but even cockroaches can be pollinators,” says Ware.

The evolution of specialization 

Over millions of years, plants evolved many unique pollinator recruitment strategies, such as vivid colors and shapes that invite certain visitors. “And insects got very good at responding, in an evolutionary sense,” says Ware.

Charles Darwin famously suggested the concept of coevolution after he was sent an orchid from Madagascar with a foot-long nectary. “Good Heavens,” he wrote in a letter, “what insect can suck it[?]” (His prediction—a moth from Madagascar with an extremely long proboscis—later turned out to be correct.)

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Wallace's sphinx moth (Xanthopoan praedicta), whose existence was first predicted by Darwin, has the longest tongue of any insect. Courtesy of Kevin Twomey © California Academy of Sciences.

Some insect pollinators are generalists, able to collect nectar and pollen from many different plant species. Bumble bees (Bombus spp.) and leaf-cutter bees (Megachile spp.) are native generalists that you might see around the Garden. The nonnative European honeybee is another well-known generalist (though they have a tendency to outcompete native bees).

But other plant-pollinator relationships evolved to become much more specialized, with some insects collecting pollen from just one or two types of plants.

It sounds like a risky gamble. But there must be an advantage to being so particular, says Ware. For pollinators, specialization can mean less competition. For plants, it can be more efficient to lure pollinators who are guaranteed to visit other plants of the same species.

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Orchids in the genus Dracula have a small labellum, or central petal, that looks and smells like a fungus, attracting wild fruit flies that normally breed in forest mushrooms. Photo by Motohiro Sunouchi / Flickr.

Though generalist pollinators are just as important ecologically, specialists can be especially fascinating, says Grimaldi. “Plants actually control the behavior of insects to great advantage.”

Orchids in the genus Dracula, for example, are pollinated by fruit flies attracted by their fungus-like scent. But the orchids aren’t offering nectar or pollen in return—so what is the fly getting out of it?

“It’s getting duped, is what it’s getting,” says Grimaldi.

Insects under pressure

These tight-knit relationships are in peril. If plants and their specialist pollinators don’t emerge at the same time—if the plant blooms a month early, for example— the plant may lose its pollinator, and the pollinator its food source.

Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) bloomed unusually early last year in New York City. Photo by Michael Stewart.

“We’ve already started seeing that climate change has led to a time mismatch in some cases,” says Ware. “If that were to continue, whole populations could be lost.”

It’s not just specialist pollinators who are at risk, and the threat is not limited to climate change. Intensive agriculture, habitat loss, pollution, invasive species, and pesticides are all part of the problem. Together, these entwined stressors are driving an alarming collapse in insect populations overall.

According to the 2016 IPBES Global Pollinator Assessment, roughly 40 percent of insect pollinators are threatened with extinction. Research suggests that the world's insect population is declining at a rate of up to two percent each year.

“What we’re doing right now is selecting for a few super-species that can feed on environmental havoc,” says Grimaldi.

The widespread use of pesticides and herbicides is particularly concerning, Grimaldi notes. For the live Insectarium exhibit at AMNH, he recalls, it was difficult to find plants that weren’t treated with insect-killing compounds. “It’s extraordinarily toxic, this stuff.”

In some cases, legislators have begun to take notice: New York State’s recently passed Birds and Bees Protection Act restricts the use of neonicotinoids, systemic insecticides that are banned in the European Union.

“If we continue to see the rates of insect loss that we think we’re seeing, that does not bode well for any organisms on Earth,” says Ware.

What you can do

Individual actions—such as growing chemical-free, pollinator-friendly native plants, avoiding pesticides, turning lights off at night to reduce light pollution, and leaving leaf litter in place as habitat—can be a valuable tool. But one of the most impactful things you can do, Ware and Grimaldi say, is to vote with insects and the planet in mind.

“It’s not just a national issue or an international issue,” says Ware. “It’s an issue for your school board, it’s an issue your mayor should be thinking about. It affects everybody. It’s the fate of all life.”

A version of this article ran in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Plants & Gardens, the BBG Members' newsletter.

This year’s Garden theme, Natural Attractions, celebrates the plant-pollinator love story through the lens of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s vast and varied collections and the native insects to which they are inextricably linked. Join us as we wrap up Pollinator Week with fun family-friendly programming including children’s activities in the Discovery Garden, chalk drawing with Chalk Art NYC, and tours led by BBG gardener Will Lenihan and Garden Guide volunteers.

Be sure to buzz around the Garden and check out site-specific installations like the Pollinator Lounge at Oak Circle and the exhibits in the Discovery Garden and the exhibit in the Conservatory Gallery.

All programs free with Garden admission.

Join BBG gardener Will Lenihan for a tour of the Native Flora Garden. Learn about the blooming plants and hear their fascinating pollination ecology stories, and discover the pro-pollinator maintenance strategies used in the Native Flora Garden.

Areas of the Native Flora Garden contain steps, please be aware.

Free with Garden admission. No registration necessary.

Get Tickets Become a Member

This event is part of Pollinator Week.

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Watch Chalk Art NYC artists Gracie Lee Brown and Liz Budinoff celebrate Pollinator Week by creating a BEE-utiful chalk art design in real time! to You can even join the fun by participating in the Color-Me-In chalk activity—open to kids of all ages.

Free with Garden admission. No registration necessary.

Get Tickets Become a Member

This event is part of Pollinator Week.

Join volunteer educators for family-friendly activities, starring our local insect pollinators and the plants that they love.

Free with Garden admission. No registration necessary.

Get Tickets Become a Member

This event is part of Pollinator Week.

Latest News!

may 2024: A new application by Continuum Company to upzone 962–972 Franklin Avenue was entered into the City’s land use review process on May 10, 2024, seeking to allow construction of buildings up to 14 stories. The Garden is opposing this application. Learn More

Fight for Sunlight

From 2019 to 2021, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s plant collections were under serious threat from a proposed massive development complex of four buildings, including two 34‑story towers at 960 Franklin Avenue just 150 feet from the Garden. Towers of this size would block hours of sunlight to the Garden’s 23 conservatories, greenhouses, and nurseries, which grow plants for the entire 52-acre Garden site and its community programs.

The Garden launched a public campaign in 2019 to urge City officials to maintain current zoning, which was enacted in 1991 to protect the Garden’s access to sunlight by capping building height at this location. Our position was that these laws must remain in place to prevent irreparable damage to the Garden.

The community supported BBG’s efforts every step of the way: Over 60,000 people signed the Garden’s petition opposing the developer’s application. The application was rejected in 2021.

Milestones & Support

On June 23, 2021, Brooklyn Community Board 9 voted unequivocally to disapprove this application, without modification, and also resolved that the 1991 zoning should be sustained. In addition to testimony provided by over 80 individuals during the first public hearing, CB9 chair Fred Baptiste described over 200 letters received by the Board, overwhelmingly against the project. “What is apparent is the extreme opposition in this community,” he said, explaining that the text of the resolution tried to capture some of what the testimony the board had heard.

On June 29, 2021, at a live public hearing, senior staff of the borough president’s office heard heartfelt testimony from 103 community members opposing the upzoning proposal for a great variety of reasons; only two individuals spoke in support of the application. On August 4, borough president Eric Adams submitted his recommendation to disapprove the application without modification. His recommendation called out the “well considered” 1991 Washington Avenue Rezoning, intended to protect BBG from inappropriate development on its periphery, and noted “in addition to causing irreversible harm to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the anticipated shadow effects of 960 Franklin Avenue would pose a serious detriment to local open space resources and quality of life in Crown Heights.”

On July 29, 2021, the City Planning Commission held its public hearing on this proposal. Our community showed up and spoke up in the biggest way! Speaker after speaker spoke from the heart about what BBG means to them, their families, their community gardens, their schools, and more.

Along the way, elected and appointed officials spoke out in favor of protecting Brooklyn Botanic Garden:

“Today I am voicing my opposition to the proposed 960 Franklin Avenue development in Crown Heights that would harm the research and education work carried out by one of this city’s prized cultural institutions, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and is grossly out of scale with the neighborhood.”

—Mayor Bill de Blasio, December 21, 2020

“Given projected adverse impacts on the BBG, and the absence of developer commitment to public purpose beyond MIH, the requested zoning does not provide a net benefit to the community, and therefore should not be advanced.”

—Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, August 4, 2021

“The Council is disappointed that Continuum continues to advance this proposal despite widespread opposition in the community, as well as the clear danger posed to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s conservatory greenhouses by the shadows that would be cast by these huge towers.”

—New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, February 1, 2021

“The Department does not support this application.”

—Marisa Lago, director of NYC Department of City Planning, February 1, 2021

“The 1991 zoning of the district previously contemplated the issue of height restrictions for the protection of the BBG and should be sustained.”

—Brooklyn Community Board 9, June 23, 2021

The New York City Planning Commission voted on September 22, 2021, to reject the rezoning application for 960 Franklin Avenue. The CPC’s vote is a binding decision in the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process and puts to an end the developer’s application to build a massive building complex with 39-story towers that would have caused a significant loss of sunlight to BBG’s conservatory, greenhouses, and nursery.

“With gratitude and relief, Brooklyn Botanic Garden commends this action by the City Planning Commission. Their decision echoes the belief of so many Brooklyn residents—as well as Mayor de Blasio, Borough President Adams, and Community Board 9—that BBG is a world-class treasure worthy of protection. The Garden is a place for all in the community, and we witnessed the community stand with BBG time and again in our campaign to oppose this rezoning, and for that we are endlessly thankful.”

—Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Board of Trustees, September 22, 2021


Videos: Public Hearings & Community Trainings

The public hearings make clear just how much opposition there is to this project, with an overwhelming number of passionate pleas to protect the Garden and the community. A series of webinar presentations delves into the problematic details of this rezoning proposal.

FAQ: About the Threat

What was the proposed project?

Real estate developers applied for a new zoning designation in order to build a massive complex on the three-acre spice factory site at 960 Franklin Avenue, covering about half the block between Montgomery Street and Sullivan Place. Their proposed development would have been more than triple the currently allowed density and included two 34-story towers just 150 feet from Brooklyn Botanic Garden that could rise to over 460 feet each. For context, this would be over 100 feet taller than the existing Tivoli Towers on Crown Street, which is farther away from the Garden and its growing facilities.

How would shade from this project affect BBG’s plant collections?

Plants need sunlight! The loss of up to four hours of sunlight a day to the Garden’s nurseries, conservatories, and greenhouses threatened to harm many of BBG’s plants, including endangered orchids and hundreds-year-old bonsais. And these buildings are where plants for the entire Garden are propagated and grown, so blocking sunlight to the conservatory complex threatens the entirety of the collection, both indoors and out.

Isn’t this area zoned for low-rise buildings?

Yes, zoning in the area where this project is proposed, bordering BBG near Washington Avenue, is now capped at 75 feet (approximately seven stories). These parameters were established in 1991 in order to prevent shadows on BBG’s conservatory complex.

Why is the conservatory complex location important?

The Garden’s greenhouse facilities were intentionally situated on its easternmost border because the area gets more sunlight than anywhere else on the campus. This conservatory complex and the rest of the Garden comprise a world-renowned institution that has become an anchor of the surrounding Crown Heights neighborhood. Shade on Garden facilities would compromise our ability to offer free workshops to community gardeners and to serve Brooklyn’s youth (more than 200,000 of whom visit each year) with free, year-round STEM educational programs.

What was the Garden’s position on the project?

The Garden’s position has been consistent: Brooklyn Botanic Garden will strongly oppose any changes to zoning that will negatively impact the Garden’s living collections and the many community programs that depend on them.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a 100-year history of providing respite to New Yorkers and free education to schoolchildren. Its compromise would be a loss to all New Yorkers. The Garden respects the City’s land-use process and will continue to participate factually and respectfully in it while asking policy makers to protect these 52 acres from development that would do it lasting and irreparable damage.

Does BBG oppose other developments in the area?

The Garden pays close attention to all proposed developments in the neighborhood and has not opposed proposals for shorter buildings farther from the Garden that we have determined will not significantly impact our collections. The spice factory development is dramatically different because of its size and location. This is simply the wrong place to build towers of the size proposed.

Is the Garden opposed to affordable housing?

Categorically not. The Garden is keenly aware of the affordability crisis faced by New Yorkers, including many in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like ours, Crown Heights, where median incomes would not qualify most residents for even the lowest tier of the affordability index used for the proposed development. We would be thrilled to see development of truly affordable housing within the guidelines that were set to protect the Garden’s conservatories and collections.

Did BBG work with other community groups in the Fight for Sunlight?

The Garden partnered with a wide coalition of community-based, local, and regional groups to bring attention to the gravity of the impact of the proposed rezoning and share information about the threat it posed to this beloved green space, its plant communities, and its educational programs.

I signed the petition; what else can I do?

Please share your views with the elected and community officials who are decision makers in the rezoning process. Then join supporters at public hearings in order give testimony in opposition to the project. BBG can share its expertise and concern; it is community members like you who will carry the day.

If you have further questions on how to partner with BBG in our Fight For Sunlight or wish to be added to our email list, please contact [email protected].

Additional Resources

Local Government Recommendations & Votes

Application Summary & Milestones: NYC Zoning Application Portal

CBR# 2021-02: CB9 Resolution on Land Use Application for 960 Franklin Avenue (PDF)

Brooklyn Borough President Recommendation on 960 Franklin Avenue (PDF)

City of New York Affirmation against Temporary Restraining Order (PDF)

Certification Documents

City Planning Commission Review Session, February 1, 2021 (video)

Press Release: City Planning Commission Certifies 960 Franklin Avenue Rezoning Application

Press Release: BBG and Municipal Art Society Condemn Plan in Advance of Planning Certification Meeting

Joint Letter from BBG & MAS to City Planning Regarding Certification of the 960 Franklin Avenue Rezoning Proposal Draft EIS (PDF)

Draft Scope of Work

NYC Parks on 960 Franklin Avenue Rezoning EIS (PDF)

960 Franklin Avenue Rezoning Draft Scope of Work for an Environmental Impact Statement (PDF)

960 Franklin Avenue Rezoning Environmental Assessment Statement (PDF)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Testimony on Draft Scope of Work (PDF)

The Municipal Art Society of New York’s Testimony on Draft Scope of Work (PDF)

About NYC’s Public Review Process

Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) (PDF)

What is ULURP (Courtesy of the Center for Urban Pedagogy’s ULU) (PDF)

NYC’s Land-Use Review Process, Explained (Curbed)

Press Coverage

Adams’s Office Gives a Thumbs-Down to Towers by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Curbed, August 9, 2021

Protect the Garden: A Residential Tower in Crown Heights Would Threaten the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Daily News, August 8, 2021

Dozens Speak Out As Towers Next to BK Gardens Head to 1st Vote
Patch, June 22, 2021

Council Speaker, Member Trash Eichner Project Near Botanic Garden
The Real Deal, February 2, 2021

City Planning Commission Certifies Massive 960 Franklin Rezoning, Despite Opposition from BBG and Mayor
Bklyner, February 1, 2021

Long-Shot Land Use Process Begins for Controversial Garden-Adjacent Towers
Brooklyn Paper, February 1, 2021

Op-ed: New York City Developments that Impinge on Important Institutions or Iconic Views Should Be Rejected
The Architect’s Newspaper, January 29, 2021

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Exhales Following de Blasio Opposition of Controversial Development Nearby
The Architect's Newspaper, December 24, 2020

In Rare Move, City Backs Off Two Controversial Rezonings that Would Block Botanic Garden Sun
Brownstoner, December 23, 2020

In Stunning Reversal, de Blasio Opposes Eichner’s Crown Heights Towers
The Real Deal, December 22, 2020

De Blasio Blocks Crown Heights Apartment Project Near the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
New York Daily News, December 22, 2020

Mayor de Blasio Will Block Construction of Towers Near Brooklyn Botanic Garden
New York Post, December 22, 2020

In Surprise Shift, Mayor De Blasio Says He Opposes Controversial Crown Heights Towers
Gothamist, December 21, 2020

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Renovates, and Faces an Existential Threat
New York, November 20, 2019

960 Franklin: A Bad Deal for the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and for Crown Heights
Bklyner, October 11, 2019

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s ‘Fight for Sunlight’ Protests Crown Heights Building Proposal
AMNY, September, 2019

Why the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Fears it Will Soon Be Sunlight Starved
NY1, July 31, 2019

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Fighting for Sunlight
WCBS, July 31, 2019

Gearing Up for Development Battle, Brooklyn Botanic Garden Unveils 'Fight for Sunlight' Exhibit
Gothamist, July 31, 2019

Brooklyn Botanic Light Fight
WNBC, July 30, 2019

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Launches Exhibition That Warns of Shadows from Proposed Towers
Brownstoner, July 30, 2019

Developer Throws Shade On Brooklyn Botanic Garden as Dispute Heats Up
WNYC/Gothamist, May 20, 2019

Reader Comments: When It’s Green Space vs. Living Space (PDF)
The New York Times, March 24, 2019

Nearby Rezoning Proposal Casts Shadow on Brooklyn Botanic Garden
NY1, March 13, 2019

Crown Heights Spice Factory Development Pits Labor vs. Locals
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 13, 2019

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Resists Buildings that Would Cast Shade
The Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2019

In the fall of 2023, the USDA released a new version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

Gardeners and horticulturists use the Plant Hardiness Zone Map to help them figure out what they can plant. The map’s 13 zones, which reflect different minimum annual temperatures, indicate which perennial plants and trees might survive the winter in your location.

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The 2023 Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Image via USDA.

In this latest update, about half the country was assigned a slightly warmer zone compared to the previous 2012 map. So, what exactly does this mean—for your garden, for your region, and for the planet?

With help from Chris Daly, director of the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University and the map’s lead author, Todd Rounsaville, a horticulturist and research scientist at the USDA, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Horticulture department, we answered some common questions.

What is the Plant Hardiness Zone Map?

Plant “hardiness” refers to a plant’s ability to survive tough conditions—in this case, extreme winter temperatures. The Plant Hardiness Zone Map is based on a 30-year average of the coldest annual winter temperature in particular locations. The map helps answer the question: Will a given perennial plant (say, a fig tree) survive the coldest night of the year in your area?

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Hardiness zones in New York State range from 7b (New York City) to 4a (Lake Placid). Image via USDA.

The map divides up the United States and Puerto Rico into 13 zones, each representing a 10-degree Fahrenheit temperature range. Each zone is then divided again into a five-degree Fahrenheit half-zone.

For example, New York City is in Zone 7b. That’s because on average, over the last 30 years, the coldest annual temperature around here has been between 5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

In 7b, we can grow asters (and fig trees—with some caveats), but plants like night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum, Zones 9 to 11) may not survive outdoors in the winter.

To find your zone, type in your zip code on the map.

Who came up with this map?

The first Plant Hardiness Zone Map was produced nearly a century ago by Alfred Rehder, a taxonomist at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum.

Rehder’s hand-drawn map divided the U.S. into eight temperature zones. His map was updated in subsequent years in other Arboretum publications. The USDA began producing its own maps in 1960, publishing revised versions in 1990, 2012, and 2023.

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An early plant hardiness zone map created in 1948 by the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. Image via Arnold Arboretum / Flickr.

The PRISM Climate Group at the University of Oregon developed the 2012 and 2023 maps, in collaboration with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

What does the Plant Hardiness Zone Map not tell me?

“This is a very specialized map,” says Daly. It’s all about extreme cold. In other words, “Can that perennial survive, on average, the coldest winter temperature you could expect to get?”

Extreme cold temperatures are a major regulator of plant survival; that’s why that metric is used here. But the map doesn’t look at extreme heat, or how well perennials might tolerate other extreme weather events, such as drought, heat waves, or flooding.

It also doesn’t speak to more site-specific conditions that might shape or limit your planting decisions, like soil type, sun exposure, and so forth. And hardiness zones are more relevant to perennial plants than annuals, which complete their life cycle within a single growing season.

So to summarize, the Plant Hardiness Zone Map is one important resource, but there are plenty of other factors to take into consideration when choosing plants that will thrive in your growing space.

What changed in this latest version?

In the new map, about half the U.S. moved up into a warmer half-zone, and the other half of the country stayed put. The most change occurred in the central part of the country, like the Central Plains and the Midwest, and the least amount of change occurred in the Southwest, says Daly.

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This image visualizes the difference between 2012 and 2023 maps. About half the country moved up one half-zone. Image via USDA.

The previous Plant Hardiness Zone Map analyzed temperatures from 1976 through 2005. The new 2023 map is based on data from 1991 through 2020.

“If you average the change between these two maps over the entire lower 48 states, you get about two and a half degrees Fahrenheit warming,” says Daly.

Is that because of climate change?

Yes, in part.

The USDA has cautioned against entirely attributing the new map’s zone shifts to climate change, noting that there are other major factors to consider.

The 2023 map is based on data from over 13,000 weather stations, for example, which is almost 70 percent more stations than were used for the 2012 map. The model used by Daly’s team, called PRISM, has also become more sophisticated in its ability to assess mountainous areas, which likely contributed to some shifts in the West, Southwest, and Alaska.

Daly also notes that the plant hardiness statistic is based on an extreme value—the coldest temperature of the year. This is a “highly volatile” number, and not necessarily the best one to use when modeling climate change.

That said, the shifts in the map are in line with what you’d expect to see in a climate that is heating up thanks to fossil fuel emissions that continue to rise

“We know for a fact that average temperatures are rising due to climate change,” says Daly. “So over the longer term, this should cause plant hardiness zones to gradually move northward.”

I’m a gardener. What do these changes mean for me?

In short? “There’s really nowhere in the country where people should be significantly changing the way they garden” based on the new map, says Rounsaville.

Even if you did change zones, it doesn’t mean you need to replace existing plants.

“Because we're looking backward 30 years, we're telling you what’s already happened,” says Daly. The new map has, indeed, affirmed the experiences of many gardeners, who have been witnessing warmer winters and some shifts in which plants can thrive.

“I recently heard someone say, ‘The USDA Plant Hardiness Map gives us official permission to do what we thought we should be doing anyway,’” says Daly.

What’s changed in New York City?

New York City is still in Zone 7b. Zone 7b itself has crept out farther into Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester County.

Though we stayed in the same zone, New York City did warm up by three degrees Fahrenheit. That sounds like a lot—and it is—but it doesn’t meaningfully shift the selection of perennial plants that can survive winters here, says Rounsaville.

“We know as gardeners that our cultural techniques can push a plant much more than three degrees Fahrenheit,” says Rounsaville. For example, planting near the radiant heat of driveways and sidewalks, or in an area protected from wind, can shift plant hardiness by one or two half-zones.

That doesn’t mean gardening in New York City—and life on Earth, in general—isn’t changing. We know that it is, in immensely challenging and inequitable ways. Climate change is already leading to longer growing seasons, changes in weed behavior, and an increase in drought and extreme rainfall events, as well as earlier bloom times, not to mention extreme heat and hazardous air quality.

To help track how climate change is affecting plants in the New York area, consider becoming an observer with the New York Phenology Project

Are there any other caveats I should be aware of when reading this map?

A few, yes.

PRISM estimated the mean annual extreme temperature for each grid cell on the map, which are a half-mile on each side. That’s a pretty detailed picture, but “it’s a lot bigger than your garden,” says Daly. You might have microclimates in your growing space that are colder or warmer than suggested by your assigned zone.

Speaking of microclimates, it’s also worth noting that these zones apply to unprotected outdoor settings. Gardeners sometimes push the limits of their zone range by giving extra protection to certain outdoor plants (like mulch or cloches) or placing certain plants in protected areas or southern exposures.

Fig trees staying warm for winter inside burlap insulation. Photo by Blanca Begert.

The effects of water, too, can be profound, says Daly, because water absorbs a lot of heat. “But we don’t explicitly model water effects beyond the oceans and the Great Lakes,” he explained. Most of the weather stations whose data were used for this map are not located near lakes.

So, if you’re growing adjacent to a large body of water that is not an ocean or a Great Lake, your winter temperatures may be slightly warmer than indicated by your zone.

Finally, says Daly, “We can tell you pretty accurately what your zone is. But it doesn’t mean that every plant you get has the correct zone designation.”

Particularly for newly released cultivars, “rating plants could never really be a perfect science in the way that modeling weather data can be,” says Rounsaville. That said, for most species, “the plant breeding and nursery community has landed on an approximate band of hardiness.”

Now that I know which zone I’m in, how can I identify which perennial plants will thrive here?

One easy and wildlife-friendly approach is to choose native plants. Ecoregions can offer a more precise guide for native plant selection than the Plant Hardiness Zone Map (check out this ecoregional planting guide from the Pollinator Partnership, or this container growing guide from Homegrown National Park), but if a plant is indigenous to your area, it’s likely to be hardy to your zone.

Gray goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis), a native perennial wildflower, is hardy to Zones 2 to 9. Photo by Alvina Lai.

For help selecting native and nonnative plants and perennial crops, many nurseries and seed companies have zone rating labels on websites and packaging. For more in-depth guidance, there are several reliable databases that allow you to search by species. The Horticulture department at BBG recommends the following:


Local nursery catalogs and Cooperative Extensions can be helpful as well.

Thanks for reading along! For more information on the new Plant Hardiness Zone Map and what’s changed, check out the USDA’s map creation page.

with Martha Vernazza, NYC DOHMH

When it comes to rat control, there may not be shortcuts or magic bullets, but the right knowledge and tools can do a lot to address existing problems or prevent them in the first place. BBG is delighted to host an expert from the NYC Department of Health who will tailor the “Rat Academy” curriculum specifically to urban gardening issues. Street tree beds will be a focus. Bring your questions!

This workshop is free, but preregistration is required. Take home a free plant to try!

ASL interpreter available upon request; contact [email protected] at least two weeks prior to the class date.

with Lena Frey, GrowNYC

The virtues and benefits of making and using compost are endless. Yet composting in NYC is in a state of transition, leaving many people wondering about how to make it, how to get it, and how to support the collective future of composting. If you’re inspired to understand the what, how, and why of making compost and making change, join a seasoned community composting veteran for an evening of questions and conversation. Take home a free plant to try!

ASL interpreter available upon request; contact [email protected] at least two weeks prior to the class date.

With gil lopez, Smiling Hogshead Ranch

This ain’t no roach motel! Come learn about insects that are good for your garden and how to prepare a DIY home for them to overwinter. Then get familiar with the plants they’ll need for food and forage when they emerge in spring. This workshop will include lots of information and a hands-on portion, where we will build a bug B&B together. Take home a free plant to try! Please note, this class is for adults.

ASL interpreter available upon request; contact [email protected] at least two weeks prior to the class date.

Come celebrate spring in the Discovery Garden with a garden singalong! Join Sabrina Chap in singing, dancing, and playing with instruments, scarves, and bubbles.

This free drop-in program is part of First Discoveries, our twice-weekly program for toddlers.

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Support

Major Supporter, Discovery Programs

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I discovered my love for growing food while living in gardenless apartments in busy cities. When I was working as a grower cultivating crops to supply restaurants and other sites around East London, it was container gardening that allowed me to finally grow some plants for myself.

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Small, rounded carrot varieties, like this ‘Paris Market’ carrot, are a great option for containers. Photo via Claire Ratinon / Instagram.

Even if your outdoor space is paved over, rented, limited in size, or not suited to your access needs, it’s often still possible for you to grow delicious crops in containers—as long as you’ve got some sun shining down on your space.

Assessing Your Site

If you’re getting into growing for the first time, it’s worth taking some time to really get acquainted with the space you’ll be growing in (even if you think you already know it well).

Vegetables growing in a rooftop container garden. Photo by Laura Berman.

The following questions will help you imagine what kind of edible garden you could create.

  1. How much space do you have for your pots? If you’re growing in a small area, like on a front stoop or a small balcony, you might choose to focus on modestly sized crops like lettuces or kohlrabi.
  2. How many hours of sunshine does it get? A very sunny sheltered garden provides the ideal conditions for most crops, including fruiting ones such as eggplants and tomatoes. A partially shady plot might be better off filled with leafy greens and herbs.
  3. Is it sheltered from the elements or exposed to a prevailing wind? Excessive exposure to inclement weather is too much for certain crops, like climbing beans and other plants that don’t produce sturdy stems. If your space is windy, you might consider putting up a fence as a windbreak, or growing plants that are robust and not especially tall, like parsley, mint, or beets.
  4. What are your access needs? If kneeling or bending down isn’t possible, or if you use a wheelchair, you can arrange pots on a table or another surface to bring them to an accessible height. You can also use plant caddies to move containers around without lifting.
  5. If your garden is on a rooftop or balcony, is there a limit to how much weight it can hold? A large pot full of recently watered compost and a thriving summer squash can be surprisingly heavy! Also, ensuring your potted plants are light enough for you to move means you can change your mind about their position at different points in the growing season.

    Picking Your Plants

    Now, for the best part: choosing which edible plants you want to grow! There are a few rules I follow when deciding which crops to grow in limited space.

    First, I’m looking for plants that offer abundance. By this I mean that they either grow and provide a harvest swiftly, and so can be sown every few weeks for a continual supply—radishes are a good example of this—or they offer up a prolonged harvest from one plant, like tomatoes or cucumbers do. Conversely, I’d never try to grow cauliflower in a container, as they take months to develop a head to pick, only produce a few harvests, and take up a lot of space.

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    Red Russian kale and arugula are good candidates for container growing. Photo via Claire Ratinon / Instagram.
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    Cherry tomatoes do well in containers, especially if you try a compact variety. Photo by Claire Ratinon.

    Dwarf varieties of your favorite crops are ideal for small space growing. It’s also worth considering growing something that’s hard to find or expensive to buy—and of course, that you’re excited to eat. If you’re desperate to grow carrots, why not try a fun variety like ‘Cosmic Purple’? Or if you like making summer rolls, perhaps grow your own Thai basil.

    Below are a few other container crops and varieties I like to grow:

    Cherry tomatoes. Compact cherry tomato varieties are great for growing in hanging baskets, window boxes, and on front stoops. The Tiny Tim tomato is a tasty option.

    Dwarf French beans. French Mascotte’ is a sturdy variety that can be planted in large containers.

    Red Russian kale. My favorite kale, modest in size and tender when picked early.

    Miniature white cucumbers. This popular variety is a short yellowish white cucumber that grows on compact vines. It produces many sweet, crisp fruits.

    Cherry belle radishes. Crisp, bright pink spicy radishes that can be grown in small containers or alongside a larger plant. 

    Finding the Right Container

    Once you’ve got a sense of your space and you’ve decided what to grow, the next thing to figure out is what containers you want to use. Each material will suit different situations.

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    Fennel plants in a fabric grow bag. Photo by Ellie Shechet.

    I use a lot of recycled plastic pots because they’re lightweight and reusable, but I’d never buy new plastic. I like the look of terra-cotta but would only use it for growing Mediterranean herbs like thyme and rosemary, as terra-cotta pots wick away moisture on warm days and would cause a thirsty plant to become dehydrated faster. Some metal containers look great, but they can heat up quickly in the sun, so avoid growing plants that are vulnerable to heat stress in them (like arugula or lettuce).

    My absolute favorite go-to container is a fabric grow bag. They’re lightweight, reusable, easy to store, and promote strong root growth. I’m on my fourth season of using the same felt grow bags and they’re still going strong (despite looking a bit shabby!).

    Maintenance & Care

    Whether you’ve got a knack for growing your plants from seed or bought plug plants from a nursery, your container-dwelling crops will need you to help meet some of their needs.

    Generally, expect to be watering your plants more frequently than if they were growing in the ground, as a pot limits the amount of space a plant can spread its roots in search of water. Multipurpose compost tends to contain four to eight weeks’ worth of the nutrients that plants need to grow, so if you’re growing crops that flower and fruit—like a tomatillo—pouring in some additional liquid seaweed or homemade comfrey tea every few weeks will provide a balanced feed to your hungry crops.

    Even your less demanding crops can develop nutrient deficiencies, so keep an eye on them and send a splash of feed their way if you suspect they could use a boost.

    These days, despite having a veg patch of my own, I still grow crops in containers every season. It enables me to make the most of the sunny, gravel-covered corners of my garden, and to grow all the extra plants I don’t have space for in the ground. Enjoy the journey—and your produce!

    More than 50,000 bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior’) are planted under a mature stand of oak, birch, and beech trees just south of Cherry Esplanade. In late April, the bluebells burst into flower and create an enchanting woodland display. As these spring ephemerals fade, summer-blooming hardy begonias emerge providing pink flowers in summer and lovely reddish foliage in fall.

    Immerse yourself in waves of sweet-smelling blue blossoms as you explore the Garden’s beloved Bluebell Wood in this mesmerizing video by cinematographer Nic Petry of Dancing Camera. Enjoy it at full screen!

    Audio Spotlight

    English

    In Bluebell Wood, thousands of Spanish bluebells are nestled under the dappled shade of beech, elm, and birch trees. Listen along as Fernanda Incera, Interpretation assistant at BBG, shares her favorite stories about this special area of the Garden.

    Read transcript

    In between an area of shadows and tree canopies grows an explosion of pale blue and violet petals. Welcome! I’m Fernanda Incera, the assistant to the Interpretation department, and this is Bluebell Wood.

    This part of Brooklyn Botanic Garden is nestled in what we call the beech, elm and birch collection. As expected, if you look around you will find several oak, birch, elm and beech trees. All these trees have a very specific thing in common: they grow huge branches with big leafy canopies that create a shadow wherever they are planted. That means that not just any plant can grow in their shade. That is where Spanish bluebells come in!

    Designed by Robert Hyland, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s former Vice President of Horticulture and planted in 1994, Bluebell Wood is a collection of over 45,000 Spanish bluebells. Their scientific name is Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior’, and since they can grow in partial to full shade, they are perfect for this space.

