Monday, November 30, 2009

Copenhagen :( or ):

The UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme)has just released an update which says that no matter what we do at this point we've committed the planet to 1.4°C warming by 2100. However, if we don't cut emissions quickly and drastically (25-40% from 1990 levels by 2020) we will commit the planet to 4.3°C [or approx. 7.74 deg. F] warming by 2100.

I don't think I need to go into the types of changes that would occur if the planet warmed 8 F degrees. Despite how corrupt the system is, the politics, the corporations, the money, it still amazes me that our leaders are so paralyzed when it comes to climate change. So many times we, people and our leaders, have made drastic and courageous changes in politics, culture, the environment, human rights, food, peace, democracy, etc... And yet with climate change we're like a deer in headlights, unable to move forward out of the way of danger.

I am trying to brace myself for an event in Denmark that should be monumental but could actually be very lame. Copenhagen should be the start of a fundamental change in the way we live. It should be the change we've all wanted and voted for. It should be the event that our grandkids will be proud to learn about. I hope it will be an event that lets our eyes adjust to the light in time to see the other side of the road--before the car comes crashing into us.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Shopping is fun.

I remember living in the Czech Republic almost ten years ago and no one was shopping. There were lots of other fun things to do, like drinking, and going to concerts, but there was something essential missing from Prague's city streets. When I visited Paris during that same time, I felt the streets buzzing with activity, people going in and out of different stores, a variety of everything-fashion, cheese, avante garde furniture, whatever-tons of stuff we don't need. Now Czech people shop a lot at H&M, Tesco, McDonalds, and Starbucks :(

So, my feelings towards shopping is mixed. Shopping has serious consequences for the world. As an environmentalist, consumerism is one of the great evils. There are many other reasons to be wary of shopping fever, it costs a lot of $, $ we probably don't have. If you visit Reverend Billy's great website, you can enlighten yourself about the sins of shopping.

But what if you shop responsibly? For example, I recently turned 30 (hooray!!) and received my own seltzer maker from my parents. This may not sound that exciting, but I love bubbles but hate bottles, so this is a perfect gift and it reduces the amount of plastic in our waste stream. I also received a coffee maker from my husband, so that I would stop spending all of our money on stupidly expensive cappuccinos and using tons of coffee cups a day (although you should use your own mug). There are tons of gifts like these that you can buy at Green Depot located on Bowery and Prince. It's a great store. You can also check out Tree Hugger's Holiday Gift Guide for more ideas. Of course none of these stores or websites will have the best gift, and that's the gift you make yourself for someone you love.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey: a Wild History

A a living species of large birds in the genus Meleagris. One species, Meleagris gallopavo, commonly known as the Wild Turkey, is native to the forests of North America.

The domestic turkey is a descendant of the Wild Turkey and features prominently in the menu of the Canadian and U.S. holidays of Thanksgiving and that of Christmas in many countries.


While the domestic turkeys currently fill our supermarket aisles, the Meleagris gallopavo is roaming the North American Jungles much as he was three hundred years ago. As opposed to our domesticated Turk., Wild Turkeys can fly up to 100 yards to avoid predators. Nonetheless, Turkeys find it hard to avoid habitat destruction, so in the early 20th Century they fell on the brink of extinction. But our Turk. is a comeback kid! In the 1960s restoration programs and research by state agencies lead to the Wild Turkey once again having healthy populations in almost every state in this country.

Wild Turkeys forage on the ground in flocks, occasionally flying onto the limbs of shrubs and small trees. Acorns, beechnuts, cherries, and ash seeds are primary food sources. Seeds, berries, grasses, sedges and insects are important summer foods. In winter turkeys feed on sensitive fern fertile stalks and persistent fruits such as Winterberry, rose hips, and dried apples.

And now for some random events where you can drink and think:

The Horticultural Society has some great lectures and events coming up:

Friday, December 4
Ken Smith: Landscape Architect
Lecture, book signing & reception

December 9 - February 12, 2010
Hiroshi Sunari
Leur Existence - Tree Project

Thursday, December 10
Succulent Wreath
Design Workshop


Tuesday, December 15
Hort Library Book Club:
Farm City by Novella Carpenter !




find out more: Audubon Society

LANDMARK WEST! presents:

A way to rethink stormwater and energy solutions

Energy Efficiency and Existing Buildings

Friday, December 4th, 2009


Check out website for more info

Some good Holiday Appeals if you can give:

Support CENYC this Holiday Season - and find out where to get the best turkeys!

