Great Garden Awards 2016

Great Garden Awards were just awarded! Volunteer Gardeners plant our Project Bloom seedlings in gardens around Islip. This year, we honored six Project Bloom garden groups with Great Garden Award signs and plants. You can click on their names to see each garden! The groups which were recognized at the last Keep Islip Clean meeting were:

Great Garden Award – Rotary Park

Nancy Angermaier received a Great Garden Award from Project Bloom for The Common Ground at Rotary Park in Sayville in 2016. All of the flowers were very bright and colorful. Flowers that were growing included Zinnias, Marigolds, Snapdragons and Alyssum. The flowers were in beds surrounding a large circular patio, where there was benches as well.

Great Garden Award – Slocum Elementary

Justina Rote of Edith L. Slocum Elementary School received a Great Garden Award from Project Bloom for two garden courtyards and an accompanying educational program at the school. It is so lovely seeing gardening being implemented into after school activities. It gives children something constructive to do while being outside, and it’s fun! There was even homemade steeping stone that the children made, in the underbrush. How cute! 

Great Garden Award – North Great River Civic Association

Sue Pellegrino and Neil Finnin of North Great River Civic Association received two Great Garden Awards from Project Bloom for two locations in Central Islip. One is a large traffic island on Windsor Place and a separate location near Maple Place and Sportsmen Street. Here is the photos for Maple Place and Sportsmen Street. This garden was very patriotic themed.

Great Garden Award – North Great River Civic Association

Sue Pellegrino and Neil Finnin of North Great River Civic Association received two Great Garden Awards from Project Bloom for two locations in Central Islip. One is a large traffic island on Windsor Place and a separate location near Maple Place and Sportsmen Street. Here is the photos for Windsor Place. The bed was very patriotic themed. 

Great Garden Award – Northeast Neighborhood Committee

Doris Davidson and the volunteers of the Northeast Neighborhood Committee have received a Great Garden Award from Project Bloom for the community garden at Fulton Street and Commercial Boulevard in Brentwood. The bed was lush and tended to nicely. Some of the flowers planted in the garden were Black Eyed Susans, Zinnias and large hostas. 

Great Garden Award – Jacob Clock

Eagle Scout Jacob Clock has received a Great Garden Award from Project Bloom for the plantings he did at the American Legion Hall in Islip. His garden was beautiful and carefully tended to. In the center of the garden was a plaque in memoriam to past american legion members. Some of the flowers planted include Marigolds, Zinnias and coleus. 

Project Bloom Greenhouse Update

We had a Project Bloom tree-planting photo-op at the greenhouse on 9/1616, and Trish Bergin and Alexis Weik came. When they saw the bad condition of the greenhouse, they mentioned that there might be an opportunity to get funding for greenhouse repairs or restoration from another source. In a follow up email, Trish asked if there was any quotes available. We contacted the vendor who supplies Greenhouse products and asked them to give a quote. He came out that day. The following day, I went out and saw the greenhouse restoration project over at Meadow Edge at the West Sayville Maritime Museum. It was amazing!!! I called and got the name of the company that did that job, and they came out and met with me and Bob this week. We are waiting for a final labor quote which we will present to a contact at the Parks Department. This is the PDF file with historic and current photos of the greenhouse and examples of other options.

We had a few ideas for the greenhouse:

The first plan would be to remove the old glass from the greenhouse, and install a new metal framework with polycarbonate panels to replace the glass. Photos of similar polycarbonate greenhouses are included in the attached pdf file of photos. This would make use of the existing natural gas heater, which is still in good shape, and the existing brick foundation.

Another option would be to turn the existing greenhouse into a Butterfly & Pollinator House / Environmental Educational Center and build a new polycarbonate greenhouse adjacent to the old one. This would further our goal of creating a teaching garden, and the new greenhouse could be ADA compliant.

A third option would be a complete renovation similar to the amazing work done on the antique greenhouse restoration at the Sayville Maritime Museum/Meadow Edge. 

