Randalls Island Park Alliance

Archive for the ‘Water’s Edge Garden’ Category

Pay It Forward

In Water's Edge Garden on June 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm

By Phyllis Odessey

profile-1110IMG_0716IMG_0715Giving back is an important part of the culture at Randall’s Island Park Alliance.

Our Urban Farm contributes all its extra produce to a small soup kitchen in East Harlem.  All the workshops and programming are  are free.

At the Waterfront Garden, we believe in sharing “the wealth.”  After seven years, the garden contains approximately 150,000 perennials and 50,000 spring and fall blooming bulbs.  We often divide our plants and email to friends and other gardeners that we have plants available.

On Thursday, June 20, volunteers from Goldman Sachs Community
IMG_0705Teamworks came to the waterfront garden to divide Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Red Head.’  It’s tough as nails, both as a garden plant and as a plant.  It was unaffected by the salt water that covered it for a day or two as a result of the water washing over the garden due to  Sandy.

The last time, we divided this grass was four years ago and it was time to do it again.  With so many community gardens hurting, we decided to title our volunteer project, ‘PAY IT FORWARD.’

IMG_0714The great thing about division projects is from one plant comes many.  Each of these massive grasses, that volunteers from Goldman Sachs Community Teamworks divided,  bore at least 10 divisions.  We will be contacting several community gardens and seeing how many of the divisions these gardens can use.

We thank our team of Goldman Sachs Community Teamworks volunteers for their hard work and hard work it was.  Brand new bow saws in hand; it took something much more intense IMG_0713than new tools.  It took old- fashioned elbow grease, which was in great supply.  No one gave up or gave in.  The day was a tremendous success.  We hope to see all our wonderful volunteers from Goldma Sachs on Randall’s Island next year.


Opportunity Knocks

In New Ideas and Expansions, Water's Edge Garden, White Garden on March 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm

profile-1110By Phyllis Odessey

I am a big believer in turning a crisis into an opportunity.  This might seem Pollyannaish, but a little bit of optimism goes a long way in the field of horticulture, where disappointment, disease and destruction are part of the game.  Hurricane Sandy was no different.  For those of us who are charged with overseeing and caring for water’s edge gardens; we were challenged.
Rebecca McMackin, Park Horticulturist for Brooklyn Bridge Park, took the initiative and organized a meeting for horticulturists and operational staff, who work in local waterfront  parks.  The objective was to  discuss the horticultural and operational Me and lawnmowerstrategies employed  for dealing with Sandy, as well as to collect data and put together a list of best practices for future storms.  Rebecca called  our group,  The Consortium of Coastal Parks.  This meeting of the minds was composed of principles from Battery Park City, Battery Park Conservancy, New York City Parks Department, Governors Island, Hudson River Park, Randall’s Island, and a few “call in” guests from the Rose Kennedy Greenway in MA, as well as a Professor of Geography, Dr. Rutherford Platt from the University of MA.,

All these parks have in common a water’s edge.  We exchanged and compared notes on approaches to remediation.  Who did what?  This ranged from flushing soil to humic acid to gypsum.  Of course, most importantly, soil testing.


I felt like the odd man out.  At Randall’s we took a different approach.  Our first priority was to clear pathways and gardens of fallen trees and branches.  Second was to clean the line of debris left by  water washing over the seawall three times.  With over 5 miles of coastline, we enlisted the help of hundreds of wonderful volunteers to aid IMG_2214us in the clean-up.  Last, but certainly not least, we had to make a decision about the gardens.  With no irrigation in any of the gardens, the idea of flushing out the soil was impossible.

What should we do?

To say we (Eunyoung and myself) did nothing is only part of the answer.  In consultation with Japanese experts, we decided to take a different approach.  We leaned into the world of  “permaculture” .  Our approach was and is  to observe the patterns of nature, and examine over  time how nature deals with salinity in soil.  Considering our resources, both financial and human, we made a determination to be watchful and sustainable.

We will keep you posted on how this decision plays out.

Turning and Twisting

In Water's Edge Garden on December 20, 2011 at 8:27 am

INTRODUCTION:  The 3/4 mile Water’s Edge Garden was planted by volunteers in 2006 and 2007 .  It includes 100,000 perennials and ornamental grasses as well as  120,000 Fall and Spring blooming bulbs.  The garden meanders in a curvilinear fashion, 6 feet at its narrowest point and 20 feet at its widest point.  Unusual drift mixtures of perennials and grasses, punctuated by shrubs for height and texture, cover the garden area. Dappled Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ and Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’ are interspersed among Aster ‘Von Stafa,’ ‘Harrington’s Pink’ and Achillea ‘Coronation Gold.’  Serendipitously, the Garden goes from sunlight to shade or the reverse depending on your entry point, echoing the play of light on the river itself.

Turning and twisting, parallel to the water’s edge, the Garden beckons the visitor.