Randalls Island Park Alliance

Archive for the ‘What’s in Bloom’ Category


In What's in Bloom on July 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm


By Phyllis Odessey

On Saturday, June 29th, 16 volunteers came to Randall’s Island to work on a restoration project at our White Garden on Wards Island.  The White Garden has a special place in my heart.  It’s a little hidden and was here when I came to Randalls’ seven years ago.

In the last seven years, we expanded the garden, added several birch trees and planted spring blooming bulbs.

The White Garden was hit hard by Sandy.  In fact, out of all the gardens on Randalls, The Bloomberg Vols w RIPA HC in White Garden 062913 145[1] White Garden suffered the most damage.  Through an analysis of water currents and topography, we figured out that The White Garden, although on higher ground than some other gardens, the force of the water at Hell Gate was stronger than say the Water’s Edge Garden.

Bloomberg Vols w RIPA HC in White Garden 062913 160[1]

We also planted salt and drought tolerant plants, which we hope we last many years.  In addition, we expanded the birch tree forest, which is underplanted with bluebells.

Here is the list of new plants:
Dicentra spectablis ‘Alba’
Epimedium x ‘Niveum’
Galium odoratum
Lamium m. ‘White Nancy’
Polygonatum s. ‘Variegatum’

Bloomberg volunteers planted a total of 800 plants.  Stop by and The White Garden and see what’s growing.
Bloomberg Vols w RIPA HC in White Garden 062913 164[1]


A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

In What's in Bloom on July 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm


By Phyllis Odessey

I am feeling very proud.  We just finished hanging photographs for our exhibition at the East Harlem Cafe.  The opening reception is July 9th between 5-7 pm.

The photographs feature kids who have participated in our Edible Education Program at the Urban Farm, a partnership with GrowNYC.  As well as some fantastic photographs from the gardens around Randall’s Island.
PHOTOINVITEWe look forward to seeing you the Cafe for the opening.  The show will be up for one month, stop by and have a look and enjoy a great cup of coffee.


Our Good Friends

In What's in Bloom on April 1, 2013 at 9:05 pm

By EunYoung Sebazco

m m  Miki Murashima is a Japanese daycare provider. She opened her Japanese daycare center 2009 in Astoria, Queens and has been teaching Japanese Language and Japanese culture to children. She has been serving infants and toddlers. She has also volunteered at African Impact’s project in Zimbabwe for helping African Lion Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Program in the spring 2012.  She will lead small children’s activities at the first Cherry Blossom Festival.

juan  Juan Pablo Gomez is a certified Yoga instructor (www.juanpabloyoga.com). For over 15 years, he pursued a successful marketing career in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry.  His passion for yoga led to an alternate career path.  He believes that,  if practiced effectively, yoga can lead to a transformative experience in increased self awareness and actualization. His mission is to support his students in developing their own practices, ultimately identifying their own inner teacher.  He is bilingual in English and Spanish. Currently, he is one of the teachers at Yoga Agora, one of most popular yoga studios in NYC. His class will held on the waterfront garden lawn area on July 20th.

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





Cherry Blossom Festival

In What's in Bloom on March 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm


Randall’s Island

Park Alliance



In Japanese, “Hanami” means Cherry Blossom viewing.
Enjoy the intensity of the many blossoms
by looking at a single tree or group of trees.
APRIL 20, 2013 10am – Noon


Making Cherry Blossom Salt

with Shino Takeda from KatakanaNY

Demonstration &

Tasting of Cherry Blossom Tea

Cherry Blossom Fun Crafts

for the Entire Family

Cherry Blossom Map
Walk the Cherry Trees on Randall’s Island

For information and reservations:

donna.piluso@parks.nyc.gov   or   212-860-1899 x 316


Seasonal Gardener 2013

In What's in Bloom on January 10, 2013 at 3:38 pm


Horticulture Department Randall’s Island Park

Employer:  Randall’s Island Park Alliance

Job Description: Season: March 1 – November 30, 2013

Hours of work: 7:00 am – 3:30 pm (some weekends and overtime may be required)

Salary: According to experience and qualifications

Reports to: Director of Horticulture and Horticulture Manager

Responsibilities include:

  • Planting, preparation and maintenance of the gardens on Randall’s Island including, but not limited to The White Garden, The Waterfront Garden, The Wildflower Meadows, The Learning Garden, The Rock Garden and small traffic islands
  • Primary responsibilities include: soil cultivation, digging, mulching, watering, raking, weeding, edging, pruning, seed sowing, bed preparation, and planting
  • Use small hand tools and basic light machinery such as a leaf blower
  • Ensures all equipment is secure and well maintained
  • Assists with educational activities in The Learning Garden
  • Performs duties in a manner consistent with a public garden serving multi-generational families and in accordance with directed practices and procedures
  • Familiar with trees and shrubs of the Northeastern United States


