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Visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in 2013

8/16/2013 3:10:00 PM

Tags: Travels, New York City, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Herb Garden, Basil, Pest Control, Lemon Verbena Lady

In 2009, I wrote a post about timing and visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Herb Garden, which you can see was surrounded by chain link fencing alongside a sign that said the area was closed.

Herb Garden Sign
The closed sign was not what I wanted to see in 2009.

The original Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Herb Garden was designed in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration laborers. The new Herb Garden features a combination of orchard, annual, perennial vegetables, herbs and work spaces to give gardeners a realistic look at all of the garden’s functions. It is a true working herb (I would call it more of a kitchen) garden.

New Herb Garden Sign 
A more inviting sign to the herb garden.

This year, my timing was perfect with a whole new—and much improved!—sign and space for the herb garden. I believe the weather played a significant role this season in how the gardens are doing in general.  The week before we arrived in NYC, temperatures were in the 90s to 100s. Stifling!

Garden Path
The path draws the gardener into the garden.

Here is a look at the entrance to the herb garden. I especially like how it has vertical elements to give more room to grow lots of different fruits.

Knot Garden
A bird’s eye view of the knot garden.

I also liked that there is a platform to look over the knot garden. It's too tough to see the design from ground level, and so much easier to see it from above. Now if only the banana plant in the container could be moved out of the way!

Rose Hips
Beneficial rose hips of Rosa rugosa.

The path above led to Rosa rugosa, which had amazing rose hips! Here are some rose hip recipes from Mother Earth Living if you have to harvest from your gardens.

Bay Laurel
Bay laurel with a sweet potato vine entwined!

The one herb that I thought should have done better was this bay laurel. They can be slow growers, and this one was in a container, which makes it easier to bring it inside for the winter. If this one wasn't competing with a sweet potato vine I think it would have fared better. I wouldn't be surprised if the young bay is taken over by the end of the season.

Basil Bed
A very healthy bed of basil.

The basil in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Herb Garden are doing very well. They had several different kinds growing together. At home, my basil is doing very extremely well thanks to the rain and heat—my sweet basil is doing the best. I also planted cinnamon, lemon and lime basil seeds. Try my recipe for Basil Jelly. It's a Renee Shepherd recipe that I have been using for years.

Sweet Alyssum
Sweet alyssum planted along the borders in the herb garden.

This season my garden has been plagued by more bad insects than usual. I told The Herbal Husband we need to plant sweet alyssum next year to attract pollinators and beneficial insects so that we can balance out the bad insects with the good ones.

Sunflower Seeds
Birds enjoying the sunflower seeds.

Sometimes birds are helpful, as they eat the bad bugs. But mostly they are there for the sunflower seeds. I plant a lot of sunflowers because they not only attract pollinators but they are great food for the birds and sometimes the squirrels and chipmunks.

The one herb I did not find in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Herb Garden was lemon verbena! It is not an herb garden in my opinion without lemon verbena!

Kitchen Garden
A beautiful combination of herbs and vegetables.
All photos by Nancy Heraud

As I have said for many years, planting a kitchen garden, or rather a combination of herbs, flowers, veggies and fruit trees, is a productive and beneficial investment for your family and the environment. So as you are planning your garden over the winter months, think about all of the benefits of having more than just one particular plant group. If you are thinking of having a fall garden, Mother Earth Living just published a guide to planning and growing: Fall Garden Planning.

Nancy HeraudAs always, if you have a comment or question about any of my posts, please write to me here or my e-mail at and put in the subject line “Herb Comment or Question.” And be sure to visit my blog Lemon Verbena Lady's Herb Garden. Talk to you soon. 

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