Thursday, September 25, 2008


This email came to us last week from Myriah, one of our garden volunteers, regarding milkweed (Asclepias L.).

"...It's what monarch butterflies lay their eggs on, then the caterpillars eat and build their chrysalis on the milkweed. We've got a ton of monarchs on the butterfly bush by the gate, so I'm sure if we're patient we can have some baby monarchs flying around. Seeing the butterfly "hatch" from the chrysalis is an awesome thing to observe if you haven't see it before.

Anyhow, here's a pic of milkweed, so you know what I'm referring to:

when you break the leaves they drip a milky white substance.
And a bit more on the process"

Thanks for the heads up, Myriah!

In other news, we are making some new, hand-painted signage this week to reflect our new online presence and volunteer efforts. We've also completed a very large portion of or Graham Ave. entrance clean up. We encourage everyone to take a look at our progress!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

September 14, 2008 Garden Update

Greetings! Here we have some photos of our most recent accomplishment at the garden: a cleared space in the dirt! It may not look like much, but it took two of the stalwart garden volunteers quite a while to clean up this section. As you might be able to deduce, we are pulling all the weeds from from the ground, individually at times, in order to clear some space for beautiful native plant beds! This, the Graham St. entrance, gets quite a bit of foot traffic. We would love to make it look pleasant for our neighbors and the community. Our plans for this section are still nebulous. The parks department has recommended that we "keep it low maintenance" back here, but it is quite tempting to let our botanical imaginations run wild. Hopefully, we can find a pleasant compromise between "weedy lot" and "beloved greenspace."

From this view, you can really see a big difference from the state of this parcel even one week ago! Too bad we don't have a "before" photo to display.

After working today, we took a little walk around the Bayard section of the garden to look at the "problem plants" that are taking over the front beds. Since we're not experts in this sort of thing yet, we haven't identified what this species is called.

As you can see, it's some sort of vine. We haven't seen it flower as of right now.

And finally, to the left here, you can see some strange aphid-like bugs that were slowly killing this plant. We don't quite know what these guys are called, either.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mission Statement

So it has been decided that we need to post our plan for little Lentol Garden, or maybe it's better to say our "vision."

First, a brief historical profile. As you might have read in the profile section, Lentol Garden is a memorial to Greenpoint resident Edward S. Lentol (1909-1981): New York State Assemblyman, Democratic senator and State Supreme Court judge. In 1992, Lentol Garden was named into law with the NYC Parks and Recreation and the Bayard Block Association joining forces to transform the site from a "public eyesore" to a beautiful ornamental garden and habitat.

Lentol Garden in it's current state would not exist without community and neighborhood support, and volunteer efforts. In fact, volunteers are Lentol's greatest resource. Since 1992, Lentol has seen various amounts of volunteer support and leadership, that's why the garden can look overgrown and unmaintained one year, then look beautiful and thriving the next.

People often wonder why Lentol's gates are perpetually closed and the answer is simple:
According New York City law, a garden volunteer must be present for the gates to be open. And at present, we simply don't have enough volunteers to make that happen most of the time. The nature of volunteer support can be ephemeral without long-term organization and vision. That's something we aim to improve.

Hard-working folks have to sacrifice their time and effort to make anything happen in the garden. To provide incentive, we feel that volunteers need to form a meaningful bond with the space. Whether through digging in the soil, pulling weeds or simply relaxing in the grass, we want to provide our volunteers with a sense of pride, community, and dare we say, ownership. We want people to feel as enthusiastic about the space as we do, and for that to happen, people need to make it their own in their hearts.

Lentol Garden can fulfill our natural urge to form community bonds, while beautifying our streets and educating the public about urban gardening and the importance of sustainability. To make this happen, we must increase our volunteer ranks. As the autumn approaches and the days get shorter, we plan on having standing volunteer hours every Saturday from 1pm to 3pm.