    This species of Hyacinthoides is very different from other kinds of bluebells. They are commonly mistaken for their English counterparts, but Spanish bluebells have important characteristics that distinguish them from the others. The first thing to note is that their stems are sturdier and stand straighter than English bluebells.

    The second main characteristic is that their blossoms are arranged on all sides of the stem. Since every Spanish bluebell has 12 or more flowers per stem, this placement makes all the difference: the flowers look even more abundant, creating a more dramatic show along the lawn.

    But the main reason why Spanish bluebells are so magnetic is their striking periwinkle color. This pale blue-lavender hue covers their petals up to their open flower tips. If you take a closer look, you might even notice that their pollen is blue, too! When they bloom, the flowers look like a floating ocean of lavender hues or like a light blue-violet sky among the trees.

    Following its creation, Bluebell Wood quickly became a favorite feature of the Garden. In fact, the woodland display worked so well that an additional 3,000 Spanish bluebells were planted at the south side of the area in 2019.

    Spanish Bluebells bloom for about 2 weeks in late April to mid- May and are perennial flowers, which means they die and come back every year. But what happens while the bluebells are gone? Well, the hill is never alone, so to speak.

    Planted among the Spanish bluebells you will find hardy begonias, or Begonia grandis. These start leafing out during the summer just as soon as the foliage of the Spanish bluebells dies down. These two species of plants live in harmony, mixed among one another, and bloom in a cycle. This is what we call interplanting.

    If you walk through Bluebell Wood at any given time, you will realize that according to Brooklyn Botanic Garden, or at least to me, good things do grow in the shadows.

    Español

    En el Bosque de las Campanillas, miles de campanillas españolas está ubicadas entre las sombras de las hayas, olmos y abedules. Escucha mientras Fernanda Incera, la asistente del departamento de Interpretación del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn, comparte sus historias favoritas sobre esta área especial del jardín.

    Leer transcripción

    Entre un área de sombras y las copas de los árboles, crece una explosión de pétalos azul pálido y violeta. Bienvenidos, soy Fernanda Incera, la asistente del Departamento de Interpretación y este es el Bosque de las Campanillas.

    Esta parte del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn está ubicada en lo que llamamos la colección de las hayas, olmos y abedules. Tal como lo esperas, si miras a tu alrededor encontrarás varios robles, abedules, olmos y hayas.

    Todos estos árboles tienen una cosa muy específica en común: crecen ramas enormes con grandes copas llenas de hojas que crean una sombra en cualquier lugar en donde sean plantados. Eso significa que no cualquier planta puede crecer en su sombra… Ahí es en donde entran las campanillas españolas!

    Diseñado por Robert Hyland, el antiguo vicepresidente de horticultura del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn, y plantado en 1994; el Bosque de las Campanillas es una colección de 45,000 campanillas españolas. Su nombre científico es Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior’ y como pueden crecer en sombra parcial a total, son perfectas para este espacio.

    Esta especie de Hyacinthoides es muy diferente a otros tipos de campanillas. De hecho, son comúnmente confundidas por sus contrapartes inglesas, pero las campanillas españolas tienen características importantes que las distinguen de las otras.

    Lo primero que hay que mencionar es que sus tallos son más fuertes y rectos que los de las campanillas inglesas. La segunda característica principal es que sus flores crecen alrededor del tallo. Dado que cada campanilla española tiene 12 o más flores en cada tallo, esto hace toda la diferencia. Las flores se ven más abundantes, creando un espectáculo más dramático a lo largo del césped.

    Pero la razón más importante por la que las campanillas españolas son tan magnéticas es su impresionante color azul lavanda. Este tono cerúleo pálido o violeta se expande por sus pétalos hasta las puntas abiertas de sus flores. Si las miras más de cerca podrás notar que hasta su polen es azul! Cuando florecen, las flores se ven como un océano flotante de matices lavanda o como un cielo azul claro y violeta entre los árboles.

    Después de su creación, el Bosque de las Campanillas se convirtió rápidamente en una de las áreas favoritas del jardín. De hecho, el campo funcionó tan bien que unas 3,000 campanillas españolas adicionales fueron plantadas en la parte sur de la zona en el 2019.

    Las campanillas españolas florecen alrededor de dos semanas, desde finales de abril hasta mediados de mayo y son flores perennes, lo que significa que mueren y regresan cada año. Pero, ¿qué pasa mientras las campanillas no están? Bueno, la colina nunca está sola.

    Sembradas entre las campanillas españolas encontrarás una especie de begonias de nombre científico Begonia grandis. Las hojas de estas begonias empiezan a salir durante el verano tan pronto como las campanillas españolas mueren. Estas dos especies de plantas viven en armonía, mezcladas unas entre otras y florecen en un ciclo. Esto es lo que llamamos intersiembra.

    Si caminas a través del Bosque de las Campanillas en cualquier momento, te darás cuenta de que de acuerdo al Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn, o al menos de acuerdo a mí, las cosas buenas sí crecen en las sombras.

    Highlights

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    Community gardens are essential to a city’s well-being. Yet they seldom get the credit they deserve, and too many suffer from lack of visibility and participation. One potential remedy is for gardens to embrace their role as “curbside educators” and take their talents out to the streetscapes along their gardens’ gates.

    St. Marks Avenue Prospect Heights Community Garden in Prospect Heights spills out onto the sidewalk with plantings and containers. Photo by BBG Staff.

    The annual Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest, led by Brooklyn Botanic Garden, offers a Best Community Garden Streetscape award. This award inspires community gardens to extend their garden’s borders and engage the surrounding community.

    After managing the contest for over ten years and visiting many community gardens, I’ve learned what works well. Whether you want to wow the judges or simply create more beauty for your neighbors, here are my top tips gleaned from Brooklyn's greenest blocks.

    Swing for the fences. Greenest Block winners often make use of limited space by going vertical. Tall exterior gates can make impressive trellises for plants like trumpet vine, climbing roses, berries, or hardy kiwi. 

    But even if your garden doesn’t want to obstruct sight lines or cast shade with tall, dense plantings on your fences, simply paying attention to these often-overlooked edges can make a huge difference to how your garden is viewed from the street.

    Hollenback Community Garden in Clinton Hill, a former Best Community Garden Streetscape winner, utilized lush climbing plantings and even installed a bench in front of their garden. Photo by BBG Staff.

    Think outside the gate. Be sure to research and follow local regulations for sidewalk planters. Local rules can vary, though most focus on the need to leave plenty of space for egress. 

    Small containers, under 24 inches in width, placed right along the property line are usually permissible. New Yorkers can call 311 or check out the city’s sidewalk usage guide. Even one or two well-placed planters can do wonders for creating a colorful focal point that draws people in.

    Lefferts Place Block Association Garden in Bedford-Stuyvesant welcomes neighbors with sidewalk containers. Photo by Nina Browne.

    Don’t forget the street tree beds. Street trees are the lungs of the city. Is your garden paying them the attention they need and deserve? Use best practices in tree bed care, such as gentle watering, carefully placing natural wood chip mulch, and installing an appropriate tree guard if you can. Be sure to do some research first—improper tree bed gardening and guards can do more harm than good.

    This modest street tree bed outside of 61 Franklin Street Garden in Greenpoint is doing so many things right: its guard allows water to flow into the bed, it has no added soil, and is planted with a healthy combination of mulch and groundcovers. Photo by Nina Browne.

    Use signage to engage and educate. Your neighbors are curious. Does your garden collect rainwater? Grow medicinal herbs? Feature native plants for pollinators? Donate food for mutual aid? A few simple and fun signs can help let passersby know what you’re doing.

    {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/NB_1stCoGrdn_NewkirkCG_1.jpg"}
    Newkirk Community Garden in Kensington, Best Community Garden Streetscape winner in 2022, used tasty herbs and informative signage to engage their neighbors. Photo by Nina Browne.

    Get creative. Brooklyn’s community gardens continue to educate the Greenest Block judges with their innovative thinking. What unique characteristics of your block’s street or sidewalk could you make the most of? We’ve even seen temporary construction fences transformed by acts of guerilla gardening, covered in vines that were planted in several five-gallon buckets.

    Take a slow, intentional walk past your community garden with fresh eyes. We think you’ll observe that the sky truly is the limit.

    This is a one-time program for kids of all ages and their caregivers. Join educators at activity stations throughout the Children’s Garden. Plant seeds, water vegetables and flowers, create nature crafts, taste fresh produce, dig in soil, and more! Participants are welcome to register for multiple classes, but activities will repeat. Programs take place rain or shine!

    One child-adult pair must register to participate together. Up to three children or adults may be added.

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    150 Eastern Parkway
    455 Flatbush Avenue
    990 Washington Avenue
    Brooklyn, NY 11225

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    Last entry 30 minutes before closing. Specialty gardens begin to close 30 minutes before closing time.

    Seasonal Hours

    Through August 1

    • Open late! Tuesday & Thursday: 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. (except July 4, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.)
    • Wednesday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
      Members’ Summer Evenings: Wednesdays, May 29–September 4
    • Friday–Sunday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
    • Closed Mondays

    Admission

    All visitors must present ticket for entrance. Members and affiliates with free tickets must also show proof of eligibility.

    • Advance tickets are recommended. Tickets are available 30 days in advance of visit dates. Same-day tickets may be obtained at Garden admission booths.
    • Children under 12 are free. Children under 14 must be supervised by an adult 18 or over.
    • If you are feeling unwell, please reschedule your visit. Tickets are nonrefundable, but may be exchanged in advance for another date (see ticket confirmation for details).

    Ticket Prices

    Members
    Free
    Adults
    $22
    Seniors (65+)
    $16
    Students 12+ with ID
    $16
    Children under 12
    Free
    Community tickets
    A portion of each day’s tickets are available free of charge to those who need them.
    Museum & Garden Combo
    See below.
    Winter Weekdays (December–February)
    Pay what you wish.

    Members receive free general admission every day.

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    Your Admission Makes Great Things Possible!

    Admissions and membership revenue helps Brooklyn Botanic Garden care for its 52 acres of grounds and conservatories and provide the environmental education programs, breathtaking botanical displays, exciting public events, and community greening efforts that have made the Garden a world-class living museum for all to enjoy. Thank you for supporting this with your visit!

    Free Admission Opportunities

    Admission is free:

    • BBG members receive free general admission year-round.
    • Children under 12 are always free.
    • Community Tickets: A portion of each day’s tickets are available free of charge to those who need them.
    • Pay-What-You-Wish Winter Weekdays: Tuesday–Friday, December–February

    Free admission during public hours is also offered to the individuals and groups listed below. Check full details at the link below before planning your visit.

    Academic members and participants in the following programs, with valid ID:

    • Students, employees of Brooklyn College and Medgar Evers
    • Students, employees, alum of Pratt
    • Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment students and families, employees
    • Cool Culture cardholders and their families
    • Garden Apprentice Program teens and families
    • Project Green Reach classrooms, students and families (with pass)
    • Urban Advantage teachers, classrooms, students and families (with voucher)

    Visitors with the following affiliations, with valid ID:

    • Individual members of the following museum and garden associations: AHS, APGA, Museums Council of New York City
    • Members of gardens that participate in the AHS Reciprocal Admissions Program
    • Employees of current corporate members
    • Brooklyn Botanic Garden volunteers

    With preregistration:

    • Public library patrons with a Culture Pass reservation (with pass)
    • Registered, self-guided school and camp groups
    • Registered, self-guided groups from nonprofit senior centers, shelters, rehabilitation centers, and other 501(c)(3) organizations serving people with disabilities
    • Participants in accessibility programs, including monthly Memory Tours
    • Community Greening & NYC Compost Project workshop participants
    • Members of the press on assignment

    See Complimentary Admission Programs details

    Museum & Garden Ticket

    Enhance your day in Brooklyn by visiting our neighbor, the Brooklyn Museum! Purchase a Museum & Garden ticket here at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and present your receipt for same-day admission to the Brooklyn Museum.

    Adult
    $34
    Seniors
    $24
    Students (12+)
    $24

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    Restrictions

    • Museum & Garden visits must be made on the same date. The Museum is closed on Tuesdays.
    • Offer is not valid for special events.
    • The Brooklyn Museum’s admission is suggested. Tickets are not refundable.
    • There is no combination ticket for children under 12 years of age. Children under 12 enter for free.

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    English

    In Bluebell Wood, thousands of Spanish bluebells are nestled under the dappled shade of beech, elm, and birch trees. Listen along as Fernanda Incera, Interpretation assistant at BBG, shares her favorite stories about this special area of the Garden.

    Read transcript

    In between an area of shadows and tree canopies grows an explosion of pale blue and violet petals. Welcome! I’m Fernanda Incera, the assistant to the Interpretation department, and this is Bluebell Wood.

    This part of Brooklyn Botanic Garden is nestled in what we call the beech, elm, and birch collection. As expected, if you look around you will find several oak, birch, elm and beech trees. All these trees have a very specific thing in common: they grow huge branches with big leafy canopies that create a shadow wherever they are planted. That means that not just any plant can grow in their shade. That is where Spanish bluebells come in!

    Designed by Robert Hyland, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s former vice president of Horticulture and planted in 1994, Bluebell Wood is a collection of over 45,000 Spanish bluebells. Their scientific name is Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior’, and since they can grow in partial to full shade, they are perfect for this space.

    This species of Hyacinthoides is very different from other kinds of bluebells. They are commonly mistaken for their English counterparts, but Spanish bluebells have important characteristics that distinguish them from the others. The first thing to note is that their stems are sturdier and stand straighter than English bluebells.

    The second main characteristic is that their blossoms are arranged on all sides of the stem. Since every Spanish bluebell has 12 or more flowers per stem, this placement makes all the difference: The flowers look even more abundant, creating a more dramatic show along the lawn.

    But the main reason why Spanish bluebells are so magnetic is their striking periwinkle color. This pale blue-lavender hue covers their petals up to their open flower tips. If you take a closer look, you might even notice that their pollen is blue, too! When they bloom, the flowers look like a floating ocean of lavender hues or like a light blue-violet sky among the trees.

    Following its creation, Bluebell Wood quickly became a favorite feature of the Garden. In fact, the woodland display worked so well that an additional 3,000 Spanish bluebells were planted at the south side of the area in 2019.

    Spanish Bluebells bloom for about two weeks in late April to mid- May and are perennial flowers, which means they die and come back every year. But what happens while the bluebells are gone? Well, the hill is never alone, so to speak.

    Planted among the Spanish bluebells you will find hardy begonias, or Begonia grandis. These start leafing out during the summer just as soon as the foliage of the Spanish bluebells dies down. These two species of plants live in harmony, mixed among one another, and bloom in a cycle. This is what we call interplanting.

    If you walk through Bluebell Wood at any given time, you will realize that according to Brooklyn Botanic Garden, or at least to me, good things do grow in the shadows.

    Español

    En el Bosque de las Campanillas, miles de campanillas españolas está ubicadas entre las sombras de las hayas, olmos y abedules. Escucha mientras Fernanda Incera, la asistente del departamento de Interpretación del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn, comparte sus historias favoritas sobre esta área especial del jardín.

    Leer transcripción

    Entre un área de sombras y las copas de los árboles, crece una explosión de pétalos azul pálido y violeta. Bienvenidos, soy Fernanda Incera, la asistente del Departamento de Interpretación y este es el Bosque de las Campanillas.

    Esta parte del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn está ubicada en lo que llamamos la colección de las hayas, olmos y abedules. Tal como lo esperas, si miras a tu alrededor encontrarás varios robles, abedules, olmos y hayas.

    Todos estos árboles tienen una cosa muy específica en común: crecen ramas enormes con grandes copas llenas de hojas que crean una sombra en cualquier lugar en donde sean plantados. Eso significa que no cualquier planta puede crecer en su sombra… Ahí es en donde entran las campanillas españolas!

    Diseñado por Robert Hyland, el antiguo vicepresidente de horticultura del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn, y plantado en 1994; el Bosque de las Campanillas es una colección de 45,000 campanillas españolas. Su nombre científico es Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior’ y como pueden crecer en sombra parcial a total, son perfectas para este espacio.

    Esta especie de Hyacinthoides es muy diferente a otros tipos de campanillas. De hecho, son comúnmente confundidas por sus contrapartes inglesas, pero las campanillas españolas tienen características importantes que las distinguen de las otras.

    Lo primero que hay que mencionar es que sus tallos son más fuertes y rectos que los de las campanillas inglesas. La segunda característica principal es que sus flores crecen alrededor del tallo. Dado que cada campanilla española tiene 12 o más flores en cada tallo, esto hace toda la diferencia. Las flores se ven más abundantes, creando un espectáculo más dramático a lo largo del césped.

    Pero la razón más importante por la que las campanillas españolas son tan magnéticas es su impresionante color azul lavanda. Este tono cerúleo pálido o violeta se expande por sus pétalos hasta las puntas abiertas de sus flores. Si las miras más de cerca podrás notar que hasta su polen es azul! Cuando florecen, las flores se ven como un océano flotante de matices lavanda o como un cielo azul claro y violeta entre los árboles.

    Después de su creación, el Bosque de las Campanillas se convirtió rápidamente en una de las áreas favoritas del jardín. De hecho, el campo funcionó tan bien que unas 3,000 campanillas españolas adicionales fueron plantadas en la parte sur de la zona en el 2019.

    Las campanillas españolas florecen alrededor de dos semanas, desde finales de abril hasta mediados de mayo y son flores perennes, lo que significa que mueren y regresan cada año. Pero, ¿qué pasa mientras las campanillas no están? Bueno, la colina nunca está sola.

    Sembradas entre las campanillas españolas encontrarás una especie de begonias de nombre científico Begonia grandis. Las hojas de estas begonias empiezan a salir durante el verano tan pronto como las campanillas españolas mueren. Estas dos especies de plantas viven en armonía, mezcladas unas entre otras y florecen en un ciclo. Esto es lo que llamamos intersiembra.

    Si caminas a través del Bosque de las Campanillas en cualquier momento, te darás cuenta de que de acuerdo al Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn, o al menos de acuerdo a mí, las cosas buenas sí crecen en las sombras.

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    Learn and play together in the Discovery Garden. Hands-on stations throughout the garden’s courtyard, meadow, woodland, and marsh encourage families to explore nature alongside our teen apprentices volunteer Discovery Docents.

    This is a drop-in program for families with children of all ages. Free with Garden admission.

    All programs are outdoors and canceled in inclement weather. Check this webpage for updates.

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    Did you know that some cherry trees are actually—kind of—two cherry trees?

    Some flowering cherry trees at Brooklyn Botanic Garden were propagated using a technique called “grafting.” If you’re new to horticulture, that means each tree is actually made up of two genetically different plants that have, well, merged.

    Plants: They’re not like us. Here’s how Patrick Austin, plant propagator and nursery gardener at BBG, explains this advanced technique:

    “Grafting is essentially taking the stem of one plant—called the ‘scion’—and attaching it to the roots of another—the ‘rootstock’—and having them grow as a single plant,” says Austin.

    This Prunus ‘Shogetsu’ near the entrance to the Osborne Garden was propagated via grafting. Grafting is often used in order to combine desirable features of two plants, like beautiful blossoms and sturdy roots. Photo by Michael Stewart.

    Ornamental cherry trees are often propagated in nurseries using this method, along with apple trees, other fruit trees, wine grapes, hybrid roses, and many tree peony cultivars.

    Horticulturists often do this to combine the desirable features of two plants. For example, a scion from a cherry cultivar with beautiful blossoms might be grafted onto the rootstock of another variety known for its hardy, disease-resistant roots.

    Grafting, like growing plants from cuttings, also allows growers to produce genetically identical plants. It’s often used to propagate plants that won’t grow “true” from seed. An apple seedling, for example, will be quite different (and potentially less edible) than its parent tree.

    {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/Sargent-graft_JP_IMG_7697.jpg"}
    Does the trunk of this sargent cherry (Prunus sargentii ‘Columnaris’) look a little funny to you? That’s the spot where a scion and a rootstock were grafted together. Photo by Joann Pan.

    Part of what makes grafting so tricky, says Austin, is that you have to perfectly line up the cambium—that layer of cells underneath the bark where growth occurs—of both plant parts.

    This usually requires a very sharp knife, among other tools. But grafting happens in nature sometimes, too, when branches, stems, or roots of two individuals or species make sustained contact in just the right way.

    Natural grafting, or “inosculation,” is poorly understood, but researchers believe it may happen when pressure from growth or external forces pushes these plant parts together and the bark wears away, exposing the cambia and allowing the vascular tissues to fuse.

    The fused plants can transfer resources like water, hormones, and nutrients. Interestingly, natural grafting has been cited to help explain why some tree stumps in forest ecosystems can survive without leaves.

    If you’re visiting Brooklyn Botanic Garden this cherry season, take a closer look at the sargent cherry (Prunus sargentii ‘Columnaris’) near Lily Pool Terrace and the fruit trees in the Herb Garden. (As always, please don’t touch.)

    Can you guess the spot where two plants became one?

    Enjoy BBG’s Cranford Rose Garden at peak bloom with a diverse collection of modern, historic, and species roses. Take a tour and learn more about the history of these beloved plants.

    Free with Garden admission. No registration necessary.

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    Please note tours can be canceled due to inclement weather. Check this page for updates.

    English

    Are you here to see the flowering cherry trees bloom? They’re some of our favorite trees, too. Listen along as Fernanda Incera, Interpretation assistant at BBG, shares some fascinating facts about cherries at the Garden.

    Read transcript

    Are you here to see the cherries bloom? It’s one of our favorite trees, too. Welcome to Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I’m Fernanda Incera, the assistant to the Interpretation department, and like many of you, the beautiful flowering cherry trees are what first brought me here.

       

    So, what makes our cherry trees so special? Well, let’s dive in!

       

    Flowering cherries actually belong to the rose family, and they originated in Asia. So, all of the cherry trees you see today have traveled a long way to be here, just like most Brooklynites.

       

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden has around 26 different cultivars and species of flowering cherries in its collection. They are all quite different and bloom at various times. Their flowers range in color from white to pink to even a pale green.

         

    The double rows of cherry trees that you see lining Cherry Esplanade are called Prunus ‘Kanzan’. And there’s a very important reason why they are so spectacular. This cultivar was actually bred to have beautiful blossoms.

     

    If you’re lucky enough to see them in peak bloom, during the spring, you will notice that the pink double blossoms have up to 28 petals each. This makes ‘Kanzan’ cherry trees particularly special since most cherry blossoms only have five petals. During peak bloom, a wonderful cascade of pink petals will dance through the Garden and cover the grass with a carpet of soft pink hues.

       

    Among this collection there are two cherry trees that stand out due to their legacy at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Right at the north end of Cherry Esplanade you will find the two oldest Prunus ‘Kanzan’ trees in our collection.

       

    Believe it or not, those two trees were planted in 1921, which makes them over 100 years old! Given that most flowering cherry cultivars have a lifespan of 30 to 40 years, this is quite an extraordinary accomplishment. If you look closely, you might notice some rods and extra support that help these flowering cherry trees stay alive.

       

    Even though flowering cherry trees were not originally intended to be planted in traditional Japanese gardens, Brooklyn Botanic Garden has other weeping higan cherries, just south and across the bridge from the Cherry Esplanade, in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden.

      

    If you see them bloom, usually around early April, you will notice how the drooping tips of the branches almost touch the water and create a reflection of pink and white petals across the pond.

       

    What’s our least favorite part of cherry season? Well, unfortunately, each tree’s blossoms only last about a week. But, since cherry trees traditionally symbolize the transient and ephemeral, that's part of their beauty. So, take a deep breath, take all the magic of the flowering cherries in, and prepare to let them go. I’ll leave you to it.

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    ¿Estás aquí para ver a los cerezos florecer? También son uno de nuestros árboles favoritos. Escucha a Fernanda Incera, la asistente del departamento de interpretación, compartir algunos datos fascinantes sobre los cerezos en el jardín.

    Leer transcripción

    ¿Estás aquí para ver a los cerezos florecer? También es uno de nuestros árboles favoritos. Bienvenidos al Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn. Soy Fernanda Incera, la asistente del Departamento de Interpretación, y como a muchos de ustedes, ver las hermosas flores de los cerezos fue lo que me trajo aquí por primera vez.

    Pero, ¿por qué son tan especiales nuestros cerezos? Bueno, vamos a empezar.

    Los cerezos son parte de la familia de las rosáceas y se originaron en Asia. Así que, todos los cerezos que ves aquí el día de hoy, han viajado un largo camino para llegar acá; así como muchos de los habitantes de Brooklyn.

    El Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn tiene alrededor de 26 especies de cerezos diferentes en su colección. Todos son distintos y no todos florecen al mismo tiempo. Sus flores varían bastante en color. Pueden ser blancas, rosas, o ¡hasta verde pálido!

    Las doble filas de cerezos que ves en el perímetro de la explanada se llaman Prunus 'Kanzan' y hay una razón muy importante por la que son tan espectaculares. Este cultivo fue creado específicamente para tener flores hermosas. Si tienes la suerte de verlos cuando están floreciendo, durante la primavera, notarás que las flores dobles rosadas tienen ¡hasta 28 pétalos!

    Esto hace a los cerezos 'Kanzan' particularmente especiales dado que las flores de casi todos los demás cerezos tienen solamente cinco pétalos. Cuando los cerezos están floreciendo, una increíble cascada de pétalos rosas bailan a través del Jardín y cubren el pasto con una alfombra de delicados tonos rosados.

    Entre esta colección, hay dos árboles que sobresalen por su legado en el Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn. Al norte de la explanada de los cerezos, encontrarás a los dos árboles prunus 'Kanzan' más viejos de nuestra colección.

    Puede ser que no lo creas, pero esos dos árboles fueron plantados en 1921, lo cual los hace de más de 100 años de edad. Dado que la mayoría de los árboles de cerezos tienen un tiempo estimado de vida de 30 a 40 años, este es un logro extraordinario. Si los miras de cerca podrás ver algunos tornillos y placas de metal que ayudan a mantener a estos cerezos vivos.

    Aunque originalmente los árboles de cerezos no se encuentran en los jardines japoneses tradicionales, el Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn tiene otros cerezos llorones o 'Higan' en su colección. Los puedes ver dentro de nuestro propio Jardín Japonés que está al otro lado del puente, al sur de la explanada. Si los ves florecer, usualmente a principios de abril, notarás que las puntas de las ramas decaídas casi tocan el agua creando un reflejo de pétalos rosas y blancos a través del estanque.

    ¿Qué es lo que menos nos gusta de los cerezos? Bueno, desafortunadamente, las flores de cada árbol solo duran aproximadamente una semana. Pero, dado que los árboles de cerezos tradicionalmente simbolizan lo efímero y pasajero, eso es parte de su belleza. Así que, respira hondo, absorbe toda la magia de los cerezos y déjalos ir... te dejo para que lo hagas.

    Located at the Steinberg Visitor Center entrance (990 Washington Avenue), Terrain offers a variety of unique plants, artisan gifts, and decor with the urban dweller and passionate plant person in mind. Garden members receive a 10% discount in the store.

    Terrain Hours:

    Note: A ticket is not necessary to visit the store but is required for Garden entry. There is no Garden access from Terrain, please show your ticket at the entrance next to the shop or purchase one at the box office.

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    Terrain at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

    Our Partnership

    Terrain at Brooklyn Botanic Garden brings the Terrain brand’s immersive retail experience to visitors and locals alike. The partnership is rooted in our shared passion for horticulture. It is the first of its kind for Terrain and a new shopping concept for the Garden.

    Visitors can look forward to on-site Design by Terrain Services for gifting and floral design needs, as well as event programming and collaborative workshops, and items from local Brooklyn-based makers.

    About Terrain

    Terrain is a garden, home, and outdoor lifestyle brand created to serve as a local source of inspiration and curated products for the garden and home. In 2008, Terrain’s flagship location opened in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania on the site of the historic J. Franklin Styer Nursery. Terrain is well-known for its elevated product offerings including diverse native plants, hand-picked planters, seasonal decor, outdoor lighting, and artisan made gifts. Its product assortment is designed to find the beauty in natural imperfection and to enhance a life lived outdoors and in.

    Don’t miss the welcome return of cherry blossoms, crabapples, bluebells, and more! Extended hours and new programs let visitors make the most of this special season. Advance tickets recommended. Free admission for members.

    Get Tickets Become a Member

    Seasonal Hours

    Through August 1

    • Open late! Tuesday & Thursday: 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. (except July 4, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.)
    • Wednesday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
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      Cherry Blossoms

      Cherry trees usually begin to flower in early April. An individual tree may only bloom for a week or two, depending on the weather. Of course, if they were in bloom all the time, they wouldn’t be so special.

      Track the Blossoms on CherryWatch

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    Celebrate spring in the Garden with a dance party under the stars. Beginning just as the Spring Gala winds down, the After Party will usher in the night with music by Beewack.

    Tickets include special access to the Garden and two hours of open bar with signature cocktails, beer, wine, desserts, and more. Proceeds from the After Party provide essential support for the Garden’s programs and collections.

    Strictly 21+ | Advance ticket purchase required.
    All tickets will be held at the door.

    Festive botanical attire encouraged!

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    When Daffodil Hill turns into a sea of yellow, the saucer magnolias shed their fuzzy bud scales, and the robins begin to pull worms from the lawns, I know it’s time to de-winterize my own little backyard garden and get ready for spring.

    Even plants that have spent the winter dormant underground sense the warming temperatures and longer days, both clear signals that it’s time to start growing again. Another sign of spring we sometimes don’t fully tune into is the smell of spring soil. Fun fact: As we turn soil over to prepare a bed for planting, we’re releasing geosmin, a compound produced by certain soil bacteria that’s responsible for the “earthy” aroma of soil.

    Wherever you garden, there are plenty of tasks to tackle in preparation for the growing season, so dust off your gloves and dig in.

    Preparing Beds & Pots 

    Remember how you mulched your perennials with care and intention last fall? Now it’s time to gently remove that thick layer of organic materials that have blanketed your plants all winter long to give tender new shoots space to sprout.

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    Perennial bulbs emerging in spring. Photo by Sara Epstein.

    Picking leaf mulch from around emerging bulbs is a delicate task, and you may find the revealed leaves to be a pale green-yellow color. Don’t worry—they’ll start to produce more chlorophyll and green up quickly. No need to toss those that leaf mulch; just spread it around (not on top of) other emerging perennials. It will slowly break down and add organic matter to the soil.

    Many gardeners also start cutting back their perennials around this time of year. If you decided to wait until spring to remove old stems to leave habitat for overwintering garden insects, bravo! To make sure you’re not disrupting anyone’s hibernation spot, wait until soil temperatures are above 50 degrees before getting out the clippers.

    (Feel free to wait even longer, if you can. According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, some bees don’t emerge until May in the Northeast.)

    Even if it’s still too chilly to set out tender annuals, you can prep containers and beds for planting.

    A rooftop container garden in NYC. After a few years, potting media used in containers needs to be replaced. Photo by Laura Berman.

    I’ve found it’s okay to use the same potting soil in containers for 2–3 years, amending each year by mixing in a couple inches of compost. Over time, however, the potting media will start to lose its structure and should be replaced. Likewise, gently incorporating 2–3 inches of compost into garden beds will add nutrients for plant health and organic matter for soil structure and water retention.

    Replacing media (and thoroughly washing the container) is essential if you noticed signs of disease or fungus last season. Be sure to check that drainage holes at the bottom of your pots are clear before you fill again with new potting mix.

    Adding additional mulch works now too, just make sure you don’t add too thick of a layer on top of a still-dormant plant. Mulch can help protect plants from drastic swings in springtime temperature; try to leave some patches of bare soil for ground-nesting bees.

    Planning & Sowing 

    If you’re growing vegetables this year, either in containers or in the ground, planning for succession crops will make the best use of your space. Cornell Cooperative Extension Agency and Grow NYC both have excellent vegetable planting calendars specific to NYC.

    Radishes nearly ready to harvest in a raised bed. Photo by Sarah Schmidt.

    For example, sowing early crops like lettuce and radish around the border of a bed leaves space in the center for transplanting tomatoes or seeding summer squash once the warmer weather arrives; by the time your tomato or zucchini plants get larger, you’ll have harvested out those early-spring crops.

    In addition to early crops, you can sow native wildflower seeds in spring (if you didn’t already do so last fall). Most seeds will germinate as soon as the soil reaches 55 degrees.

    Be vigilant if you want to use a native Northeastern wildflower seed mix. Unfortunately, not all seed companies pack 100 percent native seeds. Only purchase mixes that list out every species, and follow instructions for sowing. It’s tempting to scatter a ton of seeds, but this may leave you with an overcrowded plot.

    More on starting seeds:

    Starting Tomatoes From Seed 

    Seed Starting: Preserving Our Cultures

    Germination Test: Are Your Old Seeds Still Good? 

    Starting an Herb Garden in a Small Outdoor Space 

    Planning for a succession of blooms or foliage can be tough. Before your herbaceous perennials have fully emerged, you can still see the bones of your garden space and take some time to think about the season to come.

    At this time of year, I notice areas that could use more spring bulbs, both in ground and in containers, something I tend to forget about once other plants grow in and fill the garden space. It can help to mark spots with plastic or metal tags, or make a note in your garden journal.

    Aquilegia canadensis (Canadian columbine), a native woodland wildflower, performs well in part-shade and blooms in late spring. Photo by Blanca Begert.

    This year, I’m also considering a succession of plants that support native pollinators. Spring-flowering plants in my partly sunny yard and in containers on my stoop include easy-to-grow foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), native geranium (Geranium maculatum), and fothergilla, followed by mid- to late-season bloomers like mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), rudbeckia, and native alumroot (Heuchera americana).

    I also plan to replace some existing ornamental columbine with the striking native Aquilegia canadensis and add some butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) to the mix this year!

