This year, the Prospect Park Alliance horticultural crew dug in and got their hands dirty in order to make an exciting new addition to their team: a greenhouse. The existing structure, located in the park’s Garage Compound space for maintenance and operations, had last been used for this purpose roughly 20 years ago, and had served as storage in recent years.
The resurrection of the greenhouse was primarily undertaken by LJ Philp (Lead Gardener at the Lefrak Center at Lakeside), Uriel Walker (Assistant Gardener, Lakeside) and Allie Loux (Assistant Gardener, Lakeside), with the intention of creating a facility for Alliance gardeners to learn, experiment and move Prospect Park towards greater self-sufficiency and resiliency.
With 19 variations of native species of plants, including grasses (Virginia wild rye, Little bluestem and Purple love grass) and broadleaf flowering plants (Black-eyed susan and Beardtongue foxglove), the three gardeners, along with the support of other Alliance staff, have nurtured the greenhouse back to life.
The undertaking required carpentry work (including the creation of roll-up sides for ventilation, meshing for shade, and a sliding door to combat heavy winter snow), as well as the installation of a misting irrigation system. The seven-month-old greenhouse is bursting with life and ecological lessons.
The trial of learning how to grow these specific native plants from seed has proved to be a hands-on process of “positive trial and error,” says Philp. By supplementing the plants purchased at a nursery with home-grown additions, Prospect Park Alliance gardeners can better understand the full lifespan of Prospect Park’s plants and move towards self-sufficiency.
These native plants will not only live longer and thrive with less care, but they will also serve as a greater addition to the park’s ecosystem: providing food and habitat for native wildlife and pollinators and enhancing the park’s resiliency to help it thrive for years to come.
The project is still young, and the team has bright eyes for the possibilities it can bring to Brooklyn’s Backyard.