Calling all RI birders and lovers of nature! Roosevelt Island hosts monarch butterfly corridor sites and pollinator plantings from the northern lighthouse tip to southern parkland end. All of this means we have an eco-system where we can see beautiful birds at spots across the Island. Birds are especially abundant at the Roosevelt Island Garden Club. Let's work together to keep pesticides off our Island plants as we do at RIGC. Let's keep RI, our beautiful urban nature paradise, as a healthy home for all our living neighbors.
March 1st, 2019
We have just "opened up" the garden season and compost piles together with Cornell Tech students between snow storms as we welcomed the month of March to RIGC 2019. We had "closed down" the garden together in late fall with Cornell Tech Gives Thanks on November 28th.
Cornell Tech Community Liaison Jane Swanson reached out again in February for more community service with RIGC. This time Samara Selden, Program Coordinator with Student Services and K-12 initiatives organized a group of graduate students, both masters and doctoral candidates, for a day outside volunteering together. Anthony Longo with RIGC Compost and Green RI Neighbors was ready as was Julia Ferguson with RIGC Outreach.
It had snowed in the night, but this just made the garden more beautiful. Our local cooper's hawk stopped by in a tree just before the students arrived. We had all dressed warmly and greeted each other at 10:30 a.m. and by 12:00 noon, we had made connections, talked about compost, and sifted about 16-17 cubic feet or 125 gallons of compost. These organic materials from RIGC had been "cooking" all during our mild winter and are now ready to be shared as soil amendment! There was time left over for walking about, breathing in the queit, taking pictures, and drinking some warm coffee before heading back to work on a Friday afternoon.
We look forward to more time volunteering together outside for green spaces and gardens on Roosevelt Island.
Thank you so much for your participation in our Winter Service Day on Saturday, January 19, 10am-2pm! Usually RIGC members are focused on planning our gardens, reading catalogs, and other inside delights in January. But 2019 is already shows promise of being a very good year for our RIGC community and gardens.
In mid-December, the RIGC Board was informed that RIOC will be refurbishing the Octagon Field and the nearby “Comfort Station” building that houses RIGC tool shed and lockers, the bathrooms, and field equipment. Four members of the RIGC Board met in person with Mary Cunneen, RIOC Director of Parks and Recreation, to discuss ways to minimize the impact of the refurbishment plans on the RIGC and remain in contact to follow up on requests we have made for information and assistance.
To help the Club respond to this change, we asked members to participate in a winter COMMUNITY SERVICE DAY, SATURDAY, JANUARY 19, 2019, FROM 10am-2pm and the results were wonderful! Over thirty volunteers (including seven additional high school students) showed up to clean out the outside tool shed and to help store all our tools, hoses, and other equipment inside the garden. The weather was cold, but dry so everyone dressed warmly and worked hard. (And we saved some beautiful spiders found in the wood pile.)
Thank you for your patience and cooperation with the RIGC volunteer Executive Board work and with RIOC. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact the Board at this address firstname.lastname@example.org As the Board gets more information we will communicate to all members.
Here are answers to questions you may still have about these changes.
Q: What do I do if I have rented a locker?
TOOL SHED LOCKERS MUST BE EMPTIED BY 5PM, MONDAY, JANUARY 21, 2019. Anything left in the lockers after this date will be thrown away. The RIGC will not be able to offer lockers to RIGC members for 2019. We hope to be able to return to locker usage again after the comfort station refurbishment has been completed. Those members who rented lockers after August 31, 2018, will be offered full reimbursement credit toward their 2019 registration. Nothing should remain in your locker: Locks should be removed, and anything outside of the lockers or on top of the lockers in the shed will need to be brought home. No one will be allowed back in the tool shed after February 15, 2019.
Q: What happened to the tools and other items we store in the comfort station building?
Temporarily the tools are locked into metal cabinets or stored under tarps. To arrange for storage of garden tools ongoing for the 2019 season, we plan to install another tool shed in the garden. You will receive an update on this arrangement as the RIGC Board takes steps to adjust to the impact of the refurbishment work.
Q: Are there other changes RIGC members should know about?
Please do not place any tree branches, woodchips, compost, soil, or gravel in the areas outside our back NW fencing. RIOC has asked the Garden Club to no longer place anything outside of the rear fence in the northwest corner. So ,our active overflow compost and branch piles have been removed and we are working on how to find space for these materials ongoing. If you take out small trees or bushes, you must plan to cut up the twigs for compost. Regarding larger branches or root balls, please contact a Board member with questions as these must now be taken to AVAC. The communal compost bins are still available for appropriate materials: leaves, healthy plant remains and small branches, twigs, or vines that you can chop up.
On November 28th and 29th, just after Thanksgiving, faculty, staff, and post doctoral students from Cornell Tech University volunteered across the Island for many different kinds of service hours. Julia Ferguson and Neal Weissman hosted six Cornell employees for leaf clean up and mulch clean up. Anthony Longo hosted three more for compost sifting and compost prep. It was a cold Wednesday morning in November and yet, we enjoyed every moment outdoors in the gardens together!
