Brooklyn Botanic Garden Turns Over a New Leaf


Only a skeleton employees on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden witnessed the blizzard of cherry blossoms scattered by spring breezes throughout the pandemic shutdown. Delicate blooms of wisteria tumbled over pergolas and plump roses unfurled with no appreciative followers to say “Oooh.”

The backyard reopened in August for a restricted every day variety of socially distanced guests. Now, as fall’s vibrant, showy show begins, meadow and woodland gardens accomplished finally winter’s onset are lastly coming into their very own. They are the fruits of a yearslong evolution, because the backyard turns over a new leaf with the choice in September of Adrian Benepe, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, as the brand new president and chief government.

Botanical gardens have lengthy represented a really perfect of nature civilized, clipped and labeled. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden hasn’t discarded taxonomic amassing or spectacular floral shows however has steadily introduced extra of an ecological ethos to its intimate 52 acres. The new plant groupings are comparatively disorderly, host bugs and birds, and alter always with flowers, seed pods, and leaf colours always popping and fading.

An extended uncared for 1.25-acre slope has turn out to be the Robert W. Wilson Overlook. It now hosts a sinuous path lined by white concrete retaining partitions. It zigzags up amid a maturing meadow in what appear like calligraphic brush strokes.

Crape myrtles soar like totems out of the layers of low plantings, their summer firecracker blooms finished and their leaves turning rust red. The overlook adds 12 new varieties to its small collection. They have gained in popularity as climate change has extended their range northward.

The Botanic Garden opened in 1911 as a plant collection assembled for appreciation and scientific study, and the new myrtle varieties continue that mission. At the same time, they frame vistas from resting places along the path to such iconic destinations as the Cherry Esplanade and the Cranford Rose Garden: formal set pieces spread out below that echo the Brooklyn Museum’s Beaux-Arts splendor, now hemmed in by wilder, shaggy clouds of vegetation in contrasting textures and hues.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Elizabeth Scholtz Woodland Garden, which rescues an ignored corner of the Botanic Garden and remakes it as an intensified version of a Northeastern forest edge.

What at first appears to be a roofless ruin seen through a scrim of lindens is a walled patio designed by Mr. Van Valkenburgh’s team. “It’s a romantic idea,” he said. “We wanted to surprise you.” Paths weave around the delicate branches of a magnolia variety called Green Shadow. His hand is seen all the way to the southern gate at Flatbush Avenue. Using more coiling pathways he draws the visitor around the majestic trees of the Native Flora Garden, and into a new display of maples from Japan and China that rise out of mounds of low herbaceous plantings. Younger trees turning pale yellow stand out against the still-green backdrop of mature trees.

In an earlier project, Mr. Van Valkenburgh improved Belle’s Brook, a stream that drains the pond of the Japanese garden and runs along the western edge of a parklike lawn. The riot of leaf shapes and hues of its water-loving plants contrast with the sober procession of specimen tree collections along the eastern edge — a contrast of traditional botanical magnificence and invented but authentic nature. “Though the stream looks natural and native there are plants from all over the world,” he said. “They may be French, North American or Japanese but they can play together.”

The stream culminates in the Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden, a naturalized focal point for the Discovery Garden and Children’s Garden near the southern entrance. The water-garden project includes a filtration system that returns the stream’s water to the Japanese garden pond, saving millions of gallons of fresh water annually.

The Woodland Garden completes a $124-million master plan conceived in 2000 by the former Botanic Garden president, Judith Zuk, and its former chairman, Earl Weiner, and largely executed by Scot Medbury, who left in January. He has been succeeded by Mr. Benepe, who most recently came from the Trust for Public Land.



Source link Nytimes.com

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