Saturday, November 10, 2007

The MAN Gardens

Strolling through the Flatbush Gardener I picked up this little piece from NYC.gov. I have to hand it to Xris over there, he's on top of things. So I am glad he brought this to my attention. I do not want to speak on the specifics of the proposal because I only quickly read his post and glanced at the slide show presented by the city. But some thoughts...

First I want to say, as a gardener and appreciator of things garden and wild, I would like to see more green in all neighborhoods. Second I want to say that I think the city should encourage the greening of the city exactly for the reasons they state: cooler temps, storm water runoff, cleaner air, etc.

I hope this won't be simply stating the obvious, but we should consider why neighborhoods have become concrete. As a man and woman passed my bulb planting activity four years ago, I heard the man say "Too much effort". And isn't this to the point. I have always believed the woman had said to him, "oh, look- he's planting a garden." Yet too much effort are the words ringing in my ears.

So why has NYC become a concrete paradise? Well simply put, people feel it's too much effort to plant. Concrete sheds water, barely needs to be weeded and if so, spray it with herbicide! It easily shoveled, swept, or hosed. Most of all, money spent and its O-V-E-R! Its the same for vinyl siding, isn't it. We can lament its aesthetic shortfalls, but homeowners don't want to paint their homes, don't want to repair rotted wood siding because its costly and time consuming. Absentee landlord's love concrete and tenants have little choice. People with physical problems may want concrete. These are some reasons concrete has won over in areas where cars don't fit or can't get to. Let's face it, its less effort and maintenance.

Of course there must be the driveway for the car as well. I guess that's reasonable if you have a car in the city. And there are so many cars. There is not a night when all the spots in my neighborhood are not taken. Brooklyn is a car town.

This leads me to a sore point about grass strips between sidewalk and street. In my neighborhood, grass strips are many things: weed strips, dirt strips, dog shit strips, garbage strips, broken bottle strips, and lets not forget the most important thing- open car door strips! Where people are parked and must exit cars every day, the grass cannot hold up to this grinding by the feet. In neighborhoods where grass strips seem to work, there MUST be conscientious passengers and caretakers of them. As long as we worship the auto, do away with the grass strip. Its absurd, really. Like those two concrete strips running up a grass driveway-you remember the kind. This photo resembles the idea.

We, as gardeners, can help anyone convert their concrete pad into a garden space. We can show them how to do it with little watering, weeding, and the like. We can show them the beauty of plants the landscape contractor would never touch. We can give them perennial divisions, cutting, and seeds. I am interested in what I call our Collective Green. You heard it here first. We can band together to green up the neighborhood's yards. Volunteers wanted.

I like to win people over as opposed to forcing them. I hope that my front yard sells itself, gives people ideas. If not, so be it. Must be the Libertarian in me. But is a mandate being proposed for NYC? It appears that the proposal is only for new development. But how much new row house or single family style construction is there in the city? The kind that would create "front yard" space? In Queens and Staten Island, mostly, I'd guess.

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