    Assessing Winter Damage & Spring Pruning

    Winter damage will depend on the past winter’s weather and the specific microclimate your plant is growing in.

    Mediterranean herbs like sage and rosemary can overwinter outdoors in the ground or in containers in protected spots. During more severe winters you may see some dieback, and occasionally the plant won’t make it.

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    Sage can be pruned back heavily in early spring. Photo by Sara Epstein.

    The upside is that both of these woody herbs can handle heavy pruning. Cut away all dead parts, but keep an eye out for green wood or budding further down the stems. Always cut just above new growth.

    Late winter/early spring is also a great time to prune most summer-flowering shrubs (such as roses) as well as most coniferous evergreens. However, many species of hydrangea (a summer bloomer) create flower buds in late summer, so should only be pruned immediately after flowering. Similarly, spring-flowering plants (like forsythia) set their flower buds in the previous growing season, so don't prune those until after they bloom. When in doubt, do a quick internet search.

    Forsythia is a cheerful harbinger of spring in Brooklyn. Don't prune this shrub until after it's done blooming. Photo by Blanca Begert.

    Many of us gardening in Brooklyn have to consider space. Is the plant growing into a pathway? Is it shading out another plant? Growing over the neighbor’s fence? Winter or early spring is a good time to prune your plants down to the size you want them.

    If a shrub didn’t flower prolifically the year before, pruning can rejuvenate it—by thinning out thickets of branches, you’ll open up the remainder of the plant to increased airflow and sunlight, which can encourage flowering and fruiting as well as prevent fungal growth. 

    Another good candidate for severe rejuvenation pruning is red-twig and yellow-twig dogwood. They show the best stem color on new growth, so if the whole bush is full of dull-colored older stems, it’s time to cut the whole thing back to about four inches above the ground.

    I take advantage of early spring, just after the leaf buds have sprouted, to prune and reshape my climbing rose. I’m trying to get it to spread almost two-dimensionally along a brick wall that I’ve rigged with lengths of wire. But by the end of each vigorous growing season, it’s way bigger than I want to start with.

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    Sara’s climbing rose before pruning. Photo by Sara Epstein.
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    Sara’s climbing rose after pruning. Photo by Sara Epstein.

    I’ll select a few of the best lateral stems, prune out anything that is growing in the “wrong” direction, and, to get maximum blooms, I’ll leave just a few short shoots intact.

    Be aware that pruning back old wood doesn’t always result in better blooms. For example, some hydrangea set flower buds on older wood.

    Dividing Herbaceous Perennials 

    There’s no hard and fast rule about when to divide herbaceous perennials (meaning non-woody plants that die back in winter and lay dormant underground until spring), but early spring is my favorite time.

    Once new growth starts poking up, you can see the whole crown of the plant, and because it’s only just starting to leaf out, it’s easy to dig up. It’s less stressful on the plant to divide on a cool, overcast day when the soil is nice and moist. For a primer on perennial division, check out this video tutorial featuring BBG gardener Laura Powell.

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    Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), seen here, can be divided every 2–3 years in spring. Photo by Sara Epstein.

    Even though it can feel like a destructive act, dividing or splitting a single perennial into multiple plants can help the plant perform better. If a plant is blooming less than it used to, if the blossoms are smaller, if it isn’t growing in the middle, or if it’s very leggy (tall, flopping over, needing to be staked), that could be a sign that it will benefit from being divided. Dividing makes more space for roots to grow and absorb nutrients and water, and re-establishes space between plants, which leads to increased airflow and a lesser likelihood of fungal disease.

    Sometimes plants (like mint, pachysandra, or ajuga) spread so much they start to take over your container or designated garden spot. As long as they’re not obnoxiously invasive, this is great! You can divide them to manage their size and give away the extras to your friends and neighbors.

    Gearing Up for Spring 

    It’s also about that time for gardeners to shed the layers of clothing that have kept us cozy all winter long. Remember—much like tender shoots, our bodies are new again to the elements. Sunscreen, a hat, and a nice thick hand salve are always a good idea during these first days of a new season.

    Enjoy!

    Descubra las plantas y los jardines del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn que están en pico de floración, así como otros puntos sobresalientes de la estación, en esta caminata gratuita dirigida por guías capacitados del jardín.

    Los recorridos no tienen costo con su boleto de entrada al jardín.

    Los recorridos podrían cancelarse, de haber mal tiempo. Revise esta página para conocer las actualizaciones.

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    This summer’s art installation at Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a special group of visitors in mind: native insect pollinators. 

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    Architects Nerea Feliz and Joyce Hwang. Photo by Jack Landau.

    The installation, a Pollinator Lounge, is the creation of architects Joyce Hwang and Nerea Feliz, who make up the design collective Double Happiness. The duo has worked together for nearly a decade on projects that meld art and architecture and encourage humans to think of other species as neighbors. (This is Hwang’s second time making art for the Garden—she previously created a birdhouse for BBG’s 2022 For the Birds exhibition.)

    In May 2023, Double Happiness unveiled a Multispecies Lounge at the Bentway Studio, facing Canoe Landing Park, an outdoor public space in Toronto, that invites visitors to interact with urban wildlife. Drawing on insights from that experience, Hwang, Feliz, and their students from the University at Buffalo and the University of Texas at Austin are creating a space for native insect pollinators and BBG visitors to coexist.

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden director of Interpretation & Exhibitions Kate Fermoile spoke with Hwang and Feliz to learn more about their work and what we can expect this summer.

    What was the goal of the Multispecies Lounge in Toronto?

    Hwang: Because the Bentway is a public place in the middle of Toronto, we wanted to make it interactive. It’s a series of urban seating arrangements that allows people to sit down and interact with animals. 

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    The Multispecies Lounge at Bentway Studio in Toronto, which inspired this summer’s Pollinator Lounge at BBG. Photo by Mila Bright Zlatanovic.

    Creating a space that could bring animals and people together in a public arena was a really important goal, while increasing awareness of urban wildlife, exploring the ecologies of the area, and bringing visibility to some of the species there.

    And did you achieve that?

    Hwang: I recorded some photos and videos after a few weeks of some bees moving around in the insect hotel structures. Anecdotally, I’ve also seen on Instagram people posting pictures where somebody sits down in a seat and suddenly notices a bee behind them.

    A part of the piece was to help people realize they are surrounded by other city inhabitants that they might not have thought of, like a groundhog that lives underneath the site.

    What is the difference between building for bees, animals, or birds and building for people? Do you approach your work differently?

    Feliz: I don’t approach it differently. Design is always about trying to identify the needs of the occupants. In this case, obviously, very different needs and occupants! Also, a big part of this work is to bring attention to nonhuman species and how they inhabit and perceive the city differently, and design can play a huge role in doing that and making that interesting.

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    A sketch of the Pollinator Lounge at BBG. Image courtesy of Nerea Feliz and Joyce Hwang.

    Hwang: I try to think about animals and fauna as neighbors. So how can we lend the same empathic sensibility to design for multiple species, not only humans? 

    That said, obviously, there are so many regulations, codes, and accessibility requirements to manage as an architect designing for humans that don’t translate into designing for multispecies. On the other hand, there probably should be more thought given to design for nonhumans. For example, the bird-safe building guidelines in New York City are a good start; there should be more things like that.

    How did you learn about the animals for whom you were designing the Multispecies Lounge?

    Feliz: We started with iNaturalist.

    Hwang: And then we met with ecologists from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. They looked over the list of species we had identified through iNaturalist and compared it with a list of species at risk. Also, I wanted to gauge their level of enthusiasm about some species. 

    For example, this one ecologist got very excited about DeKay’s brownsnake; he was saying that it is one of the most misunderstood snakes in the area—that people don’t even realize that they’re killing baby snakes because they think that they’re worms and step on them or cycle over them! So we decided, okay, well, we have to incorporate the snake into the Lounge.

    What are some things from that project that you want to bring to BBG?

    Hwang: The seating arrangement really worked well, and the solitary bee habitats worked really well. I’ve read that it tends to be better if the bee habitats are facing south, but the ones that were facing in all directions were being used. For the BBG project, we’ll look at some other species, like wasps, butterflies and moths, and so on.

    What are you most excited about as you start planning for BBG’s Pollinator Lounge?

    Feliz: I’m very excited for our work to be at Brooklyn Botanic Garden! And I’m excited to give this project another spin. It is a rare opportunity to be able to revisit our design, adapt it to a new location, and be able to improve it, so that’s actually really awesome.

    Hwang: I had such a great experience working on the birdhouse project. I just have so much respect for the organization that it just feels wonderful to be part of it. Since I was born in Brooklyn, BBG was actually one of the first places my parents took us to when I was little; there are loads of pictures of me sitting in Brooklyn Botanic Garden as a baby.

    What should visitors look out for when they visit the Pollinator Lounge?

    Feliz: The premise of the project is exciting, creating a place for rest and the observation of nature. The Garden is already a place to pause and marvel at plants, but we are expanding it to include other species that play a huge role within plant life, specifically pollinators. We think these interspecies encounters are really great.

    Hwang: Get ready to learn more about our friendly neighbors, and about animals that you might not have even considered. You might like butterflies, but did you know that wasps are also pollinators? I want visitors to see the world through a different lens.

    A version of this article ran in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Plants & Gardens, the BBG Members’ newsletter. 

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden membership cards and guest passes are now digital! Members can access their digital membership card through a smartphone app or save it to their digital wallet, then show it on their phone upon entry to validate their free member tickets. (Each member, child, and guest needs their own ticket for Garden entry.) Guest passes are stored in and redeemed through the app.

    If you prefer to receive paper cards and passes, please reach out to [email protected].

    Follow the instructions below to access your digital membership card and guest passes.

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    DOWNLOAD YOUR MATERIALS

    Access Your Member Card

    1. Tap the appropriate button below to download the eMembership Card application to your device, or search for it in your smartphone app store.

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    2. Open the app and allow location access to display the nearest membership organizations.
    3. Tap on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden logo.
    4. Tap Find My Membership Cards and enter the primary member’s last name and membership number. Member Lookup Tool
    5. To add your membership card to your wallet: Verify your membership information and tap Download my cards.

    Updating After a Renewal

    Your expiration date will not update automatically. Following the Find My Membership Cards prompt should download your updated cards.

    Access Guest Passes

    1. Open the eMembership Card app on your smartphone and select the BBG logo.
    2. Select Membership Benefits.
    3. On the Membership Benefits page, select Guest Passes.

    To redeem a guest pass, display it at the ticket window to be scanned. Please also book a Member Guest with Pass ticket for guests.

    Parking Passes (for Dual Memberships and Above)

    If you purchased a membership on or before May 17 or opted out of digital materials, your parking passes will arrive in the mail.

    If you purchased your membership after May 17, you can pick up your parking passes at the information desk in the Steinberg Visitor Center. A membership representative is there Wednesday and Thursday, 12–7 p.m., and Friday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    If I download my digital card, do I still need a member ticket to enter the Garden?

    Members need a ticket to enter the Garden. While advance tickets are not required, we do encourage members to reserve free member tickets for quicker entry. Display your digital card to validate your ticket.

    I don’t want digital cards and still want to receive the materials through the mail. Is that possible?

    Yes! If you’d like to receive paper membership materials, please contact the Membership Office. It will take 2–3 weeks to receive your materials in the mail.

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden isn’t appearing when I search the app.

    Please make sure that you give the app access to your location. If you still can't find BBG listed, please delete the app and download again.

    Do I have to download the app or can I save my membership card to my smartphone wallet?

    You can download the membership card to your smartphone wallet, but you need to do it via the app. Once you download the card to your phone, you can delete the app. Please note that you will need to use the app to access digital guest passes.

    My membership includes guest and/or parking passes. How do I use those?

    Your guest passes are stored in the eMembership Card app. To locate your guest passes, tap Membership Benefits and then Guest Passes. Pull them up before you get to the ticket window and let us know you’d like to redeem them on your visit.

    If you purchased a membership on or before May 17 or opted out of digital materials, your parking passes will arrive in the mail.

    If you purchased your membership after May 17, you can pick up your parking passes at the information desk in the Steinberg Visitor Center. A membership representative is there Wednesdays and Thursdays, 12–7 p.m., and Friday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

    There is a secondary member on my membership. How do they access their membership card?

    A secondary member can download the digital membership card following the same process; you can forward the confirmation email. They will need the membership number to locate the membership card.

    I renewed or made changes to my membership, but my membership card hasn’t been updated. How do I fix this?

    To update your membership card, simply tap Find My Membership Cards and complete that process again, including downloading your new membership cards.

    I downloaded my card, but now I can’t find it. Where did it go?

    Search in your app library for “eMembership Card.” You can add your card to your Apple or Google Wallet, but will still need to use the eMembership Card app for your guest passes.

    There is an error on my membership card. How can I fix it?

    If any of your membership information is incorrect, please email [email protected]. We’re happy to fix it for you.

    Ask a Gardener is a seasonal advice column written by BBG gardener Laura Powell.

    Spring at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.

    I bought a pollinator seed mix with a wide variety of flowers, and planted them in a bed on my roof that previously had been overrun with weeds. As the seeds are starting to sprout, is there a way to tell which are the intended flowers versus unwanted plants?

    Libby

    Brooklyn

    Dear Libby,

    I’m excited for your pollinator garden! I love that it's in sync with Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s 2024 theme.

    As your seeds start to sprout, it can be a bit of a mystery to figure out which little green things are germinating from the seeds you planted and which ones are party crashers. I’m happy to share some tips.

    A Mexican prickly poppy (Argemone mexicana) seedling, native to Mexico and the southeastern U.S., displaying its characteristic prickly leaves. Photo by Blanca Begert.

    First, look at the seed package or the supplier’s website for pictures or descriptions of the seedlings. If pictures are available on the website, try to match the photos to the seedlings in your garden. Whatever doesn’t match, pull it out.

    If all you have are descriptions and not photos, observe the shape, size, texture, and color of those tiny seedling leaves. Each plant has its own unique leaf style—see if they match the descriptions of the seedlings in your garden. Note that newly germinated seeds sprout one or two “seed leaves” before growing their true leaves; often the seed leaves do not resemble the true leaves, so it’s best to wait for the third leaf to emerge before identifying the plant.

    In addition to leaf shapes, plants also have their own growth habits. Some grow very upright and others are more spreading. Compare their growth styles to the expected habits of the flowers from your seed mix.

    Since you planted a mix, one indication that a plant might be a weed is that there are just too many of them, so be on the lookout for any one plant that seems to be overrepresented in your bed. Even if you’re not sure if it’s a weed, you don’t necessarily want one species dominating or overcrowding the biodiverse plant community you’re trying to establish—so it’s a safe bet to pull some of those seedlings and keep a close eye on the rest.

    If you are unable to identify the plants from their leaves and growth habit, you can wait until they flower. Although it’s more manageable to pull the weeds while they are still tiny seedlings, it is far easier to identify plants by their flowers than by their foliage.

    Also, don’t worry if the plants from your pollinator mix don’t bloom the first year, especially if you sowed the seeds in the spring. This doesn’t mean that you chose wrong when you were weeding. It’s just that many perennials need to experience a cold period before blooming.

    I hope these tips help. If you end up pulling a few desired plants and letting a few weeds grow to maturity by mistake, don’t be discouraged. The single greatest factor that will help you identify weeds is experience. So be patient and enjoy the journey.

    Why can’t I plant tomatoes in March if the weather feels warm?

    Miriam

    Newton, MA

    Dear Miriam,

    I know exactly how you feel! Whenever the weather starts warming up in the spring, I want to plant all the warm-season vegetables, but I restrain myself because I know that it is likely to make things harder for those plants in the long run.

    Why is March considered too early to plant tomatoes in our region, even if the weather feels warm? First of all, soil temperature rises more slowly than the air temperature, so the soil likely hasn’t warmed up yet. Tomatoes and other warm-season transplants generally need soil temperatures above 55°F. If you are planning to sow directly in the soil, the soil temperature needs to be even higher than that (65–70°F).

    Additionally, even if daytime temperatures are rising, nighttime temperatures likely still dip, sometimes even into freezing temperatures. Planting tomatoes too early can expose them to frost damage, possibly damaging or killing the young plants.

    So when is the right time to plant warm-season plants? The standard recommendation is to wait until the last frost date in your area has passed before planting tomatoes. If you’re eager to get a head start, consider starting tomato seeds indoors 4–6 weeks before the last frost date and then transplanting them outside when the weather is more stable.

    There is nothing like the taste of a fresh summer tomato, picked straight from the garden, but impatience will not bring a faster or more delicious crop. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and wait for the right conditions.

    If you just can’t wait to get an early start on the season, and you have time and means to invest, one option is row covers. Row covers are lightweight fabrics that help protect your plants from cold weather to extend your season in the spring and fall. 

    Use supports like wire frames or hoops to ensure the fabric doesn’t rest on any leaves, and don’t forget to roll it back on hot sunny days so your tender plants don’t get too hot. Remove the fabric completely once your last frost date has passed. You can reuse these year after year!

    What is the best strategy for moving seedlings from indoors to outdoors?

    Sylvia

    Port Washington, NY

    Dear Sylvia,

    The best way to transition seedlings started indoors to outdoor planting is by using a process gardeners call “hardening off.” The process is exactly what the name sounds like: a gradual toughening of the plants so they aren’t shocked by the transition from the cozy, protected indoors to the exposed and rugged outdoors.

    Participants in the Garden Apprentice Program water their spring seedlings. Photo by Saara Nafici.

    There are several possible steps you could take to toughen up your plants before planting them outside. You do not need to do all of them; you can choose the ones that make sense for your schedule and availability.

    1. Start by using a fan on your seedlings while they are still indoors. You don’t want the air to blow too hard—a gentle, indirect breeze will do. The air movement will not only help prepare your plants for the exposure they will encounter outside, but it is also helpful for preventing fungal disease.
    2. About 7–10 days before planting your seedlings in your garden, begin transitioning them gradually to life outside. Put them in a protected spot at first, away from direct sunlight and wind, starting at a few hours per day and increasing gradually. Bring the plants inside at night.
    3. As you get closer to planting time, move the plants to an area with sun and wind conditions closer to what they will experience in the garden.
    4. Always keep an eye on the forecast. If the temperature will dip below what is safe for your seedlings, keep them inside until it warms again.
    5. Your seedlings are ready to plant! Plant as you would normally and water them to help them get established in their new home.

    The steps listed above offer an ideal transition, but the hardening off process is time-consuming, and I don’t want you to be discouraged if you can’t complete all the steps.

    The only truly mandatory step is to check the forecast before moving your plants outdoors. If you have chosen the right place in your garden for your plants and the right time of year to plant them, you can just transplant directly from indoors to your garden. They may go through more of a transition period before adapting, but they will probably not suffer any lasting harm.

    Got a question for Laura? Submit questions for our summer installment of Ask a Gardener using the form below.

    Come celebrate spring in the Discovery Garden with a garden movement class! Join Sarah Pope in dancing, stories, and play.

    This free drop-in program is part of First Discoveries, our twice-weekly program for toddlers.

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    Courtesy of Sarah Pope.

    Support

    Major Supporter, Discovery Programs
    National Grid logo

    Members of the Garden Circle are invited to join us for a guided tour of BBG that explores plants and pollinators awakening from winter dormancy and the special relationship between native plants and pollinators.

    This invitation is for two and is nontransferable. Space is limited; be sure to reserve a ticket to save your spot. Contact [email protected] with any questions.

    RSVP

    Please note: This event is for members at the Contributor level and above; Individual, Dual, and Friends & Family members are not eligible to attend.


    Interested in joining the Garden Circle? Become a member at the Contributor level or higher to attend this and other exclusive events throughout the year!

    Join

    In this seasonal advice column, BBG gardener Laura Powell addresses your gardening conundrums.

    Enjoy garden-inspired stories alongside BBG volunteers at the Discovery Garden’s Woodland boardwalk. Drop in anytime to join—we welcome readers (and pre-readers) of all ages!

    This drop-in story time is part of our Family Discovery Weekends program series, which is free with admission.

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    Support

    Major Supporter
    National Grid logo

    Lightscape

    Lightscape logo

    Email Signup

    About Lightscape

    NYC’S Most Dazzling Light Show

    Experience the magic of Lightscape! The after-dark, illuminated trail returns to Brooklyn with brand new works of art and promises an even more immersive and magical experience for visitors of all ages.

    Explore the beauty of the Garden under moonlight while enjoying seasonal treats and festive music. There is no better way to celebrate winter and the holiday season with friends and family!

    November 17, 2023–January 1, 2024

    Image Gallery

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    Tickets

    On Value Nights, adult tickets are just $24; $12 for kids ages 3 to 12!

     
    Off-Peak Peak
    Member Adult $24 $29
    Member Child (3–12) $12 $14
    Adult $34 $39
    Child (3–12) $17 $19
    Baby (0–2) free free

    Prices do not include service fees. Lightscape runs on select nights, please check calendar.

    Event Dates

    Ticket Types:  Peak  Off-Peak  Value Night

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    Know before you go

    About the Experience

    What is the Lightscape experience?

    Visitors to Lightscape make their way along a winding trail through BBG’s landscape, awash in artistic lighting design. Along the way, they’ll encounter monumental lighted sculptures, colorful effects on BBG’s trees, architecture, and water features, and site-specific music and sound.

    The trail begins at the Visitor Center and ends at 150 Eastern Parkway. Ticket times are staggered so groups can comfortably stroll the trail with family and friends.

    Click or tap below for full-size map.

    Show larger map A yellow line indicates a route looping into the Garden from the Visitor Center. Along the route are stars and icons showing locations of installations, food & drink, and bathrooms.

    Can I explore the Garden on my own?

    Only the trail itself is open to evening visitors. There are points along the trail where visitors can spread out, grab a treat or hot drink, or stop for great photo ops.

    Is it accessible to individuals with disabilities?

    The trail paths are wheelchair accessible. There are some lighting sequences that have flashing lights contained within them; however, there is no strobe lighting. Individuals who will be accompanied by personal care assistants may contact customer service for accommodation.

    If I visit during the day, can I stay into the evening?

    No, the Garden will close each day at 3:30 p.m. during the run of this event. Only individuals with Lightscape tickets will be admitted in the evenings.

    How late does it run?

    The last entry time for Lightscape most nights is 8:15 p.m. and the show closes nightly at 9 p.m.

    Ticket Information

    How do I get tickets?

    Showclix is the Garden’s official ticket provider.

    Can I purchase a ticket by phone?

    Visitors who are unable to use the online ticketing module can reserve tickets by calling ShowClix between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 866-220-4001.

    How do I get my member discount?

    Sign in to the ticketing site as a member, just as you do for admission tickets. Members may also purchase full-price tickets for guests beyond the number included in their membership level.

    If my plans change, can I transfer my ticket to another date?

    You may exchange live tickets by contacting Showclix in advance of your visit at 866-220-4001 or by chat at support.showclix.com ($10 exchange fee per order). Customer support is available 10 a.m.–6 p.m. (Sundays by chat only); after hours you may leave a message or submit a contact form. There are no refunds; tickets for past dates may not be exchanged.

    What happens if the weather turns bad after we buy tickets?

    Lightscape takes place in all weather, but, of course, if a weather event presents a risk to safety, the Garden may need to cancel an evening. If so, you will be notified about the cancellation and the rebooking process via email and/or SMS before 2 p.m. the day of your visit.

    Dining: Trail Fare & Lightscape Lodge

    Are there places to eat?

    Concessions selling hot drinks and light fare are available along the route, and more substantial meals can be found at the Lightscape Canteen. Please have your credit card ready, as most are cashless concessions. Feel free to browse the menus and locations in advance of your visit. Outside food and drink are not permitted.

    On select evenings in December, join us for a winter-inspired, three-course prix fixe dinner at Lightscape Lodge inside the Garden’s Lillian and Amy Goldman Atrium. Reservations are encouraged and separate Lightscape tickets are required to hold your spot. Walk-ins will be welcomed if space permits.

    Tips for Your Visit

    How should I dress?

    This is an outdoor event, so please come prepared for the elements by wearing appropriate footwear and dressing warmly. Umbrellas are allowed on the trail, we just ask that you are courteous of others when using.

    When should I arrive?

    Our goal is to speed admission by staggering ticket sales, although there may still be a short wait at the entrance. Your entry window is printed on your tickets. Please do not arrive more than 15 minutes early.

    How much time should we allow?

    That depends on your pace and how often you stop. However, as a general rule, you should allow approximately 90 minutes.

    Is there parking?

    Yes, attended parking (for a fee) is available at 900 Washington Avenue. Parking is limited, so we encourage visitors to take public transportation if they are able. Learn more about directions and parking.

    Are there places to shop?

    The Garden Shop is open in the Visitor Center.

    Can I take pictures?

    Absolutely. However, tripods, drones, and commercial photography are not allowed. Please tag @BrooklynBotanic and #LightscapeBrooklyn.

    Are strollers allowed?

    Yes, strollers are allowed. Please leave scooters and bikes at home.

    Can I bring my pet?

    No pets or emotional support animals are allowed. Service animals as defined by the ADA are always permitted.

    Plan Your Visit

    Ticketholders can find detailed information at bbg.org/lightscape-tips.

    Lead Sponsor

    Con Edison logo

    In partnership with Sony Music
    Illuminated trail created by Culture Creative

    Sony logo

    Join us in celebration of spring’s bounty as we highlight collections in bloom against a backdrop of lively tunes by Brooklyn Bluegrass Collective. Wine and other light refreshments will be served.

    Event RSVP

    This invitation is for two and is nontransferable. Enter the email address for your President's Circle membership to register.

    President’s Circle members provide essential financial support to the Garden and enjoy a deepened connection through special behind-the-scenes tours, private previews, and exclusive receptions. Learn more

    New York City is not exactly known for its plants. In order to truly be surrounded by nature, to take in its wonders, people often insist on driving upstate.

    But I’d argue that “nature” isn’t just a lake or an oak forest. It’s pigeons and starlings, dogs and roaches, it’s you and me, it’s the cherry or linden tree outside your window. And it’s in the most unexpected places, like between cracks in the sidewalk under your feet. 

    We call them weeds. But even the most tiny and unassuming plants can have intriguing histories, conflicts, and uses. For example, this little weed you’ve certainly seen hundreds of times:

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    Garlic mustard plants form short clusters of rosette-shaped leaves by mid-summer of their first year. The young leaves smell garlicky when crushed. Photo by A. Delray - Forest Vixen / Flickr.

    Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). And if it sounds pretty delicious, that’s because it can be. 

    Garlic mustard is a biennial, which means it takes two years to mature and produce seeds. First-year garlic mustard sticks close to the ground, developing scalloped, heart-shaped leaves. It kind of looks like wild ginger or creeping Charlie. In its second year, it shoots up tall and its leaves become triangular, with tiny, white, four-petaled flowers.

    You know how we refer to broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage as “cruciferous” vegetables? That’s because of these four-petaled flowers, which resemble a crucifix. Lots of things we eat are cruciferous, including all mustards. Just in case you needed an excuse to think about Jesus every time you eat a hot dog.

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    In the early spring of their second year, garlic mustard plants produce small white flowers with four petals. Photo by Plant Image Library / Flickr.

    Garlic mustard’s taproot does taste horseradish-y (also a member of the Brassicaceae, or mustard family). And its leaves are technically edible, too. It contains very small amounts of cyanide, which can be alleviated by chopping and cooking it. When you crush it between your fingers, it smells deliciously garlicky.

    There are a lot of recipes on the internet for garlic mustard. You can make pesto, wasabi, salad dressing, deviled eggs. I got optimistic when I saw these rave reviews in foraging guides, though I’ve tried to eat it several times in myriad ways—fried, boiled, blanched—and I’ve gotta say, it’s extremely bitter. In my opinion, only the freshest new leaves in the spring are sweet enough to eat.

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    Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is considered an invasive species in the U.S., where it has spread aggressively in forests and wooded areas. Photo by Bryan Siders / Flickr.

    Garlic mustard grows... well, everywhere, but you might begin to spot it when it sprouts in early spring. It especially thrives in dappled shade, and can be found in areas where there’s a lot of foot traffic.

    Each plant can produce hundreds, sometimes thousands, of seeds that travel by wind or hitch a ride on our shoes. Which is kind of cool—a marvel of nature’s resilience—when you stumble upon it in a street tree bed, or in an abandoned lot. (You should probably not eat plants that you find in city tree beds and abandoned lots.)

    But it’s less cool when it makes its way into the city’s forested areas. See, garlic mustard was brought to the Americas by European settlers who used it in dishes like salt fish and roast lamb. Apparently, it was also occasionally used to treat mouth ulcers and sore throats. But in Europe, there are dozens of insects that eat the pungent weed. Here, few insects and animals are attracted to it, and it has proliferated across much of the U.S.

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    First-year garlic mustard in the understory of a forested area in Canada. Photo by Ryan Hodnett / Wikimedia Commons.

    And therein lies the conflict. Garlic mustard is a colonizer, of sorts—it has been associated with declines in native plants. It releases chemicals into the soil that can impede the growth of nearby plants, potentially killing the mycorrhizal fungi that partner with them, and it’s able to create a thick groundcover that can outcompete native plants. It’s also been shown to disrupt the life cycle of the West Virginia white butterfly.

    No wonder it’s a bane of conservationist gardeners everywhere. They can make a dent in small populations by pulling it in the early spring, before it develops its seeds. But once it takes over a large area, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate. There is some evidence that over the course of many years, it can die off on its own. Still, it can set back other plants during that time.

    So the next time you’re out on a walk this spring, keep an eye (and a nose) out for the delicious, villainous, imported garlic mustard. It may look unassuming, but to foragers and gardeners, it can be a blessing or a curse.

    Note: Forage safely! Only harvest if you have permission; most parks and gardens in New York City don’t allow visitors to remove plants. Make sure you accurately identify any plant you eat, and avoid collecting from a site you can’t confirm is free of lead or other toxins.

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    I moved into an apartment last spring with a large raised bed that was full of mugwort and chickweed, with a little patch of irises and daffodils. The soil was very compacted and sandy, but the area gets great light, and I was excited to have a growing space for the first time. 

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    Hester’s raised bed before planting. Photo courtesy of Hester Griffin.
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    Hester's raised bed after planting. Photo courtesy of Hester Griffin.

    Gardening can be surprisingly expensive, especially when you’re starting from scratch. Between soil, plants, containers, tools, and more, it’s possible—though not necessary—to spend a lot of money on even a modest plot.

    In my case, I spent about $200 on 15 small native perennial plants to get the flower bed started. I plan on staying in this apartment for a long time, so I bought the smallest (i.e., least expensive) plants available and let them grow, planting the rest of the area with seeds. I look forward to watching them fill in the space over the years, and adding more plants as I can afford to.

    Rest assured, however: You can garden for far less. I was able to source most of my other materials cheaply or for free, from seeds and tools to local compost.

    Whether you have a backyard garden, community garden plot, pots on a stoop, or a street tree bed you’d like to take care of, here are some tips to help you get started without draining your bank account.

    Soil

    The first thing you need to start gardening is soil. (Unless you’re working in a street tree bed! Adding soil can damage the tree.) Soil can be expensive to purchase in large quantities, not to mention a logistical challenge for city growers.

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    The Clean Soil Bank stockpile in East New York, Brooklyn. Photo by Sara Perl Egendorf.

    The NYC Clean Soil Bank offers free soil for certain recipients, including construction projects and community and school gardens. If you’re part of a community garden or school garden, they will deliver up to six cubic yards of soil to your site. Community gardens can also register with GreenThumb, the NYC Parks’ Department urban gardening program, to request many free resources from the city, including bulk soil, compost, and mulch.

    If you decide to buy soil, I recommend buying in larger amounts, which is always cheaper. Check with your local nursery to see if they will give you a discount for buying in bulk. If you don’t need or have space for that much soil, you could coordinate with neighbors or friends to split an order.

    If you don’t have a car, getting a lot of soil will be tricky—but it’s another great reason to connect with other gardeners, some of whom may also need soil (and have access to a car). You will only need to get a lot of soil once. After that, you can just add small amounts of amendments every year.

    If you are starting a garden and using existing soil, it’s important to test it for lead and other heavy metals, as well as pH and nutrient levels. One of the most affordable ways to get your soil tested is to send samples to the Urban Soils Lab at Brookyn College, which costs $20 for a lead screening and pH test.

    Compost

    Compost is an incredible soil amendment that makes use of all of your food scraps and saves a valuable resource from the landfill.

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    Bags of compost from a compost giveback event. Photo by Hester Griffin.

    If you have the time and space, you can start your own compost pile. There are many ways to compost at home that can work for different spaces. Some are more DIY, like making a chicken wire compost bin or building a box with old pallets. If you don’t have space for outdoor compost, you can start a vermicompost bin inside.

    One way to get free compost in New York City is to look for a compost giveback event through the Department of Sanitation. If you go this route, make sure to reserve early, because spots fill up very fast. Nonprofits and community gardens can request deliveries. Local organizations like Red Hook Farms also sometimes offer compost givebacks for community members and greening programs; check their Instagram page for events this spring.

    An important caveat: New York City recently eliminated funding for community composting, affecting New Yorkers’ ability to access free compost, food scrap drop-off sites, and other invaluable services. Sign the GrowNYC petition to help restore funding for community composting!

    Mulch

    There are many sources of free mulch in New York City. You can pick up wood chips at Green-Wood Cemetery (go to the entrance at 500 25th Street and ask the guard for directions) anytime during open hours. Bring your own shovel and bags.

    Some local tree pruning companies will also deliver large quantities of free mulch upon request. And at Mulchfest, an annual December–January event, you can exchange an old Christmas tree for a free bag of mulch.

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    You can also chop up your own (or a neighbor's) Christmas tree to use as mulch. Photo by Hester Griffin.

