Randalls Island Park Alliance

Archive for the ‘Learning Garden’ Category

PINK PETALS for the Entire Family

In Learning Garden, New Ideas and Expansions, What's in Bloom on March 20, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Chanticleer photo

Phyllis Odessey
Director of Horticulture

Join Us for our first
community-wide FREE event:


April 20, 2013
10 am – noon
Walk across the 102 st.  bridge

rsvp or to ask any questions:


TREE to take home


to take home


Let our staff
draw a cheery
for you


Create a cheery blossom
tissue paper
to brighten your window sill


and more…

how to make






Come On Down to New GREEN City

In Learning Garden, Randall's Island on September 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Join the Randall’s Island Horticulture Department at
New Green City
on October 10 at Union Square. 
We will have information about The Learning Garden and all our  programs, opportunities for volunteers and staffing as well as two surprise plants.
We look forward to meeting you at Union Square.

The Caterpillar’s Arrival

In Ask a Gardener, Learning Garden, New Ideas and Expansions on September 6, 2012 at 11:26 am

By Dianne Crary

We have a new caterpillar in The Learning Garden.  It doesn’t move and greets visitors at the entrance to the garden.

The caterpillar is painted on boards attached to our milk crate garden.  Earlier this year I blogged about the field trip that Randall’s Island gardeners took to River Park Farm in Manhattan to see a garden made out of milk crates (see Zach’s Lil-Acres).  We decided to try out this system in our Learning Garden (see Create a Garden with Milk Crates), but the black crates were not very cheery and The Learning Garden is where many New York City children are introduced to gardening and its benefits.

We came up with the idea to form  an undulating line of milk crates and to cover the crates with boards to look like the parts of a caterpillar.  Aaron Moritz, a fellow gardener, cut large plywood sheets to match the measurements of the three different sizes of crates and then painted them with a primer/base coat of gray.  Aaron also drilled holes at the right location so the boards could be attached to the crates.  Now, they were ready to be painted as a caterpillar.
When taking a class at the New York Botanical Garden, I noticed a person behind me drawing an adorable bunny rabbit.  Jackpot!  I immediately asked if she could draw a caterpillar for our garden.  She was intrigued and readily said that she would love to help out.  That was how Eunjoo Paek joined our caterpillar team.  Later I found out that she had been a children’s illustrator for McGraw Hill.

One Sunday afternoon Eunjoo and I got together to do the painting.  We rummaged through various cans of paint left over from other jobs and picked out a few colors.  With paint, brushes and boards in hand, we headed out to The Learning Garden to paint in the shade of a cherry tree.

Eunjoo outlined the face of the caterpillar while I started on the simpler task of painting ovals for the body segments.  Various children who were picnicking with their families came over to see what we were doing.  Quickly their shyness disappeared and they asked if they could paint too.  So Eunjoo and Idrew ovals on the boards for them to fill in.  In no time we had a cue of children all wanting to paint.   The ovals were divided in half and then into smaller sections to accommodate everyone.
The boards had to dry sufficiently for additional colors to be added to the face and for the legs to be painted.  Eventually, it was all done and the children were proud of their work, as they guarded the drying boards lying on the grass.

In the weeks following, the boards were covered with three layers of varnish to help them withstand the elements and then mounted on the crates.  The crates are now cherry, amusing and child-friendly.  This caterpillar is also garden friendly, since it does not eat any of our plants!

Opening Night at the Rice Paddy

In Learning Garden, Randall's Island on August 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Pigs, Foxes, Cats, Toads, Lambs and Bears

In Learning Garden, Randall's Island on May 16, 2012 at 3:55 pm

By Phyllis Odessey

Some people might think an old comfort station from the 1940’s is not a place to make garden.  At Randall’s Island, we think every place is a good place to make a garden.

In a previous blog, “A Brillant Plan”  I talked about Eunyoung Sebazco’s design for the old comfort station.  We’ve made a great deal of progress.  Kaity Cheng and Aaron Moritz have put their design and carpentry skills to the test.  The garden will be enclosed by a wood border and will include ground cover, perennials, and vegetables.

Aaron Moritz drills two corner boards together
Kaity Cheng uses the skill saw skillfully.

This garden is across from The Learning Garden, our Edible Education Program for public school children.  Most of the garden is devoted to growing vegetables, but a small portion is the sensory and botanical zoo garden.

The two gardens are linked in their intention.  The Animal Zoo is a part of the garden that teaches children about botanical Latin using the common names of plants as way to develop an understanding of plant names and identification.  The comfort station Animal Zoo will feature the following plants:

Bergenia cordifolia = PIGSsqueak
Digitalis purpurea “Foxy’ = FOXglove
Nepeta x fassenii = CATmint
Tricythris x Sinonome = TOAD lilly
Stachys = LAMBS ear
Acanthus = BEARS breeches

 Come by and take a look at our Botanical Zoo.  The animals won’t “bite.”

Three Short Stories

In Learning Garden on May 13, 2012 at 11:09 pm

By Phyllis Odessey

We have so much going on in Horticulture Department, I decided the only way to cover it was to blog about it as 3 short stories.

Eunyoung Sebazco originally designed our Children’s Garden (see photo below)  with two topiary for the entrance.  Travis Wolf, our arborist at the time, created a chicken and squirrel for the entrance to the garden.

Over time the bottom of the cedar containers with the topiaries rotted out.  We knew we had to replace them.  We bought new boxes, but weren’t sure what would be the best location.  The topiaries had marked the entrance to the Children’s Garden. With the addition to The Learning Garden, the new gate was one possibility.  We discussed it and decided that the pathway from the 20 raised beds to original Children’s Garden would be best.
Nick Storrs, James Burns and Ulises Hernandez in the Kubota managed to get the topiaries out of the old containers and into the new ones.
The two topiaries face each other, hence the name kissing cousins.

When I see a good garden idea, I immediately want to put it into practice.  All great artists steal from one another.  We took the phrase literally and went on Zach Pickens blog at the Riverpark site and took his DIY instructions and began our own milk crate garden boxes for planting vegetables.  Dianne Crary volunteered to make the template for  the three different size crates, we have in our possession.
We will be planting lettuces in our new “containers” on Monday.

The chicks were getting a bit rowdy.  We decided to move them to new location, a new home.  They still need to have 85 degree temp.  Nick has a storage room, filled with supplies used for The Learning Garden.  There are 4 windows and there was space in this unlikely location.  Actually it’s across from The Learning Garden, which will be there new home.  Along with moving them to their new digs; Nick decided to weigh them: .5 ounces and growing.