Our goal was just to keep the Project Bloom operation going next year since a full-blown restoration was likely too expensive. With the polycarbonate option or the option of putting a Butterfly House screen on the old frame, it would not prevent a full restoration in the future. 

BELOW ARE SOME OF THE PHOTOS IN THE PDF FILE:

Built in the early 1900’s, the greenhouse at Brookwood Hall was part of the original South Shore Estate. When the mansion was used as an orphanage in the 1940s – 1960s, children would help in the gardens, as seen in the photo below.

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This photo was dated to 1953 from the East Islip Historical Society.

In the next photo you can see a hedge-lined driveway leading to the carriage house at Brookwood Hall. In the background, the greenhouse sits in front of the fields with overhead irrigation.

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Restored in 1993, the first Project Bloom Season was in 1994, with 6000 plants being distributed throughout Islip.
Brookwood Hall Greenhouse has been at the heart of our community gardening program ever since.

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Due to lack of maintenance, the greenhouse is falling apart. It has not been painted since the 1993 restoration.  This past year has been the worst with broken panes and rotted wood. Because of the bad framing structure, glass panes have been falling out. This past June, the top roof panel which was loose in April, had finally collapsed into the gardens.

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This is what the top roof pane looked like before it fell into the vegetable garden.

The caulk is so worn and weak, that when the wind blows, panels of glass are just blown out.  This photo below was taken on September 21st, 2016. It shows a different roof panel about to come off the building.

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Due to the missing panes of glass, one of our gardeners (aged 89) had to makeshift repair with a panel of styrofoam and an office chair for support. This was used to block freezing air from killing our seedlings this spring. This pane of glass is still missing 9 months later.

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Thank you to all the volunteers who took seedlings and planted gardens in Islip. Here is a small but beautiful spot.

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We are hoping for a replacement greenhouse, and this is what we are being quoted for by one vendor. This example shows the building installed at ground level.

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We recently visited the greenhouse at Meadow Edge in Sayville. Their greenhouse was just totally restored. Here are before and after photos of the restoration. This is what we dream of for Project Bloom, but small steps first!

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Before

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After

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To see more photos of the Project Bloom Greenhouse, click the link below to view the complete pdf file.

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Intercostal Cleanup at Knapps Lake

Photos attached of our day on Knapps Lake at Brookwood Hall for the Intercostal cleanup.
I filled out the “Citizen Scientist” sheets and sent them in the provided envelope so our debris could be counted as part of a global coastal cleanup inventory.

We found stuff we couldn’t get out of the lake:

  • A picnic table floating upside down in middle of lake
  • Construction lumber near Union Blvd. culvert.
  • A Rolling desk chair
  • Cabinet door
  • 4 Tires
  • Full sized garbage can
  • Large amount of landscape fabric at shoreline of new esplanade.

We should probably go back. We weren’t able to cover a lot of ground, because the lake is so shallow in some areas, it was hard to navigate. We only did the area north of the fishing dock, along the east side.

KIC Award

Bob and I were honored at last night’s Keep Islip Clean (KIC) meeting with a nice certificate of appreciation for our efforts with Project Bloom

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Project Bloom Update 8/9/16

Here’s what is growing in the children’s garden at Project Bloom right now! We have Sugar Baby Watermelons, Birdhouse Gourds, Pumpkins and Gallardia. We have also set up a tic-tac-toe board that we made. The game board is made from an old tree stump, and the cute game pieces are painted rocks. The rocks are painted to look like lady bugs and turtles! 

Project Bloom Update 8/3/16

There are many flowers in full bloom right now at Project Bloom The flowers that are growing include white, light and dark pink Cosmos, Black Eyed Susans, Purple Coneflowers, Yellow Coreopsis, blue and white Delphiniums, Red Canna Lillies, Pink Hibiscus, Large and cherry tomatoes. Everything is so vibrant and beautiful. August is the perfect time for viewing flowers! 

‘Birds and the Bees’ Project Bloom Report

Expansion of Children's Garden

A team from the KPMG accounting firm, celebrating the company’s 50th Anniversary through community service at the new Project Bloom children’s garden. They were planting in the pumpkin/watermelon bed.