    Another source of mulch is chaff from coffee or chocolate roasters. If you live near a roaster, ask them if you can take their leftover chaff. They may be happy to see it getting used. The chaff is great as mulch, or it can be added to your compost, providing lots of nitrogen.

    Finally, leave the leaves! Leaves are a great free source of mulch, and they might already be where you need them to be. This is a good option if you don’t have access to a car.

    Collect fallen leaves from your block in the fall and spread them on your containers or garden beds. (It’s best to chop or shred them before spreading, if you can, so they don’t mat when they get rained on.) You can also leave annuals to decompose in place for instant, effortless mulch.

    Seeds

    Starting plants from seed is always cheaper than buying seedlings or larger plants.

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    A recent seed swap hosted by the author. Photo by Hester Griffin.

    For free seeds, look around for seed swaps, which are sometimes hosted by libraries, nonprofits, block associations, and individuals. If you can’t find one, start your own with friends and neighbors. Community gardens also offer plenty of opportunities for seed-sharing.

    Swaps are great not only for exchanging seeds, but for making connections with other gardeners, which can lead to sharing other resources, help with heavy projects like spreading wood chips, and general camaraderie.

    You can also save seeds! When your plants go to seed, collect the seeds and store them in a paper envelope in a cool, dry, dark location to start indoors or plant outside the following year. This can be done with annuals or perennials.

    Note that saved seeds may be different from the parent plant, unless you grow the plant especially for seed saving and ensure that no cross pollination happens.

    Plants

    Many plants can be started by taking cuttings of another plant. This technique works well for shrubs, trees, many types of herbs and perennials, and houseplants.

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    A fig tree cutting. Photo by Hester Griffin.

    If you decide to start plants from cuttings, look up what time of year is best to take cuttings from that plant and check which type (stem, shoot tip, leaf, or root) works best. Another way to create more plants from what you already have is to divide them. Many herbaceous perennial flowers and herbs can be divided every year.

    If you decide to buy plants, the smallest plants are always the most affordable. Smaller plant starts, especially perennials, will also grow to be healthier plants. Larger, more mature plants can become root-bound and have a harder time acclimating to being replanted. In general, perennials are usually a better investment than annuals, which need to be replaced every year.

    It’s also worth noting that the very cheapest source of garden plants (like big box store sale racks) may not have the healthiest stock. Check out farmer’s markets, local nurseries with knowledgeable staff, or not-for-profit nurseries like Lowlands Nursery.

    Community gardens and block associations also often host annual spring plant sales with GrowNYC, and Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosts a plant sale in the fall.

    Above all, go for plants that are suited to your site conditions, and look up their growing requirements. Experimentation is great—but if you’re buying plants on a budget, a bit of research can help ensure longevity.

    Containers, Accessories, & Tools

    There are lots of fancy containers out there, but pretty much any container can be used to grow a plant as long as air and water can freely move through it. Milk jugs, crates, burlap sacks, buckets, pallets... even old boots! All of these can be acquired for free, and easily fitted with drainage holes.

    {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/HG_old-boots-as-planters.jpg"}
    A pair of old boots can be upcycled into a micro-planter. Try small plants like alyssum, pansies, or thyme (and remember to drill holes in the bottom). Photo by Hester Griffin.

    It’s also easy to spend money on things like stakes, trellises, and tomato towers, but you can often fashion these yourself. Try using sticks or old broom handles and twine, or borrow used ones from fellow gardeners.

    If you are just starting out, you will need a few tools. There are many things you can do with your hands, but these tools will make the work easier and faster. Here are my recommendations:


    The only things I would buy new are gloves and pruners. Otherwise, many of these tools can be bought used on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, or found for free on your local Buy Nothing group. (Be sure to clean them.)

    Happy gardening!

    As part of the North American Japanese Garden Association’s annual Gardens for Peace project, which brings communities together in Japanese gardens to promote peace, BBG will feature free public programming in and around the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden.

    Check back this summer for more information.

    Bring a picnic, purchase a cocktail, and enjoy a summer evening celebrating Brooklyn’s West Indian community.

    Presented in partnership with I AM caribBEING.

    Reserve Tickets

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    Join us for a movie under the stars! Bring a blanket, grab some snacks, and enjoy the show. Our movie selection will be announced soon.

    Reserve Tickets

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    Enjoy outdoor story time with Drag Story Hour, a musical performance by Hopalong Andrew, and family-friendly activities in the Plant Family Collection.

    Reserve Tickets

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    Pack a picnic and enjoy a special live performance on a lovely summer evening.

    Reserve Tickets

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    Pack a picnic and enjoy a special live performance on a lovely summer evening.

    Reserve Tickets

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    Celebrate Pride at BBG! Members, guests, and friends are invited for an evening of queer community, cohosted by Queer Soup Night.

    Join Plant Kween on a tour of the Aquatic House and Tropical Pavilion, enjoy Drag Story Hour for children and families, plus a family-friendly community activity presented by our Discovery Garden team, on the Plant Family Collection lawn, dance to a live salsa performance by Las Mariquitas, and stop by Cherry Esplanade for a meetup hosted by Queer Soup Night all evening. Be sure to BYO picnic and blanket!

    Reserve Tickets

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    Cherry Esplanade is a broad green lawn bordered by allées of flowering cherry and red oak trees. The double-flowering ‘Kanzan’ cherries typically bloom at the end of April, one of the highlights of spring.

    Along the eastern and western edges of Cherry Esplanade are allées of scarlet oak trees, the Liberty Oaks, planted in remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001, and those who lost their lives that day.

    Cherry Walk is a meandering path east of Cherry Esplanade and behind the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. The trees here include double rows of ‘Kanzan’ cherries at the northern end and a wide variety of other cultivars along the southern end. Some of these cultivars are among the earliest to bloom during cherry blossom season.

    Cherry Blossom Season

    Hanami is a centuries-old Japanese tradition of flower viewing. Spring cherry blossoms are cherished for their ephemeral nature and are thought to represent the impermanence of life. An individual tree may only bloom for a week or two, depending on the weather; different kinds of trees bloom over the course of five to six weeks. Cherry trees usually begin to flower in late March. The Garden tracks blooms on CherryWatch.

    Highlights

    {embed="includes/photoset" photoset_entry_id="5165"}

    Video

    See a time lapse video of Cherry Walk as it reaches peak bloom!

     

    Learn More

    CherryWatch
    Can You Predict When the Cherries Will Blossom?
    Eight Things You Probably Don’t Know About Flowering Cherry Trees
    Identifying Flowering Cherry Cultivars
    Flowering Cherry Trees for Your Own Garden

    Left on its own, all organic matter will eventually break down through the action of hungry bacteria and fungi as well as larger creatures such as worms, sow bugs, and centipedes. These decomposers consume decaying plant material and convert it into humus.

    Composting speeds up this natural process. In just a few months, you can potentially create a topsoil-like amendment that would have taken decades to form naturally. It can then be added to your soil to improve its structure—allowing air and water to enter easily and be retained.

    Learn About Composting

    The average household throws away 2 pounds of organic waste each day—vegetable cuttings, fruit peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, and yard trimmings that could instead be composted. When we discard organic waste, we not only lose precious landfill space but also miss out on a valuable resource that can help beautify parks, gardens, and lawns.

    Current Classes

    Classes with available seats only

    Celebrate the bright days of summer with a vibrant arrangement featuring cheerful, colorful and fragrant flowers. Using a variety of summertime blooms and textured greenery, you'll create a garden-inspired tabletop arrangement reminiscent of the season. The instructor will offer step-by-step instruction—from palette selection and flower care to professional techniques for crafting a lush and unique floral arrangement.

    Learn some next steps in floral design mechanics from natural techniques to bending chicken wire.

    Bring that beautiful but odd vase that you got as a gift and work with the instructor to figure out how to make a beautiful floral arrangement that complements your container. You bring the vase, the instructor brings the flowers...together you’ll make a fine duet. Please bring your own shears.

    Dawn Petter teaches classes about the art of plant-based healing with the aim of making herbs and herbal medicine applicable to people's daily lives. She incorporates her training from Arbor Vitae School of Traditional Herbalism with her natural creative flare. In addition to teaching, Dawn works as a herbalist and flower-essence practitioner, leads herb walks, and runs an online apothecary shop called Petalune Herbals.

    Medicinal plants have been used for aperitifs and digestifs for centuries. Learning how to infuse the different botanical flavors, including aromatics and bitters, into our nonalcoholic drinks can add new tastes, complexity, and health benefits that may be as unfamiliar as some of the plants themselves. This class will introduce you to the wonders of using leaves, flowers, barks, seeds, and berries in a range of alcohol-free beverages. Recipes, tastings, and two mocktail elixirs will be made in class for you to use at home. 

    In this class we will work with basic design principles to extend our abilities in compostable floral arrangements. We will borrow techniques from the Japanese floral design practice of ikebana and use materials such as agrawool to keep our arrangements more precise and stable.

    Herbal oxymels are an herbal vinegar-and-honey-infused tonic. Oxymels make for a delicious addition to soups and dressings. Learn more about herbal oxymels and make your own to take home.

    If you’re new to tree identification or need a refresher, this class is for you. You’ll learn the fundamental concepts used in dendrology while being introduced to the Garden’s most common trees. The class will share some relevant botanical terminology, but will largely apply a jargon-free approach to learning one’s trees. Participants will also receive recommendations for resources and strategies to improve their own independent self-study. Awareness of trees is one of the best portals into creating a closer relationship with land and nature!

    Heather Wolf is a Brooklyn-based birder and author of Birding at the Bridge: In Search of Every Bird on the Brooklyn Waterfront. She works for Cornell Lab of Ornithology as a web developer for such sites as eBird and Birds of North America. Heather has taught birding classes at Brooklyn Brainery, given lectures for various organizations, including NYC Audubon and Brooklyn Public Library, and has led bird walks for Brooklyn Bridge Park, Washington Square Park Eco Projects, Florida Trail Association, and more.

    Learn how to find and identify birds at the height of spring migration! Each class will consist of 30 minutes of classroom instruction followed by 90 minutes of instruction and field birding on the Garden grounds.

    Roses are one of the most beautiful and praised flowers. They’ve been valued for centuries in many cultures and have been cultivated and hybridized worldwide. Learn about the beauty, history, and legacy of the adored and exalted rose. Each variety has a unique scent; we’ll discuss the different notes found in them and learn to pick out the subtle differences. A walk in the Cranford Rose Garden will provide a myriad of examples as we compare them side by side. After our walk, you will have an opportunity to create a rose perfume at our very own Perfume Bar. Each attendee will leave with a quarter-ounce vial of perfume and a fragrant bouquet of paper roses.

    Julianne Zaleta is a professional herbalist, aromatherapist, and natural perfumer. As the proprietor of the Brooklyn-based Alchemologie Natural Perfume, she crafts artisanal and bespoke perfumes as well as aromatic and therapeutic remedies and elixirs for a wide variety of ailments. She is a certified aromatherapist as well as a licensed massage therapist and meditation teacher.

    Take in the beauty of the life that surrounds us in the Garden—awakening our senses and spirit to support equanimity and peace. We will walk in various open spaces and paths residing in our moment to moment experience.

    No experience with meditation necessary. Bring a little notepad and pencil.

    Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship into a sacred bond.
    Robin Wall Kimmerer

    Tai chi and qigong exercises improve balance, increase blood circulation, relax your mind and body, and increase your internal energy. The instructor will demonstrate movements. Please come prepared in clothing that allows for movement.

    Examine the art of natural perfumery. Gain a basic understanding of the sense of smell, the history of perfume, the advent of synthetic ingredients, and the return to naturals. Explore perfume ingredients and formulation, and leave with two bottles of your own bespoke perfume.

    Tai chi and qigong exercises improve balance, increase blood circulation, relax your mind and body, and increase your internal energy. The instructor will demonstrate movements. Please come prepared in clothing that allows for movement.

    Get a crash course in vegetable gardening! In this class you will learn the basics of how to grow vegetables including how to do a site assessment, amend your soil, plan what to grow, choose seeds, grow seedlings, plant, transplant, water, weed, use organic pest control, and harvest. You can also take home seedlings to get started or to add to your garden.

    Get your hands dirty learning how to properly replant a houseplant and a succulent using potting mixes you've created here. You'll learn the purpose of each soil ingredient, how plant needs vary, and how to create your own fertilizers. You'll leave with 2 repotted plants, an informative handout, a small container of your own handmade potting soil and one of ready-to-use fertilizer, and a carry bag.

    Immerse yourself in a full day of native gardening instruction in this indoor/outdoor class at BBG. Learn the principles and best practices to create a robust native garden filled with life. We will also explore native plants at BBG that you might use in your own garden, and discuss the conditions that they thrive in.

    Learn the essentials of pollination ecology and pollinator landscape design from the author of The Pollinator Victory Garden: Win the War on Pollinator Decline with Ecological Landscaping. We will cover plant reproduction and pollination strategies, key pollinators that can be supported in managed landscapes, pollination syndromes, plant preferences and coevolutionary plant-pollinator associations, ecological design principles that maximize pollinator support, and best practices for selecting pollinator-supportive plants.

    Learn how to transplant, root-prune, and repot root-bound plants.

    An archival skill developed by ancient Egyptians is still used today to preserve the earth’s botanical world. Creating herbariums is a traditional practice of preserving the world’s pressed plants. New York Botanical Garden educator and herbalist Arvolyn Hill shows how to press flowers for museum quality specimens or art. During this two-part workshop, Arvolyn will show proper ways to press plants and the art of plant preservation.

    Learn to make the right plant choices to suit the conditions of your home or office space. 

    Get Tickets Become a Member Complete Hours & Admission › Entrances: 150 Eastern Parkway 455 Flatbush Avenue 990 Washington Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11225 Directions & Parking › Visitor FAQ Answers to Top Questions › Accessibility ›…

  1. Visit

    Hours & Admission

    Discover BBG’s plants and gardens in peak bloom and other highlights of the season in this free walk led by trained Garden Guides.

    Free with Garden admission. No registration necessary.

    Please note tours can be canceled due to inclement weather. Check this page for updates.

    Get Tickets Become a Member

    Learn and play together in the Discovery Garden! Hands-on stations throughout this area encourage families, school groups, and camp groups to explore nature alongside our teenage Garden Apprentices. Be sure to Discover Pollinators!this summer, too!

    This is a drop-in program for children of all ages. For school and camp groups, we request a ratio of no more than 10 children per adult. Free with Garden admission.

    All programs are outdoors and canceled in inclement weather. Check this webpage for updates.

    Support

    Major Supporter, Discovery Programs

    National Grid logo

    Discover BBG’s plants and gardens in peak bloom and other highlights of the season in this free walk led by trained Garden Guides.

    Free with Garden admission. No registration necessary.

    Please note tours can be canceled due to inclement weather. Check this page for updates.

    Get Tickets Become a Member

    Registration for fall classes opens on Monday, June 24, 2024 at 9 a.m.

    Cultivate a love of nature and a connection to plants in your kids by signing up for a Children’s Garden class at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Children aged 2 to 13 can plant their own crops and flowers and harvest them under the guidance of garden instructors.

    See class descriptions, section schedules, and fees below. Be sure to note age requirements and other qualifications.

    Age Requirements
    • For pre-K sections, children must be 4 years old or turn 4 within a month after the program start date.
    • For Trees & Saplings, children must be 2 or 3 years old, or turn 2 within a month after the program start date.
    Program Guidelines & Info

    Registrations are processed on a first-come, first-served basis in the order that payment is received; note that Children's Garden classes fill quickly.

    Drop-Off/Pickup

    • Adults should approach the gate for drop-off and enter the Children’s Garden for pickup at group tables.
    • Participants enrolled in classes that begin before 10 a.m. must use the 455 Flatbush Avenue entrance for drop-off. This gate opens 15 minutes prior to your program’s start time.
    • Participants must show their class confirmation email to a staff member at the admission desk to enter the Garden for both drop-off and pickup.

    Snacks

    • All lunches and snacks will be eaten picnic-style outdoors.
    • All snacks and lunches must be nut-free.

    Safety Protocols

    • Children should wear clothing that can get dirty and closed-toe shoes (no sandals). Bring a water bottle, hat, sunblock, and insect repellent.
    • All activities are facilitated outdoors in various weather conditions; during severe weather, class may be moved to indoor spaces.
    • Hand-washing stations are located throughout the garden.
    • BBG staff do not administer medication of any kind. Staff can supervise campers as they self-administer medication that has been packed by caregivers. Staff can help administer EpiPens in an emergency.
    • If your child is showing signs of illness, they should not attend the program.

    Weather Policy

    • Programs take place rain or shine, in various weather conditions.
    • Class may be moved indoors during long periods of heavy rain or heat.
    • We will notify you of any severe-weather cancellations as soon as possible.

    Additional Support

    • Please inform us of any additional support your child needs to have a fun, successful experience in the garden. Our staffing is assigned based on the needs of the students enrolled in the program each season.
    • Let us know of any special needs, allergies, or health concerns in advance. For example: Does your child require one-to-one support or other accommodation in a school setting?
    • We are happy to set up a virtual meeting or phone call before the program begins to discuss. Please contact the Children’s Garden staff at [email protected].

    Class Withdrawal

    • There are no refunds for single-session family programs, exchanges are allowed in advance of the program date.
    • According to our cancellation policy, we are able to provide a refund (less a $25 administrative fee) if you cancel your enrollment at least ten business days before the start date of the class, no exceptions.
    Code of Conduct
    • Children’s Garden participants of all ages will treat their peers, teen garden apprentices, and instructors with respect.
    • Children’s Garden participants will stay with their group leaders at all times.
    • Children’s Garden participants will follow directions, use tools and materials safely, use appropriate language, and maintain the personal space of others.

    Please read and discuss these expectations with your child. If your child is unable to follow these participation requirements or if their behavior endangers others or prevents an instructor’s ability to lead their group, Children’s Garden staff will inform the parent in person or via phone or email. If multiple incidents occur, parents may be asked to withdraw their child from the program. Refunds will not be given for behavior-related withdrawals.

    By registering for the Children’s Garden program, I agree to the participation requirements above.

    Scholarships

    NEW: Scholarship applications must be submitted before class registration.

    • A limited number of need-based scholarships are available for Children’s Garden participants, distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • Scholarship recipients will receive a voucher code to use for online registration. Participants who are granted a voucher code must register online when registration opens. Remember, spots fill quickly.
    • Scholarships are need-based. Those who receive a full scholarship are required to pay a $50 commitment fee.
    • Scholarships are granted for a program season (spring, summer, fall) and may not be available for more than one season per participant, depending on the number of scholarship applicants.
    • Consistent attendance is required for scholarship recipients; lack of attendance may affect eligibility for future seasons.
    • Applications for fall are now open. The Registration office will begin reviewing fall season applications on Monday, June 3, 2024.

    Apply for a scholarship

    Class Registration

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden uses the Active platform to manage class registrations. You will be asked to create an account for yourself and family members.

    You may view your registration records or update your profile settings in Active. Please note: Active offers a paid membership program; you are not required to participate. Member prices for classes are for BBG members and do not extend to Active passport members.

    SPRING & FALL FAMILY PROGRAMS

    For children with an adult

    • Father and daughter sit next to raised bed.

      Family Gardening Hours

      For children of all ages plus an adult
      Single session in April, June, or September

      This is a one-time program for kids of all ages and their caregivers. Join educators at activity stations throughout the Children’s Garden. Plant seeds, water vegetables and flowers, create nature crafts, taste fresh produce, dig in soil, and more! Participants are welcome to register for multiple classes, but activities will repeat. Programs take place rain or shine!

      One adult-child pair must register to participate together. Up to three children or adults may be added.

      Dates, Fees & Policy for Family Gardening Hours

      This is not a drop-off program. One adult-child pair must register to participate.

      Dates

      • Easter Weekend: March 29, 30, 2024 | 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
      • Spring Break: April 23, 24, 25, or 26, 2024 | 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
      • June Out-of-School Days: June 6, 7, 27, or 28, 2024 | 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
      • Rosh Hashanah: Thursday, October 3, 2024 | 2–3:30 p.m
      • Diwali: Friday, November 1, 2024 | 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.

      Cost

      • $35 adult-child pair (nonmember)/$30 adult-child pair (member)
      • $18/$15 (member) for each additional adult or child in the group (up to 3 additional, 5 total)
      • Cost includes Garden admission.

      Participation Requirements

      • One adult-child pair must register; may add up to 3 adults or children.
      • There are no refunds. Exchanges are subject to availability and must be made prior to event date.
      • Children should wear clothing that can get dirty and closed-toe shoes (no sandals).
      • Please register on the waitlist if you wish to attend on a date that is sold out; you will be contacted if space opens.
      • Class registration includes Garden admission before or after the program; see bbg.org/visit to confirm hours. Show your ticket at any entrance to enter.

      Register for Family Garden Hours program

    • A young child planting a seedling in soil.

      Trees & Saplings

      For 2- and 3-year-olds with an adult
      7 weekly sessions beginning in April or September

      Learn about the wonders of gardening with your two- or three-year-old during this active hands-on program offered during spring and fall. Our youngest gardeners work with their adult partner to tend to their garden plots, sing songs, taste new foods, and create nature crafts.

      Consistent weekly attendance of one adult per child is required.

      Trees & Saplings FAQ

      Dates, Fees & Policy for Trees & Saplings

      This is not a drop-off program. Consistent weekly attendance of one adult per child is required. Fee includes one adult and one child. No additional children including infants or older siblings, please.

      Fall Classes

      • 7 Wednesdays: September 11–October 23, 2024 | 9:30–10:30 a.m.
      • 7 Wednesdays: September 11–October 23, 2024 | 11 a.m.–12 p.m.
      • 7 Thursdays: September 12–October 24, 2024 | 9:30–10:30 a.m.
      • 7 Thursdays: September 12–October 24, 2024 | 11 a.m.–12 p.m.
      • 7 Fridays: September 6–October 25, 2024 (no class October 11) | 4–5:30 p.m.
      • 7 Saturdays: September 7–October 26, 2024 (no class October 12) | 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.

      Cost

      • 60-minute sections: $250 nonmember/$225 member
      • 90-minute sections: $350 nonmember/$325 member
      • In addition, there is a 4.5% registration fee for all classes.

      Participation Requirements

      • One hour and 1.5-hour programs are offered. We recommend the 1.5-hour class for 3-year-olds or returning families.
      • The class is for one adult-child pair only; no siblings or additional adults please.
      • Children should wear clothing that can get dirty and closed-toe shoes (no sandals).

      Register for Trees & Saplings

    SPRING & FALL DROP-OFF PROGRAMS

    For children on their own

    • A beaming girl holds a zucchini as big as her torso in an outdoor garden.

      Seeds

      For 4, 5, and 6-year-olds
      7 weekly sessions beginning in April or September

      Seeds work together in small groups to care for their garden plots and participate in cooking, exploring the wonderful outdoors, crafting, and other fun activities.

      Dates, Fees & Policy for Seeds

      This is a drop-off program.

      Fall Classes

      • 7 Fridays: September 6–October 25, 2024 (no class October 11) | 4–5:30 p.m.
      • 7 Saturdays: September 7–October 26, 2024 (no class October 12) | 10 a.m.–12 p.m.

      Cost

      • Friday Classes: $250 nonmember/$225 member
      • Saturday Classes: $315 nonmember/$290 member
      • In addition, there is a 4.5% registration fee for all classes.

      Participation Requirements

      • For pre-K classes, children must be 4 years old or turn 4 within a month after the program start date.

      Register for Seeds

    • An adult and 3 young children explore a planting bed in a vegetable garden.

      City Farmers

      For 7- to 13-year-olds
      7 weekly sessions beginning in April or September

      City Farmers dig gardening! Students develop basic horticulture skills to bring garden plots to life with fresh, seasonal vegetables and enjoy crafting, cooking, nature exploration, and other hands-on activities.

      Dates, Fees & Policy for City Farmers

      This is a drop-off program.

      Fall Classes

      • 7 Fridays: September 6–October 25, 2024 (no class October 11) | 4–5:30 p.m.
      • 7 Saturdays: September 7–October 26, 2024 (no class October 12) | 10 a.m.–12 p.m.

      Cost

      • Friday Classes: $250 nonmember/$225 member
      • Saturday Classes: $315 nonmember/$290 member
      • In addition, there is a 4.5% registration fee for all classes.

      Register for City Farmers

    SUMMER DROP-OFF PROGRAMS

    • Four children steer a wheelbarrow through a busy vegetable garden.

      Garden Adventures

      For 4- to 13-year-olds
      Wednesday–Friday for two weeks in July or August

      This 6-session program incorporates planting, harvesting, science experiments, and nature art projects. Groups take home fresh veggies, investigate compost, cook with garden produce, and learn about garden’s fascinating creatures, including worms, pollinators, fungi, and more! Participants are encouraged to choose one session as activities will be repeated.

      Dates, Fees & Policy for Garden Adventures

      Summer Sessions

      • July 10–19, 2024 | Wednesday/Thursday/Friday 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
      • July 24–August 2, 2024 | Wednesday/Thursday/Friday 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
      • August 7–August 16, 2024 | Wednesday/Thursday/Friday 9 a.m.–1 p.m.

      Cost

      • $425 nonmember/$400 member
      • In addition, there is a 4.5% registration fee for all classes.

      Register for Garden Adventures

    Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program

    • {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/manual/hero/_list_thumbnail_regular/kids-at-bcap.jpg"}

      BCAP Summer Camp

      For students ages 7–10
      10-day sessions start in July

      Go behind the scenes of Brooklyn’s most treasured cultural institutions—Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Children's Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park Alliance, and Prospect Park Zoo—in this two-week summer day camp. Adventurers take part in fun, hands-on experiences that weave connections between art, world culture, literature, history, nature, technology, and science. Register early. Financial aid available.

      Visit the Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program for more information and to register.

    For 4, 5, and 6-year-olds. Seeds work together in small groups to care for their garden plots and participate in cooking, exploring the wonderful outdoors, crafting, and other fun activities.

    This is a drop-off program.

    Cost

    • Friday Classes: $250 ($225 for members)
    • Saturday Classes: $315 ($290 for members)
    • In addition, there is a 4.5% registration fee for all classes.

    Participation Requirements

    • For pre-K classes, children must be 4 years old or turn 4 within a month after the program start date.

    City Farmers dig gardening! Students develop basic horticulture skills to bring garden plots to life with fresh, seasonal vegetables and enjoy crafting, cooking, nature exploration, and other hands-on activities.

    This is a drop-off program.

    Cost

    • Friday Classes: $250 ($225 for members)
    • Saturday Classes: $315 ($290 for members)
    • In addition, there is a 4.5% registration fee for all classes.

    For 2- and 3-year-olds with an adult. Learn about the wonders of gardening with your 2- or 3-year-old during this active hands-on program offered during spring and fall. Our youngest gardeners work with their adult partner to tend to their garden plots, sing songs, taste new foods, and create nature crafts.

    This is not a drop-off program. Consistent weekly attendance of one adult per child is required. Fee includes one adult and one child. No additional children including infants or older siblings, please.

    Cost

    • 60-minute sections: $250 ($225 for members)
    • 90-minute sections: $350 ($325 for members)
    • In addition, there is a 4.5% registration fee for all classes.

    Participation Requirements

    • One-hour and 1.5-hour programs are offered. We recommend the 1.5-hour class for 3-year-olds or returning families.
    • The class is for one adult-child pair only; no siblings or additional adults please.
    • Children should wear clothing that can get dirty and closed-toe shoes (no sandals).

    Latest News!

    june 2024: Brooklyn Community Board 9 will discuss this up-zoning proposal at their next ULURP/Land Use Committee meeting, Tuesday, June 18, 6 p.m. at Clara Barton High School, 901 Classon Avenue (across from the Garden’s 990 Washington Avenue entrance). You may also view the meeting live-streamed on YouTube. The CB9 recommendation is due to the City by July 22, 2024.

    Fight for Sunlight

    A New Proposal Would Harm BBG

    On May 10, 2024, an application by Continuum Company to up-zone 962–972 Franklin Avenue was entered into the City’s land use review process. The application seeks to allow construction of buildings up to 14 stories plus bulkheads on lots that are currently zoned for seven stories. BBG is opposing this project.

    The proposal’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) shows the rezoning would cause unavoidable “adverse impacts due to direct shadows effects on open space and natural resources in Brooklyn Botanic Garden” [download PDF]. Last July, when the application for this project was first submitted to the City, representatives of the Garden spoke at the Department of City Planning’s public scoping meeting to express our concerns and to urge that the environmental review process take into consideration the impact of the loss of sunlight on this important resource.

    BBG is not alone in this fight. City Council Member Crystal Hudson and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso have already stated publicly that they will not approve any project that harms the Garden.

    As the land use review process proceeds, there will be opportunities for public comment. We will update this page as news of the project develops. Thank you for your continued support!

    FAQ: About the Threat

    What is the proposed project?

    Real estate developers Continuum Company are asking for a new zoning designation at 962–972 Franklin Avenue, which would result in a 14-story/145-foot-tall tower, plus bulkheads, roughly twice the height permitted under current zoning.

    Is this the same project BBG fought a few years ago?

    No, it’s the same developer but a new proposal for part of the site. Continuum Company sought a rezoning for 7 lots in 2019–2021 that would have resulted in a 40-story complex. The Garden and community members opposed this massively oversized development, gaining support from City officials and tens of thousands of New Yorkers. The City Planning Commission ultimately rejected that rezoning application in 2021.

    The current proposed rezoning is slightly smaller—6 lots—but would have significant and unmitigable harmful impacts on the Garden. With a new massing even closer to BBG’s Conservatory, greenhouses, and nursery, the proposed building would block sunlight year-round. The impact statement shows aggregated shadow for up to 3 hours a day. Around 15% of available sunlight would be lost to the Conservatory through the winter and the nursery through the summer—exactly when the plants in these spaces most need light.

    How would shade from this project affect BBG’s plant collections?

    Plants need sunlight! In the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the developer disclosed “significant unmitigated environmental impacts,” including loss of sunlight and increased shading, particularly on the Conservatory complex and nursery area.

    Loss of sunlight would significantly impact BBGs ability to grow plants for the entire 52-acre Garden, and would harm plant health, plant diversity, and our ability to grow and display plants from around the world.

    Isn’t this area zoned for low-rise buildings?

    Yes, zoning on the lots where this project is proposed, bordering BBG near Washington Avenue, is now capped at 75 feet (approximately seven stories). These parameters were legislated in 1991 in order to prevent shadows on BBG’s conservatory complex.

    Does BBG oppose other developments in the area?

    The Garden pays close attention to all proposed developments in the neighborhood and has not opposed proposals for buildings farther from the Garden that we have determined will not significantly impact our collections. The Garden will oppose projects or rezoning that could harm the Garden and its collections.

    Is the Garden opposed to affordable housing?

    Categorically not. The Garden is keenly aware of the affordability crisis faced by New Yorkers, including many in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like ours, Crown Heights. We would be thrilled to see development of affordable housing within the guidelines that were set to protect the Garden’s growing facilities and collections.

    I’d like to support the Garden—what can I do?

    We will keep our supporters updated on the public review process including moments for community input and how and when to reach out to public officials.

    If you have further questions please contact [email protected].

    Recent Press

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden battling high-rise proposal that would cast shadow over greenhouses: ‘Existential impact’  ›
    New York Post, June 4, 2024

    New fight blooms over proposed tower next to Brooklyn Botanic Garden  ›
    WNYC/Gothamist, June 3, 2024

    Radio Spotlight  ›
    1010 WINS, June 3, 2024

    Constant gardener: Bruce Eichner pursues new project by Brooklyn institution  ›
    The Real Deal, May 20, 2024

    The Former Fight

    From 2019 to 2021, Brooklyn Botanic Garden fought off a serious threat from a proposed development complex that would have blocked hours of sunlight to the Garden’s 23 conservatories, greenhouses, and nurseries, which grow plants for the entire 52-acre Garden site and its community programs. Read about that victory.

    Current zoning protects the Garden’s access to sunlight by capping building height at this location. These laws must remain in place to prevent irreparable damage to the Garden.

    This is Brooklyn’s Garden, a vital educational and environmental resource for our community, and it’s up to all of us to protect it.

    Learn and play together in the Discovery Garden. Hands-on stations throughout the garden’s courtyard, meadow, woodland, and marsh habitats encourage families to explore nature alongside our volunteer educators. Be sure to check out Discover Pollinators, too!

    This is a drop-in program for families with children of all ages. Free with Garden admission.

    All programs are outdoors and canceled in inclement weather. Check this webpage for updates.

    Support

    Major Supporter, Discovery Programs

    National Grid logo

    Learn and play together in the Discovery Garden. Hands-on stations throughout the garden’s courtyard, meadow, woodland, and marsh encourage families to explore nature alongside our volunteer Discovery Docents.

    This is a drop-in program for families with children of all ages. Free with Garden admission.

    All programs are outdoors and canceled in inclement weather. Check this webpage for updates.

    Support

    Major Supporter, Discovery Programs

    National Grid logo

    Calling all explorers up to 4 years old (and their caregivers)! Pot up a plant, create a craft, read a story, and use your senses to explore nature at special Discovery Garden activity stations designed for early learners.

    This is a drop-in program for children ages 4 & under and their caregivers. Free with Garden admission.

    All programs are outdoors and canceled in inclement weather. Check this webpage for updates.

    Support

    Major Supporter, Discovery Programs

    National Grid logo

    Dr. Suzanne Simard, professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia in Canada, sparked the popular imagination with her groundbreaking scientific research on fungal networks in forests.

    Her work, which suggests that trees can share resources and communicate through underground networks (or a “wood wide web”) of mycorrhizal fungi, helped to inspire Richard Powers’ The Overstory and Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees—and, more recently, Simard’s own 2021 bestselling memoir Finding the Mother Tree.

