Mid-May: Purple Reign

The entire garden is awash in purple right now. Light purple tulips and purple allium under a hops arbor greet visitors.

Right now the entire Summit Street Community Garden is awash in purple of various shades, from light purple tulips to deep purple allium to lilac…lilacs. It’s also the time of year when things change quickly. The tulips and daffodils of early spring have given way to late spring blooms, like irises, while hosta shoots have unfurled to full leaves. I had an unexpected hospital stay for a week and when I stopped by the garden yesterday on my first day out, I wondered, “How long was I gone?”

Plants have suddenly sprung up. This appears to be some sort of magic beanstalk.

The garden of a week ago is completely different from the garden now. Plants have shot up, as if the rain made them instantly grow.

If you have the opportunity, please sniff the lilacs! (Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t offer a scratch-n-sniff plugin for the garden blog.)

Lilies of the valley are also fragrant.

It’s also a fragrant time in the garden. If you have the opportunity, sniff the lilacs in the back corner. There are also a few lilies of the valley. Visitors might also smell lemon mint in the borders, particularly at the corner of Summit and Columbia streets.

Alliums and irises are blooming throughout the garden, in the borders and in personal plots.

In other rain news, this past weekend’s chilly and rainy weather caused the cancellation of the garden tag sale. Stay tuned for a new date. In the meantime, here are some photos from the community garden in mid-May.

Alliums of varying heights are throughout the garden.

I swear my bleeding hearts were pink and white earlier. Maybe the rain washed out the pink.

If these flowers turn into strawberries, it will be my biggest strawberry harvest ever.

Purple flowers are blooming throughout the garden.

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April at the Summit Street Community Garden

Tulips and daffodils at the Summit Street Community Garden in late April.

According to the saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” This past month brought plenty of both to the community garden.  Following are some photos of the Summit Street Community Garden in April.

There’s a particular emphasis on my own plot, since I’ve been photographing it as much as possible. Every year, I make plans for what my plot will look like when I plant tulips in the fall, and every year, it’s not quite what I planned. This spring has been more of a classic spring palette on one side of my plot, with a gathering of grape hyacinths and  yellow and white daffodils, as well as tulips in yellow, pink, red and white. On the other side of my plot, I’d intended for mainly blue and white tulips, but the “blue” tulips are actually purple.

Red tulip and yellow daffodil, with two blue garden chairs in the background.

Some of the earliest flowers at the Summit Street Community Garden in early April: a red tulip and a yellow daffodil.

Tulips in a community garden plot, with white and purple flowers in the foreground.

On one side of the plot, I’d planned for a more subtle palette of white and blue tulips, but it’s purple and white right now.

Apricot Beauty tulips

Apricot Beauty tulips

Yellow daffodil with white center.

Daffodil

yellow tulip with hints of red

Yellow tulip with hints of red

community garden on a rainy day with color from some blue garden chairs and spring flowers under a Washington hawthorn tree

The community garden on a rainy day with color from some blue garden chairs and spring flowers under a Washington hawthorn tree.

Tulips and daffodils in the community garden with a pink tulip in the foreground.

Tulips and daffodils in the community garden.

Yellow sunlover tulip with drops of rain on it

Sunlover tulip in the rain

Yellow and orange sunlover tulip

Sunlover tulip in the sun

community garden plot with pink and red tulips, as well as grape hyacinths and yellow daffodils

A community garden plot with pink and red tulips, as well as grape hyacinths and yellow daffodils.

Community Seed Exchange at the Red Hook Library on April 21

A poppy
The Red Hook Library at 7 Wolcott St. is hosting a Community Seed Exchange on Saturday, April 21, from 2–3:30 pm. Bring seeds to exchange for seeds from fellow gardeners and for donations from Gowanus Nursery and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. No seeds to bring? No problem. According to the event’s Facebook page, “Everyone is welcome, with or without seeds. Bring what you can, and take what you need.”

Enthusiasm Abounds at the First Meeting of the Season

The unseasonable cold did not sway many garden members from coming out for the first meeting of the season, March 25. Several members even braved the chill and sporadic flurries to get their hands in some dirt.

