Viola ‘Penny Orange’ in the Perennial Garden – Photo by Ivo M. Vermeulen
Whether or not you realize it, you have been eating native plants for most of your life. Most of us have enjoyed blueberry muffins or pancakes from a very young age, partaking in one of the northeast’s most commercially successful homegrown natives. But that’s only the most well-known of our local edibles.
If you’re the adventurous type, you may have tried some of the more unusual natives to be found at local farmers markets or high-end grocery stores. The more advanced among you may even have foraged some of your own, though this activity comes with an all-important disclaimer: only do so if you are an expert in plant identification or happen to be accompanied by one. As you will soon see, many of the tastiest native plants have relatives or lookalikes that can be highly poisonous. Having proper identification of these plants in hand will not only help you avoid danger, but keep you from damaging wild populations of protected or threatened plant populations. Further, you should never harvest wild plants unless it’s on your own property or you have explicit permission.
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The Antique Garden Furniture Fair is one of the most festive weekends at the Garden, and it is the country’s most renowned stage for authentic garden antiques and rarities. With more than 30 fine exhibitors offering antiques alongside our own Specialty Plant Sale, there is enough inventory and expertise in the Conservatory Tent and the Garden Room to help anybody bring their dream garden to life. Guiding you through the history of these remarkable treasures is a full series of programs scheduled throughout the Fair, running April 25 to 27. Read on for the full list of programs, as well as details regarding Friday’s Members Day!
The tiny wonders just blooming in the Rock Garden get their own special beds, each one rounded off by dozens of cheering hellebores.
In the Rock Garden – Photo by Ivo M. Vermeulen
While it’s clear that every day is Earth Day at The New York Botanical Garden (look around!), we think of April 22 as another opportunity to break out our megaphone and remind the world that conservation and environmentalism are some of the most important concerns facing humanity today. But those are big, scary words to some people, and everyone could use some hints as to how they can best serve and better this planet we’ve been riding around on. That’s why, each year, we take part in hands-on activities that make it easy to learn greener, more sustainable means of supporting both yourself and our big blue-green orb.
If you’re out and about in the city today and feeling peckish, stop by one of Mario Batali’s gourmet restaurants for lunch or dinner and don’t forget to snag one of our seed packets on your way out. As always, our close pal Mario is dedicated to fresh, seasonal ingredients, and he’s paired up with us this year to provide these packets as part of our combined Edible Academy efforts. Each packet contains a healthy handful of Insalata Mista lettuce seeds ready to be sown at home, soon to save you a trip to the supermarket and provide healthy, delicious options for cooking at home. And if you can’t make it out to eat, we’ve also got a booth in Union Square for today only, giving out seed packets to anyone who’d like one!
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Some people are born to garden. Some people are born to teach. And some people have a knack for both.
Marlene Lyons, a 2012 Gardening Certificate graduate, is a gardening educator for kindergarten through fifth grades at Western Connecticut Academy of International Studies, a magnet school in Danbury. Her students actively tend their school garden and are involved in planting, pruning, harvesting and composting. Lyons encounters teachable moments regularly.
“The kids enjoy having their hands in the soil,” she said. “Initially, many of the kids will treat the garden soil like sand on a beach, smoothing it and patting it down.”
She explains to her class that soil actually does its best work, and plants like it better, when it’s not packed down tightly.
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What does a bean with a good imagination look like? If you’ve got the same tastes as Dr. Seuss then the ‘Red Noodle’ Bean or the ‘Yard-Long bean should be right up your alley. We have grown the former for several years in our vegetable garden, and usually just eat it straight off the vine—it’s so sweet and tasty. But it stays crunchier if you cook it, whether stir fried or steamed. Boiling, however, isn’t recommended—these beans get water-logged and tasteless.
‘Red Noodle’ (Vigna unguiculata) is, as the name suggests, a burgundy red color. What is exceptional about the bean (aside from its brilliant color) is that its average size is 18 inches long. It looks more like a jumbo Twizzler than anything you’d normally call a healthy bean. And, like most beans, the smaller, slender ones are the most tender—try to harvest when they are about 12 inches long and still slim.
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We’re getting out ahead of the spring warmth. Time for the post-winter whitewash on the Conservatory dome!
Enid A. Haupt Conservatory – Photo by Ivo M. Vermeulen