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Horticulture Comes to Marine Park

Have you noticed the new plantings north of Avenue U? There are many new little gardens — some replacing older garden beds and others brand new. We are in the process of a new horticultural initiative that is taking out invasive plants and installing native species. This is an effort to encourage biodiversity and an ecological balance — we are thinking globally and acting locally. 

Parks Department has created a planting plan for Marine Park that promotes these efforts because Marine Park has the largest natural area in Brooklyn with rare urban upland woods. In order to support diverse wildlife in our 798 acres, we need to have as many native plants as possible. 

The best way to install native species is plant them small and inexpensively, allowing them to grow into the landscape gradually over time. Installing larger plants can make a big presentation immediately, but take on more stress and are riskier investments. 

Have a look at the five triangle-shaped garden beds around the oval path that have been planted with native species seedlings or “plugs”  “(We planted over 1,000 of them!)”  They will become more established over the winter and fill out next spring. These triangle gardens will actually take a few years to fill out completely. There are also a few small sapling trees or bushes in each bed to create a mid-canopy under the high, mature oak trees. When they all come into bloom next year, their gentle subtle flowers are a delight. Don’t expect a show of flashy colors though. Native species tend to be less showy and can be more architectural in their green shapes. In addition to the five triangles, there are new plantings at the Fillmore Ave. entrance by the playground, the strip along E. 32nd St., and one of the tennis court entrances. 

Horticultural projects initially are experimental. We are seeing if transplanting works, if the soil can support the plants we’ve chosen, if volunteers can take on the delicate weeding in-between plants without trampling seedlings, what might get vandalized, how to prevent people picking flowers so no one else can enjoy them. I give this list because you might notice that some aspect of the garden isn’t working and we will try to turn that around.

Who’s responsible for all this? We are grateful for the landscape designers at Dirtworks, who we met through Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy. JBRPC and Marine Park Alliance procured the plants for these sites as well as the necessary tools. NYC Parks Lead Gardener helped with the planning. He and his intern from JBRPC give the directives for all the volunteers who have helped plant and weed including the Marine Park Walkers, Con Edison, Millennium Development Active Adults, Olof Palme Peace Foundation and the Marcus family. A huge thank you goes to all that made this happen and continue the care of these gardens. Together we are making the park a better place. 

Maria D’Alessandro

Board Chair, Marine Park Alliance

Photo Caption: Marine Park Walkers helped plant native geraniums on the oval triangle at Avenue T with intern Sierra Louis