Pitchforks (and hydrant wrenches) aloft!

Flower Power! We are neighbors who are interested in bringing some botanical beauty to the bike-lane
tree pits so we have persuaded the city to allow us to garden there unimpeded. Anyone is welcome to
join at any level of involvement. There are no dues and no formal meetings; Just a desire to keep
Chelsea tree-lined and flower-filled. Join us!

Friday, March 25, 2011

So Much Creativity!

We have some landscape artists who will hopefully be joining in at the Eighth Avenue and 27th Street pit. I am posting their proposal as a picture on the right. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Composting Ideas

Neil in Chelsea wrote:

"Last week we got a message from the Block Association advertising a compost service at Abingdon Square every Saturday. We haven't been able to bring stuff there on Saturdays, so our organics are starting to pile up!

Does CGC have a composting station in the neighborhood, that's a little closer to home?"

Do any of you have any ideas how we can set up a composting site?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cheap plants

The Parks Dept - Greenbelt Native Plant Center over on Staten Island has a long list of drought tolerant, sun loving and butterfly friendly plants that they grow and we might be able to get cheaply. Look on their website lists starting here:


Then put your lists in the comments section (with your name) and I will try to see if we can order them.
Cheap is good!

Three Plant Lists

From Luis whose pit is on 25th and Ninth:
The colored cosmos and petunias did well for me last year. Zinnias do well, are drought resistant and give lots of seeds you can save. I also have pansies that are already coming up on their own from last year. Echinacea are very hardy too. I am giving sweet peas a try this year-- am sprouting indoors now-fingers crossed.

from Eric on Ninth and 21st:
Here's a list of plants that I've used: Don't know all the scientific names.
1. Russian Sage
2. Sedum: I can't recall the specific type, but it grew to be about 14" tall and had pink flowers.
3. Cone Flower
4. Bee Balm
5. Ornamental sunflowers
6. Black-eyed Susans
7. Hens and chicks (Jovibarba Hirta)
8. Orange Cosmos (annuals, but self-seed)
9. Burgundy grass
10. Asitlbe

And from Paul:
Hi, Here is my (unintentionally exhaustive) list of plants that I've had success with in difficult sunny situations.

Botanical name (common names)
Perennials (come back each year)
Achillea (Yarrow, Boneset) silvery foliage, usually yellow flowers in an flat umbrella-like arrangement
Allium (Ornamental Onion) summer bulb, many types and sizes
Aquilegia (Columbine) many different colors and sizes, the wild purple ones are easiest
Armeria (Thrift) gray foliage, pink flowers, short clumps
Coreopsis (Tickseed) many, many varieties, yellow daisies some with brown or red touches
Dianthus (Pinks) many varieties, usu. grayish foliage and, yes, pink flowers. There are annual types also
Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
Echinops (Globe Thistle)
Eryngium (Sea Holly) rosette of spiny gray foliage, purple flowers
Geranium (Cranesbill) a perennial, NOT the flower-pot half-hardy annual type. Some types are more drought-resistant than others
Liatris (Gayfeather) native of US prairies, spikes of purple-pink fuzzy flowers
Lupinus perennis (Wild Lupine) a New York native, a little tricky to establish
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Nepeta (Cat Mint) fragrant, grayish foliage, purple-pink flowers not too tall
Origanum (Oregano) and most other Mediterranean herbs like Thyme
Oenothera (Evening Primrose, Sundrop) yellow flowers, rapid spreader
Perovskia (Russian Sage) (not a salvia) – tough and beautiful
Platycodon (Balloon Flower) usually purple-blue flowers, also pink and white
Rudbeckia (Coneflower) yellow to gold flowers
Salvia (sage) many types some perennial, some annual
Sedum (Stonecrop) succulent with brush-like flowers
Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks) succulents, generally smaller than sedums
Viola (Johnny Jump Up) small semi-hardy biennial that re-seeds itself if you’re lucky

