A peek over the construction fence adjacent to BBG’s historic Native Flora Garden rewards visitors with a view of BBG’s newest garden project, a one-acre expansion of the Native Flora Garden that will feature the country’s only representation of the unique pine barrens habitat and the unusual plants that grow there. Slated to open in June 2013, the major hardscape components of the expansion have been completed including the boardwalk and paths, a stone "Council Circle," and an extensive bog. December saw the first wave of planting as a variety of trees and shrubs were installed in the special mixed soil. A second wave of herbaceous plants will be planted in early spring in anticipation of an early June opening.
The progress on-site only hints at the scientific rigor that went into the conception and planning of this project. The expansion will be home to approximately 15,000 new plants, representing over 150 species, some of which are thought to be in cultivation for the first time. In fact, many plants in the garden were sustainably sourced from the very ecosystems it emulates. At least 25 species are of special conservation concern, including pixie-moss and the swamp pink. Several of them were first identified as such through BBG’s New York Metropolitan Flora Project, a 20-year study cataloging all native and invasive plants in the region. In their new home, these rare plants will attract a diverse group of pollinators and other wildlife adapted to live in the unique habitats being re-created in the garden.
BBG's horticulture team has conceived of this garden as an experiment that will unfold over time, with a wild aesthetic that mimics nature’s patterns. Lead Conceptual and Ecological Designer Darrel Morrison notes that the expansion has been “designed with evolution in mind. It will become more beautiful as species migrate and grow.”
In many ways the Native Flora Garden expansion carries forward the founding principles upon which BBG’s original 102–year-old Native Flora Garden was based: rigorous science, education for people of all ages, and a strong commitment to the study and preservation of the flora of the New York metropolitan region.
Top two photos © Albert Vecerka / ESTO. Bottom photo by Uli Lorimer.