Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Native Garden at the BBG

I have visited the woodsy native garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens several times this year to see how it tells its stories through the seasons, and how these stories might translate to the urban corner of East Houston and 2nd Avenue... It is a genre that rewards an eye for detail, because one sometimes has to search for blooms and special texture, but it also has the peaceful quality that appeals to me: leaves dropping onto an already leaf-littered floor, birds in the undergrowth, and a sense of remove that is needed within the rush of New York.

Of course we will not have a berm separating us from 6 lanes of traffic, nor the elevation it would provide.

But we can have the leafy paths.

Below: I was rather surprised to see that this was one of the few ferns holding up this far into September. So I crossed a couple off the list, and added her. Dryopteris goldiana.

Compare this patch with May's picture. The May apples are dormant as can be. I missed their fruit.

Below: Doll's eyes. The pretty, and prettily scented actaea that Donna and Dinah helped me identify in May's post, has turned creepy. It has a walk-on role in The Minority Report, where, in a greenhouse, a mad plantswoman (me in the future?) breeds plants that are, to say the least, unfriendly. The plants were the best part of the movie.

The berries contain toxins and are the most poisonous part of the plant. Eating the berries can lead to cardiac arrest and death.

So don't eat them.

Chelone, with its feet in water, was about 4' tall and sprawly.

This used to be cimicifuga but now it's also Actaea, this time americana.

Asters. I don't know my asters. There was lots of golden rod, tall and beautiful, but waving too much for a good picture.

Seeds of eupatorium, I think.

And an early fall leaf, from the huge tupelo tree standing above the woodland floor.

I'm still thinking. Thinking thinking thinking.


  1. Great shots! I am so in love with the wild asters where we live. I wish I knew which was which. They are striking against all the gold of bittersweet and goldenrod and the deep pinks and whites of rugosa roses. They grow with such abandon here.

    That actaea is truly scary!

  2. I'm a bit "off beam" with my asters,too, (except the highly-bred garden varieties) and, since early childhood, always think of autumn asters as Michaelmas Daisies.
    And the eyeball actaea? Straight out of Little Shop of Horrors!(But worth having, I think.)

  3. What a nice place in which to think!

  4. check out Scotty's blog....he has a photo of a garden atop a Hong Kong building...

  5. I salute you for getting inspirations in wild and wildish places. I don't know the context of the landscape on Houghston, but wildish planting which as you say is simple & green (with small details) would be a visual relief aong the hustle of colour and movement. Thinking thinking - makes me smile. In recognition. Every afternoon walk in the forest, or on the mnt sets off ideas - my latest discovery: Knowltonia and Melaspaerula - feeklokkies - it is simple and breath-taking.

  6. I think dolls eyes have poisonous berries, as you might imagine from such a creepy combo of name and appearance. But then, pokeberry is everywhere and also has poisonous berries. As children, we used to make wine from poke and pretend to drink it.


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