Randalls Island Park Alliance

A Hidden Gem

In What's in Bloom on January 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm

by Marlon Murillo
I am  a passionate rose lover at heart, who studied horticulture at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA.  I interned at The New York Botanical Garden, Monrovia Nursery and the Strybing Arboretum in San Francisco.  I am  fascinated with plants began at a young age gardening with his grandmother in El Salvador.

In his spare time, he gardens with good friend, Sarah Owens, curator of the Cranford Rose Garden at The Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  Marlon was a member of Horticulture Crew at Randall’s Island Park for two years.

The New York Metropolitan area is surrounded by many different islands, each with their own charm and history.  Randall’s Island is located between Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens.  It is traversed by the Robert Kennedy Bridge.  The island is home to a group of gardens, one of them being the waterfront garden, a hidden gem.  The style of the garden is relaxed and naturalistic.  Composed of sunny and shady areas, the garden is planted with an array of trees and shrubs for height and structure, as well as perennials, bulbs and grasses for texture, fragrance, and color.  The Upper East Side of Manhattan provides a wonderful background and contrast to the beauty of the garden.

The following “pictures” are windows to some of the beautiful plants which inhabit the garden:

Echinaceas (Coneflower) – bring a taste of the prairie to any garden.  Echinaceas are magnets for butterflies and birds during the Summer and Fall.  The Winter landscape is adorned with their seed heads.  Echinacea ‘Summer Sky” with its vibrant orange brings a punch of color to the sunny border.

Hydrangeas – In a hot summer day hydrangea “Annabelle” gives a sense of coolness to the garden with their lime green and white flower heads.  A cultivar of our native hydragea aborescens; it is right at home in the mixed border.  You can prune them to the ground in late Winter since they bloom on new growth.

Cytisus Kewensis – Thriving in poor soils and adverse growing conditions, brooms burst into color during the spirng and summer.  C.kewensis blooms in late spring.  Unlike most brooms this one is sterile, so it does not self-seed.

Alliums – These guys are real show stoppers, whether in a formal setting in between roses or in a naturalistic setting with grasses.  They are a statement in their own right.  Alliums are resistant to deer and also make great cut flowers.

Nepeta (Catmint) – The front of the border dances to the music of the wind, complementing the presence of Syringa “Miss Kim” in the background.  Nepetas attract insects and hummingbirds with their tubular flowers.  They are also very drought hardy and easy to grow.  Perfect for an herb garden, rock garden or mixed border.

Silene dioica (Catchfly) – Rarely used in the garden is a true jewel.  It is a British import, who is very happy at home in moist areas.  The plants are dioecious.  Once established they make their presence felt in the garden.  They self-seed readily.

Until next time keep on gardening…

Marlon Murillo is a passionate rose lover at heart, who studied horticulture at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA.  He interned at The New York Botanical Garden, Monrovia Nursery and the Strybing Arboretum in San Francisco.  His fascination with plants began at a young age gardening with his grandmother in El Salvador.  In his spare time, he gardens with good friend, Sarah Owens, curator of the Cranford Rose Garden at The Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  Marlon was a member of Horticulture Crew at Randall’s Island Park for two years.

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