Art for Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. To honor this day and our planet, the 1st grade students from the Little Red Schoolhouse did an art project. Yesterday, their collages and drawings went up on the fence of our garden for an exhibit that will be shown until May 1.

The artists

The show!

One theme of this exhibit is the “Earth Day Promise”. See what the children were thinking of and make your own promise, too!

Earth Day Promises


Currently, daffodils are blooming in our garden. They come in many different shades of yellow, white and orange and in quite a few shapes.

A selection of daffodil portraits

Some daffodils have a lovely fragrance. The small species on the photo below, also called jonquil, comes originally from Spain. It has a particularly intense fragrance that is extracted as daffodil oil, which is used in perfumes.

Narcissus jonquilla a small delicate daffodil with grass-like leaves and fragrant flowers.

Daffodils can be fragrant and they are definitely pretty. But they should remain eye-candy only because all daffodils are also poisonous. (How often did I write this already! A lot of pretty plants contain toxins.)

And more pretty daffodils

Our garden daffodils are derived from various species of the genus Narcissus that are native to the old world. They have been hybridized and cultivated for centuries with great success. This explains why there are so many beautiful varieties.

A plate showing double daffodils from the garden book “Hortus Eystettensis” from 1613.

The botanical name “Narcissus” has an interesting background in Greek mythology. According to this tale, the beautiful hunter Narcissus fell in love with his own image when he saw it reflected in a pool of water. He could not keep his eyes off and lost his will to live. Then, depending on the story teller, he died or committed suicide. Supposedly, yellow flowers that bend their head emerged where he perished. Whether the flowers were really named after the narcissistic youth is not certain, but it makes for a nice story.

Narcissus as depicted on a tapestry from the 14th century (at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston). There are daffodils among the flowers in the background!

Pretty soon, the beauty of the daffodils will fade and we’ll be left with the leaves for many weeks.  They will die back, too, after having supplied the bulb in the ground with the energy for next year’s bloom. The longer we bear with them (we do get tempted to cut them back), the better the show will be in spring 2018.

The garden has opened the season!

Spring has finally arrived for real. Our peach tree is blooming and there are many different kinds of daffodils along with the first tulips and other bulbs. Please come and visit.

We are now open on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 pm to 6 pm and whenever the gate is open.

peach blossoms

Coming up on Saturday: GreenThumb GrowTogether Conference

Next Saturday, March 25, is the annual GreenThumb GrowTogether Conference. This is a really fun event with inspiring keynote talks, music and many interesting workshops. Some of these workshops focus on gardening techniques and community garden politics, others are hands-on fun with instructions e.g. for how to pickle or make soap and beauty products. Our own Sara Jones will give a workshop on beekeeping this year. Finally there is an opportunity to learn about the work of many gardening-related organizations from around New York during the lunch break.

Information tables at the GrowTogether Conference (Photo from GreenThumb website)

The conference takes place at Hostos Community College in the Bronx (450 Grand Concourse, right next to the 149th Street stop of the #4+5 Subway line). The program begins at 9:00 am. It is a good idea to come a bit earlier since the registration lines have been long every year. However, the $5 admission ($7 at the door) include a breakfast and, if you pre-register by Thursday, also a T-shirt and lunch. This is a great deal for a fun event that brings together gardeners from all over New York.



First day of spring

It is March 20 and the calendar tells us that it is Spring now. However, the garden is still covered with an almost solid blanket of snow. With temperatures below freezing every night and just barely above during the day, the snow is melting slowly.

The garden two days ago; it looked similar today

Many of those plants that were so eager to open their dormant buds in February suffered a big setback during this period of unseasonably cold weather. The young leaves on our roses and the buds on the quince froze or dried up. I am afraid that there will be almost no crab apple blossoms this year, and the hydrangeas have to start over again, too. I am hopeful for the tree peonies. Last week, when it was even colder than this morning, their big flower buds were hanging down, limp and sad. Today, they were at least looking up again.

Snow all over the garden. The hardy azalea and the daffodils seem to be OK, but the crab apple blossoms are all shriveled and dried up. Where the snow is melting, birds look for food and we see their footprints.

One good thing is: the snow brought some much needed moisture. Gardeners have to be optimists. We are curious to find out what is hidden under this white blanket.