Later that afternoon, Julia, Jack, Neal, and Paul Lenner were hosted at Cornell Tech in order that RIGC might use their copy/scanner machines. We began digitizing RIGC history in pictures by scanning three full albums from Ali Schwayri dating back to 1985. Jane Swanson, Cornell Tech Community Liaison, and other Cornell employees in education services and IT helped us along with this beginning. This was a very special day in so many ways!
For a second year of collaborative service projects, Roosevelt Island Garden Club worked with Cornell Tech graduate students again this fall. The Cornell Tech course by Tapan Parikh is called Remaking the City and is centered on local, community connections. Both this year and last, we worked in combination with Anthony Longo of GRIN (Green Roosevelt Island Neighbors) and with Christina Delfico of iDig2Learn.
The graduate students who chose us this year were Daren Liu and Mew Rojnirun who are both in their second year of Masters programs at Cornell Tech. We were thrilled again to work with such steady, generous, and resourceful students.
Mew and Daren are interested in the intersections of technology, health, and nature. They began by exploring tech ideas which might be used to bring more choices, flowers, and nature to Coler Hospital residents. Then, realizing the limited access to technology in that setting, the plan shifted and broadened to include all kinds of Roosevelt Islanders. Mew and Daren created 'Outdoors on R Island' which is a live web page that we can continue to develop and share. This page is designed to help people share their connections with outdoor spaces and to realize more deeply how the amazing urban nature that surrounds us is a positive source of health and well-being for us all.
'Outdoors on R Island' is a collection of brief stories in the form of audio recordings alongside beautiful pictures of natural, outdoor spaces on Roosevelt Island. It includes a special green map developed by an artist who works at Cornell Tech. This project was cited briefly in a New York Times article about Cornell Tech. Also, one of the sources of inspiration for the design of the page was the Climate Stories Project by musician and environmentalist, Jason Davis.
We are excited about this new product that resulted from our collaboration and the careful work of these graduate students. However, once again this year as was also true last year, the process, our conversations together, and the connections we made were the real win for all! Collaborative and service learning courses and work with Cornell Tech students and RI organizations are so important for our Roosevelt Island community. We hope that they will continue.
On October 21, the RIGC held its semi-annual general membership meeting, and about 75 members turned out. Thank you! You can review all of the topics covered in the meeting in Neal Weissman's Power Point presentation here.
In addition to general business--directors reports, elections, and committee reports--the Standards Committee handed out 10 awards to gardeners and one Grand Prize for "Garden of the Year." Congratulations to all the winners.
For those wishing to tour the award-winning gardens, we've listed them here:
Garden of the Year 2018
A17 Colleen Kennedy
Awards of Merit
A12 Ann Hallowell
B22 Claire Blake / Mark Smith
B23 Kaz Bujno
B27 Julie Lipp
B25 Shelly & Paul Yu
B30 Elizabeth Bolden
B33 Michael Bieganek
C24 Johan & Lynn Marfey
D02 Georg & Corinna Kell
D07 Vera Johnson
There was a full contingent of RIGC member-volunteers helping out with the fun and festivities at the annual Roosevelt Island Fall for Arts event on October 6th.
Our theme this year was "Roosevelt Island Trees," and together we endeavored to help kids and parents open their eyes to the rich variety of trees on the island. Kids (and plenty of kids-at-heart) completed tree ID coloring pages, designed their own collages from the leaves of red maple, cottonwood, and other island trees, and colored in intricate leaf mandalas. In short, we were a hit!
Special thanks go out to volunteers Halima Aouchette, Karen Lee, Robert Ostergaard, Madeline Richard, Anthony Longo, Jenna Longo, Julia Ferguson, and RIGC President Neal Weissman. And a huge thank you goes to Jessica Murray of RIOC for asking the RIGC to be a part of this event.
Following another successful, fun-filled summer of gardening experiences for elementary and middle school students, the RIGC is thrilled to announce we’re extending these free gardening opportunities for kids into the fall.
Gardener and educator Julia Ferguson will lead kids through an exploration of concepts like cycles, diversity, and interdependence. And kids will get hands on experience digging, pruning, and composting in the RIGC Student Garden (a generous donation by garden member Elizabeth Stapen).
It's free, and you can sign your kids up for one class or for all.
Space is limited, so please sign up soon!
Sunday, September 30th 4:30-6:00pm (rain date: October 7)
FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
Once again this year, the Roosevelt Island Garden Club is thrilled to be hosting a concert of the Classical Musicians' Rehearsal Symphony Orchestra, founded by Arlene Stock, in the Community Garden.
Come join neighbors, garden club members, and music lovers for an afternoon of classical music among the late-summer flowers. Admission is free and open to the public. Bring your own chairs or stroll the paths of the garden while music fills the air!
