Friday, September 4, 2009


The sign, sponsored by Greenthumb, reads 6BC Botanical Garden, on East 6th Street between Avenues B and C. There are a lot here in Alphabet City. To learn more about them, read a book called Loisaida* (Lower East Side + Nuyorican = Loisaida).

The garden is the work of many gardeners, but largely the vision made green of Cary York. He lived nearby until recently and has gardened in and campaigned for the garden for many years.

It is in the nature of a community garden to reflect the diverse influences and tastes of its gardeners, usually resulting in a vibrant at best and tatty and unkempt, at worst, mosaic of visual and cultural ideas and plant palettes. But in this case, because of individual influence, and most importantly, much time invested, the garden is a well-considered whole...

Above, late summer: "Pee Gee" hydrangea in the background, its white flowers turning pink, phlox and cinnamon-scented purple perilla (Perilla frutescens "Purple")

Corydalis lutea, still blooming in September, and probably starting in late April, near the entrance at the foot of some boxwood globes. Exceptional for a perennial, whose bloom times are usually a few weeks.

Oakleaf hydrangea doing its late summer burgundy-mottling thing.

Two of three fastigiate yews have grown feet since they were planted a few years ago, giving structure and perspective to the organic shape of the beds.

The arbor is planted with Concord grapes, a cultivar hailing from Concord, Massachusetts, where it was developed in 1869 by Ephraim Wales Bull, from native fox grapes - Vitis lambrusca, and possibly Catawbas - part V. lambrusca and part Vitis vinifera - common grape. North eastern grapes are just hitting the farmers' markets now.

Dutchman's pipe growing over another little arbor. The Boston ivy on the building behind is an easy green wall, cooling the building. Many Americans seem terrified of climbers on walls, fearing damage to mortar but the damage usually occurs when the ivy is ripped off. For some reason Europe and the rest of the world never had the same qualms.

Late phlox and allium.

The garden is open whenever a community member is in attendance, and has regular hours at the weekends.

* Commenter corrected my spelling.


  1. J and I had a wonderful visit to this garden a couple of summers ago, and I posted a photo of him reflected in that little pond today, with a link to your post.

  2. My kind of garden - enough structure to "hold" it yet enough thick plantings and softened edges to make it feel unstructured,a little wild.
    Lots more I could say, but this is not my garden column!

  3. Very nice garden, although I haven't been. Boston Ivy, a post coming as landlord regularly pulls it off and leaves it in the garden, hanging.

  4. Thanks, m.! We had good party here once, for a friend's baby shower, and I must dig out those pictures.

    Dinahmow - feel free to send lots more. I'll post it!

    Frank - it feels good to be in it, too. Yeah...I have a lot of ivy Issues. Look forward to the post.

  5. Lovely garden, but you've misspelled the neighborhood by transposing the letter "i" -- in Nuyorican "Spanglish" it's Loisaida because it phonetically renders how Lower East Side was/is pronounced.


Comments left on older posts are moderated (purely for spam control). Please be patient, you will be seen!