Year of the Rabbit and Fall’s Finale at the Family Garden
Annie Novak is coordinator of the Children’s Gardening Program.
Sun-Tzu tells us “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Two thousand years later, the Family Garden recently took the opportunity to follow the familiar adage with the latest addition to our garden: Newton, the Family Garden rabbit. Unlike the brown, sleek, and rapid rabbits that pillage the cornucopia within our walls, Newton, a domesticated Dutch dwarf, was rescued by Group Tours staff, who found him wandering the Botanical Garden last month.
Despite the reputation of rabbits, the adoption of Newton is a welcome one. Instructors and students on a recent class field trip to the Family Garden discussed the perils of abandoning domesticated animals in the Botanical Garden forest, gracefully making the segue into a discussion of ecosystems. Later, the students were rewarded with the opportunity to feed Newton pea shoots, the last crop of legumes before cold weather finishes the garden’s growing season. Magnetized by the hutch and the adorable rabbit within, it seems the spotlight has turned away from the Family Garden’s waning fall vegetables.
Newton also has the privileged position of living under what may be The New York Botanical Garden’s first “green roof.” A collection of sedums and sempervivums (hens and chicks), the green roof will help to keep the hutch warm in the winter and cool in the summer. As Toby Adams, the Family Garden Manager, explains, Newton’s new home illustrates the potentials of creative and efficient gardening. “The hutch shows how our visitors, too, might tend a garden despite the limited ground-level space in the city.”
The only thing missing from Newton’s nest is a pumpkin. In anticipation of Halloween, the rest of the Family Garden is festooned with gourds and squash. This Sunday, October 26, during Halloween Hoorah, visitors to the Family Garden can present an apple sticker and a pumpkin sticker, distributed during the Halloween Parade, to earn a cup of freshly pressed cider and a pumpkin to color with markers. In the Family Garden, staff will be on hand to help make marigold jewelry, frame fruit sketches with seeds, and reminisce about the three beautiful growing seasons that preceded the fall farewell to their vegetable plots. Costumes are encouraged. It is rumored that Newton, with his brown bandit-mask fur, will be dressed as Zorro.
The Halloween Parade meets at the Rose Garden entrance at 12, 2, and 4 p.m. and heads to the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, where you can decorate pumpkins to take home and press your own apple cider.
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