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    Dr. Suzanne Simard. Photo by Felicia Chang.

    Today, Simard leads the Mother Tree Project, a long-term experiment exploring the ecological and climate benefits of protecting large, old trees in forests. She’s also polishing up a sequel to Finding the Mother Tree.

    Finding the Mother Tree was really about discovering the connection of the forest,” says Simard. “Saving the Mother Tree is about, how do we protect these spaces and restore them?”

    We spoke with Simard, who is this year’s honoree at Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Spring Gala, about facing climate change, connecting with forests, and cultivating hope.

    This time last year at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the sky was turning orange from wildfires in Canada. That destruction was preceded by immense forest fragmentation from industrial logging, which inspired your life’s work. What was your experience with those fires like? What were you thinking?

    The fires in Canada have been pretty severe and intense since, I would say, 2015. Climate change is an ongoing thing, but it was almost like a threshold had been passed.

    Here in British Columbia, where I live, it’s become a way of life. Instead of the summer, we talk about the fire season. Smoke, and the dangers of fire, has really changed a lot about how we live now. So last year, when New York was getting so much of our smoke—you know, it was the worst fire year in Canada on record, but we’ve been living with this for quite a while already.

    The good thing is, it’s made people more aware of the situation we’re in with climate change and forest management, and how they come together to create this explosive situation.

    How has forest management contributed to climate change and wildfires?

    In several ways. One of them, of course, is the clearing of the forest. Not just in Canada—it’s a global problem. When we convert forests to other uses or other managed ecosystems, we release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. I think that we really underestimated the impact of that land use change on greenhouse gases, but it’s been massive.

    In Canada, industrial forest management hit a critical point probably in the 50s and 60s and 70s, when clear cutting became the common method of clearing forests. And then planting flammable species over vast areas, and also getting rid of those species that are less flammable or actually resist fire, like deciduous species and old trees and so on.

    And then a third thing—suppressing fire. In Canada, Indigenous cultural burning processes that had been in place for thousands of years were outlawed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. And therefore fuels have built up into our forests as well.

    So here you have all these things conspiring together to create this perfect storm that we’re in now, which is a flammable landscape.

    You’ve watched the decline of these forests that you identify closely with. Many researchers across disciplines are struggling with this. How can we cultivate optimism in these conditions? You seem to have been able to hold on to that a little bit in your writing.

    Definitely. Scientists watch these things happen, alarm bells are going off, we’re publishing our articles, and then we watch the decline. And that’s very frustrating.

    As people say, and I agree somewhat with this, it’s not so much a scientific problem, because the science has been solid on climate change for a long time. It’s more a sociological problem: How do we put all of that knowledge into action? And so that’s where the work needs to be done.

    It also is a scientific problem, from a forestry point of view, because—and this is where the optimism comes in—there’s so much we can do with land. People have been interacting with land, and managing land, since there were people, and there’s a great deal of knowledge about how to do that. It’s ancient knowledge. And it’s also a worldview combined with that knowledge, that worldview being tending the earth instead of exploiting the earth, and having reciprocal, respectful relationships with other creatures.

    And that is actually in us already. But we’ve gotten on this other track of economic growth, that we can continue to take and take and take and grow and grow and grow, and it’s just not possible. Every day, old-growth forests are falling, because we have not moved away from that exploitative mentality.

    In my lifetime of working in forests, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the good things that we can do in forests, to reestablish diversity and productivity. It can be done. But it takes time, it takes knowledge, it takes careful work, it takes science.

    We think a lot about urban forests here in New York City, and the unique challenges that they face. How do you think about that distinction?

    Both the wild and the urban forests are extremely important for different reasons.

    In the urban environment, it’s really important that people can connect with trees and forests and natural ecosystems. It makes us healthier, and it also makes us care about them, and understand that we have agency in helping these ecosystems.

    I went to the Bronx last summer and learned the story of the restoration of the Bronx River. Those stories are so important for people—demonstrating how you can transform in such a short period of time from a very unhealthy system to a very healthy system.

    And I feel like the work I do in forests is so affected by attitudes in the city, right? Those have a bigger impact on my landscape than anything I ever do as a forester or as an ecologist, because it’s in cities where policy is getting made.

    People in New York have a big say in global policy, in meeting our commitments to international agreements for climate change and biodiversity loss. Those actions are essential to prevent the fires that are coming, or to mitigate them.

    But until we do, it’s going to get worse. And I don't like to say that, it sounds very pessimistic. But it’s meant to propel people to act, because I think we deserve a better future.

    Even before you wrote Finding the Mother Tree, your work on fungal networks really captured the zeitgeist, and several authors’ imaginations. Now there’s a movie in the works. Why do you think your research has resonated so vividly with the public?

    I think we’re in a moment where people are seeing these big changes, and it’s scary, and we need solutions. And not just solutions, but we need action, and we need to put our hearts into this. And I think that what my work has done is show that we are spiritual beings who understand these connections.

    I was able to, in the work, demonstrate to people what they already have inside of them, which is this innate connection to land and trees. We’re all connected. So that is a homing message in a way, right? It says, Yeah, you know, these feelings I have inside of me about loving the earth and loving trees, it’s real, and it belongs to us.

    That spiritual perspective can be challenging to weigh in on as a scientist, right?

    It is true, but it’s absolutely essential that we discuss this. I think that in Western science, for hundreds of years now, we’ve created this almost religious scientific methodology that says we’re separate from nature, that we’re these objective observers. But really, we do bring ourselves into our science, and we should acknowledge that.

    All things have this spirit running through them—the air, the water, the rocks, the soil, the animals, the fish, the plants. And we’ve said no, they don’t. And seeing things as objects, pretending that things are not connected, that can result in massive problems.

    I have had a really tough time myself, publishing Finding the Mother Tree and having been criticized so heavily, but I will not walk away from it, because it is the essence of what we need to solve climate change, or global change in general. We have to grapple with this.

    Western science, Indigenous science, Indigenous knowledge—it’s got to come together, or we’ll continue to make these massive mistakes.

    Your book came out three years ago, after other books—Richard Powers’ The Overstory, Peter Wohlleben’s The Secret Life of Trees—featured elements inspired by your research. What made you decide to take your story into your own hands?

    A couple things. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, so I’ve always had that in me. For years, I just wrote scientific articles, and it was increasingly frustrating, because you have to use a very strict language.

    But the other thing was that, you know, other people were starting to write my story. And I thought, they don’t know the story! There is a real story here. I wanted to write this story myself.

    I had many reasons for writing it the way I did. And one of them is to say that science is a human thing. I did this work because I came from the forest, and I lived in the forest, and I asked questions because I was seeing things happening. I didn’t just pluck these questions out of the literature. They came from me, and the forests I lived in, and my ancestry.

    I also wanted to say something else. All these other writers are men, and this thing I’m talking about is a very female way of seeing the world; it's very different than how I was trained as a forester or a scientist. I was trained by men to think like men, and I saw the forest in a different way.

    And so I was bringing in this idea that we are connected, that we’re networked, that we’re collaborative, it’s not just about competition. And I wanted to also tell the story of what it’s like to be a female scientist in this world. We didn’t have professors that were female when I was coming through, and so I wanted to fill that little hole that needed to be filled.

    As you mentioned, you had this upbringing that was very entwined with the forest, and then in your book you describe a professional journey that seems very focused and directed. Do you think those two things are related—that having this deep rootedness to the land informed a lifelong dedication to a particular line of inquiry?

    Yeah, you absolutely got that right. I think that I’m here for a reason. I didn't really know that when I was in my 20s and 30s or even my 40s.

    It came from my ancestors, right? I come from thousands of years of wood cutters in France. And I’ve been able to sort of look back and say, Oh, that makes sense. This has been in my ancestry for a long, long time.

    When I finally recognized that and owned it—it’s not like it's ever been really easy, but it made it a little easier on me to understand myself, right? Like, why am I so driven to do this, and now I know that it’s just why I’m here, and I will not stop until it’s time to stop.

    What are you still curious to know about trees and forest ecosystems?

    My job right now, as I see it, is to help heal the land. And so my big question is, now how do you do that? That’s where I think I can make my contribution.

    I’m working with the Nations, with Indigenous people, to restore these lands to whole systems, with the species and the trees and the animals and the fish that are all part of that system—working together with them to figure out how to do this, and to demonstrate to people around the world that you can do this.

    Because that hope part has got to be part of the solution, too. When you can demonstrate it, that generates a lot of hope in people, and agency, and then they get out and do it. And that is what we need to do. We just need to get out and do the work.

    From June through September 2024, Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosts Patrick Costello as artist in residence. Costello will create an immersive and participatory processional performance, while exploring plant-pollinator interactions as dynamic theater pieces unto themselves. The final piece will be presented at the end of September.

    Public Programs

    About the Artist

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    Patrick Costello is an artist whose work comes alive through multispecies collaborative relationships—integrating practices of ecological horticulture, sculpture, printmaking, and performance to create ephemeral spaces for transformation.

    Patrick has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia, New York. He has performed in venues including Ars Nova, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Public Theater, and at intentional communities, squats, and underground venues around the world.

    Patrick has been invited to residencies at MacDowell, Shandaken Projects, the Soil Factory, and ACRE. He holds an MFA in Combined Media from Hunter College and a BA in Printmaking from the University of Virginia.

    Artist website: patrickjcostello.net

    Support

    Art in the Garden is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

    Logo for New York State Council on the Arts

    About 480 million years ago, during a warm and watery geologic period known as the Ordovician, the first wingless arthropods are believed to have made their way onto land.

    Among the earliest terrestrial animals, these creatures’ exoskeletons protected them from the punishing radiation of a land not yet shaded. Land plants, too, were just beginning to emerge.

    “Insects have been partnering with plants since their earliest beginnings,” says David Grimaldi, curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History.

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    Entomologist David Grimaldi. Image courtesy of David Grimaldi.

    By the time the first angiosperms (or flowering plants) evolved around 130 million years ago, insects already ruled the air. Flight allowed them to excel at tracking resources, including from plant to plant.

    Pollination—the transfer of pollen from one reproductive organ of a plant to another—was an early feature of this partnership. “I suspect it was a quick courtship” between plants and insect pollinators, says Grimaldi. The earliest angiosperm pollinators included bee-like wasps, tiny moths, and even beetles and thrips.

    {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/Jessica-Ware_DF_220323_6119.jpg"}
    Entomologist Jessica Ware. Photo by Denis Finnin.

    Grimaldi and colleague Jessica Ware, division chair of Invertebrate Zoology at the AMNH, are part of a team of advisors working with Brooklyn Botanic Garden on this summer’s exhibition, Natural Attractions: A Plant-Pollinator Love Story. Both are curators of the Insectarium at the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, which opened in May 2023.

    We spoke with Grimaldi and Ware about the special—if sometimes a little manipulative—relationships that have evolved between plants and insect pollinators, and the threats they face today.

    What makes a pollinator?

    Nearly 85 percent of the world’s flowering plants rely on animal pollinators to help them produce seeds and fruits. Most of these pollinators are insects, though birds, bats, and even lizards (not to mention people) can be pollinators, too.

    {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/inline/beetle_altered.jpg"}
    A 99-million-year-old beetle covered in pollen. Image courtesy of Bo Wang.

    Lured into a floral structure while seeking nectar or pollen, insect pollinators—including bees, flies, beetles, wasps, butterflies, and moths—get inadvertently dusted with pollen and spread it around as they move from flower to flower, which results in fertilization.

    Bees are especially good at this, “but even cockroaches can be pollinators,” says Ware.

    The evolution of specialization 

    Over millions of years, plants evolved many unique pollinator recruitment strategies, such as vivid colors and shapes that invite certain visitors. “And insects got very good at responding, in an evolutionary sense,” says Ware.

    Charles Darwin famously suggested the concept of coevolution after he was sent an orchid from Madagascar with a foot-long nectary. “Good Heavens,” he wrote in a letter, “what insect can suck it[?]” (His prediction—a moth from Madagascar with an extremely long proboscis—later turned out to be correct.)

    {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/inline/2-darwins_hawk_moth_final-Kevin_Twomey.jpg"}
    Wallace's sphinx moth (Xanthopoan praedicta), whose existence was first predicted by Darwin, has the longest tongue of any insect. Courtesy of Kevin Twomey © California Academy of Sciences.

    Some insect pollinators are generalists, able to collect nectar and pollen from many different plant species. Bumble bees (Bombus spp.) and leaf-cutter bees (Megachile spp.) are native generalists that you might see around the Garden. The nonnative European honeybee is another well-known generalist (though they have a tendency to outcompete native bees).

    But other plant-pollinator relationships evolved to become much more specialized, with some insects collecting pollen from just one or two types of plants.

    It sounds like a risky gamble. But there must be an advantage to being so particular, says Ware. For pollinators, specialization can mean less competition. For plants, it can be more efficient to lure pollinators who are guaranteed to visit other plants of the same species.

    {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/Dracula-49164670877_8e611a3791_o.jpg"}
    Orchids in the genus Dracula have a small labellum, or central petal, that looks and smells like a fungus, attracting wild fruit flies that normally breed in forest mushrooms. Photo by Motohiro Sunouchi / Flickr.

    Though generalist pollinators are just as important ecologically, specialists can be especially fascinating, says Grimaldi. “Plants actually control the behavior of insects to great advantage.”

    Orchids in the genus Dracula, for example, are pollinated by fruit flies attracted by their fungus-like scent. But the orchids aren’t offering nectar or pollen in return—so what is the fly getting out of it?

    “It’s getting duped, is what it’s getting,” says Grimaldi.

    Insects under pressure

    These tight-knit relationships are in peril. If plants and their specialist pollinators don’t emerge at the same time—if the plant blooms a month early, for example— the plant may lose its pollinator, and the pollinator its food source.

    Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) bloomed unusually early last year in New York City. Photo by Michael Stewart.

    “We’ve already started seeing that climate change has led to a time mismatch in some cases,” says Ware. “If that were to continue, whole populations could be lost.”

    It’s not just specialist pollinators who are at risk, and the threat is not limited to climate change. Intensive agriculture, habitat loss, pollution, invasive species, and pesticides are all part of the problem. Together, these entwined stressors are driving an alarming collapse in insect populations overall.

    According to the 2016 IPBES Global Pollinator Assessment, roughly 40 percent of insect pollinators are threatened with extinction. Research suggests that the world's insect population is declining at a rate of up to two percent each year.

    “What we’re doing right now is selecting for a few super-species that can feed on environmental havoc,” says Grimaldi.

    The widespread use of pesticides and herbicides is particularly concerning, Grimaldi notes. For the live Insectarium exhibit at AMNH, he recalls, it was difficult to find plants that weren’t treated with insect-killing compounds. “It’s extraordinarily toxic, this stuff.”

    In some cases, legislators have begun to take notice: New York State’s recently passed Birds and Bees Protection Act restricts the use of neonicotinoids, systemic insecticides that are banned in the European Union.

    “If we continue to see the rates of insect loss that we think we’re seeing, that does not bode well for any organisms on Earth,” says Ware.

    What you can do

    Individual actions—such as growing chemical-free, pollinator-friendly native plants, avoiding pesticides, turning lights off at night to reduce light pollution, and leaving leaf litter in place as habitat—can be a valuable tool. But one of the most impactful things you can do, Ware and Grimaldi say, is to vote with insects and the planet in mind.

    “It’s not just a national issue or an international issue,” says Ware. “It’s an issue for your school board, it’s an issue your mayor should be thinking about. It affects everybody. It’s the fate of all life.”

    A version of this article ran in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Plants & Gardens, the BBG Members' newsletter.

    This year’s Garden theme, Natural Attractions, celebrates the plant-pollinator love story through the lens of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s vast and varied collections and the native insects to which they are inextricably linked. Join us as we wrap up Pollinator Week with fun family-friendly programming including children’s activities in the Discovery Garden, chalk drawing with Chalk Art NYC, and tours led by BBG gardener Will Lenihan and Garden Guide volunteers.

    Be sure to buzz around the Garden and check out site-specific installations like the Pollinator Lounge at Oak Circle and the exhibits in the Discovery Garden and the exhibit in the Conservatory Gallery.

    All programs free with Garden admission.

    Join BBG gardener Will Lenihan for a tour of the Native Flora Garden. Learn about the blooming plants and hear their fascinating pollination ecology stories, and discover the pro-pollinator maintenance strategies used in the Native Flora Garden.

    Areas of the Native Flora Garden contain steps, please be aware.

    Free with Garden admission. No registration necessary.

    Get Tickets Become a Member

    This event is part of Pollinator Week.

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    Watch Chalk Art NYC artists Gracie Lee Brown and Liz Budinoff celebrate Pollinator Week by creating a BEE-utiful chalk art design in real time! to You can even join the fun by participating in the Color-Me-In chalk activity—open to kids of all ages.

    Free with Garden admission. No registration necessary.

    Get Tickets Become a Member

    This event is part of Pollinator Week.

    Join volunteer educators for family-friendly activities, starring our local insect pollinators and the plants that they love.

    • Do: Practice being an entomologist & search for pollinators in our meadow and marsh habitats.
    • Make: Create your own Lepidopteran puppet—that’s a butterfly, moth, or skipper!
    • Play: Take part in a round of our bee board game or join a bee dance!
    • Learn: Explore Discovery Carts and interpretive signs featured throughout our garden.
    • Plant: Take home a pollinator-friendly seedling, while supplies last.

    Free with Garden admission. No registration necessary.

    Get Tickets Become a Member

    This event is part of Pollinator Week.

    Latest News!

    may 2024: A new application by Continuum Company to upzone 962–972 Franklin Avenue was entered into the City’s land use review process on May 10, 2024, seeking to allow construction of buildings up to 14 stories. The Garden is opposing this application. Learn More

    Fight for Sunlight

    From 2019 to 2021, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s plant collections were under serious threat from a proposed massive development complex of four buildings, including two 34‑story towers at 960 Franklin Avenue just 150 feet from the Garden. Towers of this size would block hours of sunlight to the Garden’s 23 conservatories, greenhouses, and nurseries, which grow plants for the entire 52-acre Garden site and its community programs.

    The Garden launched a public campaign in 2019 to urge City officials to maintain current zoning, which was enacted in 1991 to protect the Garden’s access to sunlight by capping building height at this location. Our position was that these laws must remain in place to prevent irreparable damage to the Garden.

    The community supported BBG’s efforts every step of the way: Over 60,000 people signed the Garden’s petition opposing the developer’s application. The application was rejected in 2021.

    Milestones & Support

    On June 23, 2021, Brooklyn Community Board 9 voted unequivocally to disapprove this application, without modification, and also resolved that the 1991 zoning should be sustained. In addition to testimony provided by over 80 individuals during the first public hearing, CB9 chair Fred Baptiste described over 200 letters received by the Board, overwhelmingly against the project. “What is apparent is the extreme opposition in this community,” he said, explaining that the text of the resolution tried to capture some of what the testimony the board had heard.

    On June 29, 2021, at a live public hearing, senior staff of the borough president’s office heard heartfelt testimony from 103 community members opposing the upzoning proposal for a great variety of reasons; only two individuals spoke in support of the application. On August 4, borough president Eric Adams submitted his recommendation to disapprove the application without modification. His recommendation called out the “well considered” 1991 Washington Avenue Rezoning, intended to protect BBG from inappropriate development on its periphery, and noted “in addition to causing irreversible harm to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the anticipated shadow effects of 960 Franklin Avenue would pose a serious detriment to local open space resources and quality of life in Crown Heights.”

    On July 29, 2021, the City Planning Commission held its public hearing on this proposal. Our community showed up and spoke up in the biggest way! Speaker after speaker spoke from the heart about what BBG means to them, their families, their community gardens, their schools, and more.

    Along the way, elected and appointed officials spoke out in favor of protecting Brooklyn Botanic Garden:

    “Today I am voicing my opposition to the proposed 960 Franklin Avenue development in Crown Heights that would harm the research and education work carried out by one of this city’s prized cultural institutions, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and is grossly out of scale with the neighborhood.”

    —Mayor Bill de Blasio, December 21, 2020

    “Given projected adverse impacts on the BBG, and the absence of developer commitment to public purpose beyond MIH, the requested zoning does not provide a net benefit to the community, and therefore should not be advanced.”

    —Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, August 4, 2021

    “The Council is disappointed that Continuum continues to advance this proposal despite widespread opposition in the community, as well as the clear danger posed to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s conservatory greenhouses by the shadows that would be cast by these huge towers.”

    —New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, February 1, 2021

    “The Department does not support this application.”

    —Marisa Lago, director of NYC Department of City Planning, February 1, 2021

    “The 1991 zoning of the district previously contemplated the issue of height restrictions for the protection of the BBG and should be sustained.”

    —Brooklyn Community Board 9, June 23, 2021

    The New York City Planning Commission voted on September 22, 2021, to reject the rezoning application for 960 Franklin Avenue. The CPC’s vote is a binding decision in the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process and puts to an end the developer’s application to build a massive building complex with 39-story towers that would have caused a significant loss of sunlight to BBG’s conservatory, greenhouses, and nursery.

    “With gratitude and relief, Brooklyn Botanic Garden commends this action by the City Planning Commission. Their decision echoes the belief of so many Brooklyn residents—as well as Mayor de Blasio, Borough President Adams, and Community Board 9—that BBG is a world-class treasure worthy of protection. The Garden is a place for all in the community, and we witnessed the community stand with BBG time and again in our campaign to oppose this rezoning, and for that we are endlessly thankful.”

    —Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Board of Trustees, September 22, 2021


    Videos: Public Hearings & Community Trainings

    The public hearings make clear just how much opposition there is to this project, with an overwhelming number of passionate pleas to protect the Garden and the community. A series of webinar presentations delves into the problematic details of this rezoning proposal.

    FAQ: About the Threat

    What was the proposed project?

    Real estate developers applied for a new zoning designation in order to build a massive complex on the three-acre spice factory site at 960 Franklin Avenue, covering about half the block between Montgomery Street and Sullivan Place. Their proposed development would have been more than triple the currently allowed density and included two 34-story towers just 150 feet from Brooklyn Botanic Garden that could rise to over 460 feet each. For context, this would be over 100 feet taller than the existing Tivoli Towers on Crown Street, which is farther away from the Garden and its growing facilities.

    How would shade from this project affect BBG’s plant collections?

    Plants need sunlight! The loss of up to four hours of sunlight a day to the Garden’s nurseries, conservatories, and greenhouses threatened to harm many of BBG’s plants, including endangered orchids and hundreds-year-old bonsais. And these buildings are where plants for the entire Garden are propagated and grown, so blocking sunlight to the conservatory complex threatens the entirety of the collection, both indoors and out.

    Isn’t this area zoned for low-rise buildings?

    Yes, zoning in the area where this project is proposed, bordering BBG near Washington Avenue, is now capped at 75 feet (approximately seven stories). These parameters were established in 1991 in order to prevent shadows on BBG’s conservatory complex.

    Why is the conservatory complex location important?

    The Garden’s greenhouse facilities were intentionally situated on its easternmost border because the area gets more sunlight than anywhere else on the campus. This conservatory complex and the rest of the Garden comprise a world-renowned institution that has become an anchor of the surrounding Crown Heights neighborhood. Shade on Garden facilities would compromise our ability to offer free workshops to community gardeners and to serve Brooklyn’s youth (more than 200,000 of whom visit each year) with free, year-round STEM educational programs.

    What was the Garden’s position on the project?

    The Garden’s position has been consistent: Brooklyn Botanic Garden will strongly oppose any changes to zoning that will negatively impact the Garden’s living collections and the many community programs that depend on them.

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a 100-year history of providing respite to New Yorkers and free education to schoolchildren. Its compromise would be a loss to all New Yorkers. The Garden respects the City’s land-use process and will continue to participate factually and respectfully in it while asking policy makers to protect these 52 acres from development that would do it lasting and irreparable damage.

    Does BBG oppose other developments in the area?

    The Garden pays close attention to all proposed developments in the neighborhood and has not opposed proposals for shorter buildings farther from the Garden that we have determined will not significantly impact our collections. The spice factory development is dramatically different because of its size and location. This is simply the wrong place to build towers of the size proposed.

    Is the Garden opposed to affordable housing?

    Categorically not. The Garden is keenly aware of the affordability crisis faced by New Yorkers, including many in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like ours, Crown Heights, where median incomes would not qualify most residents for even the lowest tier of the affordability index used for the proposed development. We would be thrilled to see development of truly affordable housing within the guidelines that were set to protect the Garden’s conservatories and collections.

    Did BBG work with other community groups in the Fight for Sunlight?

    The Garden partnered with a wide coalition of community-based, local, and regional groups to bring attention to the gravity of the impact of the proposed rezoning and share information about the threat it posed to this beloved green space, its plant communities, and its educational programs.

    I signed the petition; what else can I do?

    Please share your views with the elected and community officials who are decision makers in the rezoning process. Then join supporters at public hearings in order give testimony in opposition to the project. BBG can share its expertise and concern; it is community members like you who will carry the day.

    If you have further questions on how to partner with BBG in our Fight For Sunlight or wish to be added to our email list, please contact [email protected].

    Additional Resources

    Local Government Recommendations & Votes

    Application Summary & Milestones: NYC Zoning Application Portal

    CBR# 2021-02: CB9 Resolution on Land Use Application for 960 Franklin Avenue (PDF)

    Brooklyn Borough President Recommendation on 960 Franklin Avenue (PDF)

    City of New York Affirmation against Temporary Restraining Order (PDF)

    Certification Documents

    City Planning Commission Review Session, February 1, 2021 (video)

    Press Release: City Planning Commission Certifies 960 Franklin Avenue Rezoning Application

    Press Release: BBG and Municipal Art Society Condemn Plan in Advance of Planning Certification Meeting

    Joint Letter from BBG & MAS to City Planning Regarding Certification of the 960 Franklin Avenue Rezoning Proposal Draft EIS (PDF)

    Draft Scope of Work

    NYC Parks on 960 Franklin Avenue Rezoning EIS (PDF)

    960 Franklin Avenue Rezoning Draft Scope of Work for an Environmental Impact Statement (PDF)

    960 Franklin Avenue Rezoning Environmental Assessment Statement (PDF)

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Testimony on Draft Scope of Work (PDF)

    The Municipal Art Society of New York’s Testimony on Draft Scope of Work (PDF)

    About NYC’s Public Review Process

    Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) (PDF)

    What is ULURP (Courtesy of the Center for Urban Pedagogy’s ULU) (PDF)

    NYC’s Land-Use Review Process, Explained (Curbed)

    Press Coverage

    Adams’s Office Gives a Thumbs-Down to Towers by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
    Curbed, August 9, 2021

    Protect the Garden: A Residential Tower in Crown Heights Would Threaten the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
    Daily News, August 8, 2021

    Dozens Speak Out As Towers Next to BK Gardens Head to 1st Vote
    Patch, June 22, 2021

    Council Speaker, Member Trash Eichner Project Near Botanic Garden
    The Real Deal, February 2, 2021

    City Planning Commission Certifies Massive 960 Franklin Rezoning, Despite Opposition from BBG and Mayor
    Bklyner, February 1, 2021

    Long-Shot Land Use Process Begins for Controversial Garden-Adjacent Towers
    Brooklyn Paper, February 1, 2021

    Op-ed: New York City Developments that Impinge on Important Institutions or Iconic Views Should Be Rejected
    The Architect’s Newspaper, January 29, 2021

    The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Exhales Following de Blasio Opposition of Controversial Development Nearby
    The Architect's Newspaper, December 24, 2020

    In Rare Move, City Backs Off Two Controversial Rezonings that Would Block Botanic Garden Sun
    Brownstoner, December 23, 2020

    In Stunning Reversal, de Blasio Opposes Eichner’s Crown Heights Towers
    The Real Deal, December 22, 2020

    De Blasio Blocks Crown Heights Apartment Project Near the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
    New York Daily News, December 22, 2020

    Mayor de Blasio Will Block Construction of Towers Near Brooklyn Botanic Garden
    New York Post, December 22, 2020

    In Surprise Shift, Mayor De Blasio Says He Opposes Controversial Crown Heights Towers
    Gothamist, December 21, 2020

    The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Renovates, and Faces an Existential Threat
    New York, November 20, 2019

    960 Franklin: A Bad Deal for the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and for Crown Heights
    Bklyner, October 11, 2019

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s ‘Fight for Sunlight’ Protests Crown Heights Building Proposal
    AMNY, September, 2019

    Why the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Fears it Will Soon Be Sunlight Starved
    NY1, July 31, 2019

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden Fighting for Sunlight
    WCBS, July 31, 2019

    Gearing Up for Development Battle, Brooklyn Botanic Garden Unveils 'Fight for Sunlight' Exhibit
    Gothamist, July 31, 2019

    Brooklyn Botanic Light Fight
    WNBC, July 30, 2019

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden Launches Exhibition That Warns of Shadows from Proposed Towers
    Brownstoner, July 30, 2019

    Developer Throws Shade On Brooklyn Botanic Garden as Dispute Heats Up
    WNYC/Gothamist, May 20, 2019

    Reader Comments: When It’s Green Space vs. Living Space (PDF)
    The New York Times, March 24, 2019

    Nearby Rezoning Proposal Casts Shadow on Brooklyn Botanic Garden
    NY1, March 13, 2019

    Crown Heights Spice Factory Development Pits Labor vs. Locals
    Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 13, 2019

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden Resists Buildings that Would Cast Shade
    The Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2019

    In the fall of 2023, the USDA released a new version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

    Gardeners and horticulturists use the Plant Hardiness Zone Map to help them figure out what they can plant. The map’s 13 zones, which reflect different minimum annual temperatures, indicate which perennial plants and trees might survive the winter in your location.

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    The 2023 Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Image via USDA.

    In this latest update, about half the country was assigned a slightly warmer zone compared to the previous 2012 map. So, what exactly does this mean—for your garden, for your region, and for the planet?

    With help from Chris Daly, director of the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University and the map’s lead author, Todd Rounsaville, a horticulturist and research scientist at the USDA, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Horticulture department, we answered some common questions.

    What is the Plant Hardiness Zone Map?

    Plant “hardiness” refers to a plant’s ability to survive tough conditions—in this case, extreme winter temperatures. The Plant Hardiness Zone Map is based on a 30-year average of the coldest annual winter temperature in particular locations. The map helps answer the question: Will a given perennial plant (say, a fig tree) survive the coldest night of the year in your area?

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    Hardiness zones in New York State range from 7b (New York City) to 4a (Lake Placid). Image via USDA.

    The map divides up the United States and Puerto Rico into 13 zones, each representing a 10-degree Fahrenheit temperature range. Each zone is then divided again into a five-degree Fahrenheit half-zone.

    For example, New York City is in Zone 7b. That’s because on average, over the last 30 years, the coldest annual temperature around here has been between 5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

    In 7b, we can grow asters (and fig trees—with some caveats), but plants like night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum, Zones 9 to 11) may not survive outdoors in the winter.

    To find your zone, type in your zip code on the map.

    Who came up with this map?

    The first Plant Hardiness Zone Map was produced nearly a century ago by Alfred Rehder, a taxonomist at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum.

    Rehder’s hand-drawn map divided the U.S. into eight temperature zones. His map was updated in subsequent years in other Arboretum publications. The USDA began producing its own maps in 1960, publishing revised versions in 1990, 2012, and 2023.

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    An early plant hardiness zone map created in 1948 by the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. Image via Arnold Arboretum / Flickr.

    The PRISM Climate Group at the University of Oregon developed the 2012 and 2023 maps, in collaboration with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

    What does the Plant Hardiness Zone Map not tell me?

    “This is a very specialized map,” says Daly. It’s all about extreme cold. In other words, “Can that perennial survive, on average, the coldest winter temperature you could expect to get?”

    Extreme cold temperatures are a major regulator of plant survival; that’s why that metric is used here. But the map doesn’t look at extreme heat, or how well perennials might tolerate other extreme weather events, such as drought, heat waves, or flooding.

    It also doesn’t speak to more site-specific conditions that might shape or limit your planting decisions, like soil type, sun exposure, and so forth. And hardiness zones are more relevant to perennial plants than annuals, which complete their life cycle within a single growing season.

    So to summarize, the Plant Hardiness Zone Map is one important resource, but there are plenty of other factors to take into consideration when choosing plants that will thrive in your growing space.

    What changed in this latest version?

    In the new map, about half the U.S. moved up into a warmer half-zone, and the other half of the country stayed put. The most change occurred in the central part of the country, like the Central Plains and the Midwest, and the least amount of change occurred in the Southwest, says Daly.

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    This image visualizes the difference between 2012 and 2023 maps. About half the country moved up one half-zone. Image via USDA.

    The previous Plant Hardiness Zone Map analyzed temperatures from 1976 through 2005. The new 2023 map is based on data from 1991 through 2020.

    “If you average the change between these two maps over the entire lower 48 states, you get about two and a half degrees Fahrenheit warming,” says Daly.

    Is that because of climate change?

    Yes, in part.

    The USDA has cautioned against entirely attributing the new map’s zone shifts to climate change, noting that there are other major factors to consider.

    The 2023 map is based on data from over 13,000 weather stations, for example, which is almost 70 percent more stations than were used for the 2012 map. The model used by Daly’s team, called PRISM, has also become more sophisticated in its ability to assess mountainous areas, which likely contributed to some shifts in the West, Southwest, and Alaska.

    Daly also notes that the plant hardiness statistic is based on an extreme value—the coldest temperature of the year. This is a “highly volatile” number, and not necessarily the best one to use when modeling climate change.

    That said, the shifts in the map are in line with what you’d expect to see in a climate that is heating up thanks to fossil fuel emissions that continue to rise

    “We know for a fact that average temperatures are rising due to climate change,” says Daly. “So over the longer term, this should cause plant hardiness zones to gradually move northward.”

