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Welcome to the Garden!

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.

The garden is named Bloomingdale, a traditional name for this area of New York City’s Upper West Side.

American Asters

This six-foot-tall mini-thicket of late-blooming asters is providing another lovely spot of color in our garden despite the recent cold snap — I almost cut them back in November and I’m so glad I waited!

I don’t know which variety of asters this is, but I have my fingers crossed that it’s one of the rhizomatous perennial species and will return again next year.

Grandpa Ott

My favorite variety of morning glories continues to be the Bavarian “Grandpa Ott” with its deep purple blooms.

They do a great job of climbing the fence — or bamboo rods, or tall plants, or anything else they can find for support — and although their flowers don’t stay open for long, there are so many of them that they provide a constant stream of color for months throughout the late summer and into the fall.

Sweet Potato Vines

Someone left a sprouted sweet potato lying on the dirt in one of the garden planters this spring, so I dug it in just to the level of the surface and it’s been very happy, with four vines coming off of it, each six feet long and happily tangled in the fence trellis.

I’ll need to do some research to know how to over-winter it — do I just leave it in place and assume it will die back and resprout in the spring?

Spring Insects

Just as the plants are springing back into life, so are the insects that feed on them.

A number of the tiny elm trees espaliered into the fence have numerous leaves covered by tiny sack galls. Inside each is some type of insect, although I’m not certain whether they are aphids or mites. The result is somewhat unsightly, but reportedly doesn’t do significant damage to the plant.

More concerning is the invasive spotted lanterfly, which for the first time I have spotted in nymph form. The fact that these are black rather than red indicates they are a still at an early instar; they will turn red when they molt in a few weeks, and then assume their winged adult form later in the summer. They love to suck the sap from newly growing grapevines, and I’ll need to put some effort into limiting their population so they don’t do too much damage.