Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The Daily Plant : Friday, May 21, 2004


Henri Frederic Amiel once wrote that "For those who know how to look and wait, a modest garden contains more instruction than a library." For the past six months, Parks & Recreation’s 18 Master Gardener candidates have been "looking and waiting," as they learn the fundamentals of gardening and horticulture. Last Friday, May 14, the third class of Master Gardeners graduated, joining the ranks of the 35 Master Gardeners already working for Parks & Recreation.

Parks & Recreation’s Master Gardener Program was created to enhance and increase horticultural knowledge throughout the agency by providing thorough horticultural training to a handful of gardeners and field workers in each borough. Experts from the Brooklyn Botanic Program teach the six-month course, instructing students in botany, turf and soil management, pest and disease management, pruning, and landscape design. The course is free to qualified Parks & Recreation employees who apply for instruction. With 35 Master Gardeners graduating in the last two years and 18 more this year, Parks & Recreation now has a total of 53 Master Gardeners working in parks. This year’s graduating Master Gardener class included Helaine Basher, Amber Catha-Jones, Joseph Cosenza, Elaine Crowley, Adolph Delgado, George Grateron, Byron Holt, Jeremy Kemp, Bryan Milne, Matilda Mosleh, Carmen Montes, Myrna Ramirez, Ella Ray, Josephine Scalia, Cory Serisky, Carl Snipes, Charles Szatkowski, and Susanna Vendetti.

Josephine Scalia, a Landscape Manager in Forest Park, said her Master Gardener training has already helped in her job. "In a nutshell, it’s helped me become a better supervisor," Scalia said. "I have a better understanding of the seasonal projects and turf repair projects my horticulture staff works on, and I make better decisions in the type of plant materials we use." Scalia’s training also inspired her to enlarge several planting beds in Forest Park. "My horticulture crew chief had the idea to expand little plantings below some of the park signage into full-fledged gardens. It was funny because after we decided to do it, the ‘Greeting Garden’ initiative was announced and that helped us even more." (Greeting gardens are designed to beautify the entrances of parks around the city.)

Elaine Crowley, a Park Manager in Manhattan’s District 3, has also found that her Master Gardener training has helped her to supervise her district more efficiently. "Now I know the best time to cut grass and the right time of year to give my gardening staff certain planting instructions," Crowley said. "I also have a better idea of what equipment to buy, to make everyone’s jobs easier."

The graduation ceremony was attended by Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Julius Spiegel, Chief of Forestry Fiona Watt, Deputy Chief of Forestry Bram Gunther, and President of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Judy Zuk.

The Master Gardener program has helped to expand and promote many of Parks & Recreation’s recent horticultural programs, including the Daffodil Project, Operation Releaf, Greeting Gardens, and Heritage Crabapple restoration. Thanks, in part, to the added expertise of the Master Gardeners, Parks & Recreation has expanded all of its horticulture programs in the past year, planting well over two millions flowers and 15,000 street trees, restoring 117 degraded landscapes, cultivating 100 crabapple trees, and creating over 30 greeting gardens.

Written by Hannah Gersen


"The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages."

Virginia Woolf



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