Scaffolding Extension

I spent more than an hour last week, rearranging all of the planters on our sidewalk, dragging them back and forth to create a pleasing arrangement for the season ahead — then looked out my window the next morning and discovered that the facade-repair project next door was extending their scaffolding twenty feet further to cover part of our building, blocking the sunlight to that end of the garden.

And they say the scaffolding will likely remain in place for a full year!

I’ve now managed shift most of the planters down the block, but still need to tackle the espaliered tree that has its branches woven inextricably into the iron fence… moving it will require cutting off a significant number of branches, but if I leave it in place, it will probably die due to lack of light.

It’s very frustrating.

Donation Appreciation

While I am generally happy to provide the limited funds needed to cover the garden’s operations, neighbors do occasionally donate supplies, for which I am very grateful.

My thanks go out to the following for items received this spring:

  • Peter Arndtsen for his gift of two young evergreens and numerous cuttings.
  • A couple in 217 W 106th who provided dozens of flower starts and two large bags of potting soil.
  • Someone who had discarded a metal “grow” sign which I rescued from the garbage and attached to one of the treebeds.
  • An anonymous donor who left three hanging baskets on the steps this morning. [Update: I got the backstory on these after the fact; a neighbor collected these from a scrap heap after another garden decided they had ordered more than they needed.]

Spring Floral Additions

We took a trip to Metropolitan Plant & Flower Exchange in Fort Lee and picked up a bunch of bedding flowers to be added to the garden planters and the treebeds here and around the neighborhood, including the following:

  • Petunia — Starlet White; Tritunia White; Tritunia Plum; Tritunia Veined Mix
  • Marigold — Taishan Mix
  • Dwarf Snapdragon — White; Yellow; Pink Rose
  • Dianthus (“Sweet William”) — White; Pink Mix
  • Celosia (“Cockscomb”) — Glorious Mix
  • Verbena (“Vervain”) — Obsession Blue with Eye; Obsession Pastel Mix
  • Lobelia — Hot Brilliant Blue 
  • Lantana — Bandana Rose
  • Calibrachoa — Conga Red
  • Bracteantha (“Strawflower”) — Mohave Basket Yellow
  • Coreopsis (“Tickseed”) — Beauty Sunrise

Fall Planting Draws to a Close

Over the last six weeks, I’ve planted well over 750 daffodil bulbs around the neighborhood, as well as a smaller number of other bulbs — hyacinths and grape hyacinths, two varieties of tulips, crocus and dutch iris. Nearly all of them went into sidewalk tree beds, with the remainder buried in large planters in public space.

I’m down to a few dozen bulbs that I’ll finish planting over the coming week before our first real hard freeze.

It was hard work, but with a bit of luck we’ll see lots of bright green shoots and colorful yellow flowers emerging next spring and it will all have been worthwhile.

The process of making hundreds and hundreds of six-inch-deep holes in hard-packed earth was greatly eased by use of an auger drill bit that attaches to my cordless impact driver — it’s a huge time-saver, although it does feel odd to be gardening with power tools.

During that same time, I’ve also given away more than 500 daffodil bulbs to folks who offered to plant them in other parts of the neighborhood, or further afield, such as the few dozen that went to Brooklyn and the hundred that went to an abandoned lot next to a public school in Patterson NJ.

Along the way, I’ve also sprinkled more than a dozen tree beds with assorted late-blooming wildflower seeds — mostly gathered during a trip to the Hudson Valley at the end of the summer, supplemented by a few bulk seed packets from Everwilde Farms. With a little luck, some of those will survive the winter snows and sprout next spring, although I don’t yet know how successful they’ll be.

Late Night Planting

How is this my life? Planting daffodil bulbs at night, in the rain.

Total of ten sidewalk treebeds successfully planted tonight, with between one and four dozen daffodil bulbs each, plus a sprinkling of wildflower seeds from a field in the Hudson Valley that we visited this summer. Thank goodness I’m almost done with the autumn planting!

Appearance in BNHG “2020 Project”

Thank you to local musician Vita Wallace for submitting her photograph of the garden to the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group’s “2020 Project,” a multimedia record of life in our community during the pandemic.

The gardens on, around, below, and above the stoops here are always fruitful and wildly wonderful. This year, the Black Lives Matter messages made them especially poignant.

Vita Wallace, July 14, 2020