Bloomingdale Garden is a tiny patch of green in public space on New York City’s Upper West Side.
Located in containers and tree beds along the sidewalk of 219/217/215 West 106th Street, the garden occupies less than a hundred square feet, but provides a welcome splash of color to the neighborhood.
My name is Matthew Cavalletto, and I’ve created this site to showcase the flora and fauna that make their home in and around my garden, and to answer some common questions asked by passers by. I’ll also share some notes about my experiences as a gardener, in hopes that this will encourage other people to create their own pocket gardens anywhere they can.
Newest addition to the garden: a large Rudbeckia (“black eyed susan”). It’s slightly bedraggled after its trip here by truck, but I am optimistic that it’ll perk up over the coming days — and I think it still has enough time to make itself at home that it has a decent chance of surviving the cold this winter.
The latest addition to the garden is a lovely holly shrub donated by some neighbors, now repotted in a giant tub donated by another neighbor, with a hundred pounds of soil ordered online and delivered by cargo van.
(Not pictured: three more identical tubs, each with their own hundred pounds of soil, awaiting more flowers expected to arrive over the coming few days.)
The evergreen foliage and bright-red berries should provide some lovely color this winter.
The label describes it as a “Blue Princess” Holly (Ilex × meserveae) which could eventually grow to be 12 feet tall, although suspect that the limited volume of soil will prevent it from reaching that size — I suppose that if it does well I’ll need to prune it back to keep it from getting much past six feet just to keep it manageable and avoid obstructing the light entering the building’s windows.)
There are so many kinds of plants and animals in the garden, many of which have wandered in on their own rather than being deliberately cultivated, that I sometimes turn to outside experts for help identifying newcomers.
Sometimes I ask for help from Facebook friends, but often I turn to the iNaturalist website, where subject-matter experts will help to identify species they’re most familiar with.
You can see some of the observations I’ve submitted here:
If you’re an iNaturalist user, follow me @mcavalletto to keep up with new finds!
Much of the garden’s catnip is now in full flower.
All of this catnip stems from a single small flowerpot I brought home and placed on my windowsill a decade ago — it’s a prolific self-seeder, and has spread itself to multiple nearby containers and treebeds.