The Roosevelt Island Garden Club is pleased to present this persuasive essay on native plants from our guest bloggers Lauren Hynes and Penelope Mascia. As Girl Scout Troop 3001 Juniors, their Bronze Award Project is focused on "Aiding Pollinators and Monarch Butterfly Habitats & Increasing Local Species of Plants."
Are you a part of the RI garden club? Are you planting non-native plants in your plot? Well let me tell you why you should plant natives in your garden. Pollinators are essential to our ecosystem. The pollinators--like beautiful butterflies and lovely ladybug--that are from here can only rely on native plants for food and nectar. Because of this, the butterflies and other pollinators may become endangered on our island and possibly extinct if we don’t start planting more natives on our beautiful island.
What is a native plant and why does it matter to our ecosystem?
A native plant is a plant that has been in the area for hundreds of years, evolving to co-exist with the other native plants and animals. This makes them necessary to our ecosystem, because the local animals can get more food and nectar from them as opposed to a non-native, or invasive plants. Now you might be thinking, “Well I see butterflies and bees on non-native plants, too!” While that may be true, native plants are much more helpful. According to the Audubon Society, the oak tree, native to North America, shelters and feeds about 500 species of native caterpillars, while the ginko, a tree indigenous to Asia, hosts only 5 species that live here. Therefore, the native tree, the oak, is one hundred times more useful to the environment than the non-native, the ginko.
Why are pollinators so important? What is pollination? What is a pollinator?
Pollinators are creatures that go from flower to flower drinking nectar and carrying pollen from plant to plant. This is essential because in order for the plant to reproduce, bugs and birds must pollinate plants. The way this works is the pollinators go to drink the nectar from the flower, and pollen from the anthers gets stuck on their bodies. When they drink nectar from another flower, the pollen rubs off on the sticky stamen which brings the pollen down to fertilize the plant. This makes it possible for fruit to develop and for seeds to be produced and planted. This is why pollinators are essential to our ecosystem, because without them the plants would not be able to produce seeds, making that plant go extinct. Also we would not have all the food we need like corn, tomatoes, squash, apples, peaches, and more.
Now, you may be thinking “But I don’t want bugs in my garden!” I have 3 things to say to you.
1. What about butterflies and hummingbirds? Those are pollinators and ones that most people would want in their garden.
2. Many of the beautiful flowers growing in your garden need to be pollinated in order for them to grow again next year.
3. One third of the crops we grow and eat are pollinated by insects. And guess what? If it weren’t for fly pollinators there would be no cacao beans, which means that there would be no chocolate!
If you’re thinking, “Well native plants are just too much work!” you are incorrect. Because natives have adapted to the local environment, they have also adapted to how much rain the area gets and the type of soil and other things like that. In fact, the Audubon Society says, “Because native plants are adapted to local environmental conditions, they require far less water, saving time, money, and perhaps the most valuable natural resource, water. In addition to providing vital habitat for birds, many other species of wildlife benefits as well.”
If you’re thinking, “Well all that stuff to find and buy it seems like a lot of work,” let me tell you; it’s not. It can be just like shopping for something online. You have a picture in your mind of what it will be, you find something you like, and you pay and order it!
In conclusion, we all should plant some native plants in our gardens because they are beautiful, they help the environment, and they attract native pollinators like monarch butterflies and ruby throated hummingbirds. I hope you decide to do this kind thing for yourself and the environment by planting natives in your plot.
Still not convinced? See these articles from other resources.
National Wildlife Federation
North American Native Plant Society
Have you been persuaded to add some native species to your plot? Would you like to take the next step? Where do you go from here? This is really up to you. Generally seeds need more care, more watering at the beginning when they sprout and start to grow. Some are harder to get growing from seeds. So if you are looking for the “easier” way, buy starter plants and make sure they get enough water at the roots so that they can establish themselves. And remember, native plants adjust to their climates conditions easier than non-natives. The plants generally re-seed once established. So get your hands a little dirty put a few natives into your plot, water, and watch the flowers grow! When you do this you can revel in the thought that you are helping to save our pollinators!
Are you a beginner gardener or an advanced gardener? What plants grow without a lot of help? Try spring violets, lupines, and amsonia, summer coneflowers, liatris, and phlox, fall goldenrod and asters.
If I were you I wouldn’t get too worried about how much care you have to put in but pay attention to what the plants need. Does it need to be in a dry and sunny place? Or does it like a shadier and moist home? Prairie Moon Nursery website (below) provides great information for all gardeners as well the Audubon Society for state specific native species information (https://www.audubon.org/native-plants.)
Where can you even buy plants or seeds?
Here is a list of nurseries where you can find all sorts of information & as well as make orders:
Greenbelt Native Plant Center https://www.nycgovparks.org/greening/greenbelt-native-plant-center
North Creek Nurseries https://www.northcreeknurseries.com/
Prairie Moon Nursery (great info on their website) https://www.prairiemoon.com/
Long Island Natives https://longislandnatives.com/t/butterfly-attractant
Want to learn more? See the articles below.