Monthly Archives: August 2015

HK Gardener Goes Downtown

Follow the Hudson River bike path all the way south through the series of parks and gardens that make up the Battery Park City Parks and the reward is a small circular garden rich in plant and animal life. I found myself there one recent morning and couldn’t leave. I’d almost forgotten that I had my camera in my backpack and was grateful for the chance to capture a little of this stunning array of foliage and flowers filtered through the soft morning atmosphere. These days I really want to know how a garden bed is put together in a way that works aesthetically and environmentally. Here’s a garden that to my mind succeeds in both.

Circular garden

Datura and nicotiana flowers.


Foliage and flowers, highs and lows, shade to full sun, spills and spills…


Drifts of Japanese anemone intermixed with Russian sage against a blue-green-gray cloud of variegated ornamental grass.


The wildlife.


The other side of anemone patch has a completely different look to offer.


White hibiscus and nicotiana—beautifully timed blooms.


The pond at the center of the circular garden.


More wildlife.


The sunny side of the circle.



The Zinnias Are Here

August in my garden.

Wild, late-summer garden.

Late summer—it just creeps up on a person. By August, a community garden can appear to be one continuous mass of vegetation, no matter that many separate plots actually compose it. The edges of my garden plot disappear into those of my neighbors. I want to take pictures to remember what summer 2015 looked like—and to prove that this garden a few blocks from Times Square is real—but I am a tiny bit miffed at the results. My photos don’t seem to show my garden alone, but everyone’s, all 100-plus plots. Hey! What about the plants I planted? The stone path I made that ends so invitingly in a stone step, just right for a child to sit on and draw while I deadhead flowers?

Oh, well, you can’t really see those details in my photos right now. But you can see some interesting things happening. There are the zinnias, of course, which in their combined toughness and brilliance assert themselves as the unplanned garden centerpiece. And right before them, at the plot’s edge are garlic chives growing out of craggy spaces between the rocks that form the garden’s mini-wall. They are one-half the season’s allium bookends, the first being the purple globe alliums of spring. I’m very fond of the white wraps that enclose the soon-to-burst out umbels of white flowers. They remind me of toe shoes. I recently read that these buds make an excellent flavoring in a Vietnamese broth (stay tuned for a post on this project). To the left are columbines, also lovers of the crag, and behind them the lacy fronds of an herb fennel plant, which contributes yellow umbels and the scent of licorice. Beneath the scrubby zinnia leaves is a trio of beet plants and to their left a petting zoo of lamb’s ears. Forming the plot’s back border are a miniature red rose bush intertwined with iris, raspberry canes, apple mint, sage, and two kinds of tomatoes, zebra and sweet 100’s. Completely out of sight are rue, a clump of bird-bill dayflowers, and a patch of arugula growing at the very limit of the garden. I almost forgot the vitex to the right. I tried to discourage it, but it’s back and feeding honeybees.


Black-eyed susans hanging over the garden path.

Garden apples

More signs of late summer: garden apples. Thanks to a persevering gardener, who learned to prune our one apple tree, our apples have progressed from little rocklike fruits to these tart and juicy ones. A garden friend filled my backpack with them while I stopped to chat with her this week.


Queen of the late-summer garden.