Native plants are in! Both of our local world-class botanical gardens, the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, have opened new native plant gardens within the past month. Both are well worth visiting, but they take totally different approaches to growing and presenting native plants.
The Native Plant Garden at the New York Botanical Garden opened in May 2013 (I saw a members’ preview last summer). It covers 3.5 acres, includes almost 100,000 plants, and uses an innovative water feature as its centerpiece. There is a dry meadow, a wetland, a stream, and an educational center. All the plant species used are native to the area east of the Mississippi, and rather disappointing to purists like me, some cultivars and varieties were used in addition to pure species. Nevertheless, the garden is well worth a visit, or two or three, as it evolves through the seasons, and it goes a long way toward proving that our native flora can create a beautiful garden.
The newly opened Native Flora Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden takes a slightly different approach. Almost all the plants used were sourced in the wild within 200 miles of New York City. As an article in today’s NY Times explains, the newly expanded garden is based on the original BBG Native Flora Garden, which opened more than 100 years ago and has now matured into a beautiful woodland. To increase the size and diversity of the Native Flora Garden, this expansion includes a variety of habitats, including meadow, pine barren, kettle pond, limestone ledge, and wetland. As with the NYBG garden, repeat visits will provide varied glimpses of the riches of our native flora as it changes through the seasons and years.
Maybe, just maybe, it will stop raining this weekend . . .