Herbs and veggies flower, too

When thinking of herbs and vegetables , we usually don’t think flowers (stuffed squash blossoms, artichokes and broccoli excluded). In fact, farmers harvest greens before the plants put on flowers, or they wait until the bees have done their job and harvest the fruit or seeds, like tomatoes or beans.

But we are not farmers. In our garden, one can find quite a few herbs and vegetable in flower. At a close look, they are really pretty:

From top left: The delicate flowers of horse radish have a lovely scent of honey, Few people see asparagus flowers, we usually eat these inflorescences when they just come out of the ground. Cilantro flowers will eventually produce coriander seeds. Celery flowers profusely in our garden and it also readily self-seeds; little celery plants are found everywhere.

From top left: the yellow flowers of lovage. Chive flowers are pretty enough for a bouquet; bees love them, too. Kale flowers have also been a great nectar source for our bees. Garlic flowers are harvested by farmers in the region and sold for an exorbitant price as “garlic scapes”.

Of course, here and elsewhere, some herbs are grown not only for their aroma but also for their pretty flowers.

Sage and rue. Here, rue is grown mostly as ornamental plant, but its leaves are part of Mediterranean and African spice mixes.

Off-topic but really pretty: Lavender is actually farmed for its aromatic flowers.

Party with VIP

Last week was our annual garden party. This year, we had two special guests who came with a very special gift: We welcomed Councilwoman Margaret Chin and her Chief of Staff Vincent Fang. Councilwoman Chin announced that her office had budgeted $250,000 for the Parks Department to replace the old fence around our garden with a new one. A new fence!! At this moment, our decade-long dream came true.

Margaret Chin announces that we will get a new fence. Sara and Jeffrey are listening (Photo: Tequila Minsky)

Gardeners applauding

Currently, our garden is surrounded by a chainlink fence, similar to the ones that enclose construction sites or empty lots. We had been dreaming of a nice iron rod fence, like those around many other parks and gardens. But alas, such a pretty fence was always way beyond our small budget.

Our fence and the nice fence at the Sheridan Square Garden

Therefore, Jeffrey applied this year for a grant from the discretionary fund of Margaret Chin’s district to cover the cost for a new fence. This fund is distributed to projects that improve a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. To our great delight, Jeffrey’s application was successful. We are very grateful for the fantastic work Jeff put into convincing our elected officials that we are worthy of this investment!

Vincent and Jeffrey

It will likely take several months until the work can begin. We are hoping that we will have our new fence next spring. But this exciting news was celebrated right away.

Happy gardeners  celebrate the wonderful news (Photo: Tequila Minsky)

Bluegrass by Toni and Jeff (Photo: Tequila Minsky)

We thank Councilwoman Margaret Chin and the first District of the New York City Council very much for this generous gift.

We had a modest gift for Councilwoman Chin, too: a jar of our “Queen Fiorella” honey. (Foto: Tequila Minsky)

Happy Chappy

Flowers big and small

On my recent strolls through the garden, I was—as always at this time of the year— first drawn to the beautiful large flowers of the roses. An unusual iris had also newly opened its purple blooms.

A new iris and our roses Chicago Peace, Citrus Tease and Dame de Chenonceau.

On another round, I looked closer to the ground. Here, I found smaller flowers that were no less beautiful. Some of them emerge at this time of the year on our shade plants that are mostly planted for their pretty foliage, like Heuchera (more on these in a later post) and nettles.

Flowers on feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), the zebra variety of the common mallow (Malva sylvestris), the Japanese orchid Bletilla striata, the yellow corydalis (Pseudofumaria lutea), a Heuchera variety, and a fancy variety of the nettle Lamium maculatum.

Even the weeds that we failed to pull out have their appeal when in bloom. Look at the lacy flowers of bedstraw and ground elder. They are fit for a bridal bouquet. Spiderwort flowers also look quite nice when they are open in the morning, and the bright yellow flowers of a buttercup are probably the reason that this plant is allowed to occupy a corner of our garden. Too bad that these flowers produce a lot of seeds and the plants spread so readily that they become invasive.

Bedstraw (Galium sp.), Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria), buttercup (Ranunculus repens) and spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.) in near-white and blue.


Rain and shine

There have been times when we complained that spring in New York lasts for just a few days, and cold wintry days turn into hot summer within no time. Not this year! We had a few hot days, but otherwise, it is almost a little too cool. We don’t have to worry about watering the garden right now either. There was a lot of rain last week and this Memorial Day is rained out, too. One effect of this weather is that our irises, peonies and roses are lasting a lot longer, even though they get rained on a lot.

Peonies, roses and an allium heavy with rain

Of our roses, the antique Bourbon and Damask varieties were the first to bloom. They looked perfect last weekend.