See you post turkey fatigue!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vote for Wildflower Week NYC!

Wildflower Week is one of the best events to hit NYC. It always has beautiful tours and educational programs and has a really fun opening party! So to help them get the support they need-vote for them to get a community grant: If you’d like to participate, register here:
Vote here (give all 3 of your votes): Thank you!

In case you didn't know why wildflowers are so amazing-here are some things to think about:
Using native plants is crucial in habitat restoration, they're drought and disease tolerant, require little maintenance once established, attract butterflies, hummingbirds, songbirds, and beneficial insects, help restore biodiversity, help stabilize and restore soil, and finally Native plants serve vital functions in filtering pollution in the air and water.

This diagram illustrates how much deeper the roots of native plants reach in comparison to many non-natives. Can we have native plants in the urban environment? Yes! Just take a look at

The Highline as an example of a wildly popular and beautiful public park. Most of the species used in The Highline are native North American grasses.

Don't Miss the SBNYC Holiday Party!
If You're a Member of Metrohort, come to their Holiday Potluck and learn how to turn

Herbs into Weeds: Medieval
Medicinals Naturalized in New York State

Stay tuned!

Sewers at Capacity, Waste Poisons Waterways

In 1849, NYC was ahead of the curve, installing an extensive sewer system with pipes made with hand laid bricks and tiles. Now more than 150 years later we use those same pipes to treat the sewage of a city 8 million strong and growing. Today's front page article in the NY Times discusses the problems of treating NYC's sewage during wet weather. It amazes me how few people know where our waste water goes and the consequences of our lack of infrastructure. Due to our overflows, NYC spills 27 billion gallons of raw untreated waste every year into our waterways, causing damage to aquatic ecosystems, endangering our own health, and violating The Clean Water Act of 1972.

An outdated sewer system and a rapidly expanding city are two of the main reasons why we are causing so much water pollution. But it's also the way we have chosen to construct our cities; choosing concrete as the material streets, buildings, parking lots, walls, and roofs are made from creates a surge of water runoff each time it rains. If cities would reduce their Concrete Footprint we would be closer to solving this problem. Permeable Pavement, Green Roofs, Trees, Parks, Bioswales, and Rain Barrels are all part of the solution. NYC needs to support these solutions by making them affordable and mandatory. It will also be supporting an industry that could provide thousands of jobs while greatly improving the environment.

To read the whole NY Times article click here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

more pix of fall

Highlights in my garden now are the river birch, the Sumac, and the seed heads of the Black Cohosh.

November's Indian Summer

This past week has been lovely weather despite the rain-last night it was almost balmy. I'm sure this won't last long, but while it does, all the more opportunity to go outdoors and admire the changing colors. Prospect Park is truly a blaze with colors right now, and my own garden isn't too bad either. One tree I have appreciated this fall for it's bold red and palmate leaves, is the native Sumac pictures here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Our green roof sample is a great way to show people the basic layers involved in a green roof installation. Its looking lovely today as the cooler temperatures kick in and the sedum changes color...

(click through for larger img)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Those lovely pink clusters are Armeria maritima, one of my favorites! We use them in our planters quite often.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Green Roof In Fall

Our green roof in the East Village is a patchwork of changing colors. The Alpine Strawberry is tinged with red, white fall blooming Crocuses are in bloom, Little Bluestem is red, and butterfly weed is yellow and orange.

Halloween Weekend in Nature

These pictures are from a trip to Warwick, NY where my mother created a large scale rock garden. The fall colors are incredible! For some the transition to winter is a depressing one, but to see the process gives me great joy. The colors now are rich and subtle: there are auburns, crimsons and yellows that you can't see in the summer. And the colors are all the more vivid in front of a gray sky.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In Praise of Fall

Fall is a wonderful time to explore NYC’s parks and natural areas. In Redhook’s Ikea park the grasses catch the light.

We recently planted Little Bluestem in window boxes that we bolted onto a roof's parapet. Tall grasses can make elegant and natural looking screens that sway in the breeze.