Annuals (one season only) useful for fill and until the perennials get established
Cleome (Spider Flower)
Gaillardia (Blanket Flower) multi-colored daisies, there are perennial types also
Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco)
Snapdragon half-hardy perennial
Verbena bonariensis tall grass-like with small purple-pink flowers, half-hardy

Plant Sale

Paul Bodden mentioned that the Conservancy in Battery Park is having a plant sale. They are propagated by the Battery Conservancy from their own gardens and have very mature root systems so they are strong and have a better chance of surviving. You can order online now and pickup the plants the first week of May. Their website has a link to their plant database. Check it for drought tolerant perennials. There is one price, $11, for any plant. Here's the website:


Spring Pre-Planting Meeting Productive

This past Sunday afternoon, the first day of Spring of course, about 15 members of the Chelsea Garden Club met to sort out the caretaking assignments and duties of the Eighth and Ninth Avenue tree pits from 17th Street to 23rd Street.

We've had a tremendous response to our call for pit volunteers. Almost all of the blocks have been claimed. Seventeenth Street on both avenues still needs gardeners. And several pits above 23rd are also spoken for, so to speak. If you would like to participate in any that strike your fancy, email me and I will put you in touch with others on the same spot or sign you up for your own spot. Also look for the sign up link on this blog to see what's still available.

It was fantastic meeting my fellow volunteers and urban gardeners in person and discussing all our issues and plans. It's a passionate bunch!

CGC member Phyllis Waisman, who attended a meeting last week hosted by Sen. Tom Duane's office, has developed a list of guidelines that should help as we plan our pits. I will post that as a separate link next week. It seems that we are the test case for other neighborhoods as DOT bicycle lanes and their concrete and mulch offspring extend their routes North.

Consequently, there are several important things to keep in mind:

*Please, no plants higher than two feet or that will obstruct the view of traffic.
*Don't destroy or discard the city plants currently in the pit.
*No fences, stones, containers or anything that could pose a hazard to pedestrians. (I will talk about other dog preventives in a later post.)
*Those who are caring for their particular pits should pay for their own materials. At this point we would prefer our efforts to be self sufficient. So no grants and no solicitations of local businesses. We can revisit the issue later on if everyone disagrees. In the meantime, those within the group will happily share, plant and tool-wise.
*The design and look of your garden is up to you but please keep away from plants that will need too much water or will hurt the tree. Nothing dangerous or poisonous, obviously.

That said, we have a wealth of expert gardeners in the group including a landscape designer who have offered to help us in procuring plants at good prices. I will let you know when he and others will be taking orders.

Paul Bodden mentioned that the Conservancy in Battery Park is having a plant sale. Also I will post a separate list of plants that have thrived in several pits on Ninth Avenue in case you would like to incorporate them into your own garden. See next post for details on both.

I will be at the pit on 20th Street and 9th Avenue early most weekend mornings. If you are nearby, come over and say hi.
Flower Power!

Monday, March 7, 2011

First Day of Spring-CGC Preplanting Meeting

I have notified all those who expressed an interest in planting that we will be meeting March 20 at 4pm to pool our resources and ideas and discuss Parks Department requirements. If I have left anyone out (completely unintentionally I'm sure) and you would like to attend the meeting, please email me at cgc.nyc@gmail.com by Friday March 11 and I will sent you the address where we will be meeting.
Happy Spring and Flower Power!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

And so it begins: Begonia rescue

From Paul B.

Hello fellow Chelsea gardeners,
I am about to thin out and transplant the hundreds of begonia seedlings I
have growing under lights in my basement.  If any of you think you might
want to rescue a few to grow indoors until planting time, let me know.

They are annual fibrous begonias 'Super Olympia Rose' compact green-leaved
plants with large rose-pink flowers, drought tolerant, suitable for shade or
Cheers, Paul
(Anyone who is interested can email cgc.nyc@gmail.com  or comment here and I will pass it along to Paul.)
Flower Power