Thursday, July 23, 2009

Scenes from the Greenest Block

Individual gardens cannot enter the Greenest Block Competition: an entire block must enter together, via a block association. The reason for this is because the competition seeks to promote co-operative thinking and greening, which requires communication, a group effort, a sense of community. People must speak to each other. And plant things. The six blocks our set of judges visited on our day of judging the semi-finals (50 semi-finalists out of 260 entries) varied widely. I saw neighbourhoods I'd heard about, read about on blogs and in the news, but never visited. And I can't wait to go back.

Who knew there were rolling lawns and wrap-around porches. In Brooklyn??? I felt like a city mouse all out of my depth. Suburbia in the city. I liked it.

Permeable driveways.

Space between houses.

..and then we drove a few blocks away again, and things changed.

A block is two sides of a street, between two cross-streets. It was often perfectly obvious who was making an effort and who was not. Below, feverfew in the cracks on a block that has managed to chase drug dealers out with flowers.

Salvia on the sidewalk.

And omnipresent echinacea.

A few late or re-blooming roses provided fragrance.

And Manhattan euonymous was in full bloom. Not a shrub one usually thinks of in terms of flowers.

This was the colour of almost all the hydrangeas we saw: a thick, smoky-pink lilac. Must be the soil.

Buddleia was out and about.

And on concrete slabs various containers were stuffed full of colour.

I saw a lot of amaranth on the street on one block, and also vegetables incorporated into plantings. We were given an impromptu off-the-record tour of one back garden by an enthusiastic lady who was growing okra, peppers, cabbage, beans, tomatoes. I didn't ask her about lead testing.

A host of day lilies.

And some dedicated begonia and striped hosta lovers.

Coleus like rainbows.

And whiskey barrels carroling with colour.

Red mulch in rows.

...with rows of moss and lichen on street trees.

Some animals, too:

...this bunny was at the BBG, at close of day.


  1. phew!


    But nice to see the hoods. I suspect you saw my emerald neighbor to the east. I had a girlfriend in college who grew up on H and Westminster. A Brooklyn I never imagined. Its still shocking when I walk through to get to the other side.

    Bay Ridge has some shocking parts too, and I suppose there are others (not even thinkng of Queens!)

    Nice lichen/moss photo.

  2. Wherever in the world one sees people making an effort, be it grand or homely, to have natural, growing things, the spirits rise.
    Thankyou for the tour, Marie.

  3. I love the grand homes with their green grass and beautiful landscaping, but there's something especially uplifting about a few pots of herbs and flowers, and flowers in cracks in concrete, in more gritty neighborhoods. And the cottontail is just darn cute!

  4. Your flower pictures are awesome, it makes me feel shy about getting my super-duper macro setup out. My favourite is the red and yellow lily covered in rain drops. For some reason, it reminds me of irises and cannas in our childhood Antibes garden.

  5. Yes, thank you, Marie. Beautiful tour!


  6. How fascinating! And fabulous! This is the city we never get to see in travelogues or guide books. Thank you.


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