    I’m a gardener. What do these changes mean for me?

    In short? “There’s really nowhere in the country where people should be significantly changing the way they garden” based on the new map, says Rounsaville.

    Even if you did change zones, it doesn’t mean you need to replace existing plants.

    “Because we're looking backward 30 years, we're telling you what’s already happened,” says Daly. The new map has, indeed, affirmed the experiences of many gardeners, who have been witnessing warmer winters and some shifts in which plants can thrive.

    “I recently heard someone say, ‘The USDA Plant Hardiness Map gives us official permission to do what we thought we should be doing anyway,’” says Daly.

    What’s changed in New York City?

    New York City is still in Zone 7b. Zone 7b itself has crept out farther into Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester County.

    Though we stayed in the same zone, New York City did warm up by three degrees Fahrenheit. That sounds like a lot—and it is—but it doesn’t meaningfully shift the selection of perennial plants that can survive winters here, says Rounsaville.

    “We know as gardeners that our cultural techniques can push a plant much more than three degrees Fahrenheit,” says Rounsaville. For example, planting near the radiant heat of driveways and sidewalks, or in an area protected from wind, can shift plant hardiness by one or two half-zones.

    That doesn’t mean gardening in New York City—and life on Earth, in general—isn’t changing. We know that it is, in immensely challenging and inequitable ways. Climate change is already leading to longer growing seasons, changes in weed behavior, and an increase in drought and extreme rainfall events, as well as earlier bloom times, not to mention extreme heat and hazardous air quality.

    To help track how climate change is affecting plants in the New York area, consider becoming an observer with the New York Phenology Project

    Are there any other caveats I should be aware of when reading this map?

    A few, yes.

    PRISM estimated the mean annual extreme temperature for each grid cell on the map, which are a half-mile on each side. That’s a pretty detailed picture, but “it’s a lot bigger than your garden,” says Daly. You might have microclimates in your growing space that are colder or warmer than suggested by your assigned zone.

    Speaking of microclimates, it’s also worth noting that these zones apply to unprotected outdoor settings. Gardeners sometimes push the limits of their zone range by giving extra protection to certain outdoor plants (like mulch or cloches) or placing certain plants in protected areas or southern exposures.

    Fig trees staying warm for winter inside burlap insulation. Photo by Blanca Begert.

    The effects of water, too, can be profound, says Daly, because water absorbs a lot of heat. “But we don’t explicitly model water effects beyond the oceans and the Great Lakes,” he explained. Most of the weather stations whose data were used for this map are not located near lakes.

    So, if you’re growing adjacent to a large body of water that is not an ocean or a Great Lake, your winter temperatures may be slightly warmer than indicated by your zone.

    Finally, says Daly, “We can tell you pretty accurately what your zone is. But it doesn’t mean that every plant you get has the correct zone designation.”

    Particularly for newly released cultivars, “rating plants could never really be a perfect science in the way that modeling weather data can be,” says Rounsaville. That said, for most species, “the plant breeding and nursery community has landed on an approximate band of hardiness.”

    Now that I know which zone I’m in, how can I identify which perennial plants will thrive here?

    One easy and wildlife-friendly approach is to choose native plants. Ecoregions can offer a more precise guide for native plant selection than the Plant Hardiness Zone Map (check out this ecoregional planting guide from the Pollinator Partnership, or this container growing guide from Homegrown National Park), but if a plant is indigenous to your area, it’s likely to be hardy to your zone.

    Gray goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis), a native perennial wildflower, is hardy to Zones 2 to 9. Photo by Alvina Lai.

    For help selecting native and nonnative plants and perennial crops, many nurseries and seed companies have zone rating labels on websites and packaging. For more in-depth guidance, there are several reliable databases that allow you to search by species. The Horticulture department at BBG recommends the following:


    Local nursery catalogs and Cooperative Extensions can be helpful as well.

    Thanks for reading along! For more information on the new Plant Hardiness Zone Map and what’s changed, check out the USDA’s map creation page.

    with Martha Vernazza, NYC DOHMH

    When it comes to rat control, there may not be shortcuts or magic bullets, but the right knowledge and tools can do a lot to address existing problems or prevent them in the first place. BBG is delighted to host an expert from the NYC Department of Health who will tailor the “Rat Academy” curriculum specifically to urban gardening issues. Street tree beds will be a focus. Bring your questions!

    This workshop is free, but preregistration is required. Take home a free plant to try!

    ASL interpreter available upon request; contact [email protected] at least two weeks prior to the class date.

    with Lena Frey, GrowNYC

    The virtues and benefits of making and using compost are endless. Yet composting in NYC is in a state of transition, leaving many people wondering about how to make it, how to get it, and how to support the collective future of composting. If you’re inspired to understand the what, how, and why of making compost and making change, join a seasoned community composting veteran for an evening of questions and conversation. Take home a free plant to try!

    ASL interpreter available upon request; contact [email protected] at least two weeks prior to the class date.

    With gil lopez, Smiling Hogshead Ranch

    This ain’t no roach motel! Come learn about insects that are good for your garden and how to prepare a DIY home for them to overwinter. Then get familiar with the plants they’ll need for food and forage when they emerge in spring. This workshop will include lots of information and a hands-on portion, where we will build a bug B&B together. Take home a free plant to try! Please note, this class is for adults.

    ASL interpreter available upon request; contact [email protected] at least two weeks prior to the class date.

    Come celebrate spring in the Discovery Garden with a garden singalong! Join Sabrina Chap in singing, dancing, and playing with instruments, scarves, and bubbles.

    This free drop-in program is part of First Discoveries, our twice-weekly program for toddlers.

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    Support

    Major Supporter, Discovery Programs

    National Grid logo

    I discovered my love for growing food while living in gardenless apartments in busy cities. When I was working as a grower cultivating crops to supply restaurants and other sites around East London, it was container gardening that allowed me to finally grow some plants for myself.

    {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/inline/Carrots_CR_Unknown-4.jpg"}
    Small, rounded carrot varieties, like this ‘Paris Market’ carrot, are a great option for containers. Photo via Claire Ratinon / Instagram.

    Even if your outdoor space is paved over, rented, limited in size, or not suited to your access needs, it’s often still possible for you to grow delicious crops in containers—as long as you’ve got some sun shining down on your space.

    Assessing Your Site

    If you’re getting into growing for the first time, it’s worth taking some time to really get acquainted with the space you’ll be growing in (even if you think you already know it well).

    Vegetables growing in a rooftop container garden. Photo by Laura Berman.

    The following questions will help you imagine what kind of edible garden you could create.

    1. How much space do you have for your pots? If you’re growing in a small area, like on a front stoop or a small balcony, you might choose to focus on modestly sized crops like lettuces or kohlrabi.
    2. How many hours of sunshine does it get? A very sunny sheltered garden provides the ideal conditions for most crops, including fruiting ones such as eggplants and tomatoes. A partially shady plot might be better off filled with leafy greens and herbs.
    3. Is it sheltered from the elements or exposed to a prevailing wind? Excessive exposure to inclement weather is too much for certain crops, like climbing beans and other plants that don’t produce sturdy stems. If your space is windy, you might consider putting up a fence as a windbreak, or growing plants that are robust and not especially tall, like parsley, mint, or beets.
    4. What are your access needs? If kneeling or bending down isn’t possible, or if you use a wheelchair, you can arrange pots on a table or another surface to bring them to an accessible height. You can also use plant caddies to move containers around without lifting.
    5. If your garden is on a rooftop or balcony, is there a limit to how much weight it can hold? A large pot full of recently watered compost and a thriving summer squash can be surprisingly heavy! Also, ensuring your potted plants are light enough for you to move means you can change your mind about their position at different points in the growing season.

      Picking Your Plants

      Now, for the best part: choosing which edible plants you want to grow! There are a few rules I follow when deciding which crops to grow in limited space.

      First, I’m looking for plants that offer abundance. By this I mean that they either grow and provide a harvest swiftly, and so can be sown every few weeks for a continual supply—radishes are a good example of this—or they offer up a prolonged harvest from one plant, like tomatoes or cucumbers do. Conversely, I’d never try to grow cauliflower in a container, as they take months to develop a head to pick, only produce a few harvests, and take up a lot of space.

      {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/Kale_CR_Unknown-3.jpg"}
      Red Russian kale and arugula are good candidates for container growing. Photo via Claire Ratinon / Instagram.
      {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/Tomatoes_CR_Unknown-5.jpg"}
      Cherry tomatoes do well in containers, especially if you try a compact variety. Photo by Claire Ratinon.

      Dwarf varieties of your favorite crops are ideal for small space growing. It’s also worth considering growing something that’s hard to find or expensive to buy—and of course, that you’re excited to eat. If you’re desperate to grow carrots, why not try a fun variety like ‘Cosmic Purple’? Or if you like making summer rolls, perhaps grow your own Thai basil.

      Below are a few other container crops and varieties I like to grow:

      Cherry tomatoes. Compact cherry tomato varieties are great for growing in hanging baskets, window boxes, and on front stoops. The Tiny Tim tomato is a tasty option.

      Dwarf French beans. French Mascotte’ is a sturdy variety that can be planted in large containers.

      Red Russian kale. My favorite kale, modest in size and tender when picked early.

      Miniature white cucumbers. This popular variety is a short yellowish white cucumber that grows on compact vines. It produces many sweet, crisp fruits.

      Cherry belle radishes. Crisp, bright pink spicy radishes that can be grown in small containers or alongside a larger plant. 

      Finding the Right Container

      Once you’ve got a sense of your space and you’ve decided what to grow, the next thing to figure out is what containers you want to use. Each material will suit different situations.

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      Fennel plants in a fabric grow bag. Photo by Ellie Shechet.

      I use a lot of recycled plastic pots because they’re lightweight and reusable, but I’d never buy new plastic. I like the look of terra-cotta but would only use it for growing Mediterranean herbs like thyme and rosemary, as terra-cotta pots wick away moisture on warm days and would cause a thirsty plant to become dehydrated faster. Some metal containers look great, but they can heat up quickly in the sun, so avoid growing plants that are vulnerable to heat stress in them (like arugula or lettuce).

      My absolute favorite go-to container is a fabric grow bag. They’re lightweight, reusable, easy to store, and promote strong root growth. I’m on my fourth season of using the same felt grow bags and they’re still going strong (despite looking a bit shabby!).

      Maintenance & Care

      Whether you’ve got a knack for growing your plants from seed or bought plug plants from a nursery, your container-dwelling crops will need you to help meet some of their needs.

      Generally, expect to be watering your plants more frequently than if they were growing in the ground, as a pot limits the amount of space a plant can spread its roots in search of water. Multipurpose compost tends to contain four to eight weeks’ worth of the nutrients that plants need to grow, so if you’re growing crops that flower and fruit—like a tomatillo—pouring in some additional liquid seaweed or homemade comfrey tea every few weeks will provide a balanced feed to your hungry crops.

      Even your less demanding crops can develop nutrient deficiencies, so keep an eye on them and send a splash of feed their way if you suspect they could use a boost.

      These days, despite having a veg patch of my own, I still grow crops in containers every season. It enables me to make the most of the sunny, gravel-covered corners of my garden, and to grow all the extra plants I don’t have space for in the ground. Enjoy the journey—and your produce!

      More than 50,000 bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior’) are planted under a mature stand of oak, birch, and beech trees just south of Cherry Esplanade. In late April, the bluebells burst into flower and create an enchanting woodland display. As these spring ephemerals fade, summer-blooming hardy begonias emerge providing pink flowers in summer and lovely reddish foliage in fall.

      Immerse yourself in waves of sweet-smelling blue blossoms as you explore the Garden’s beloved Bluebell Wood in this mesmerizing video by cinematographer Nic Petry of Dancing Camera. Enjoy it at full screen!

      Audio Spotlight

      English

      In Bluebell Wood, thousands of Spanish bluebells are nestled under the dappled shade of beech, elm, and birch trees. Listen along as Fernanda Incera, Interpretation assistant at BBG, shares her favorite stories about this special area of the Garden.

      Read transcript

      In between an area of shadows and tree canopies grows an explosion of pale blue and violet petals. Welcome! I’m Fernanda Incera, the assistant to the Interpretation department, and this is Bluebell Wood.

      This part of Brooklyn Botanic Garden is nestled in what we call the beech, elm and birch collection. As expected, if you look around you will find several oak, birch, elm and beech trees. All these trees have a very specific thing in common: they grow huge branches with big leafy canopies that create a shadow wherever they are planted. That means that not just any plant can grow in their shade. That is where Spanish bluebells come in!

      Designed by Robert Hyland, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s former Vice President of Horticulture and planted in 1994, Bluebell Wood is a collection of over 45,000 Spanish bluebells. Their scientific name is Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior’, and since they can grow in partial to full shade, they are perfect for this space.

      This species of Hyacinthoides is very different from other kinds of bluebells. They are commonly mistaken for their English counterparts, but Spanish bluebells have important characteristics that distinguish them from the others. The first thing to note is that their stems are sturdier and stand straighter than English bluebells.

      The second main characteristic is that their blossoms are arranged on all sides of the stem. Since every Spanish bluebell has 12 or more flowers per stem, this placement makes all the difference: the flowers look even more abundant, creating a more dramatic show along the lawn.

      But the main reason why Spanish bluebells are so magnetic is their striking periwinkle color. This pale blue-lavender hue covers their petals up to their open flower tips. If you take a closer look, you might even notice that their pollen is blue, too! When they bloom, the flowers look like a floating ocean of lavender hues or like a light blue-violet sky among the trees.

      Following its creation, Bluebell Wood quickly became a favorite feature of the Garden. In fact, the woodland display worked so well that an additional 3,000 Spanish bluebells were planted at the south side of the area in 2019.

      Spanish Bluebells bloom for about 2 weeks in late April to mid- May and are perennial flowers, which means they die and come back every year. But what happens while the bluebells are gone? Well, the hill is never alone, so to speak.

      Planted among the Spanish bluebells you will find hardy begonias, or Begonia grandis. These start leafing out during the summer just as soon as the foliage of the Spanish bluebells dies down. These two species of plants live in harmony, mixed among one another, and bloom in a cycle. This is what we call interplanting.

      If you walk through Bluebell Wood at any given time, you will realize that according to Brooklyn Botanic Garden, or at least to me, good things do grow in the shadows.

      Español

      En el Bosque de las Campanillas, miles de campanillas españolas está ubicadas entre las sombras de las hayas, olmos y abedules. Escucha mientras Fernanda Incera, la asistente del departamento de Interpretación del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn, comparte sus historias favoritas sobre esta área especial del jardín.

      Leer transcripción

      Entre un área de sombras y las copas de los árboles, crece una explosión de pétalos azul pálido y violeta. Bienvenidos, soy Fernanda Incera, la asistente del Departamento de Interpretación y este es el Bosque de las Campanillas.

      Esta parte del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn está ubicada en lo que llamamos la colección de las hayas, olmos y abedules. Tal como lo esperas, si miras a tu alrededor encontrarás varios robles, abedules, olmos y hayas.

      Todos estos árboles tienen una cosa muy específica en común: crecen ramas enormes con grandes copas llenas de hojas que crean una sombra en cualquier lugar en donde sean plantados. Eso significa que no cualquier planta puede crecer en su sombra… Ahí es en donde entran las campanillas españolas!

      Diseñado por Robert Hyland, el antiguo vicepresidente de horticultura del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn, y plantado en 1994; el Bosque de las Campanillas es una colección de 45,000 campanillas españolas. Su nombre científico es Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior’ y como pueden crecer en sombra parcial a total, son perfectas para este espacio.

      Esta especie de Hyacinthoides es muy diferente a otros tipos de campanillas. De hecho, son comúnmente confundidas por sus contrapartes inglesas, pero las campanillas españolas tienen características importantes que las distinguen de las otras.

      Lo primero que hay que mencionar es que sus tallos son más fuertes y rectos que los de las campanillas inglesas. La segunda característica principal es que sus flores crecen alrededor del tallo. Dado que cada campanilla española tiene 12 o más flores en cada tallo, esto hace toda la diferencia. Las flores se ven más abundantes, creando un espectáculo más dramático a lo largo del césped.

      Pero la razón más importante por la que las campanillas españolas son tan magnéticas es su impresionante color azul lavanda. Este tono cerúleo pálido o violeta se expande por sus pétalos hasta las puntas abiertas de sus flores. Si las miras más de cerca podrás notar que hasta su polen es azul! Cuando florecen, las flores se ven como un océano flotante de matices lavanda o como un cielo azul claro y violeta entre los árboles.

      Después de su creación, el Bosque de las Campanillas se convirtió rápidamente en una de las áreas favoritas del jardín. De hecho, el campo funcionó tan bien que unas 3,000 campanillas españolas adicionales fueron plantadas en la parte sur de la zona en el 2019.

      Las campanillas españolas florecen alrededor de dos semanas, desde finales de abril hasta mediados de mayo y son flores perennes, lo que significa que mueren y regresan cada año. Pero, ¿qué pasa mientras las campanillas no están? Bueno, la colina nunca está sola.

      Sembradas entre las campanillas españolas encontrarás una especie de begonias de nombre científico Begonia grandis. Las hojas de estas begonias empiezan a salir durante el verano tan pronto como las campanillas españolas mueren. Estas dos especies de plantas viven en armonía, mezcladas unas entre otras y florecen en un ciclo. Esto es lo que llamamos intersiembra.

      Si caminas a través del Bosque de las Campanillas en cualquier momento, te darás cuenta de que de acuerdo al Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn, o al menos de acuerdo a mí, las cosas buenas sí crecen en las sombras.

      Highlights

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      Community gardens are essential to a city’s well-being. Yet they seldom get the credit they deserve, and too many suffer from lack of visibility and participation. One potential remedy is for gardens to embrace their role as “curbside educators” and take their talents out to the streetscapes along their gardens’ gates.

      St. Marks Avenue Prospect Heights Community Garden in Prospect Heights spills out onto the sidewalk with plantings and containers. Photo by BBG Staff.

      The annual Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest, led by Brooklyn Botanic Garden, offers a Best Community Garden Streetscape award. This award inspires community gardens to extend their garden’s borders and engage the surrounding community.

      After managing the contest for over ten years and visiting many community gardens, I’ve learned what works well. Whether you want to wow the judges or simply create more beauty for your neighbors, here are my top tips gleaned from Brooklyn's greenest blocks.

      Swing for the fences. Greenest Block winners often make use of limited space by going vertical. Tall exterior gates can make impressive trellises for plants like trumpet vine, climbing roses, berries, or hardy kiwi. 

      But even if your garden doesn’t want to obstruct sight lines or cast shade with tall, dense plantings on your fences, simply paying attention to these often-overlooked edges can make a huge difference to how your garden is viewed from the street.

      Hollenback Community Garden in Clinton Hill, a former Best Community Garden Streetscape winner, utilized lush climbing plantings and even installed a bench in front of their garden. Photo by BBG Staff.

      Think outside the gate. Be sure to research and follow local regulations for sidewalk planters. Local rules can vary, though most focus on the need to leave plenty of space for egress. 

      Small containers, under 24 inches in width, placed right along the property line are usually permissible. New Yorkers can call 311 or check out the city’s sidewalk usage guide. Even one or two well-placed planters can do wonders for creating a colorful focal point that draws people in.

      Lefferts Place Block Association Garden in Bedford-Stuyvesant welcomes neighbors with sidewalk containers. Photo by Nina Browne.

      Don’t forget the street tree beds. Street trees are the lungs of the city. Is your garden paying them the attention they need and deserve? Use best practices in tree bed care, such as gentle watering, carefully placing natural wood chip mulch, and installing an appropriate tree guard if you can. Be sure to do some research first—improper tree bed gardening and guards can do more harm than good.

      This modest street tree bed outside of 61 Franklin Street Garden in Greenpoint is doing so many things right: its guard allows water to flow into the bed, it has no added soil, and is planted with a healthy combination of mulch and groundcovers. Photo by Nina Browne.

      Use signage to engage and educate. Your neighbors are curious. Does your garden collect rainwater? Grow medicinal herbs? Feature native plants for pollinators? Donate food for mutual aid? A few simple and fun signs can help let passersby know what you’re doing.

      {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/NB_1stCoGrdn_NewkirkCG_1.jpg"}
      Newkirk Community Garden in Kensington, Best Community Garden Streetscape winner in 2022, used tasty herbs and informative signage to engage their neighbors. Photo by Nina Browne.

      Get creative. Brooklyn’s community gardens continue to educate the Greenest Block judges with their innovative thinking. What unique characteristics of your block’s street or sidewalk could you make the most of? We’ve even seen temporary construction fences transformed by acts of guerilla gardening, covered in vines that were planted in several five-gallon buckets.

      Take a slow, intentional walk past your community garden with fresh eyes. We think you’ll observe that the sky truly is the limit.

      This is a one-time program for kids of all ages and their caregivers. Join educators at activity stations throughout the Children’s Garden. Plant seeds, water vegetables and flowers, create nature crafts, taste fresh produce, dig in soil, and more! Participants are welcome to register for multiple classes, but activities will repeat. Programs take place rain or shine!

      One child-adult pair must register to participate together. Up to three children or adults may be added.

      Cost

      • $35 child-adult pair (nonmember)/$30 child-adult pair (member)
      • $18/$15 (member) for each additional adult or child in the group (up to 3 additional, 5 total)

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      455 Flatbush Avenue
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      Last entry 30 minutes before closing. Specialty gardens begin to close 30 minutes before closing time.

      Seasonal Hours

      Through August 1

      • Open late! Tuesday & Thursday: 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. (except July 4, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.)
      • Wednesday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
        Members’ Summer Evenings: Wednesdays, May 29–September 4
      • Friday–Sunday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
      • Closed Mondays

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      All visitors must present ticket for entrance. Members and affiliates with free tickets must also show proof of eligibility.

      • Advance tickets are recommended. Tickets are available 30 days in advance of visit dates. Same-day tickets may be obtained at Garden admission booths.
      • Children under 12 are free. Children under 14 must be supervised by an adult 18 or over.
      • If you are feeling unwell, please reschedule your visit. Tickets are nonrefundable, but may be exchanged in advance for another date (see ticket confirmation for details).

      Ticket Prices

      Members
      Free
      Adults
      $22
      Seniors (65+)
      $16
      Students 12+ with ID
      $16
      Children under 12
      Free
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      A portion of each day’s tickets are available free of charge to those who need them.
      Museum & Garden Combo
      See below.
      Winter Weekdays (December–February)
      Pay what you wish.

      Members receive free general admission every day.

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      Your Admission Makes Great Things Possible!

      Admissions and membership revenue helps Brooklyn Botanic Garden care for its 52 acres of grounds and conservatories and provide the environmental education programs, breathtaking botanical displays, exciting public events, and community greening efforts that have made the Garden a world-class living museum for all to enjoy. Thank you for supporting this with your visit!

      Free Admission Opportunities

      Admission is free:

      • BBG members receive free general admission year-round.
      • Children under 12 are always free.
      • Community Tickets: A portion of each day’s tickets are available free of charge to those who need them.
      • Pay-What-You-Wish Winter Weekdays: Tuesday–Friday, December–February

      Free admission during public hours is also offered to the individuals and groups listed below. Check full details at the link below before planning your visit.

      Academic members and participants in the following programs, with valid ID:

      • Students, employees of Brooklyn College and Medgar Evers
      • Students, employees, alum of Pratt
      • Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment students and families, employees
      • Cool Culture cardholders and their families
      • Garden Apprentice Program teens and families
      • Project Green Reach classrooms, students and families (with pass)
      • Urban Advantage teachers, classrooms, students and families (with voucher)

      Visitors with the following affiliations, with valid ID:

      • Individual members of the following museum and garden associations: AHS, APGA, Museums Council of New York City
      • Members of gardens that participate in the AHS Reciprocal Admissions Program
      • Employees of current corporate members
      • Brooklyn Botanic Garden volunteers

      With preregistration:

      • Public library patrons with a Culture Pass reservation (with pass)
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      • Registered, self-guided groups from nonprofit senior centers, shelters, rehabilitation centers, and other 501(c)(3) organizations serving people with disabilities
      • Participants in accessibility programs, including monthly Memory Tours
      • Community Greening & NYC Compost Project workshop participants
      • Members of the press on assignment

      See Complimentary Admission Programs details

      Museum & Garden Ticket

      Enhance your day in Brooklyn by visiting our neighbor, the Brooklyn Museum! Purchase a Museum & Garden ticket here at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and present your receipt for same-day admission to the Brooklyn Museum.

      Adult
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      Seniors
      $24
      Students (12+)
      $24

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      • Museum & Garden visits must be made on the same date. The Museum is closed on Tuesdays.
      • Offer is not valid for special events.
      • The Brooklyn Museum’s admission is suggested. Tickets are not refundable.
      • There is no combination ticket for children under 12 years of age. Children under 12 enter for free.

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      English

      In Bluebell Wood, thousands of Spanish bluebells are nestled under the dappled shade of beech, elm, and birch trees. Listen along as Fernanda Incera, Interpretation assistant at BBG, shares her favorite stories about this special area of the Garden.

      Read transcript

      In between an area of shadows and tree canopies grows an explosion of pale blue and violet petals. Welcome! I’m Fernanda Incera, the assistant to the Interpretation department, and this is Bluebell Wood.

      This part of Brooklyn Botanic Garden is nestled in what we call the beech, elm, and birch collection. As expected, if you look around you will find several oak, birch, elm and beech trees. All these trees have a very specific thing in common: they grow huge branches with big leafy canopies that create a shadow wherever they are planted. That means that not just any plant can grow in their shade. That is where Spanish bluebells come in!

      Designed by Robert Hyland, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s former vice president of Horticulture and planted in 1994, Bluebell Wood is a collection of over 45,000 Spanish bluebells. Their scientific name is Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior’, and since they can grow in partial to full shade, they are perfect for this space.

      This species of Hyacinthoides is very different from other kinds of bluebells. They are commonly mistaken for their English counterparts, but Spanish bluebells have important characteristics that distinguish them from the others. The first thing to note is that their stems are sturdier and stand straighter than English bluebells.

      The second main characteristic is that their blossoms are arranged on all sides of the stem. Since every Spanish bluebell has 12 or more flowers per stem, this placement makes all the difference: The flowers look even more abundant, creating a more dramatic show along the lawn.

      But the main reason why Spanish bluebells are so magnetic is their striking periwinkle color. This pale blue-lavender hue covers their petals up to their open flower tips. If you take a closer look, you might even notice that their pollen is blue, too! When they bloom, the flowers look like a floating ocean of lavender hues or like a light blue-violet sky among the trees.

      Following its creation, Bluebell Wood quickly became a favorite feature of the Garden. In fact, the woodland display worked so well that an additional 3,000 Spanish bluebells were planted at the south side of the area in 2019.

      Spanish Bluebells bloom for about two weeks in late April to mid- May and are perennial flowers, which means they die and come back every year. But what happens while the bluebells are gone? Well, the hill is never alone, so to speak.

      Planted among the Spanish bluebells you will find hardy begonias, or Begonia grandis. These start leafing out during the summer just as soon as the foliage of the Spanish bluebells dies down. These two species of plants live in harmony, mixed among one another, and bloom in a cycle. This is what we call interplanting.

      If you walk through Bluebell Wood at any given time, you will realize that according to Brooklyn Botanic Garden, or at least to me, good things do grow in the shadows.

      Español

      En el Bosque de las Campanillas, miles de campanillas españolas está ubicadas entre las sombras de las hayas, olmos y abedules. Escucha mientras Fernanda Incera, la asistente del departamento de Interpretación del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn, comparte sus historias favoritas sobre esta área especial del jardín.

      Leer transcripción

      Entre un área de sombras y las copas de los árboles, crece una explosión de pétalos azul pálido y violeta. Bienvenidos, soy Fernanda Incera, la asistente del Departamento de Interpretación y este es el Bosque de las Campanillas.

      Esta parte del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn está ubicada en lo que llamamos la colección de las hayas, olmos y abedules. Tal como lo esperas, si miras a tu alrededor encontrarás varios robles, abedules, olmos y hayas.

      Todos estos árboles tienen una cosa muy específica en común: crecen ramas enormes con grandes copas llenas de hojas que crean una sombra en cualquier lugar en donde sean plantados. Eso significa que no cualquier planta puede crecer en su sombra… Ahí es en donde entran las campanillas españolas!

      Diseñado por Robert Hyland, el antiguo vicepresidente de horticultura del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn, y plantado en 1994; el Bosque de las Campanillas es una colección de 45,000 campanillas españolas. Su nombre científico es Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior’ y como pueden crecer en sombra parcial a total, son perfectas para este espacio.

      Esta especie de Hyacinthoides es muy diferente a otros tipos de campanillas. De hecho, son comúnmente confundidas por sus contrapartes inglesas, pero las campanillas españolas tienen características importantes que las distinguen de las otras.

      Lo primero que hay que mencionar es que sus tallos son más fuertes y rectos que los de las campanillas inglesas. La segunda característica principal es que sus flores crecen alrededor del tallo. Dado que cada campanilla española tiene 12 o más flores en cada tallo, esto hace toda la diferencia. Las flores se ven más abundantes, creando un espectáculo más dramático a lo largo del césped.

      Pero la razón más importante por la que las campanillas españolas son tan magnéticas es su impresionante color azul lavanda. Este tono cerúleo pálido o violeta se expande por sus pétalos hasta las puntas abiertas de sus flores. Si las miras más de cerca podrás notar que hasta su polen es azul! Cuando florecen, las flores se ven como un océano flotante de matices lavanda o como un cielo azul claro y violeta entre los árboles.

      Después de su creación, el Bosque de las Campanillas se convirtió rápidamente en una de las áreas favoritas del jardín. De hecho, el campo funcionó tan bien que unas 3,000 campanillas españolas adicionales fueron plantadas en la parte sur de la zona en el 2019.

      Las campanillas españolas florecen alrededor de dos semanas, desde finales de abril hasta mediados de mayo y son flores perennes, lo que significa que mueren y regresan cada año. Pero, ¿qué pasa mientras las campanillas no están? Bueno, la colina nunca está sola.

      Sembradas entre las campanillas españolas encontrarás una especie de begonias de nombre científico Begonia grandis. Las hojas de estas begonias empiezan a salir durante el verano tan pronto como las campanillas españolas mueren. Estas dos especies de plantas viven en armonía, mezcladas unas entre otras y florecen en un ciclo. Esto es lo que llamamos intersiembra.

      Si caminas a través del Bosque de las Campanillas en cualquier momento, te darás cuenta de que de acuerdo al Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn, o al menos de acuerdo a mí, las cosas buenas sí crecen en las sombras.

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      Learn and play together in the Discovery Garden. Hands-on stations throughout the garden’s courtyard, meadow, woodland, and marsh encourage families to explore nature alongside our teen apprentices volunteer Discovery Docents.

      This is a drop-in program for families with children of all ages. Free with Garden admission.

      All programs are outdoors and canceled in inclement weather. Check this webpage for updates.

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      Did you know that some cherry trees are actually—kind of—two cherry trees?

      Some flowering cherry trees at Brooklyn Botanic Garden were propagated using a technique called “grafting.” If you’re new to horticulture, that means each tree is actually made up of two genetically different plants that have, well, merged.

      Plants: They’re not like us. Here’s how Patrick Austin, plant propagator and nursery gardener at BBG, explains this advanced technique:

      “Grafting is essentially taking the stem of one plant—called the ‘scion’—and attaching it to the roots of another—the ‘rootstock’—and having them grow as a single plant,” says Austin.

      This Prunus ‘Shogetsu’ near the entrance to the Osborne Garden was propagated via grafting. Grafting is often used in order to combine desirable features of two plants, like beautiful blossoms and sturdy roots. Photo by Michael Stewart.

      Ornamental cherry trees are often propagated in nurseries using this method, along with apple trees, other fruit trees, wine grapes, hybrid roses, and many tree peony cultivars.

      Horticulturists often do this to combine the desirable features of two plants. For example, a scion from a cherry cultivar with beautiful blossoms might be grafted onto the rootstock of another variety known for its hardy, disease-resistant roots.

      Grafting, like growing plants from cuttings, also allows growers to produce genetically identical plants. It’s often used to propagate plants that won’t grow “true” from seed. An apple seedling, for example, will be quite different (and potentially less edible) than its parent tree.

      {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/Sargent-graft_JP_IMG_7697.jpg"}
      Does the trunk of this sargent cherry (Prunus sargentii ‘Columnaris’) look a little funny to you? That’s the spot where a scion and a rootstock were grafted together. Photo by Joann Pan.

      Part of what makes grafting so tricky, says Austin, is that you have to perfectly line up the cambium—that layer of cells underneath the bark where growth occurs—of both plant parts.

      This usually requires a very sharp knife, among other tools. But grafting happens in nature sometimes, too, when branches, stems, or roots of two individuals or species make sustained contact in just the right way.

      Natural grafting, or “inosculation,” is poorly understood, but researchers believe it may happen when pressure from growth or external forces pushes these plant parts together and the bark wears away, exposing the cambia and allowing the vascular tissues to fuse.

      The fused plants can transfer resources like water, hormones, and nutrients. Interestingly, natural grafting has been cited to help explain why some tree stumps in forest ecosystems can survive without leaves.

      If you’re visiting Brooklyn Botanic Garden this cherry season, take a closer look at the sargent cherry (Prunus sargentii ‘Columnaris’) near Lily Pool Terrace and the fruit trees in the Herb Garden. (As always, please don’t touch.)

      Can you guess the spot where two plants became one?

      Enjoy BBG’s Cranford Rose Garden at peak bloom with a diverse collection of modern, historic, and species roses. Take a tour and learn more about the history of these beloved plants.

      Free with Garden admission. No registration necessary.

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      Please note tours can be canceled due to inclement weather. Check this page for updates.

