Thursday, April 30, 2009

Plants at last

Last week's soil prep...

This morning, before I got there, the HWV crew arranged 450 perennials on the two cleared median beds.

Above: gardening in a time of Swine Flu. Or six lanes of traffic, take your pick. Two gardeners, Dan above, and Nicole below - who has been gardening for us for a month to see how she likes it as a career change - opted for masks. The rest of us found the air quite invigorating.

Halfway through planting we were surprised by the smiling Joseph, above, with a tray of iced cokes. He had brought them over from Chickpea, the newish, rather corporate falafel franchise on our block. We had never met him before, and he thanked us for greening and offered us a free lunch, which we accepted happily. Falafel and hummus in pita was an excellent way to reload. Thank you, Chickpea!

Ranks of echinacea. Please say a plant prayer for our perennials: let nobody yank them out and steal them. Let nobody stomp them. In July let there be a mass of pink blooms with orange centers. Let there be butterflies.

Note that we feed our plants only bottled water. Nothing else is good enough.

Hm. Yes. Watering was not easy. Lots of griping. This was the most innovative way we had of getting a lot of water from our offices to the median.

We found traffic to be remarkably considerate. Vehicles merely tapped us, stopping short of ramming.

Actually, again we had lots of encouragement. Two cops cars offered their compliments, so did Con Ed trucks and a sanitation truck. In fact, the sense I got was one of bonding with the civil service. The city workers. We were perceived as part of that body, and it was enlightening. On a frontline, together.

A passing sanitation truck actually stopped and collected our trash for us. And thanked us. And we thanked them...

The itea (sweetspire), in bud. Itea prayer: please let them not be stolen.

Iceberg roses, below, with catnip and geraniums beneath, and very vulnerable gaura, just breaking dormancy.

Watering will continue to be a headache for the first few weeks, but water them we must. The city truck will be able to water them sporadically, and I chose some tough plants.

For now we hope for the promised rain. Nothing could be better.

5/1/2009: click here for day-after update.
7/2/2009: and two months later...
8/04/2009: the hyssop heist


  1. I have several digits crossed for you and the plants.Civic plantings are often so tempting, but maybe the 'hood fraternity will keep an eye on things.I'm looking forward to seeing the summer colour.(Today, the wind swung from the South-think Capetown.)

  2. We have asked the plant spirits to guard and bless your plants as they grow healthy and beautiful in their median. Looking forward to pictures of their progress ...

    'Kaika and Keli'i

  3. Hmmm...I might have missed some info in a previous post but what is the context of this planting? is it a job, if so, hired by whom? is it volunteering, if so who provides the plants? Just curious.

  4. The watering situation is interesting. You have to water by hand? A water truck will come by and water after that? Are most of medium strips in New York City watered this way? No irrigation to them? I am, of course from a place that get's no summer water, so irrigation systems are perhaps more important here.

    Love your blog. Reminds me of our little 10 sq.ft fire escape garden we had when we lived in The Bay Area. A lot of joy came out of that little oasis. I also added your blog to my blog roll.

  5. Ahh, this brings back memories of planting a Park Avenue median in May many years ago. That sweet
    moment, heavy mil trash bags in hand, at Park Ave doorman's feet, asking as nicely as we could if he would let us into the freight entrance of his building so we could fill our trash bags with water to haphazardly carry back across traffic so to water-in the annuals. Those were the days.

    Maybe that'll answer Trey's Q? Even on Park Ave there's no water in the median. God Bless the rain.

    You did a nice job. What's the cross street?

  6. Wonderful job beautifying our world a little more!

  7. Thank you, Dinah...I think I need to talk to the handball boys across the way, too. They look like good protection.

    Keli'i and Ikaika - and I hope to take pictures! Thank you.

    Sigrid! Read. The. Blog :-) It's for the city, and HWV is donating plants, labour, maintenance, etc. I should have put a link to the previous posts.Done now.

    Trey! It's nice to see you here. I love your blog. Nothing is irrigated in the City's realm. In all the gardens I design(for paying clients), irrigation systems are incorporated. We do get rain, but summer can be very hot and sometimes rain-free, so this public planting is going to be interesting. Gulp...And thank you for adding me to your blogroll :-)

    Frank - wow. Park Avenue. Begonias without gives me hope. The doormen, sigh. Not the most accommodating of persons. Think Gestapo. Actually not true: one doorman I know routinely carries heavy things for me. I take it back. East Houston betw. 1st and 2nd Ave's.

    BPG - thank you. It's a good work out, too.

  8. I love your blog! I don't live in NYC but sometimes visit. When I visit, I usually just walk and walk all over the city. Your street planting is a delight to a wanderer and a fan of public spaces like me. I also love the quotes from books on the side of your blog. George Eliot is my favorite writer.

  9. Thanks, Anonymous. Come back and visit the blog when you can. You can even leave a name, so I know it's you; make one up if you like)...


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