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Riverside Review

Walking through Riverside Park today, close to the 83rd Street entrance, and I noticed that the honey locust trees are just starting to turn a golden yellow… and as I strolled along the park’s promenade on my way to the dog run, I could help but marvel at the sheer number of monarch butterflies and dragonflies in the air.

Fall is definitely upon us – and everyone is making haste!

Busy butterfly in Riverside Park


What’s in bloom

The warm weather continues, and many flowering bushes in Riverside Park are celebrating:

Azalea, buddelia, Caryopteris, Chrysanthemum, Crepe Myrtle, Heliopsis, and Goldenrod.

On my roof, the gloriousa lilies, hibiscus, jasmine, tuberose, and zinnias are putting on one final show!

Apple picking with the pooch

Despite the threat of rain, we’re heading out with Riley to Applewood Orchards and Winery today!

The selection is pretty limited to Macintosh and Macouns – but no one seems to care… and Riley has just discovered that apples are kinda like a tennis ball – only more sweet!

Forbidden fruit

He’s being very good with all of the other dogs and the hundreds of little kids around… but it was everything I could do to keep him from jumping into the pond for a swim!

It’s a really nice drive here, about 1.5 hours outside of NYC; it doesn’t take long to leave the city behind and find yourself driving among rolling hills! The leaves are well on their way to being off the trees here – unlike in the City, where almost all of the trees are still vibrantly green.

Cute as a button (mushroom)

I’ve noticed over the last couple of weeks that there have been quite a few mushrooms springing up in Riverside Park… some in the mulch, a couple under some pine trees… but today I noticed a batch of mushrooms that I had never seen before. Where I grew up, hen of the woods is very common on fallen logs and fences, as well as a few others that tend to spring up in the moist soil – but I’ve never seen one so vibrantly colored as these, which I saw in two different places.

Trunk a-bloom with chicken mushrooms

Both times, the mushrooms were attached to trees – the first one was fairly small (about the size of 1-2 blocks of charcoal) at the base of a tree. The other made it look like the entire tree trunk was abloom with orange fruit!  These ranged in size from my fist to almost as large as my head, and some were particularly odd shaped – including one that looked like a little person, attached at the back to the trunk of the tree!

Mushroom dude!

I’ll have to find out during class what types of mushrooms these are – and whether they’re edible!

Hi ho, hi ho…

Today i finished installing a raised bed for my winter/shade garden at the rear of our building. I converted a good portion of the alleyway into a terrace a couple of years ago – and its furthest end remains fairly damp, as evidenced by the moss that grows liberally across the concrete surface.

The only plants I’ve been able to grow in this area are ferns and pachysandra – though my neighbors in the rear of the building have been able to enjoy considerably more.

I plan to put the hostas and hydrangeas from the tree pit in this new area, to give them a break from the dog traffic and not-ideal watering conditions they’ve had to survive out front.

I’ll let you know how they make out!

Shade/Winter Garden

Summer’s bounty

My cousin and her husband have a great little house out in South Orange, NJ, which they share with their two sons.

Every time I head out there, I’m asked my opinion on how their plants are doing, and what I think should be done to plants that seem to be ailing. I try to demure, since I’m still just learning – but I do my best!  It gives me something to work on… And, it’s kind of nice to be asked!

This time, we took a look at their holly bushes, rhododendrons and peonies at the front of the house, which sit in bright shade for most the day. The peonies were easy:  They had powdery mildew on them and I recommended that they consider moving them to a sunnier spot. The holly and rhodis are simply getting to leggy and large for the front of the house, so they’re considering cutting them down.

What I thought was an interesting use of the front yard is Walter’s vegetable garden – positioned right at the edge of the sidewalk, where it receives the most light they have available. It could be an unattractive thing, but he’s done a great job of laying it out and using attractive materials, so no one can complain… except maybe the rabbits!

Today, he pulled out a giant eggplant – really beautiful aubergine, with narry a spot or blemish on it! Made me wish I liked eggplant… and he also had beans, peas, tomatoes, and a couple of types of squash under way… nice little addition to the family meals!

My first Botany Journal post… hope you like it!

Japanese Cypress

Earlier this afternoon, I drove out to Long Island for a doctor’s appointment… which recently moved to a new location. It was a beautiful, warm day – and I thought I’d do a little exploring before heading back to the city. I was totally surprised to discover a botanical garden literally next door to the office building!

The Clark Botanic Garden is located in Albertson, NY – about 40-45 minutes outside of NYC. It’s a small collection, featuring some mix of annuals and perennials – but what really struck me was their conifer collection, which included a few species that I haven’t seen before. In addition to their Japanese cedar, my favorite was the Longleaf Pine, the individual needles of which must have easily been 7″ long!

They’d had some damage from the heavy rains from the day before – in fact, part of the path had washed out and their English maze looked like something may have fallen on it – but it didn’t stop their bee colonies from doing what they do best! With all of the annuals along the main path and at the entrance, I’m sure they were very “bee-zee”. (Sorry!)

Longleaf Pine

A great escape!

Ah, the August days of summer are upon us… and while droves of us flee to the country, the lakes, or the coast as frequently as we can to escape the concrete oven, there are still many of us who recognize the importance of creating a little urban oasis for ourselves for those times when we’re land-locked.

And sometimes it means “little” quite literally! Get ready to be impressed: Following are a couple of images of  a friend’s outdoor retreat… built on his fire escape.

For those of you who don’t live in the city, we’re talking about a space that is approximately 3.5′ to 4′ wide by about 15′ long. Talk about maximizing one’s space!

For this former Broadway performer, there’s nothing “Miserables” about this petite garden… and I salute him by shouting from the “Rampart(s)” that he’s achieved a remarkable and inspirational retreat!

Just need to (app)ly yourself…!

I’m just came across a really fantastic app, courtesy of Manhattan Users Guide:

Green Sky Designs, a landscape design firm based in Brooklyn, has created GardenSpace NYC with the purpose of “strengthening relationships between New Yorkers and their urban ecosystem,” according to the firm’s principal Kate Belski. Specifically, you get a guide, sorted by neighborhood, to large parks and small community gardens, each with a thoughtful essay and rundown of the facilities. So far, it’s Manhattan only, though they plan to expand to the rest of the city. It’s $1.99, buy here.”

I find these kinds of apps refreshing; as a city dweller, it’s so important to treasure what green space we have… and this is a great way to locate these vibrant jewels!

And be sure to take a look at the Green Sky Designs website for additional inspiration for transforming your cityscape into a landscape! In addition to a library of past projects, there’s also a “plant palette” of gorgeous photos that showcase their favorite plants – hopefully, they’ll be adding the plant names to the images, too.

Making the city more beautiful, one (s)pot at a time.

Welcome to the future home of Katie’s Folly, representing my “greener pasture” project that celebrates my passion for gardening and floral design.