  • Strong gardening skills, including familiarity with organic seeds and seed propagation
  • Demonstrated ability of hardy pant care appropriate to the region
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to lift 50 lbs.
  • Willing to work in all types of weather, under strenuous conditions
  • Team player, creative and organized
  • Self-motivated with the ability to work both alone and in groups
  • Enthusiastic, work to high standards and ability to take direction
  • Strong work ethic
  • Drug testing and background check required before employment finalized
  • Some weekends required

Preferred Skills/Qualifications:

  • BA in Public Horticulture, Agriculture or related fields or equivalent horticulture certificate/course work or 3 years hands-on experience in horticulture, preferable at an organic or chemical-free farm
  • Knowledgeable about hand tools and small machinery a plus
  • Drivers license preferred
  • Pesticide license a plus
  • Knowledge of composting a plus
  • Knowledge of propagation a plus
  • Basic carpentry skills a plus

Please email resume and cover letter to: phyllis.odessey@parks.nyc.gov

No phone calls please.

Randall’s Island Park Alliance is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified candidates will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, age, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, US Veteran status, or any other factor protected by law. Applicants must successfully complete a drug screen and background check prior to hire.

Reasons to Love Randall’s Island

In What's in Bloom on December 13, 2012 at 7:05 pm

magazine coverIMG_3487The Rice Paddy is New York Magazine’s 27 reasons to love to New York.

For those of us on Randall’s Island, the rice paddy is our Number 1 reason to love Randall’s Island.

Happy Holidays from everyone at the Randall’s Island Park Alliance.

Come see our new Rice Paddy in 2013.

Summer’s Cheerleader

In What's in Bloom on September 6, 2012 at 11:28 am

By Dianne Crary

What plant looks like a cheerleader in mid-July and is in full bloom in mid-August?

  • It waves its filamentous reddish/pink pom-pons attracting our attention and delcaring that spring is not the only season that has beautiful blooms.
  • These pom-pons are set against a green background of a leaf in which the various smaller segments of the leaf (leaflets) resemble a fern.
  • The delicateness of the flower and leaf gives a light airy affect as they gently blow in the breeze.
    GIVE UP?

It is the mimosa or silk tree (Albizia julibrissin) that can be seen blooming along the East River in the Water’s Edge Garden.  Unfortunately, this tree has nothing to do with the champagne and orange juice drink known as a mimosa, but in Chinese medicine the extracts of the flowers and bark are used to promote happiness and to reduce anxiety and depression.

Downtown to Uptown

In What's in Bloom on August 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

By Phyllis Odessey

9AM to 3PM can seem like a long time, especially to volunteers.  On Friday, 17 students from New York University Project Outreach were surprised, when I said shovels down; rakes on the ground; trowels in the bucket; times up!
We had three major tasks for our volunteers to accomplish.  (1)Adding 45 yards of compost to the September 11 memorial planting site for 30,000 daffodil bulbs Wards Island. (2)Planting hosta in The White Garden. (3) Edging the perimeter of  The White Garden.  All three tasks were accomplished and everyone had a smile on their face.  We are especially grateful to all our volunteers for their help, persistence and resilience.

August 24th was unique.  Claire Baldi and Fanny Mei , NYU Project OutReach leaders handed us a thank you gift and this very kind note at the end of the day.

The Lost Camellia

In What's in Bloom on June 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm

By Phyllis Odessey

Franklinia alatamaha is a tree I have tried to grow in my garden in Vermont with no luck.  At Randall’s Island we have had success with this mysterious American plant, known as the Franklin tree.

It was discovered by John Bartram and his son William in the 18thcentury in Georgia.  The tree has completely disappeared from the wild and we owe its survival to the Bartram’s passion for plant collecting and seed propagation.

Within the horticulture world, the Franklin tree’s origins are a subject of ongoing debate. Some recent research has shown that the Franklin tree once thought a native American plant was actually introduced to the American landscape by the British during the colonial period.  However, Michael Dirr, noted expert on woody trees and shrubs still maintains the Franklin tree is a native American tree.

The Franklinia is a member of the tea family (Theaceae), which also includes camellias, which are native to Japan, Korea and China.  The Franklinia is prized for its white fragrant flowers with egg-yolk color stamens.  If you want to get a whiff of the fragrance take a walk along the Waterfront Garden.

I like a tree or shrub or perennial that has more than one note.  The Franklin tree will continue to flower into fall, even when the foliage turns from red to purple.  Considered either a large shrub or small tree, for garden designers the Franklinia has an important place within the garden setting.  In our garden it’s a star.