Project Bloom Garden Project

A children’s garden and pollinator garden created by Project Bloom volunteers will expand and thrive thanks to a recent $500 grant designed to support community “greenspace” development. Project Bloom, a community beautification program, was one of approximately 100 organizations across the U.S. chosen for the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company’s GRO1000 initiative encouraging garden builds. It is part of a broader initiative designed to create 1,000 gardens and greenspaces throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe for the Company’s 150th anniversary in 2018.

Keep Islip Clean (KIC) and the Islip Parks Department launched Project Bloom 23 years ago under the direction of volunteers from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Program. Volunteers still meet each spring at the circa 1920 greenhouse on the grounds of Brookwood Hall in East Islip. Volunteer gardeners grow and supply about 30 local KIC volunteer groups with over 6,000 free plants that are used to beautify public spaces throughout the Town of Islip.

The GRO1000 grant will help expand a newly renovated community vegetable garden to include 100 square feet for a children’s “Victory Garden,” a new pumpkin/watermelon patch and a new berry bed with a bird bath. The flower beds surrounding the children’s garden have been filled with plants to attract pollinators.

In addition to the children’s garden, other improvements include replanting an existing meadow bed as a 200 square foot pollinator garden. Ultimately, these special plants will be distributed to Project Bloom groups with the goal of establishing 30 more pollinator gardens. Informational signs installed in the gardens will educate the public about the role these types of plants play in maintaining a healthy environment by supporting the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators.

The last several years have seen an ambitious expansion of Project Bloom under the stewardship of Master Gardener Kathy VanDyke and her husband, Bob. With their knowledgeable direction, scores of volunteers have donated many hours to create a new landscape for the benefit of the public.

“We were thrilled to receive the grant from Scotts to support our garden projects at Project Bloom,” said Kathy. “As a volunteer organization with very limited funding, this grant award will go a long way towards establishing new gardens and creating educational signs.”

The public is invited to visit the gardens located on the Brookwood Hall property at 50 Irish Lane, East Islip. For more information about volunteering, call Keep Islip Clean at 631-224-2627.

 

Project Bloom Vegetable Garden Update 7/20/16

Heres what’s going on in the vegetable garden at Project Bloom right now! We have pumpkins starting to flower, and watermelons starting to grow. There is also vines of tomatoes, peas and rainbow swiss chard growing. Everything is coming in so nicely and lush. This is going to be a great season in the vegetable garden.

Blossom End Rot

If you grow tomatoes, you are familiar with Blossom end rot. This disease can cause severe loss in both garden and home tomatoes if precautionary measures are not taken. Symptoms can happen at any stage in the development of the fruit. Most often however, it can be seen when the fruit is one-third to one-half of its full size. As implied by the name, symptoms will only occur at the blossom end of the tomato. First you will see a small, water soaked spot which will eventually grow and darken rapidly. This spot can grow until it covers as much as one-third to one-half of the full fruit. However, the spot can stay small and superficial. Large areas will quickly dry out and become flattened, black and leathery.

The disease doesn’t spread from plant to plant in an area, nor from fruit to fruit in transit. Therefore, since to the physiological nature fungicides and insecticides are useless. The occurrence of the disease is reliant on environmental factors. Factors that influence the uptake of water and calcium through the plant have an effect on the incidence and severity of the disease. Blossom End Rot is most common when there is rapid growing and then a sudden period of drought. What happens when the roots fail to obtain sufficient water and calcium that need to be transported up to the fruits- they become rotted on the ends. Another common predisposing factor is cultivation too close to the plant; this practice destroys valuable roots, which take up water and minerals. Tomatoes planted in cold, heavy soils often have poor root systems. Since they are unable to supply the necessary amounts of water and nutrients to plants during times of stress, blossom end rot may happen. Soils that contain excessive amounts of soluble salts may lead tomatoes to the disease, for the availability of calcium to the plants decreases rapidly as total salts in the soil increase.

 

We are starting to notice Blossom End Rot at the greenhouse in beds. Here is an organic way to control the disease. Use Epsom Salt!