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During the meeting, we established the meeting and workday schedule, as well as dates for the two fundraisers for the season.

This season’s garden meetings and work sessions will take place: Saturday, May 12, 10AM; Sunday, June 10, 11AM; Saturday, July 14, 11AM; and Sunday, September 9, 11AM.

The Tag and Bake Sale Fundraisers will be held Saturday, May 12 and Saturday, September 22, both from 10AM-3PM.

There may even be some more regular BBQs and pot-lucks, plus a Summer Solstice event is in the works.

Even though it is early in the season, members lost no time tackling the shed area cleanup, raking leaves and turning compost. It was refreshing to see the garden coming back to life, with the smell of fresh garlic bulbs helping to sustain the energy. All in all, members were eager to help make this season productive and fun.

And of course, what would any Summit Street Garden meeting be without the sustenance of Margaret Palca’s rugelach, washed down with some homemade chai and green tea.

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First Garden Meeting of 2018: March 25

Some of the first crocuses of 2018 were up on March 1.

Spring is here! Well, not officially, but the crocuses and snowdrops are up, and the hellebore blooms aren’t far behind. The first garden meeting of 2018 is set for Sunday, March 25, at 11 am, followed by a workday. There will most likely be some light snacks. Subjects to be discussed will be open hours, box availability, a welcome to potential new members, the children’s box, the garden blog and social media, fundraisers, upcoming meeting dates and workdays and other topics. After the meeting, we’ll do some garden clean-up and early spring chores.

pale yellow crocuses in early spring against smooth black river stones in a garden plotIf you’re interested in becoming a new member, please attend the meeting for an orientation. It is free to join; members simply must keep the garden open a certain number of hours during posted times and take part in some garden events. Boxes are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please read our membership FAQ section for more information. Enjoy some early spring photos below!

snowdrop flowers against fallen fall leaves

Snowdrops are often the first flowers of the season.

A gray and white cat among garden boxes in a community garden

The somewhat shy gray and white cat who shows up in the garden was inspecting the plots in early spring.

Group of purple crocuses

A group of purple crocuses emerge in the side garden beds.

small clump of purple crocuses

Small crocus clumps provide color in the early spring.

A bright yellow crocus bloom

A cheerful bright yellow crocus heralds the impending spring season.

small lambs ears plants emerging in early spring

Leaves of other plants are emerging as well, including lambs’ ears.

crocuses and tulip leaf shoots

Pale yellow blooms of crocuses and green tulip shoots provide a cheerful contrast in early spring against the brown leaves of the previous fall.

A Look at the Summit Street Community Garden Site in the ’80s

A vacant lot at the corner of Summit and Columbia streets in Brooklyn in the 1980s

The corner of Summit and Columbia streets in the 1980s, before the lot was the Summit Street Community Garden. Photo from 80s.nyc

The  80s.nyc website is like a Google Street View that lets you glimpse into New York City’s past. Over a period of five years in the 1980s, the City of New York had every property in the five boroughs photographed for use by the city’s department of finance to estimate property taxes. These photos are compiled on 80s.nyc and organized  into a searchable map view.  Since these photos were of taxable property, vacant lots were photographed as well, so many sites of the current community gardens were also photographed. Check out the corner of Summit and Columbia streets, current home to the Summit Street Community Garden, in the 1980s.

A vacant lot at the corner of Columbia and Summit streets in Brooklyn in the 1980s

This is what the Summit Street Community Garden site looked like in the 1980s. Photo from 80s.nyc

Of course, the founding members of the Summit Street Community Garden remember this lot. As documented on the garden’s history page, in 1993, neighborhood residents began moving trash and rubble out of the lot, which was then approved  for a lease as a community garden from GreenThumb in 1994. Here are a few more recent photos of the corner of Summit and Columbia streets today.

While looking through the 80s.nyc website, you might see some other familiar community garden sites.

The corner of Van Brunt and Hamilton in Brooklyn in the 1980s

The corner of Van Brunt Street and Hamilton Avenue, where the Backyard Garden is today. Photo from 80s.nyc

An empty lot at the corner of Van Brunt and President streets in the 1980s.

