Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Friday, September 20, 2013


On a magnificent last day of summer 2013, I accompanied our house guests to the New York Botanical Garden specifically to see the new Native Plant Garden just opened. Too late for the glory of spring ephemerals and too early for trees burnished by autumn, I wasn't expecting much color, but was wrong thinking the garden would be all grasses. Passing by  the native border we were greeted by a display of several varieties of American asters, fall perennials and winterberry,
Then along the boardwalk promenade, stands of Lobelia cardenalis, and Lobelia siphilitica at the end of their bloom cycles. The highbush blueberries were just starting to turn.
In the 3 1/2 acre garden, the terrain changes from woodland to wetland to wet meadow, dry meadow, groves of trees, and glades, home for over 400 species and cultivars of native plants.
The NYBG definition of 'native plants' is fluid and somewhat confusing, in that the explanatory booklet cites "native plants of Northeastern North America" yet the stunning display of pitcher plants includes Sarracenia  x areolta, labeled Alabama and Mississippi.
 Is that hardy here? I have no idea and no one there to ask.
Among the trees, shrubs, ferns, and grasses, I was delighted to see this Eastern prickly-pear (Opuntia humifusa)  growing in the crevice of a rock as if it had sprung up naturally and been there from birth. A brilliant placement.
A discordant note which displeased us gardeners three, was the design of the central water feature. The geometrical, hard-edged structure seemed to us completely out of place in this native plant garden.
And yes, I can understand that the designer might have wanted to prove that native plants can fit into even a contemporary garden but instead demonstrated the opposite.
I'm afraid that this photo doesn't prove my point either as I'm conditioned to compose shots which eliminate discordant notes. See what I mean at the NYBG's own photo. Or better yet, go see and judge for yourself.


Unknown said...

So glad to hear about this new garden. Looking forward to visiting it next year. As always love your posts.

Ellen Zachos said...

You are SO right about the water feature.

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