on the corner of carroll street and denton place, there is a small community garden with a hot pink tree. although i've now lived for over a decade in cities that experience all four seasons, it's still pretty incredible to see the transformations - especially in trees. (you might know this already from the way that i've marveled at my japanese maple.)
the garden didn't used to look like much, but got a makeover last year by bette midler. or to be more precise, her non-profit conservancy organization, the new york restoration project. apparently bette is very concerned about this sort of thing. who knew? architectural digest recently featured several of nyrp's green spaces throughout new york city, which is when i realized the background to our neighborhood garden. nyrp manages 52 gardens throughout the five boroughs, and cooperates with nyc's parks & rec department, as well as with americorp.
it's now a nice place to have lunch (which you can pick up at root hill, just across the street) or read a book. on my last visit, there was a composition book on a table, soaked from the recent downpour, so i guess kids do homework there as well.
plant-wise, there's a lot to see. in addition to that gorgeous tree (is it a redbud? crab apple? update: garden compass told me it was an eastern redbud), there is also birch and what i think is a maple tree. there's also a "fragrance walk" with azaleas, mint, sweetbay magnolia, and ruby spice summersweet. schoolchildren from p.s. 372 next door tend to the edible garden, which included parsley, mint, rosemary, and lettuces the last time i check. (hhh and i often wonder if we are allowed to pick them? have not yet done so.) design-wise, it's actually pretty hard core. there is a "high performance storm water infrastructure," which helps to keep the area around it from flooding. one of the plaques in the garden shows the history of gowanus and why flooding occurs, and explains how the fancy-schmancy technology underneath the park (i don't understand terms like "bioswale" and won't pretend to) diverts/absorbs 150,000 gallons of floodwater a year, preventing it from overwhelming the city sewers. (nice for me, since we live just across fourth avenue.)
aesthetically, it's a basic palette of unvarnished wood and brick, laid diagonally. the planners also reused some benches and concrete from the previous iteration of the space. it's modern and simple, and i wish so hard that bette midler would do the exact same thing to our yard.
speaking of our yard, it's still in an unusable state but progress is being made. a man came into our apartment today with a thermal gun (which is not for violent temperature-taking but spotting water inside walls and under floors, apparently) and told me that water is no longer going where it should not. (whew!) but it's still a long way from looking like this.