Two Damask roses on top: the perfectly white Madame Hardy and the lovely pink Baronne Prévost. On the bottom are the Bourbon roses Souvenir de la Malmaison and Kronprinzessin Viktoria. Kronprinzessin Viktoria is a sport of Souvenir de la Malmaison. That is, a branch of a the pink Souvenir de la Malmaison once showed cream-white flowers. In 1887, this branch was cultivated as a new variety and named after the oldest daughter of Queen Victoria.

Of the other roses, Don Juan, the climber on the trellis over the path, is currently also particularly pretty.

Don Juan is perhaps my favorite rose in the garden. It has these beautiful dark red flowers and a lovely fragrance. It is also pretty resistant to black spot and other diseases and does not stop blooming until late fall.

The irises are also still not done with their show. Some new flowers with unusual colors just opened. We do not know the names of our varieties. Identifying them could be a fun project for the future. For now, we are proud that we know almost all of our roses by name.

Beautiful irises


Fourth annual Rose Walk

This is the guide for our fourth annual Rose Walk:

Enter the gate and look to your left. There is a collection of roses that include Alba White Meidiland, Stanwell Perpetual—an ancient cross between a Burnet rose (Rosa spinosissima) and a Damask rose—and Charles Mallerin.

Madame Hardy

Now, continue on the path and under the arbor covered with Don Juan. Through the arbor to your right is Ploxy Baby, a 2016 winner of the American Garden Rose Selections. Directly in front of you in the border, The Fairy is planted to the right of the large Rosa laxa. Please take a look at the other roses in this area to your left, which have yet to be identified.

Heading up the path, you will see Madame Hardy in the border, a Damask rose that is considered one of the most beautiful white roses ever bred (in 1832 by Alexander Hardy who named it after his wife Félicité). Next are several specimen of the Floribunda rose Pink Simplicity. To your left is the lavender colored Paradise.

Lavender Dream

Further down the path reveals Lavender Dream. Proudland is the red rose to your left. This area also contains several unidentified roses.

Turning the corner, Dream Weaver appears and there is also Pretty Jessica.

The next corner contains Chrysler Imperial, one of our oldest roses that was planted in a brick well 35 years ago. It won a Green Thumb contest and a wheelbarrow for the garden back in the ‘80’s.

Dr. Huey

Turning the tight corner, you will come to a large grove of tall red roses, Dr. Huey, frequently used as rootstock for hybrid roses. You will also see Senior Prom and Citrus Tease, and to your right is a rose which we still need to identify.

Following in the border is White Dawn. Look back into the garden to see Orange Honey Sunny Yellow Knockout and Oso Happy Smoothie Pink. There is also Baronne Prévost, an antique Damask perpetual, and Green Ice, grown from a cutting a couple of years ago.

Livin’ Easy

Next is Livin’ Easy, and in the border, you will find French Lace, Eglantyne and Morden Blush. In the middle of the garden is one recently planted old garden rose Apple blossom, which was newly grown by the Heritage Rose Foundation and donated to a Green Thumb rose pruning event in Harlem three springs ago.

By now we are sure you are drawn to Zephirine Drouhin. This thornless beauty has been with us a long time. HapLivin’ Easypy Chappy and Peach Drift, which came to the garden from an AARS giveaway in Union Square years ago, are also here.

Souvenir de la Malmaison

Please continue down the path, past the gate, and on your way to the patio. You will pass Love and Peace, which was planted in honor of two young neighborhood NYPD auxiliary officers, Nick Pekearo & Eugene Marshalik, who were gunned down on Sullivan street in 2007. Next is Chicago Peace. Follow your nose and be enthralled by the fragrance of Souvenir de la Malmaison, one of our Bourbon roses.



This next section, next to the patio, is the most concentrated rose garden. Within this area, you will find two other Bourbon roses, Kronprinzessin Viktoria and Captaine Dyel de Graville. There are also a rare Canary Island Damask rose next to Munstead Wood and the hybrid Tea rose Leonie’s Appoline. Near the back fence is Pat Austin.

On the other side of the patio, there is small hybrid tea rose called Heirloom. You will also find the Rosa rugosa cultivar Henry Hudson and the hybrid Musk rose The Ballerina. The Ballerina appears again with Dames de Chenonceau and a Pink Meidiland. The very last plot has The Fairy, Tropicana and Dan Poncet.

After leaving the garden, please also take a look at our small North Garden which contains a pink double Rosa rugosa variety and Pink Simplicity. You will also find The Prince behind a red rose, which we still need to identify. Finally, there are the European wild rose Rosa rubifolia and Maigold.

Thank you for coming! We hope this has been enjoyable and informative. We appreciate your ideas and input. If you think you can identify any of our mystery roses, please inform the guardian on duty or send us an e-mail: lgcgardens@gmail.com.

Pat Austin (Photo: Hubert Steed)