INNOVATE & INTEGRATE: BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK, with REBECCA MCMACKIN
In our final episode focusing on gardens that are dedicated to being ecologically rich and contributing back to the places in which they are grown, we learn some innovative lessons in built ecology. Literally.
Rebecca McMackin is an ecologically focused horticulturist and garden designer. For the past decade, She has been the Director of Horticulture for Brooklyn Bridge Park, an 85-acre ecologically minded landscape constructed from the soil up on repurposed post-industrial shipping piers jutting out over New York’s East River. Rebecca and her horticultural team care for the diversity of life within this human constructed parkland organically and with an emphasis on habitat creation for birds, butterflies, and soil microorganisms – as well as visiting humans.
Rebecca writes about landscape management and pollination ecology, as well serving as the VP of the Metro Hort Group in NY. She has served on the board of the Ecological Landscape Alliance.
Earlier this year, I met Rebecca (virtually) for the first time when she introduced me as a speaker for the Metro Hort Group’s annual Plant-O-Rama event. I have since had the pleasure of hearing her speak several times.
Rebecca joins me this week to share more about rebuilding ecology where we can – and, she notes, if BBP and her team can do it on concrete shipping piers over the East River in New York City – we can all do it.
My conversation with Rebecca was longer than we could fit on air in its entirety – for our full conversation including her top 5 techniques to include in your home garden practice for encouraging ecology and ecological systems Make sure to listen to the PODCAST which you can always find here at cultivatingplace.com or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you’re subscribed to the podcast - of course - you'll never miss an episode of this growing life you love.
For many many useful and informative resources - make sure to explore the Brooklyn Bridge Park Horticulture page: www.brooklynbridgepark.org/plan-your-visit/plants-and-wildlife/horticulture
You can follow Brooklyn Bridge Park and Rebecca's work online at rebeccamcmackin.com, Brooklyn Bridge Park.org, and on Instagram @oroeoboeococoao and @brooklynbridgepark
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JOIN US again next week, when we say farewell to the fullness of summer at its calendar end (Labor Day weekend) with the wonderful sounds of a summer garden concert series not only held in but inspired by Capital Public Radio’s garden of season and meaning in Sacramento, California. We’re in conversation with Jennifer Reason, musician, Classical Music Host and Summer Garden Concert Director, and with Capital Public Radio’s Garden Coordinator Nicole McDavid. Join us!
Cultivating Place is made possible in part by listeners like you and by generous support from the American Horticultural Society. Soon to Celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, AHS has been a trusted source of high quality gardening and horticultural information since 1922.
Today, AHS’s mission blends education, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship with the art and practice of horticulture. Members of AHS receive the award-winning flagship magazine, The American Gardener, free admission and other discounts to more than 345 public gardens with the Reciprocal Admissions Program, plus discounts on books, seeds, programs and more!
Listeners of Cultivating Place can receive a $10 discount on the annual individual membership of $35, by visiting www.ahsgardening.org/CP For your annual Membership to the American Horticultural Society for the special Cultivating Place rate of just $25 a year, head over to www.ahsgardening.org/CP.
Thinking out loud this week:
Hey It’s Jennifer –
One of my greatest take aways from this conversation is the impressive potential inherent in our ability to interrogate ourselves and our ways, and to innovate our way out of bad habits, old ways, past errors, and finally to integrate more gently, more productively and purposefully with nature’s ways. My first choice would not be to engineer our way out of the problems we ourselves have created, I would rather we didn’t create these problems in our ignorance and our arrogance, but we have – we do. Last week Owen Wormser noted that we have to remember we got to this ecological moment one overfed and poisoned lawn at a time, (among other human errores) and that’s one way we’re going to get out of this spot – one garden at a time contributing rather then extracting and overusing. Rebecca and Brooklyn Bridge Park remind we can in fact use our capacities to return balance, to nurture life, to support diversity.
I've been on the road these past 2.5 weeks and I’ve had the fun and enrichment of meeting many gardeners in their own places, having many interesting garden life conversations in each of those places. I was speaking to a group on the western slope of Colorado and one woman said to me in earnest "I am not actually a gardener – I volunteer at gardens, I love gardens, I support native plant and regenerative farm work, but I don’t have much of a green thumb…."
And this phrase – a green thumb – launched us into a perfect engagement around this often hobbling mythology.
What does having a green thumb mean – what does not having one mean? And Does this mythology around a green thumb serve us?
In these summer months I will have met gardeners in Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. I will have driven across Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia. And in driving through hills and dales, over rivers and along creeks, over deserts and the continental divide, I can tell you with no uncertainty that mother nature wants to grow – she is all the green energy and spirit any of us could ever want - and all you have to do is watch and listen, learn and try – and try again.
The opportunity is there for us everyday to practice this green growing relationship with a planet that shows us how at every turn.
Have you heard or do you remember the wonderful ee cummings poem:
i thank You God for most this amazing day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes
So keep getting out there and keep practicing growing. As Rebecca notes, if the Brooklyn Bridge Park can figure out how to do it on repurposed post industrial concrete shipping piers over the East River, we can figure it out in our front and back yards and we too can help reweave this greenly spirited world.
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