      English

      Are you here to see the flowering cherry trees bloom? They’re some of our favorite trees, too. Listen along as Fernanda Incera, Interpretation assistant at BBG, shares some fascinating facts about cherries at the Garden.

      Read transcript

      Are you here to see the cherries bloom? It’s one of our favorite trees, too. Welcome to Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I’m Fernanda Incera, the assistant to the Interpretation department, and like many of you, the beautiful flowering cherry trees are what first brought me here.

         

      So, what makes our cherry trees so special? Well, let’s dive in!

         

      Flowering cherries actually belong to the rose family, and they originated in Asia. So, all of the cherry trees you see today have traveled a long way to be here, just like most Brooklynites.

         

      Brooklyn Botanic Garden has around 26 different cultivars and species of flowering cherries in its collection. They are all quite different and bloom at various times. Their flowers range in color from white to pink to even a pale green.

           

      The double rows of cherry trees that you see lining Cherry Esplanade are called Prunus ‘Kanzan’. And there’s a very important reason why they are so spectacular. This cultivar was actually bred to have beautiful blossoms.

       

      If you’re lucky enough to see them in peak bloom, during the spring, you will notice that the pink double blossoms have up to 28 petals each. This makes ‘Kanzan’ cherry trees particularly special since most cherry blossoms only have five petals. During peak bloom, a wonderful cascade of pink petals will dance through the Garden and cover the grass with a carpet of soft pink hues.

         

      Among this collection there are two cherry trees that stand out due to their legacy at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Right at the north end of Cherry Esplanade you will find the two oldest Prunus ‘Kanzan’ trees in our collection.

         

      Believe it or not, those two trees were planted in 1921, which makes them over 100 years old! Given that most flowering cherry cultivars have a lifespan of 30 to 40 years, this is quite an extraordinary accomplishment. If you look closely, you might notice some rods and extra support that help these flowering cherry trees stay alive.

         

      Even though flowering cherry trees were not originally intended to be planted in traditional Japanese gardens, Brooklyn Botanic Garden has other weeping higan cherries, just south and across the bridge from the Cherry Esplanade, in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden.

        

      If you see them bloom, usually around early April, you will notice how the drooping tips of the branches almost touch the water and create a reflection of pink and white petals across the pond.

         

      What’s our least favorite part of cherry season? Well, unfortunately, each tree’s blossoms only last about a week. But, since cherry trees traditionally symbolize the transient and ephemeral, that's part of their beauty. So, take a deep breath, take all the magic of the flowering cherries in, and prepare to let them go. I’ll leave you to it.

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      ¿Estás aquí para ver a los cerezos florecer? También son uno de nuestros árboles favoritos. Escucha a Fernanda Incera, la asistente del departamento de interpretación, compartir algunos datos fascinantes sobre los cerezos en el jardín.

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      ¿Estás aquí para ver a los cerezos florecer? También es uno de nuestros árboles favoritos. Bienvenidos al Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn. Soy Fernanda Incera, la asistente del Departamento de Interpretación, y como a muchos de ustedes, ver las hermosas flores de los cerezos fue lo que me trajo aquí por primera vez.

      Pero, ¿por qué son tan especiales nuestros cerezos? Bueno, vamos a empezar.

      Los cerezos son parte de la familia de las rosáceas y se originaron en Asia. Así que, todos los cerezos que ves aquí el día de hoy, han viajado un largo camino para llegar acá; así como muchos de los habitantes de Brooklyn.

      El Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn tiene alrededor de 26 especies de cerezos diferentes en su colección. Todos son distintos y no todos florecen al mismo tiempo. Sus flores varían bastante en color. Pueden ser blancas, rosas, o ¡hasta verde pálido!

      Las doble filas de cerezos que ves en el perímetro de la explanada se llaman Prunus 'Kanzan' y hay una razón muy importante por la que son tan espectaculares. Este cultivo fue creado específicamente para tener flores hermosas. Si tienes la suerte de verlos cuando están floreciendo, durante la primavera, notarás que las flores dobles rosadas tienen ¡hasta 28 pétalos!

      Esto hace a los cerezos 'Kanzan' particularmente especiales dado que las flores de casi todos los demás cerezos tienen solamente cinco pétalos. Cuando los cerezos están floreciendo, una increíble cascada de pétalos rosas bailan a través del Jardín y cubren el pasto con una alfombra de delicados tonos rosados.

      Entre esta colección, hay dos árboles que sobresalen por su legado en el Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn. Al norte de la explanada de los cerezos, encontrarás a los dos árboles prunus 'Kanzan' más viejos de nuestra colección.

      Puede ser que no lo creas, pero esos dos árboles fueron plantados en 1921, lo cual los hace de más de 100 años de edad. Dado que la mayoría de los árboles de cerezos tienen un tiempo estimado de vida de 30 a 40 años, este es un logro extraordinario. Si los miras de cerca podrás ver algunos tornillos y placas de metal que ayudan a mantener a estos cerezos vivos.

      Aunque originalmente los árboles de cerezos no se encuentran en los jardines japoneses tradicionales, el Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn tiene otros cerezos llorones o 'Higan' en su colección. Los puedes ver dentro de nuestro propio Jardín Japonés que está al otro lado del puente, al sur de la explanada. Si los ves florecer, usualmente a principios de abril, notarás que las puntas de las ramas decaídas casi tocan el agua creando un reflejo de pétalos rosas y blancos a través del estanque.

      ¿Qué es lo que menos nos gusta de los cerezos? Bueno, desafortunadamente, las flores de cada árbol solo duran aproximadamente una semana. Pero, dado que los árboles de cerezos tradicionalmente simbolizan lo efímero y pasajero, eso es parte de su belleza. Así que, respira hondo, absorbe toda la magia de los cerezos y déjalos ir... te dejo para que lo hagas.

      Located at the Steinberg Visitor Center entrance (990 Washington Avenue), Terrain offers a variety of unique plants, artisan gifts, and decor with the urban dweller and passionate plant person in mind. Garden members receive a 10% discount in the store.

      Terrain Hours:

      • Tuesday–Thursday 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m.
      • Friday–Sunday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

      Note: A ticket is not necessary to visit the store but is required for Garden entry. There is no Garden access from Terrain, please show your ticket at the entrance next to the shop or purchase one at the box office.

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      Terrain at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

      Our Partnership

      Terrain at Brooklyn Botanic Garden brings the Terrain brand’s immersive retail experience to visitors and locals alike. The partnership is rooted in our shared passion for horticulture. It is the first of its kind for Terrain and a new shopping concept for the Garden.

      Visitors can look forward to on-site Design by Terrain Services for gifting and floral design needs, as well as event programming and collaborative workshops, and items from local Brooklyn-based makers.

      About Terrain

      Terrain is a garden, home, and outdoor lifestyle brand created to serve as a local source of inspiration and curated products for the garden and home. In 2008, Terrain’s flagship location opened in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania on the site of the historic J. Franklin Styer Nursery. Terrain is well-known for its elevated product offerings including diverse native plants, hand-picked planters, seasonal decor, outdoor lighting, and artisan made gifts. Its product assortment is designed to find the beauty in natural imperfection and to enhance a life lived outdoors and in.

      Don’t miss the welcome return of cherry blossoms, crabapples, bluebells, and more! Extended hours and new programs let visitors make the most of this special season. Advance tickets recommended. Free admission for members.

      Get Tickets Become a Member

      Seasonal Hours

      Through August 1

      • Open late! Tuesday & Thursday: 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. (except July 4, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.)
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        Cherry trees usually begin to flower in early April. An individual tree may only bloom for a week or two, depending on the weather. Of course, if they were in bloom all the time, they wouldn’t be so special.

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      Celebrate spring in the Garden with a dance party under the stars. Beginning just as the Spring Gala winds down, the After Party will usher in the night with music by Beewack.

      Tickets include special access to the Garden and two hours of open bar with signature cocktails, beer, wine, desserts, and more. Proceeds from the After Party provide essential support for the Garden’s programs and collections.

      Strictly 21+ | Advance ticket purchase required.
      All tickets will be held at the door.

      Festive botanical attire encouraged!

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      Crimson Wine Group Brooklyn Brewery

      When Daffodil Hill turns into a sea of yellow, the saucer magnolias shed their fuzzy bud scales, and the robins begin to pull worms from the lawns, I know it’s time to de-winterize my own little backyard garden and get ready for spring.

      Even plants that have spent the winter dormant underground sense the warming temperatures and longer days, both clear signals that it’s time to start growing again. Another sign of spring we sometimes don’t fully tune into is the smell of spring soil. Fun fact: As we turn soil over to prepare a bed for planting, we’re releasing geosmin, a compound produced by certain soil bacteria that’s responsible for the “earthy” aroma of soil.

      Wherever you garden, there are plenty of tasks to tackle in preparation for the growing season, so dust off your gloves and dig in.

      Preparing Beds & Pots 

      Remember how you mulched your perennials with care and intention last fall? Now it’s time to gently remove that thick layer of organic materials that have blanketed your plants all winter long to give tender new shoots space to sprout.

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      Perennial bulbs emerging in spring. Photo by Sara Epstein.

      Picking leaf mulch from around emerging bulbs is a delicate task, and you may find the revealed leaves to be a pale green-yellow color. Don’t worry—they’ll start to produce more chlorophyll and green up quickly. No need to toss those that leaf mulch; just spread it around (not on top of) other emerging perennials. It will slowly break down and add organic matter to the soil.

      Many gardeners also start cutting back their perennials around this time of year. If you decided to wait until spring to remove old stems to leave habitat for overwintering garden insects, bravo! To make sure you’re not disrupting anyone’s hibernation spot, wait until soil temperatures are above 50 degrees before getting out the clippers.

      (Feel free to wait even longer, if you can. According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, some bees don’t emerge until May in the Northeast.)

      Even if it’s still too chilly to set out tender annuals, you can prep containers and beds for planting.

      A rooftop container garden in NYC. After a few years, potting media used in containers needs to be replaced. Photo by Laura Berman.

      I’ve found it’s okay to use the same potting soil in containers for 2–3 years, amending each year by mixing in a couple inches of compost. Over time, however, the potting media will start to lose its structure and should be replaced. Likewise, gently incorporating 2–3 inches of compost into garden beds will add nutrients for plant health and organic matter for soil structure and water retention.

      Replacing media (and thoroughly washing the container) is essential if you noticed signs of disease or fungus last season. Be sure to check that drainage holes at the bottom of your pots are clear before you fill again with new potting mix.

      Adding additional mulch works now too, just make sure you don’t add too thick of a layer on top of a still-dormant plant. Mulch can help protect plants from drastic swings in springtime temperature; try to leave some patches of bare soil for ground-nesting bees.

      Planning & Sowing 

      If you’re growing vegetables this year, either in containers or in the ground, planning for succession crops will make the best use of your space. Cornell Cooperative Extension Agency and Grow NYC both have excellent vegetable planting calendars specific to NYC.

      Radishes nearly ready to harvest in a raised bed. Photo by Sarah Schmidt.

      For example, sowing early crops like lettuce and radish around the border of a bed leaves space in the center for transplanting tomatoes or seeding summer squash once the warmer weather arrives; by the time your tomato or zucchini plants get larger, you’ll have harvested out those early-spring crops.

      In addition to early crops, you can sow native wildflower seeds in spring (if you didn’t already do so last fall). Most seeds will germinate as soon as the soil reaches 55 degrees.

      Be vigilant if you want to use a native Northeastern wildflower seed mix. Unfortunately, not all seed companies pack 100 percent native seeds. Only purchase mixes that list out every species, and follow instructions for sowing. It’s tempting to scatter a ton of seeds, but this may leave you with an overcrowded plot.

      More on starting seeds:

      Starting Tomatoes From Seed 

      Seed Starting: Preserving Our Cultures

      Germination Test: Are Your Old Seeds Still Good? 

      Starting an Herb Garden in a Small Outdoor Space 

      Planning for a succession of blooms or foliage can be tough. Before your herbaceous perennials have fully emerged, you can still see the bones of your garden space and take some time to think about the season to come.

      At this time of year, I notice areas that could use more spring bulbs, both in ground and in containers, something I tend to forget about once other plants grow in and fill the garden space. It can help to mark spots with plastic or metal tags, or make a note in your garden journal.

      Aquilegia canadensis (Canadian columbine), a native woodland wildflower, performs well in part-shade and blooms in late spring. Photo by Blanca Begert.

      This year, I’m also considering a succession of plants that support native pollinators. Spring-flowering plants in my partly sunny yard and in containers on my stoop include easy-to-grow foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), native geranium (Geranium maculatum), and fothergilla, followed by mid- to late-season bloomers like mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum), rudbeckia, and native alumroot (Heuchera americana).

      I also plan to replace some existing ornamental columbine with the striking native Aquilegia canadensis and add some butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) to the mix this year!

      Assessing Winter Damage & Spring Pruning

      Winter damage will depend on the past winter’s weather and the specific microclimate your plant is growing in.

      Mediterranean herbs like sage and rosemary can overwinter outdoors in the ground or in containers in protected spots. During more severe winters you may see some dieback, and occasionally the plant won’t make it.

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      Sage can be pruned back heavily in early spring. Photo by Sara Epstein.

      The upside is that both of these woody herbs can handle heavy pruning. Cut away all dead parts, but keep an eye out for green wood or budding further down the stems. Always cut just above new growth.

      Late winter/early spring is also a great time to prune most summer-flowering shrubs (such as roses) as well as most coniferous evergreens. However, many species of hydrangea (a summer bloomer) create flower buds in late summer, so should only be pruned immediately after flowering. Similarly, spring-flowering plants (like forsythia) set their flower buds in the previous growing season, so don't prune those until after they bloom. When in doubt, do a quick internet search.

      Forsythia is a cheerful harbinger of spring in Brooklyn. Don't prune this shrub until after it's done blooming. Photo by Blanca Begert.

      Many of us gardening in Brooklyn have to consider space. Is the plant growing into a pathway? Is it shading out another plant? Growing over the neighbor’s fence? Winter or early spring is a good time to prune your plants down to the size you want them.

      If a shrub didn’t flower prolifically the year before, pruning can rejuvenate it—by thinning out thickets of branches, you’ll open up the remainder of the plant to increased airflow and sunlight, which can encourage flowering and fruiting as well as prevent fungal growth. 

      Another good candidate for severe rejuvenation pruning is red-twig and yellow-twig dogwood. They show the best stem color on new growth, so if the whole bush is full of dull-colored older stems, it’s time to cut the whole thing back to about four inches above the ground.

      I take advantage of early spring, just after the leaf buds have sprouted, to prune and reshape my climbing rose. I’m trying to get it to spread almost two-dimensionally along a brick wall that I’ve rigged with lengths of wire. But by the end of each vigorous growing season, it’s way bigger than I want to start with.

      {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/SE_roses-before-pruning.jpg"}
      Sara’s climbing rose before pruning. Photo by Sara Epstein.
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      Sara’s climbing rose after pruning. Photo by Sara Epstein.

      I’ll select a few of the best lateral stems, prune out anything that is growing in the “wrong” direction, and, to get maximum blooms, I’ll leave just a few short shoots intact.

      Be aware that pruning back old wood doesn’t always result in better blooms. For example, some hydrangea set flower buds on older wood.

      Dividing Herbaceous Perennials 

      There’s no hard and fast rule about when to divide herbaceous perennials (meaning non-woody plants that die back in winter and lay dormant underground until spring), but early spring is my favorite time.

      Once new growth starts poking up, you can see the whole crown of the plant, and because it’s only just starting to leaf out, it’s easy to dig up. It’s less stressful on the plant to divide on a cool, overcast day when the soil is nice and moist. For a primer on perennial division, check out this video tutorial featuring BBG gardener Laura Powell.

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      Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), seen here, can be divided every 2–3 years in spring. Photo by Sara Epstein.

      Even though it can feel like a destructive act, dividing or splitting a single perennial into multiple plants can help the plant perform better. If a plant is blooming less than it used to, if the blossoms are smaller, if it isn’t growing in the middle, or if it’s very leggy (tall, flopping over, needing to be staked), that could be a sign that it will benefit from being divided. Dividing makes more space for roots to grow and absorb nutrients and water, and re-establishes space between plants, which leads to increased airflow and a lesser likelihood of fungal disease.

      Sometimes plants (like mint, pachysandra, or ajuga) spread so much they start to take over your container or designated garden spot. As long as they’re not obnoxiously invasive, this is great! You can divide them to manage their size and give away the extras to your friends and neighbors.

      Gearing Up for Spring 

      It’s also about that time for gardeners to shed the layers of clothing that have kept us cozy all winter long. Remember—much like tender shoots, our bodies are new again to the elements. Sunscreen, a hat, and a nice thick hand salve are always a good idea during these first days of a new season.

      Enjoy!

      Descubra las plantas y los jardines del Jardín Botánico de Brooklyn que están en pico de floración, así como otros puntos sobresalientes de la estación, en esta caminata gratuita dirigida por guías capacitados del jardín.

      Los recorridos no tienen costo con su boleto de entrada al jardín.

      Los recorridos podrían cancelarse, de haber mal tiempo. Revise esta página para conocer las actualizaciones.

      Conseguir Entradas

      This summer’s art installation at Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a special group of visitors in mind: native insect pollinators. 

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      Architects Nerea Feliz and Joyce Hwang. Photo by Jack Landau.

      The installation, a Pollinator Lounge, is the creation of architects Joyce Hwang and Nerea Feliz, who make up the design collective Double Happiness. The duo has worked together for nearly a decade on projects that meld art and architecture and encourage humans to think of other species as neighbors. (This is Hwang’s second time making art for the Garden—she previously created a birdhouse for BBG’s 2022 For the Birds exhibition.)

      In May 2023, Double Happiness unveiled a Multispecies Lounge at the Bentway Studio, facing Canoe Landing Park, an outdoor public space in Toronto, that invites visitors to interact with urban wildlife. Drawing on insights from that experience, Hwang, Feliz, and their students from the University at Buffalo and the University of Texas at Austin are creating a space for native insect pollinators and BBG visitors to coexist.

      Brooklyn Botanic Garden director of Interpretation & Exhibitions Kate Fermoile spoke with Hwang and Feliz to learn more about their work and what we can expect this summer.

      What was the goal of the Multispecies Lounge in Toronto?

      Hwang: Because the Bentway is a public place in the middle of Toronto, we wanted to make it interactive. It’s a series of urban seating arrangements that allows people to sit down and interact with animals. 

      {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/The-Bentway-Nuit-Blanche-2023,-by-Mila-Bright-Zlatanovic-1797.jpg"}
      The Multispecies Lounge at Bentway Studio in Toronto, which inspired this summer’s Pollinator Lounge at BBG. Photo by Mila Bright Zlatanovic.

      Creating a space that could bring animals and people together in a public arena was a really important goal, while increasing awareness of urban wildlife, exploring the ecologies of the area, and bringing visibility to some of the species there.

      And did you achieve that?

      Hwang: I recorded some photos and videos after a few weeks of some bees moving around in the insect hotel structures. Anecdotally, I’ve also seen on Instagram people posting pictures where somebody sits down in a seat and suddenly notices a bee behind them.

      A part of the piece was to help people realize they are surrounded by other city inhabitants that they might not have thought of, like a groundhog that lives underneath the site.

      What is the difference between building for bees, animals, or birds and building for people? Do you approach your work differently?

      Feliz: I don’t approach it differently. Design is always about trying to identify the needs of the occupants. In this case, obviously, very different needs and occupants! Also, a big part of this work is to bring attention to nonhuman species and how they inhabit and perceive the city differently, and design can play a huge role in doing that and making that interesting.

      {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/Polinators-Lounge-Sketch2.jpg"}
      A sketch of the Pollinator Lounge at BBG. Image courtesy of Nerea Feliz and Joyce Hwang.

      Hwang: I try to think about animals and fauna as neighbors. So how can we lend the same empathic sensibility to design for multiple species, not only humans? 

      That said, obviously, there are so many regulations, codes, and accessibility requirements to manage as an architect designing for humans that don’t translate into designing for multispecies. On the other hand, there probably should be more thought given to design for nonhumans. For example, the bird-safe building guidelines in New York City are a good start; there should be more things like that.

      How did you learn about the animals for whom you were designing the Multispecies Lounge?

      Feliz: We started with iNaturalist.

      Hwang: And then we met with ecologists from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. They looked over the list of species we had identified through iNaturalist and compared it with a list of species at risk. Also, I wanted to gauge their level of enthusiasm about some species. 

      For example, this one ecologist got very excited about DeKay’s brownsnake; he was saying that it is one of the most misunderstood snakes in the area—that people don’t even realize that they’re killing baby snakes because they think that they’re worms and step on them or cycle over them! So we decided, okay, well, we have to incorporate the snake into the Lounge.

      What are some things from that project that you want to bring to BBG?

      Hwang: The seating arrangement really worked well, and the solitary bee habitats worked really well. I’ve read that it tends to be better if the bee habitats are facing south, but the ones that were facing in all directions were being used. For the BBG project, we’ll look at some other species, like wasps, butterflies and moths, and so on.

      What are you most excited about as you start planning for BBG’s Pollinator Lounge?

      Feliz: I’m very excited for our work to be at Brooklyn Botanic Garden! And I’m excited to give this project another spin. It is a rare opportunity to be able to revisit our design, adapt it to a new location, and be able to improve it, so that’s actually really awesome.

      Hwang: I had such a great experience working on the birdhouse project. I just have so much respect for the organization that it just feels wonderful to be part of it. Since I was born in Brooklyn, BBG was actually one of the first places my parents took us to when I was little; there are loads of pictures of me sitting in Brooklyn Botanic Garden as a baby.

      What should visitors look out for when they visit the Pollinator Lounge?

      Feliz: The premise of the project is exciting, creating a place for rest and the observation of nature. The Garden is already a place to pause and marvel at plants, but we are expanding it to include other species that play a huge role within plant life, specifically pollinators. We think these interspecies encounters are really great.

      Hwang: Get ready to learn more about our friendly neighbors, and about animals that you might not have even considered. You might like butterflies, but did you know that wasps are also pollinators? I want visitors to see the world through a different lens.

      A version of this article ran in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Plants & Gardens, the BBG Members’ newsletter. 

      Brooklyn Botanic Garden membership cards and guest passes are now digital! Members can access their digital membership card through a smartphone app or save it to their digital wallet, then show it on their phone upon entry to validate their free member tickets. (Each member, child, and guest needs their own ticket for Garden entry.) Guest passes are stored in and redeemed through the app.

      If you prefer to receive paper cards and passes, please reach out to [email protected].

      Follow the instructions below to access your digital membership card and guest passes.

      eMembership app logo

      DOWNLOAD YOUR MATERIALS

      Access Your Member Card

      1. Tap the appropriate button below to download the eMembership Card application to your device, or search for it in your smartphone app store.

        Apple App Store download   Google Play Store download

      2. Open the app and allow location access to display the nearest membership organizations.
      3. Tap on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden logo.
      4. Tap Find My Membership Cards and enter the primary member’s last name and membership number. Member Lookup Tool
      5. To add your membership card to your wallet: Verify your membership information and tap Download my cards.

      Updating After a Renewal

      Your expiration date will not update automatically. Following the Find My Membership Cards prompt should download your updated cards.

      Access Guest Passes

      1. Open the eMembership Card app on your smartphone and select the BBG logo.
      2. Select Membership Benefits.
      3. On the Membership Benefits page, select Guest Passes.

      To redeem a guest pass, display it at the ticket window to be scanned. Please also book a Member Guest with Pass ticket for guests.

      Parking Passes (for Dual Memberships and Above)

      If you purchased a membership on or before May 17 or opted out of digital materials, your parking passes will arrive in the mail.

      If you purchased your membership after May 17, you can pick up your parking passes at the information desk in the Steinberg Visitor Center. A membership representative is there Wednesday and Thursday, 12–7 p.m., and Friday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

      FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

      If I download my digital card, do I still need a member ticket to enter the Garden?

      Members need a ticket to enter the Garden. While advance tickets are not required, we do encourage members to reserve free member tickets for quicker entry. Display your digital card to validate your ticket.

      I don’t want digital cards and still want to receive the materials through the mail. Is that possible?

      Yes! If you’d like to receive paper membership materials, please contact the Membership Office. It will take 2–3 weeks to receive your materials in the mail.

      Brooklyn Botanic Garden isn’t appearing when I search the app.

      Please make sure that you give the app access to your location. If you still can't find BBG listed, please delete the app and download again.

      Do I have to download the app or can I save my membership card to my smartphone wallet?

      You can download the membership card to your smartphone wallet, but you need to do it via the app. Once you download the card to your phone, you can delete the app. Please note that you will need to use the app to access digital guest passes.

      My membership includes guest and/or parking passes. How do I use those?

      Your guest passes are stored in the eMembership Card app. To locate your guest passes, tap Membership Benefits and then Guest Passes. Pull them up before you get to the ticket window and let us know you’d like to redeem them on your visit.

      If you purchased a membership on or before May 17 or opted out of digital materials, your parking passes will arrive in the mail.

      If you purchased your membership after May 17, you can pick up your parking passes at the information desk in the Steinberg Visitor Center. A membership representative is there Wednesdays and Thursdays, 12–7 p.m., and Friday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

      There is a secondary member on my membership. How do they access their membership card?

      A secondary member can download the digital membership card following the same process; you can forward the confirmation email. They will need the membership number to locate the membership card.

      I renewed or made changes to my membership, but my membership card hasn’t been updated. How do I fix this?

      To update your membership card, simply tap Find My Membership Cards and complete that process again, including downloading your new membership cards.

      I downloaded my card, but now I can’t find it. Where did it go?

      Search in your app library for “eMembership Card.” You can add your card to your Apple or Google Wallet, but will still need to use the eMembership Card app for your guest passes.

      There is an error on my membership card. How can I fix it?

      If any of your membership information is incorrect, please email [email protected]. We’re happy to fix it for you.

      Ask a Gardener is a seasonal advice column written by BBG gardener Laura Powell.

      Spring at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.

      I bought a pollinator seed mix with a wide variety of flowers, and planted them in a bed on my roof that previously had been overrun with weeds. As the seeds are starting to sprout, is there a way to tell which are the intended flowers versus unwanted plants?

      Libby

      Brooklyn

      Dear Libby,

      I’m excited for your pollinator garden! I love that it's in sync with Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s 2024 theme.

      As your seeds start to sprout, it can be a bit of a mystery to figure out which little green things are germinating from the seeds you planted and which ones are party crashers. I’m happy to share some tips.

      A Mexican prickly poppy (Argemone mexicana) seedling, native to Mexico and the southeastern U.S., displaying its characteristic prickly leaves. Photo by Blanca Begert.

      First, look at the seed package or the supplier’s website for pictures or descriptions of the seedlings. If pictures are available on the website, try to match the photos to the seedlings in your garden. Whatever doesn’t match, pull it out.

      If all you have are descriptions and not photos, observe the shape, size, texture, and color of those tiny seedling leaves. Each plant has its own unique leaf style—see if they match the descriptions of the seedlings in your garden. Note that newly germinated seeds sprout one or two “seed leaves” before growing their true leaves; often the seed leaves do not resemble the true leaves, so it’s best to wait for the third leaf to emerge before identifying the plant.

      In addition to leaf shapes, plants also have their own growth habits. Some grow very upright and others are more spreading. Compare their growth styles to the expected habits of the flowers from your seed mix.

      Since you planted a mix, one indication that a plant might be a weed is that there are just too many of them, so be on the lookout for any one plant that seems to be overrepresented in your bed. Even if you’re not sure if it’s a weed, you don’t necessarily want one species dominating or overcrowding the biodiverse plant community you’re trying to establish—so it’s a safe bet to pull some of those seedlings and keep a close eye on the rest.

      If you are unable to identify the plants from their leaves and growth habit, you can wait until they flower. Although it’s more manageable to pull the weeds while they are still tiny seedlings, it is far easier to identify plants by their flowers than by their foliage.

      Also, don’t worry if the plants from your pollinator mix don’t bloom the first year, especially if you sowed the seeds in the spring. This doesn’t mean that you chose wrong when you were weeding. It’s just that many perennials need to experience a cold period before blooming.

      I hope these tips help. If you end up pulling a few desired plants and letting a few weeds grow to maturity by mistake, don’t be discouraged. The single greatest factor that will help you identify weeds is experience. So be patient and enjoy the journey.

      Why can’t I plant tomatoes in March if the weather feels warm?

      Miriam

      Newton, MA

      Dear Miriam,

      I know exactly how you feel! Whenever the weather starts warming up in the spring, I want to plant all the warm-season vegetables, but I restrain myself because I know that it is likely to make things harder for those plants in the long run.

      Why is March considered too early to plant tomatoes in our region, even if the weather feels warm? First of all, soil temperature rises more slowly than the air temperature, so the soil likely hasn’t warmed up yet. Tomatoes and other warm-season transplants generally need soil temperatures above 55°F. If you are planning to sow directly in the soil, the soil temperature needs to be even higher than that (65–70°F).

      Additionally, even if daytime temperatures are rising, nighttime temperatures likely still dip, sometimes even into freezing temperatures. Planting tomatoes too early can expose them to frost damage, possibly damaging or killing the young plants.

      So when is the right time to plant warm-season plants? The standard recommendation is to wait until the last frost date in your area has passed before planting tomatoes. If you’re eager to get a head start, consider starting tomato seeds indoors 4–6 weeks before the last frost date and then transplanting them outside when the weather is more stable.

      There is nothing like the taste of a fresh summer tomato, picked straight from the garden, but impatience will not bring a faster or more delicious crop. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and wait for the right conditions.

      If you just can’t wait to get an early start on the season, and you have time and means to invest, one option is row covers. Row covers are lightweight fabrics that help protect your plants from cold weather to extend your season in the spring and fall. 

      Use supports like wire frames or hoops to ensure the fabric doesn’t rest on any leaves, and don’t forget to roll it back on hot sunny days so your tender plants don’t get too hot. Remove the fabric completely once your last frost date has passed. You can reuse these year after year!

      What is the best strategy for moving seedlings from indoors to outdoors?

      Sylvia

      Port Washington, NY

      Dear Sylvia,

      The best way to transition seedlings started indoors to outdoor planting is by using a process gardeners call “hardening off.” The process is exactly what the name sounds like: a gradual toughening of the plants so they aren’t shocked by the transition from the cozy, protected indoors to the exposed and rugged outdoors.

      Participants in the Garden Apprentice Program water their spring seedlings. Photo by Saara Nafici.

      There are several possible steps you could take to toughen up your plants before planting them outside. You do not need to do all of them; you can choose the ones that make sense for your schedule and availability.

      1. Start by using a fan on your seedlings while they are still indoors. You don’t want the air to blow too hard—a gentle, indirect breeze will do. The air movement will not only help prepare your plants for the exposure they will encounter outside, but it is also helpful for preventing fungal disease.
      2. About 7–10 days before planting your seedlings in your garden, begin transitioning them gradually to life outside. Put them in a protected spot at first, away from direct sunlight and wind, starting at a few hours per day and increasing gradually. Bring the plants inside at night.
      3. As you get closer to planting time, move the plants to an area with sun and wind conditions closer to what they will experience in the garden.
      4. Always keep an eye on the forecast. If the temperature will dip below what is safe for your seedlings, keep them inside until it warms again.
      5. Your seedlings are ready to plant! Plant as you would normally and water them to help them get established in their new home.

      The steps listed above offer an ideal transition, but the hardening off process is time-consuming, and I don’t want you to be discouraged if you can’t complete all the steps.

      The only truly mandatory step is to check the forecast before moving your plants outdoors. If you have chosen the right place in your garden for your plants and the right time of year to plant them, you can just transplant directly from indoors to your garden. They may go through more of a transition period before adapting, but they will probably not suffer any lasting harm.

      Got a question for Laura? Submit questions for our summer installment of Ask a Gardener using the form below.

      Come celebrate spring in the Discovery Garden with a garden movement class! Join Sarah Pope in dancing, stories, and play.

      This free drop-in program is part of First Discoveries, our twice-weekly program for toddlers.

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      Courtesy of Sarah Pope.

      Support

      Major Supporter, Discovery Programs
      National Grid logo

      Members of the Garden Circle are invited to join us for a guided tour of BBG that explores plants and pollinators awakening from winter dormancy and the special relationship between native plants and pollinators.

      This invitation is for two and is nontransferable. Space is limited; be sure to reserve a ticket to save your spot. Contact [email protected] with any questions.

      RSVP

      Please note: This event is for members at the Contributor level and above; Individual, Dual, and Friends & Family members are not eligible to attend.


      Interested in joining the Garden Circle? Become a member at the Contributor level or higher to attend this and other exclusive events throughout the year!

      Join

      In this seasonal advice column, BBG gardener Laura Powell addresses your gardening conundrums.

      Enjoy garden-inspired stories alongside BBG volunteers at the Discovery Garden’s Woodland boardwalk. Drop in anytime to join—we welcome readers (and pre-readers) of all ages!

      This drop-in story time is part of our Family Discovery Weekends program series, which is free with admission.

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      Support

      Major Supporter
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      Lightscape

      Lightscape logo

      Email Signup

      About Lightscape

      NYC’S Most Dazzling Light Show

      Experience the magic of Lightscape! The after-dark, illuminated trail returns to Brooklyn with brand new works of art and promises an even more immersive and magical experience for visitors of all ages.

      Explore the beauty of the Garden under moonlight while enjoying seasonal treats and festive music. There is no better way to celebrate winter and the holiday season with friends and family!

      November 17, 2023–January 1, 2024

      Image Gallery

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      Tickets

      On Value Nights, adult tickets are just $24; $12 for kids ages 3 to 12!