To prevent blossom end rot, work Epsom Salt into the garden soil before planting tomatoes. Apply one pound of Epsom Salt to the standard sized raised bed garden (4 x 6-8’) or one cup of Epsom Salt per container that tomatoes will be grown in and work into the soil. The Epsom Salt will then be a readily available source of calcium and magnesium for the tomato plant.
Epsom Salt also promotes root growth and development for all garden vegetables and flowers and should be worked into the soil along with organic matter at the beginning of spring. A side dressing of Epsom Salt or watering gardening vegetables with a mixture of ½ cup of Epsom Salt dissolved in one gallon of water a couple of times during the growing season will keep plants healthy and growing vigorously. When applying dry Epsom Salt as a side dressing, be careful not to allow the Epsom Salt to touch any part of the plant.

Thank you to Twin Oaks Nursery and Cornell University for the original information! You can click on their names to read more!

Project Bloom Memorial Garden

Look at the Memorial Garden at Project Bloom! A new fence made from Curly Willow and Cyprus Branches has been put up in front of the Memorial Garden. There are also some flowers growing inside the Memorial Garden. They include Carpet of Snow Alyssum, Red Rocket Snapdragons, Shasta Daisies, Coleus, Evening Primrose and Liriope. 

Project Bloom Pollinator Bed

Heres whats going on right now at Project Bloom in the Pollinator Bed. Many flowers are in full bloom, including Moroccan Sun Rudbeckia, Milkweed (which is the only plant Monarch butterflies will lay eggs on,) Bee Balm, Red Geraniums, Forsythia Hedge, Spiderwort, Blue Star Amsonia, Sensation Cosmos, Violet Queen Alyssum, Painters Pallette Gallardia, Lancelet Coreopsis, Red Oxalis, Bright Lights Cosmos and Cappuccino Rudbeckia. 

Project Bloom Children’s Garden

Heres whats going on at Project Bloom right now in the Children’s Garden. Pumpkins and the Sugar Baby Watermelons are flowering and growing nicely. Zinnia and Brazzleberries are growing, all of the strawberries that grew were eaten by animals. The beans are starting to climb up the arbor we had built, and cosmos are beginning to bloom as well. 

Project Bloom Fence Perimeter Bed

Heres whats going on at Project Bloom right now in the Fence Perimeter Bed. Flowers that are growing include pink and red Hollyhocks, Gallardia, Helianthus, purple Coneflower, Zinnias, Snapdragons, Marigolds, Coreopsis, Daylillies, Double Hollyhocks, pink Cosmos, purple Alyssum and red Canna Lillies. We also put up a photo board for children to take pictures in. How fun! 

Project Bloom Update 7/5/16

Everything is looking great at our Project Bloom garden at Brookwood Hall. Flowers are blooming everywhere and the vegetable gardens are full of produce. Here’s what’s growing in the Project Bloom Gardens right now! What’s growing includes Strawberries, Brazzle Berries, Basil, Parsley, Rosemary, Shallots, Dill, Nasturtium, Sage, Lavender, Mint, Thyme, Oregano, Chives, Pumpkins, Sugar Baby Watermelons, Sunflowers, Peas, Tomatoes, Beans, Coreopsis, Zinnias, Marigolds, Cosmos, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Cannas, Hosta, Double Pleat Columbine, Dianthus, Delphinium, Dwarf Iris and Coneflower. 

Hollyhocks

Look at the beautiful Hollyhocks that are in bloom at Project Bloom! Thank you to Maria G. for the seeds! These hollyhocks are biennials, so we planted these seeds last spring. They were worth the wait!! The colors are so vibrant, and the flowers are beautiful. They are planted in the corner of the garden by the greenhouse. We grew two types of Double Hollyhocks and one type of Single. 

KPMG Volunteers

KPMG Accounting celebrated their 50th anniversary by donating time to our Project Bloom garden. It was a gorgeous day out, and they did a tremendous amount of work. We really appreciate their efforts! They dug out a new herb garden for us, added compost and brick edge to the newly created garden, created a new pumpkin patch by cutting into the old grass, pulled weeds, and planted many new seeds! 

