Playground for All Children, Pelham Bay Park
Established through the generosity of The Hagedorn Fund, the 700-square-foot Sensory Garden is a delightful addition to the playground, offering children of varying abilities a chance to connect with nature in intimate, engaging ways. At the Garden’s center is a teardrop-shaped planting bed that adds natural elements of color, sound, touch, and smell to the built features of the playground. Plants include the fragrant “Tiny Rubies” Dianthus and Creeping Lemon Thyme; soft-as-velvet Lambs’ Ears and rough-edged Arborvitae; and the noisy ruffling stalks of Purple Fountain Grass. Brightly colored flowers in the garden include numerous yarrows in yellow, red, orange, and pink, as well as a variety of colorful Butterfly Bush.
The main attraction of the Sensory Garden is a raised wheelchair-accessible L-shaped planter complete with dwarf evergreens, herbs, and flowering vines to creep up the trellis and posts. A small side garden of evergreens provides soft colors, feathery textures, minty scents, and fall fruits for wildlife. Most of the Sensory Garden plants will vary in texture, sight, and smell as they change seasonally, and many attract birds, insects, and butterflies.
Broadway & Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn
Open Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The site went from being unsafe and inaccessible to being a vibrant green oasis, including raised planters for people who use wheelchairs and those unable to bend down. The “birth” of Umoja Garden perfectly illustrates the remarkable ongoing partnership between the independent nonprofit City Parks Foundation and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.