       
      Off-Peak Peak
      Member Adult $24 $29
      Member Child (3–12) $12 $14
      Adult $34 $39
      Child (3–12) $17 $19
      Baby (0–2) free free

      Prices do not include service fees. Lightscape runs on select nights, please check calendar.

      Event Dates

      Ticket Types:  Peak  Off-Peak  Value Night

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      Know before you go

      About the Experience

      What is the Lightscape experience?

      Visitors to Lightscape make their way along a winding trail through BBG’s landscape, awash in artistic lighting design. Along the way, they’ll encounter monumental lighted sculptures, colorful effects on BBG’s trees, architecture, and water features, and site-specific music and sound.

      The trail begins at the Visitor Center and ends at 150 Eastern Parkway. Ticket times are staggered so groups can comfortably stroll the trail with family and friends.

      Click or tap below for full-size map.

      Show larger map A yellow line indicates a route looping into the Garden from the Visitor Center. Along the route are stars and icons showing locations of installations, food & drink, and bathrooms.

      Can I explore the Garden on my own?

      Only the trail itself is open to evening visitors. There are points along the trail where visitors can spread out, grab a treat or hot drink, or stop for great photo ops.

      Is it accessible to individuals with disabilities?

      The trail paths are wheelchair accessible. There are some lighting sequences that have flashing lights contained within them; however, there is no strobe lighting. Individuals who will be accompanied by personal care assistants may contact customer service for accommodation.

      If I visit during the day, can I stay into the evening?

      No, the Garden will close each day at 3:30 p.m. during the run of this event. Only individuals with Lightscape tickets will be admitted in the evenings.

      How late does it run?

      The last entry time for Lightscape most nights is 8:15 p.m. and the show closes nightly at 9 p.m.

      Ticket Information

      How do I get tickets?

      Showclix is the Garden’s official ticket provider.

      Can I purchase a ticket by phone?

      Visitors who are unable to use the online ticketing module can reserve tickets by calling ShowClix between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 866-220-4001.

      How do I get my member discount?

      Sign in to the ticketing site as a member, just as you do for admission tickets. Members may also purchase full-price tickets for guests beyond the number included in their membership level.

      If my plans change, can I transfer my ticket to another date?

      You may exchange live tickets by contacting Showclix in advance of your visit at 866-220-4001 or by chat at support.showclix.com ($10 exchange fee per order). Customer support is available 10 a.m.–6 p.m. (Sundays by chat only); after hours you may leave a message or submit a contact form. There are no refunds; tickets for past dates may not be exchanged.

      What happens if the weather turns bad after we buy tickets?

      Lightscape takes place in all weather, but, of course, if a weather event presents a risk to safety, the Garden may need to cancel an evening. If so, you will be notified about the cancellation and the rebooking process via email and/or SMS before 2 p.m. the day of your visit.

      Dining: Trail Fare & Lightscape Lodge

      Are there places to eat?

      Concessions selling hot drinks and light fare are available along the route, and more substantial meals can be found at the Lightscape Canteen. Please have your credit card ready, as most are cashless concessions. Feel free to browse the menus and locations in advance of your visit. Outside food and drink are not permitted.

      On select evenings in December, join us for a winter-inspired, three-course prix fixe dinner at Lightscape Lodge inside the Garden’s Lillian and Amy Goldman Atrium. Reservations are encouraged and separate Lightscape tickets are required to hold your spot. Walk-ins will be welcomed if space permits.

      Tips for Your Visit

      How should I dress?

      This is an outdoor event, so please come prepared for the elements by wearing appropriate footwear and dressing warmly. Umbrellas are allowed on the trail, we just ask that you are courteous of others when using.

      When should I arrive?

      Our goal is to speed admission by staggering ticket sales, although there may still be a short wait at the entrance. Your entry window is printed on your tickets. Please do not arrive more than 15 minutes early.

      How much time should we allow?

      That depends on your pace and how often you stop. However, as a general rule, you should allow approximately 90 minutes.

      Is there parking?

      Yes, attended parking (for a fee) is available at 900 Washington Avenue. Parking is limited, so we encourage visitors to take public transportation if they are able. Learn more about directions and parking.

      Are there places to shop?

      The Garden Shop is open in the Visitor Center.

      Can I take pictures?

      Absolutely. However, tripods, drones, and commercial photography are not allowed. Please tag @BrooklynBotanic and #LightscapeBrooklyn.

      Are strollers allowed?

      Yes, strollers are allowed. Please leave scooters and bikes at home.

      Can I bring my pet?

      No pets or emotional support animals are allowed. Service animals as defined by the ADA are always permitted.

      Plan Your Visit

      Ticketholders can find detailed information at bbg.org/lightscape-tips.

      Lead Sponsor

      Con Edison logo

      In partnership with Sony Music
      Illuminated trail created by Culture Creative

      Sony logo

      Join us in celebration of spring’s bounty as we highlight collections in bloom against a backdrop of lively tunes by Brooklyn Bluegrass Collective. Wine and other light refreshments will be served.

      Event RSVP

      This invitation is for two and is nontransferable. Enter the email address for your President's Circle membership to register.

      President’s Circle members provide essential financial support to the Garden and enjoy a deepened connection through special behind-the-scenes tours, private previews, and exclusive receptions. Learn more

      New York City is not exactly known for its plants. In order to truly be surrounded by nature, to take in its wonders, people often insist on driving upstate.

      But I’d argue that “nature” isn’t just a lake or an oak forest. It’s pigeons and starlings, dogs and roaches, it’s you and me, it’s the cherry or linden tree outside your window. And it’s in the most unexpected places, like between cracks in the sidewalk under your feet. 

      We call them weeds. But even the most tiny and unassuming plants can have intriguing histories, conflicts, and uses. For example, this little weed you’ve certainly seen hundreds of times:

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      Garlic mustard plants form short clusters of rosette-shaped leaves by mid-summer of their first year. The young leaves smell garlicky when crushed. Photo by A. Delray - Forest Vixen / Flickr.

      Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). And if it sounds pretty delicious, that’s because it can be. 

      Garlic mustard is a biennial, which means it takes two years to mature and produce seeds. First-year garlic mustard sticks close to the ground, developing scalloped, heart-shaped leaves. It kind of looks like wild ginger or creeping Charlie. In its second year, it shoots up tall and its leaves become triangular, with tiny, white, four-petaled flowers.

      You know how we refer to broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage as “cruciferous” vegetables? That’s because of these four-petaled flowers, which resemble a crucifix. Lots of things we eat are cruciferous, including all mustards. Just in case you needed an excuse to think about Jesus every time you eat a hot dog.

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      In the early spring of their second year, garlic mustard plants produce small white flowers with four petals. Photo by Plant Image Library / Flickr.

      Garlic mustard’s taproot does taste horseradish-y (also a member of the Brassicaceae, or mustard family). And its leaves are technically edible, too. It contains very small amounts of cyanide, which can be alleviated by chopping and cooking it. When you crush it between your fingers, it smells deliciously garlicky.

      There are a lot of recipes on the internet for garlic mustard. You can make pesto, wasabi, salad dressing, deviled eggs. I got optimistic when I saw these rave reviews in foraging guides, though I’ve tried to eat it several times in myriad ways—fried, boiled, blanched—and I’ve gotta say, it’s extremely bitter. In my opinion, only the freshest new leaves in the spring are sweet enough to eat.

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      Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is considered an invasive species in the U.S., where it has spread aggressively in forests and wooded areas. Photo by Bryan Siders / Flickr.

      Garlic mustard grows... well, everywhere, but you might begin to spot it when it sprouts in early spring. It especially thrives in dappled shade, and can be found in areas where there’s a lot of foot traffic.

      Each plant can produce hundreds, sometimes thousands, of seeds that travel by wind or hitch a ride on our shoes. Which is kind of cool—a marvel of nature’s resilience—when you stumble upon it in a street tree bed, or in an abandoned lot. (You should probably not eat plants that you find in city tree beds and abandoned lots.)

      But it’s less cool when it makes its way into the city’s forested areas. See, garlic mustard was brought to the Americas by European settlers who used it in dishes like salt fish and roast lamb. Apparently, it was also occasionally used to treat mouth ulcers and sore throats. But in Europe, there are dozens of insects that eat the pungent weed. Here, few insects and animals are attracted to it, and it has proliferated across much of the U.S.

      {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/Garlic_Mustard_(Alliaria_petiolata)_-_Guelph,_Ontario_2020-04-08_(02).jpg"}
      First-year garlic mustard in the understory of a forested area in Canada. Photo by Ryan Hodnett / Wikimedia Commons.

      And therein lies the conflict. Garlic mustard is a colonizer, of sorts—it has been associated with declines in native plants. It releases chemicals into the soil that can impede the growth of nearby plants, potentially killing the mycorrhizal fungi that partner with them, and it’s able to create a thick groundcover that can outcompete native plants. It’s also been shown to disrupt the life cycle of the West Virginia white butterfly.

      No wonder it’s a bane of conservationist gardeners everywhere. They can make a dent in small populations by pulling it in the early spring, before it develops its seeds. But once it takes over a large area, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate. There is some evidence that over the course of many years, it can die off on its own. Still, it can set back other plants during that time.

      So the next time you’re out on a walk this spring, keep an eye (and a nose) out for the delicious, villainous, imported garlic mustard. It may look unassuming, but to foragers and gardeners, it can be a blessing or a curse.

      Note: Forage safely! Only harvest if you have permission; most parks and gardens in New York City don’t allow visitors to remove plants. Make sure you accurately identify any plant you eat, and avoid collecting from a site you can’t confirm is free of lead or other toxins.

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      I moved into an apartment last spring with a large raised bed that was full of mugwort and chickweed, with a little patch of irises and daffodils. The soil was very compacted and sandy, but the area gets great light, and I was excited to have a growing space for the first time. 

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      Hester’s raised bed before planting. Photo courtesy of Hester Griffin.
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      Hester's raised bed after planting. Photo courtesy of Hester Griffin.

      Gardening can be surprisingly expensive, especially when you’re starting from scratch. Between soil, plants, containers, tools, and more, it’s possible—though not necessary—to spend a lot of money on even a modest plot.

      In my case, I spent about $200 on 15 small native perennial plants to get the flower bed started. I plan on staying in this apartment for a long time, so I bought the smallest (i.e., least expensive) plants available and let them grow, planting the rest of the area with seeds. I look forward to watching them fill in the space over the years, and adding more plants as I can afford to.

      Rest assured, however: You can garden for far less. I was able to source most of my other materials cheaply or for free, from seeds and tools to local compost.

      Whether you have a backyard garden, community garden plot, pots on a stoop, or a street tree bed you’d like to take care of, here are some tips to help you get started without draining your bank account.

      Soil

      The first thing you need to start gardening is soil. (Unless you’re working in a street tree bed! Adding soil can damage the tree.) Soil can be expensive to purchase in large quantities, not to mention a logistical challenge for city growers.

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      The Clean Soil Bank stockpile in East New York, Brooklyn. Photo by Sara Perl Egendorf.

      The NYC Clean Soil Bank offers free soil for certain recipients, including construction projects and community and school gardens. If you’re part of a community garden or school garden, they will deliver up to six cubic yards of soil to your site. Community gardens can also register with GreenThumb, the NYC Parks’ Department urban gardening program, to request many free resources from the city, including bulk soil, compost, and mulch.

      If you decide to buy soil, I recommend buying in larger amounts, which is always cheaper. Check with your local nursery to see if they will give you a discount for buying in bulk. If you don’t need or have space for that much soil, you could coordinate with neighbors or friends to split an order.

      If you don’t have a car, getting a lot of soil will be tricky—but it’s another great reason to connect with other gardeners, some of whom may also need soil (and have access to a car). You will only need to get a lot of soil once. After that, you can just add small amounts of amendments every year.

      If you are starting a garden and using existing soil, it’s important to test it for lead and other heavy metals, as well as pH and nutrient levels. One of the most affordable ways to get your soil tested is to send samples to the Urban Soils Lab at Brookyn College, which costs $20 for a lead screening and pH test.

      Compost

      Compost is an incredible soil amendment that makes use of all of your food scraps and saves a valuable resource from the landfill.

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      Bags of compost from a compost giveback event. Photo by Hester Griffin.

      If you have the time and space, you can start your own compost pile. There are many ways to compost at home that can work for different spaces. Some are more DIY, like making a chicken wire compost bin or building a box with old pallets. If you don’t have space for outdoor compost, you can start a vermicompost bin inside.

      One way to get free compost in New York City is to look for a compost giveback event through the Department of Sanitation. If you go this route, make sure to reserve early, because spots fill up very fast. Nonprofits and community gardens can request deliveries. Local organizations like Red Hook Farms also sometimes offer compost givebacks for community members and greening programs; check their Instagram page for events this spring.

      An important caveat: New York City recently eliminated funding for community composting, affecting New Yorkers’ ability to access free compost, food scrap drop-off sites, and other invaluable services. Sign the GrowNYC petition to help restore funding for community composting!

      Mulch

      There are many sources of free mulch in New York City. You can pick up wood chips at Green-Wood Cemetery (go to the entrance at 500 25th Street and ask the guard for directions) anytime during open hours. Bring your own shovel and bags.

      Some local tree pruning companies will also deliver large quantities of free mulch upon request. And at Mulchfest, an annual December–January event, you can exchange an old Christmas tree for a free bag of mulch.

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      You can also chop up your own (or a neighbor's) Christmas tree to use as mulch. Photo by Hester Griffin.

      Another source of mulch is chaff from coffee or chocolate roasters. If you live near a roaster, ask them if you can take their leftover chaff. They may be happy to see it getting used. The chaff is great as mulch, or it can be added to your compost, providing lots of nitrogen.

      Finally, leave the leaves! Leaves are a great free source of mulch, and they might already be where you need them to be. This is a good option if you don’t have access to a car.

      Collect fallen leaves from your block in the fall and spread them on your containers or garden beds. (It’s best to chop or shred them before spreading, if you can, so they don’t mat when they get rained on.) You can also leave annuals to decompose in place for instant, effortless mulch.

      Seeds

      Starting plants from seed is always cheaper than buying seedlings or larger plants.

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      A recent seed swap hosted by the author. Photo by Hester Griffin.

      For free seeds, look around for seed swaps, which are sometimes hosted by libraries, nonprofits, block associations, and individuals. If you can’t find one, start your own with friends and neighbors. Community gardens also offer plenty of opportunities for seed-sharing.

      Swaps are great not only for exchanging seeds, but for making connections with other gardeners, which can lead to sharing other resources, help with heavy projects like spreading wood chips, and general camaraderie.

      You can also save seeds! When your plants go to seed, collect the seeds and store them in a paper envelope in a cool, dry, dark location to start indoors or plant outside the following year. This can be done with annuals or perennials.

      Note that saved seeds may be different from the parent plant, unless you grow the plant especially for seed saving and ensure that no cross pollination happens.

      Plants

      Many plants can be started by taking cuttings of another plant. This technique works well for shrubs, trees, many types of herbs and perennials, and houseplants.

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      A fig tree cutting. Photo by Hester Griffin.

      If you decide to start plants from cuttings, look up what time of year is best to take cuttings from that plant and check which type (stem, shoot tip, leaf, or root) works best. Another way to create more plants from what you already have is to divide them. Many herbaceous perennial flowers and herbs can be divided every year.

      If you decide to buy plants, the smallest plants are always the most affordable. Smaller plant starts, especially perennials, will also grow to be healthier plants. Larger, more mature plants can become root-bound and have a harder time acclimating to being replanted. In general, perennials are usually a better investment than annuals, which need to be replaced every year.

      It’s also worth noting that the very cheapest source of garden plants (like big box store sale racks) may not have the healthiest stock. Check out farmer’s markets, local nurseries with knowledgeable staff, or not-for-profit nurseries like Lowlands Nursery.

      Community gardens and block associations also often host annual spring plant sales with GrowNYC, and Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosts a plant sale in the fall.

      Above all, go for plants that are suited to your site conditions, and look up their growing requirements. Experimentation is great—but if you’re buying plants on a budget, a bit of research can help ensure longevity.

      Containers, Accessories, & Tools

      There are lots of fancy containers out there, but pretty much any container can be used to grow a plant as long as air and water can freely move through it. Milk jugs, crates, burlap sacks, buckets, pallets... even old boots! All of these can be acquired for free, and easily fitted with drainage holes.

      {embed="includes/_inline_image" file="/img/uploads/lightbox/HG_old-boots-as-planters.jpg"}
      A pair of old boots can be upcycled into a micro-planter. Try small plants like alyssum, pansies, or thyme (and remember to drill holes in the bottom). Photo by Hester Griffin.

      It’s also easy to spend money on things like stakes, trellises, and tomato towers, but you can often fashion these yourself. Try using sticks or old broom handles and twine, or borrow used ones from fellow gardeners.

      If you are just starting out, you will need a few tools. There are many things you can do with your hands, but these tools will make the work easier and faster. Here are my recommendations:

      • Gloves
      • Watering can and/or hose
      • Pruners
      • Soil knife
      • Shovel
      • Rake
      • Bucket or trug


      The only things I would buy new are gloves and pruners. Otherwise, many of these tools can be bought used on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, or found for free on your local Buy Nothing group. (Be sure to clean them.)

      Happy gardening!

      As part of the North American Japanese Garden Association’s annual Gardens for Peace project, which brings communities together in Japanese gardens to promote peace, BBG will feature free public programming in and around the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden.

      Check back this summer for more information.

      Bring a picnic, purchase a cocktail, and enjoy a summer evening celebrating Brooklyn’s West Indian community.

      Presented in partnership with I AM caribBEING.

      Reserve Tickets

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      Join us for a movie under the stars! Bring a blanket, grab some snacks, and enjoy the show. Our movie selection will be announced soon.

      Reserve Tickets

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      Enjoy outdoor story time with Drag Story Hour, a musical performance by Hopalong Andrew, and family-friendly activities in the Plant Family Collection.

      Reserve Tickets

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      Pack a picnic and enjoy a special live performance on a lovely summer evening.

      Reserve Tickets

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      Pack a picnic and enjoy a special live performance on a lovely summer evening.

      Reserve Tickets

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      Celebrate Pride at BBG! Members, guests, and friends are invited for an evening of queer community, cohosted by Queer Soup Night.

      Join Plant Kween on a tour of the Aquatic House and Tropical Pavilion, enjoy Drag Story Hour for children and families, plus a family-friendly community activity presented by our Discovery Garden team, on the Plant Family Collection lawn, dance to a live salsa performance by Las Mariquitas, and stop by Cherry Esplanade for a meetup hosted by Queer Soup Night all evening. Be sure to BYO picnic and blanket!

      Reserve Tickets

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      Cherry Esplanade is a broad green lawn bordered by allées of flowering cherry and red oak trees. The double-flowering ‘Kanzan’ cherries typically bloom at the end of April, one of the highlights of spring.

      Along the eastern and western edges of Cherry Esplanade are allées of scarlet oak trees, the Liberty Oaks, planted in remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001, and those who lost their lives that day.

      Cherry Walk is a meandering path east of Cherry Esplanade and behind the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. The trees here include double rows of ‘Kanzan’ cherries at the northern end and a wide variety of other cultivars along the southern end. Some of these cultivars are among the earliest to bloom during cherry blossom season.

      Cherry Blossom Season

      Hanami is a centuries-old Japanese tradition of flower viewing. Spring cherry blossoms are cherished for their ephemeral nature and are thought to represent the impermanence of life. An individual tree may only bloom for a week or two, depending on the weather; different kinds of trees bloom over the course of five to six weeks. Cherry trees usually begin to flower in late March. The Garden tracks blooms on CherryWatch.

      Highlights

      {embed="includes/photoset" photoset_entry_id="5165"}

      Video

      See a time lapse video of Cherry Walk as it reaches peak bloom!

       

      Learn More

      CherryWatch
      Can You Predict When the Cherries Will Blossom?
      Eight Things You Probably Don’t Know About Flowering Cherry Trees
      Identifying Flowering Cherry Cultivars
      Flowering Cherry Trees for Your Own Garden

      Left on its own, all organic matter will eventually break down through the action of hungry bacteria and fungi as well as larger creatures such as worms, sow bugs, and centipedes. These decomposers consume decaying plant material and convert it into humus.

      Composting speeds up this natural process. In just a few months, you can potentially create a topsoil-like amendment that would have taken decades to form naturally. It can then be added to your soil to improve its structure—allowing air and water to enter easily and be retained.

      Learn About Composting

      The average household throws away 2 pounds of organic waste each day—vegetable cuttings, fruit peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, and yard trimmings that could instead be composted. When we discard organic waste, we not only lose precious landfill space but also miss out on a valuable resource that can help beautify parks, gardens, and lawns.

      Current Classes

      Classes with available seats only

      Celebrate the bright days of summer with a vibrant arrangement featuring cheerful, colorful and fragrant flowers. Using a variety of summertime blooms and textured greenery, you'll create a garden-inspired tabletop arrangement reminiscent of the season. The instructor will offer step-by-step instruction—from palette selection and flower care to professional techniques for crafting a lush and unique floral arrangement.

      Learn some next steps in floral design mechanics from natural techniques to bending chicken wire.

      Bring that beautiful but odd vase that you got as a gift and work with the instructor to figure out how to make a beautiful floral arrangement that complements your container. You bring the vase, the instructor brings the flowers...together you’ll make a fine duet. Please bring your own shears.

      Dawn Petter teaches classes about the art of plant-based healing with the aim of making herbs and herbal medicine applicable to people's daily lives. She incorporates her training from Arbor Vitae School of Traditional Herbalism with her natural creative flare. In addition to teaching, Dawn works as a herbalist and flower-essence practitioner, leads herb walks, and runs an online apothecary shop called Petalune Herbals.

      Medicinal plants have been used for aperitifs and digestifs for centuries. Learning how to infuse the different botanical flavors, including aromatics and bitters, into our nonalcoholic drinks can add new tastes, complexity, and health benefits that may be as unfamiliar as some of the plants themselves. This class will introduce you to the wonders of using leaves, flowers, barks, seeds, and berries in a range of alcohol-free beverages. Recipes, tastings, and two mocktail elixirs will be made in class for you to use at home. 

      In this class we will work with basic design principles to extend our abilities in compostable floral arrangements. We will borrow techniques from the Japanese floral design practice of ikebana and use materials such as agrawool to keep our arrangements more precise and stable.

      Herbal oxymels are an herbal vinegar-and-honey-infused tonic. Oxymels make for a delicious addition to soups and dressings. Learn more about herbal oxymels and make your own to take home.

      If you’re new to tree identification or need a refresher, this class is for you. You’ll learn the fundamental concepts used in dendrology while being introduced to the Garden’s most common trees. The class will share some relevant botanical terminology, but will largely apply a jargon-free approach to learning one’s trees. Participants will also receive recommendations for resources and strategies to improve their own independent self-study. Awareness of trees is one of the best portals into creating a closer relationship with land and nature!

      Heather Wolf is a Brooklyn-based birder and author of Birding at the Bridge: In Search of Every Bird on the Brooklyn Waterfront. She works for Cornell Lab of Ornithology as a web developer for such sites as eBird and Birds of North America. Heather has taught birding classes at Brooklyn Brainery, given lectures for various organizations, including NYC Audubon and Brooklyn Public Library, and has led bird walks for Brooklyn Bridge Park, Washington Square Park Eco Projects, Florida Trail Association, and more.

      Learn how to find and identify birds at the height of spring migration! Each class will consist of 30 minutes of classroom instruction followed by 90 minutes of instruction and field birding on the Garden grounds.

      Roses are one of the most beautiful and praised flowers. They’ve been valued for centuries in many cultures and have been cultivated and hybridized worldwide. Learn about the beauty, history, and legacy of the adored and exalted rose. Each variety has a unique scent; we’ll discuss the different notes found in them and learn to pick out the subtle differences. A walk in the Cranford Rose Garden will provide a myriad of examples as we compare them side by side. After our walk, you will have an opportunity to create a rose perfume at our very own Perfume Bar. Each attendee will leave with a quarter-ounce vial of perfume and a fragrant bouquet of paper roses.

      Julianne Zaleta is a professional herbalist, aromatherapist, and natural perfumer. As the proprietor of the Brooklyn-based Alchemologie Natural Perfume, she crafts artisanal and bespoke perfumes as well as aromatic and therapeutic remedies and elixirs for a wide variety of ailments. She is a certified aromatherapist as well as a licensed massage therapist and meditation teacher.

      Take in the beauty of the life that surrounds us in the Garden—awakening our senses and spirit to support equanimity and peace. We will walk in various open spaces and paths residing in our moment to moment experience.

      No experience with meditation necessary. Bring a little notepad and pencil.

      Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship into a sacred bond.
      Robin Wall Kimmerer

      Tai chi and qigong exercises improve balance, increase blood circulation, relax your mind and body, and increase your internal energy. The instructor will demonstrate movements. Please come prepared in clothing that allows for movement.

      Examine the art of natural perfumery. Gain a basic understanding of the sense of smell, the history of perfume, the advent of synthetic ingredients, and the return to naturals. Explore perfume ingredients and formulation, and leave with two bottles of your own bespoke perfume.

      Tai chi and qigong exercises improve balance, increase blood circulation, relax your mind and body, and increase your internal energy. The instructor will demonstrate movements. Please come prepared in clothing that allows for movement.

      Get a crash course in vegetable gardening! In this class you will learn the basics of how to grow vegetables including how to do a site assessment, amend your soil, plan what to grow, choose seeds, grow seedlings, plant, transplant, water, weed, use organic pest control, and harvest. You can also take home seedlings to get started or to add to your garden.

      Get your hands dirty learning how to properly replant a houseplant and a succulent using potting mixes you've created here. You'll learn the purpose of each soil ingredient, how plant needs vary, and how to create your own fertilizers. You'll leave with 2 repotted plants, an informative handout, a small container of your own handmade potting soil and one of ready-to-use fertilizer, and a carry bag.

      Immerse yourself in a full day of native gardening instruction in this indoor/outdoor class at BBG. Learn the principles and best practices to create a robust native garden filled with life. We will also explore native plants at BBG that you might use in your own garden, and discuss the conditions that they thrive in.

      Learn the essentials of pollination ecology and pollinator landscape design from the author of The Pollinator Victory Garden: Win the War on Pollinator Decline with Ecological Landscaping. We will cover plant reproduction and pollination strategies, key pollinators that can be supported in managed landscapes, pollination syndromes, plant preferences and coevolutionary plant-pollinator associations, ecological design principles that maximize pollinator support, and best practices for selecting pollinator-supportive plants.

      Learn how to transplant, root-prune, and repot root-bound plants.

      An archival skill developed by ancient Egyptians is still used today to preserve the earth’s botanical world. Creating herbariums is a traditional practice of preserving the world’s pressed plants. New York Botanical Garden educator and herbalist Arvolyn Hill shows how to press flowers for museum quality specimens or art. During this two-part workshop, Arvolyn will show proper ways to press plants and the art of plant preservation.

      Learn to make the right plant choices to suit the conditions of your home or office space. 

      Get Tickets Become a Member Full Admission Information › Last entry 30 minutes before closing. Specialty gardens begin to close 30 minutes before closing time. Seasonal Hours Through August 1 Open late! Tuesday & Thursday: 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. (except July…

    1. Visit

      Bluebell Wood Audio Highlight (English & Español)

      English In Bluebell Wood, thousands of Spanish bluebells are nestled under the dappled shade of beech, elm, and birch trees. Listen along as Fernanda Incera, Interpretation assistant at BBG, shares her favorite stories about this special area of the Garden. Your browser does not support the audio element. Read transcript…

    2. Photo Sets

      Bluebell Wood Highlights

      Bluebell Wood Highlights

    3. People

      Claire Ratinon

      Claire Ratinon is an organic food grower and writer based in East Sussex, UK. She is the author of How to Grow Your Dinner Without Leaving the House and Unearthed: On Race and Roots, and How the Soil Taught Me I Belong.

    4. Visit

      Tours & Suggested Itineraries

      Guided Tours See All Upcoming Tours › Audio Tours Cranford Rose Garden Listen to Rose Garden highlights from director of Horticulture Shauna Moore. Listen › Bluebell Wood (English & Español) Learn about this amazing…

    5. Calendar: Events

      Spring Family Discovery Weekends

      Spring Family Discovery Weekends

    6. Articles

      Cherry Trees Are Often Grafted. What Does that Mean?

      Cherry Trees Are Often Grafted. What Does that Mean?

    7. Calendar: Events

      Rose Tour

      Rose Tour

    8. Visit

      Cherry Blossoms Audio Highlight (English & Español)

      English Are you here to see the flowering cherry trees bloom? They’re some of our favorite trees, too. Listen along as Fernanda Incera, Interpretation assistant at BBG, shares some fascinating facts about cherries at the Garden. Your browser does not support the audio element. Read transcript Are you here to…

    9. Visit

      Terrain at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

      Located at the Steinberg Visitor Center entrance (990 Washington Avenue), Terrain offers a variety of unique plants, artisan gifts, and decor with the urban dweller and passionate plant person in mind. Garden members receive a 10% discount in the store. Terrain Hours: Tuesday–Thursday 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. Friday–Sunday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.…

    10. Visit

      Spring at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

      Don’t miss the welcome return of cherry blossoms, crabapples, bluebells, and more! Extended hours and new programs let visitors make the most of this special season. Advance tickets recommended. Free admission for members. Get Tickets Become a Member Seasonal Hours Through August 1 Open late! Tuesday & Thursday: 10 a.m.–8:30…

    11. Calendar: Events

      After Party 2024

      After Party 2024

    12. Articles

      Waking Up Your Garden for Spring

      Waking Up Your Garden for Spring

    13. Calendar: Events

      Recorrido por lo más sobresaliente de la estación/Seasonal Highlights Tour in Spanish

      Recorrido por lo más sobresaliente de la estación/Seasonal Highlights Tour in Spanish

    14. Articles

      Summer Destination: A Pollinator Lounge

      Summer Destination: A Pollinator Lounge

    15. Support

      Digital Membership Card FAQ

      Digital cards and guest passes are available to members.

    16. Articles

      Ask a Gardener: Is It a Weed or a Seedling?

      Ask a Gardener: Is It a Weed or a Seedling?

    17. Calendar: Events

      Discover Movement with Sarah Pope

      Discover Movement with Sarah Pope

    18. Calendar: Events

      Garden Circle Tour: Signs of Spring: Plants and Pollinators

      Garden Circle Tour: Signs of Spring: Plants and Pollinators

    19. Gardening Resources

      Ask a Gardener

      In this seasonal advice column, BBG gardener Laura Powell addresses your gardening conundrums.

    20. Calendar: Events

      Spring Family Story Time

      Spring Family Story Time

    21. Calendar: Events

      Lightscape

      Lightscape

    22. Calendar: Events

      Lightscape 2023

      Lightscape 2023

    23. Calendar: Events

      President’s Circle Spring Blossoms Celebration: Bluegrass in the Blooms

      President’s Circle Spring Blossoms Celebration: Bluegrass in the Blooms

    24. Articles

      Weed of the Month: Garlic Mustard

      Weed of the Month: Garlic Mustard

    25. Articles

      How to Garden on a Budget in NYC

      How to Garden on a Budget in NYC

    26. Calendar: Events

      Gardens for Peace

      Gardens for Peace

    27. Calendar: Events

      Members’ Fête

      Members’ Fête

    28. Calendar: Events

      Members’ Movie Night

      Members’ Movie Night

    29. Calendar: Events

      Members’ Night for Children

      Members’ Night for Children

    30. Calendar: Events

      Members’ Art in the Garden Night

      Members’ Art in the Garden Night

    31. Calendar: Events

      Members’ Art in the Garden Night

      Members’ Art in the Garden Night

    32. Calendar: Events

      Members’ Pride Night

      Members’ Pride Night

    33. Calendar: Events

      Members’ Rose Night

      Members’ Rose Night

    34. Sub-gardens

      Cherry Esplanade

      Cherry Esplanade is a broad green lawn bordered by allées of flowering cherry and red oak trees. The double-flowering ‘Kanzan’ cherries typically bloom at the end of April, one of the highlights of spring.

    35. Gardening Resources

      BBG’s Guide to Composting

      Left on its own, all organic matter will eventually break down through the action of hungry bacteria and fungi as well as larger creatures such as worms, sow bugs, and centipedes. These decomposers consume decaying plant material and convert it into humus. Composting speeds up this natural process. In just…

    36. Education and Activities

      Continuing Education Classes

      Learn to plant a roof garden, arrange flowers, make your own perfume, paint in watercolor, and much more.

    37. Classes

      Designing with Summertime Blooms

      Designing with Summertime Blooms

    38. Classes

      Wood, Wire, and Other Ways

      Wood, Wire, and Other Ways

    39. Classes

      Floral Design Basics

      Floral Design Basics

    40. People

      Dawn Petter

    41. Classes

      Summer Mocktails

      Summer Mocktails

    42. Classes

      Floral Design: Working with Compostable Floral Techniques

      Floral Design: Working with Compostable Floral Techniques

    43. Classes

      DIY Herbal Oxymels

      DIY Herbal Oxymels

    44. Classes

      Tree ID 101

      Tree ID 101

    45. People

      Heather Wolf

    46. Classes

      Beginning Birding

      Beginning Birding

    47. Classes

      A Nose for Roses: A Perfumed Walk in the Cranford Rose Garden

      A Nose for Roses: A Perfumed Walk in the Cranford Rose Garden

    48. People

      Julianne Zaleta

    49. Classes

      Summer Awakening: Walking Meditation

      Summer Awakening: Walking Meditation

    50. Classes

      Tai Chi & Qigong for Beginners

      Tai Chi & Qigong for Beginners

    51. Classes

      Natural Perfume Blending

      Natural Perfume Blending

    52. Classes

      Tai Chi & Qigong Intermediate Class

      Tai Chi & Qigong Intermediate Class