The internet plays a large role in this plan. Sites like this one can provide a rallying point and bulletin board for interested parties, email will connect prospective volunteers with the folks who can get them started.
Like a little seedling breaking through the soil, this blog and a new crop of volunteers are trying once again to breath life into this overlooked neighborhood treasure.

Another Garden Update!

The Lentol volunteer squad was out again yesterday, braving the gigantic, swarming Brooklyn mosquitoes in the continuing push to clean up the Graham Ave. portion of the garden. There's no doubt about it, the work is dirty, sweaty manual labor. But it's a labor of love! Here's how it goes down:

First, We simply use a large, flat head shovel to literally scrape the weeds from the ground. Technically speaking, it's not the best method for weed removal but the sheer density of plant life (and the lack of strong backs to manually pull the little plants out by the roots) requires drastic action! Next, we use a rake to separate the plants from the top soil. Finally, we put the dispatched organic matter into the compost pile and redistribute the topsoil to its original location. Sounds fun, right?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

September 9, 2008 Update

It sure has been busy in Lentol Garden this week! Many folks in the neighborhood may have noticed that the Graham Street entrance has been closed and neglected for quite a while now, so this week we decided to start or revitalization efforts there. We have a couple of reasons for doing this. First, it was just plain unsightly. Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), the wonderful native vine, has taken over this back area, choking off many of the other perennials that grow in the shade. Second, we needed a large amount of organic matter to form our new compost pile. The decaying "green" plant matter will provide our burgeoning pile with plenty of nitrogen rich material to offset the rather large amount of "brown," carbon-rich material generated my all the decaying brush and leaves. Third, with autumn coming, we simply had to clear away these vines in order to rake the soon-to-be-falling leaves from under the sweet gum tree. These leaves will eventually be used in our mulching efforts. Clearing the back lot will be our primary focus in the coming weeks, stay tuned to see this fun transformation take place!

Monday, September 8, 2008


These are some photos I took in the garden over the past few weeks. As you can see, the garden is quite wild this time of year!

Friday, September 5, 2008

So Much To Be Done

So this has been quite an eventful week for little Lentol Garden. I opened the gates for three hours on Monday (Labor Day) and Wednesday. I spent most of Monday cleaning out the plastic shed and assessing our tool situation. Unfortunately, the situation is not so great. We have plenty of shovels and one hoe, but no rakes, no pitch fork, no cart, no buckets, no hand tools (like weeders, cultivators, etc.), and our wheel barrow is totally out of commission. I did, however, find a compost bin in the back lot on the Graham Street side and set it up on Monday with some brush and yard waste. I also brought some vermicompost with some red wigglers in to help get it started.

Wednesday was much more productive. I started by picking up all the trash and pulling a ton of weeds from the front beds. I also edged the granite walkway and started pulling the vines from all the front rose bushes (until I realized how silly that was with my wimpy gloves). I swept the front walk completely and pulled most weeds from between the granite cracks. And as I was winding this down, I realized that we didn't even have a decent brush pile! So many weeds with no where to put them! The composter is the obvious answer, but it's much too small for the large amount of "brown" material resultant from my weeding session. Also, I have a vision for that little composter: I think it would make a great worm composter and would allow garden volunteers a place to bring their kitchen scaps. A brush pile is the only answer! I staked out the perfect spot near the Graham Street entrance and shoveled several small piles of Sweet Gum Balls (the fruit of Liquidambar styraciflua or the American Sweet Gum) into one large pile. Now we have the makings of a large and potentially productive compost pile.

And that's that! I plan on returning today to continue the long road to recuperation for Lentol Garden! Just to keep my mind full of little goals, I've scribbled down some of the first few tasks that would greatly benefit the garden:

1. Weed all the front beds, detangle and prune the roses.
2. Edge all the granite
3. Repair the front bed boarders.
4. Make a wide trail from the front beds to the rear garden (Graham Street entrance) for carts to haul organic matter to the brush pile.

Until next time!