Project Bloom Presentation

Here is the display board we made for a presentation done at Project Bloom. It showcases everything Project Bloom stands for and shows photos of our gardens, greenhouse, and all of our lovely volunteers. We use it for the Spring Gardening School and also use it for lectures. We also showcase the history of Project Bloom and of Brookwood Hall as well. 

Greenhouse Seedlings

Here are some photos of the seedlings currently growing at the Greenhouse for Project Bloom. We are starting Tomatoes, Shallots, Mint, Rosemary, Painted Daisies and Hostas that got overwintered at my house. We housed many seedlings for the Greenhouse at our house in our personal greenhouse. This is going to be one successful growing season! 

Project Bloom Update – Rainwater Garden

Project Bloom started again without a hitch! We have so many new ideas for this upcoming season. One idea that we’ve started working on is our rain garden. What is a rainwater garden? By definition it is “A garden that is a planted depression or a hole that allows rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas, like roofs, driveways, walkways, parking lots, etc.”

At Project Bloom, there is a very large parking lot. When it rains, a lot of run-off from that parking lot goes right into the lake, including oil from cars and garbage. We are trying to help clean out the rainwater before it reaches the lake using underground filtration provided by plants. We are turning some old platform steps that were becoming dangerous to walk on into the new rain garden. In each step tier we will plant grasses and other plants that can handle a lot of water at once, and also can withstand being dry for a long period of time. This will slow down the flow of rainwater and allow the water to be naturally clean before it goes into the lake.

We have a student from Suffolk County Community College interested in doing part of their internship with us by working on turning these steps into a raingarden. She is attending the school for Environmental Science, and we can’t wait for her help!

Here are some photos of the beginning of the new garden area.

Project Bloom February Update

Hello Project Bloomers! February is here, which means that Project Bloom has started up again! Seeds have already been planted for the coreopsis, gallardia, andno_dogs1200 rudbeckia. We also planted 20 flats of Alyssum in Royal Carpet (purple) and Carpet of Snow (white.) I painted two new signs to be put up at the garden, this “No Dogs” sign that will be mounted on the fence later this week, and also one that says “Seeding is Believing” to be put above the Greenhouse entry.

We got 2 checks from the Master Gardeners after our presentation to the group last week. One from the group and one from Judy S. (Very big thank you!) Bob and I went to Job Lot and got 2 birdbaths for the gardens. The big one will go in the main Pollinator Garden area, and the little one will go in the children’s garden. They are glazed terra cotta, so we will store them indoors until after last frost. Wth the rest of the money, I got a few more perennial seeds, and Bob is going to go to Home Depot anseeding1200d buy 2×2 posts and enough wire to complete the “deer proofing” of the vegetable garden, around the new fenced area.

birdbaths1200Project Bloom meets every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, from 9:30 to 11 am at the Greenhouse. We welcome new people, and you don’t have to RSVP! Just show up! We can always use the extra hands and friendly gardeners!

Vegetable Garden Expanded

On Saturday 1/16/16, Bob and I took advantage of the warm weather and relocated the fence line. The picket fence surrounding the vegetable garden was shifted toward the parking lot, and had sections added to extend the garden perimeter. This adds between 800 and 900 square feet of space to our garden. We will relocate the flower photo board to outside the fence when the ground thaws again. The children’s garden will move from the corner near the greenhouse to the corner closest to the playground. Following the photos of the Fence project are some flowers in bloom in the greenhouse in mid-January.

Seeds for 2016 Greenhouse Season

This year for 2016 we plan to grow only varieties of plants that the deer don’t like and that are drought resistant. The only real exception to this are the sunflowers. Deer love them, but I do too! Most of our community volunteer gardens are dealing with either deer or problems getting water or both, and this should improve their chances for success with our plants. When determining our plants for this year, I chose varieties that we have had good luck growing from seed in the past.  This year I have it down to 17 varieties of good old standards: 10 annuals, 2 edibles and 5 perennials.