The corner of Van Brunt and President streets, where the Urban Meadow is today. Photo from 80s.nyc

An empty lot at the corner of Sackett and Columbia streets in Brooklyn in the 1980s.

Sackett and Columbia streets, where the Human Compass Garden is today. Photo from 80s.nyc

To learn more about the origins of NYC community gardens, check out the WNYC  story about New York City’s first community garden, which now bears the name of Liz Christy, founder of the Green Guerillas. In 1973, Christy decided to brighten up an abandoned Lower East Side corner lot at Bowery and Houston Street and enlisted volunteers to haul out trash and debris, lay down topsoil, install fencing, and put in plants. Five years later, GreenThumb began, and this program is how more than 600 community gardens in New York City exist today.

 

 

Thank You for Supporting the Tag & Bake Sale

The Summit Street Community Garden with a table of baked goods and iced tea.

Baked goods at the Summit Street Garden Fall Tag & Bake Sale.

Thank you to all the members of the community who bought baked goods and tag sale items from our fall fundraiser on Sunday, September 20! With your helped, we raised money to beautify the garden and buy supplies. We also always enjoy the opportunity to talk to our neighbors and eat baked goods!

 

Carrot cake decorated with frosting carrots

The carrot cake and blueberry yogurt cake went really fast. but we managed to snap this photo before digging in.

Stuffed animals sitting in baby chairs.

Some stuffed animals modeled the baby furniture for sale.

Stuffed animals for sale

Stuffed animals awaiting their new homes.

Farewell to the Forsythia

The forsythia blooming in 2013.

For many years, the blooming of the forsythia heralded the arrival of spring at the Summit Street Community Garden. However, after several seasons of decline, it became clear that the forsythia wasn’t going to recover and bloom again.  Shawn cut down the forsythia this Saturday. “It’s time to say goodbye to a plant that’s been a beautiful part of the garden for a long time,” says Claire.

Gardener removing a forsythia

Cut-down forsythia branches

Forsythia branches

A forsythia blooming in a community garden with daffodils along a brick path

The forsythia’s vibrant blooms provided contrast with the pale yellows of the early daffodils in 2014.

Summer Solstice at the Summit Street Community Garden

Peach galette

Peach galette. Photo: Sondra Fink

The Summit Street Community gardeners kicked off the season June 21 with a solstice celebration. About 24 members of all ages showed up to share foods that evoked the summer: deep red borcht served with sunny hard-boiled egg halves, grilled rum pineapple slices topped with ice cream, bright seasonal strawberries, flaky peach galette, and other delicious fare. Both longtime and new members had a chance to socialize in the garden, and some of the youngest members played in the children’s area, a box designated this year for play and discovery. Check out some of the photos below!

Community gardeners eating under a grape arbor

Gardeners gathered for a solstice feast under the arbor. Photo: Claire Merlino

Borscht

Gardener Amy made a deep red borscht to celebrate the solstice. Photo: Sondra Fink

Hard-boiled eggs, cut so the yolks show

The borscht was served with hard-boiled eggs, which looked like little suns. Photo: Sondra Fink

Grilled pineapple topped with ice cream and rum sauce

Gardener Claire made grilled pineapple served with ice cream and rum sauce. Photo: Sondra Fink

Strawberries and grapes

Fresh fruit was served to celebrate the arrival of summer. Photo: Sondra Fink

A garden member in front of a table with fruit.

The solstice gathering gave a chance to both new and long-time members to enjoy the garden. Photo: Sondra Fink

A boy and his dad in the community garden

Some of the youngest garden members (and their parents) had a chance to garden and play as well. Photo: Sondra Fink

Community garden members and children playing in the children's garden box

Summit Street Community Garden members got some gardening in, while some young members played in the new children’s box. Photo: Sondra Fink

Children digging in a community garden plot with someone holding a worm

The Summit Street Community Garden has a box dedicated for children’s play and discovery this season. Young gardeners at the solstice celebration were delighted to find a worm. Photo: Sondra Fink

A gardener eating watermelon.

Gardener Sondra enjoys some seasonal fruit. Photo: Claire Merlino

Gardeners hanging out in the Summit Street Community Garden.

Gardeners hanging out in the Summit Street Community Garden. Photo: Sondra Fink