Garden of Union

.203 acre

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

The Garden of Union lies on Union Street, but the name derives as much from its character as its location. The property is composed of two gardens separated by an apartment building. The smaller, located at 540 Union Street, is known as Annie’s Garden for Annie Thomson (b. 1919), the woman whose determination, energy, and spirit was largely responsible for making the garden come to life. Annie’s Garden opened in 1987. The main space, the Garden of Union, is located at 634-36 Union Street and has been operating since 1979. Both areas are maintained by Parks and garden members, most of whom reside in Park Slope. Other volunteers come from all over Brooklyn, from Howard Beach to Carroll Gardens to Sunset Park.

The Garden of Union and Annie’s Garden are community gardens with well-developed plantings of vegetables and flowers. The bulk of the land in the main garden is devoted to vegetables, and much attention is paid to the ornamental qualities of vegetables. Flowers and herbs are also integrated with the vegetable plantings. The garden regularly yields more produce than the members can use, and much of the vegetables are often given away to members of the community and a local soup kitchen.

A rock garden is located in the middle of the main garden, built into the old field stone foundations of the building that once occupied the site. In the middle of the rock garden is a meditation shrine to Gaia, a homage to scientist James Lovelock’s (b. 1919) Gaia Theory (1960s), that proposes that the Earth is a living, self-regulating body. The garden, in bloom nine months of the year, also features a fishpond hidden behind the lush vegetation in the east side of the garden. The Garden of Union was designated a GreenThumb Preservations Site in 1989.

Annie’s Garden began operation under a long term GreenThumb lease in 1987. Annie Thompson was the driving force in securing a grant from Trust for Public Land to establish the garden and she nurtured it with her neighbors for over 20 years. The area features a spruce tree (Picea spp.), flowers, and plants along its brick path. It was named “Annie’s Garden” during a ceremony in June 1994 honoring Thompson, who had lived across from where the garden now stands for more than 40 years, before moving out of the neighborhood in 1999 at the age of 80.

The wrought-iron fence around the garden, as well as the metal letters spelling “Annie’s Garden,” were donated by the Kiska Construction Corporation in 1994, fulfilling a verbal commitment made to the community to replace the old chain link and wood fence. In July 1997, the City assigned both gardens to Parks so that they will have support for future improvements.

Thursday, Dec 13, 2001

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