Thursday, May 5, 2016

UFT Election Respite: Volunteering at Brooklyn Botanic Garden Plant Sale

This is the time of the year when gardening comes to the fore. For the past 30 years I have been volunteering at the Botanic Garden plant sale which always starts around the first Wednesday of May - preceding Mothers Day.

During all this time Lois Carswell ran the event with an iron hand - she was like a general -- the complexities of doing this massive event in the cherry blossom area was like a military operation requiring hundreds of volunteers and much of the Garden staff. After her death last year some people have stepped up to fill her shoes and this is the 2nd year they have managed to pull it off even though they cut one day off because it is just too much for people who have other careers. I worked there on Tuesday and yesterday setting up for the 4:30 opening which ran till 8 - but by 7:30 I was too chilled to stay.

But today it runs from 9 AM - 8 PM and it will be drizzling all day and I am taking changes of clothing. And my checkbook. Every year I end up spending hundreds of dollars for my garden - there are just so many interesting things being offered. Since the Sandy hurricane I have had to rebuild my garden and have come up with a unique idea -- my version of the high line - which I am dubbing the Low Line - or Norms Line. I'm heading over soon to spend the day and bring home another batch of plants.

If you happen to come by look for me in perennials which I prefer over working inside the tent with the annuals and house plants.

I spent $250 yesterday as I filled an entire wagon. I consider this twisted stem willow the star of the show -- there were only 2 of them and I managed to get one.  Now I have to plant it - on my front "lawn" which as you can see no longer exists.

And here are the other 7 plants I bought yesterday.

Below is a beach plum I bought last year just as it was blooming. What a thrill to see this at the entrance to my house. I got the only one they had last year. This year they have another one and I was contemplating getting it but (luckily) someone grabbed it and made my decision for me. I learned that it bears edible plums so here's hoping for a crop this year.

As a teacher Brooklyn Botanic Gardens was one of my favorite trips to take my class to. I used to take them for a series of 3 or 4 week classes there - they would plant something the first week and take the plant home on the 4th week.

My love of plants and gardening came from Mrs. Feinstein my 5th grade teacher who had plants all over the room and did the lima bean growing project with us where we started with a bean in a milk carton and watched it spout and grow into a full size plant. I did that same project with my class every year.

One of the complications was that they did not allow eating lunch in the Gardens so you had to get an appointment and use their lunch room. So instead I would take them across the street to Prospect Park to eat. Of course, good weather was essential.

In the years before I retired I also volunteered during the summers to work with a gardener and that was a great experience - he was a right wing conservative and we had such a blast arguing politics. I had hoped to commit to a regular volunteering gig at the garden but my other activities and my focus on my own garden has made that difficult. There is no better place to escape from the world than Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, one of the great oases in the midst of a major city.

Maybe this year if I can manage to lower my activity in the UFT political scene -if you see my at a Delegate Assembly next year ask me why I'm not at the Gardens.

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