Parks and gardens aid in the healing process…

A garden can have special meaning for each of us. Maybe you like to get down and dirty, nurturing and watching your garden unfold into something beautiful, while enjoying your link with nature. Perhaps, you are an observer and just want to drink in the perky "I'm glad winter's over" colors of spring, hot colors of summer and rich, warm colors of fall. A garden can also be a place to entertain friends and family, a place to relax alone and meditate after a long stressful day at work, or a garden can mean something else!

Gardens and parks have become a place to pay homage to the families and victims of 9-11, and have also become a gathering place of not only families and friends, but also strangers, side-by-side, unified, gaining a sense of strength to help one another, just to get thru it all.

The tragedy of Sept. 11 has affected all of us in one way or another. The fiery images of the "towers" and unforgettable heroism, which brought so many tears then and now, will forever, be ingrained in our minds. Myself, a former New Yorker, am particularly saddened, and would like to address the positive, inspiring happenings going on in New York.

In the spring, New York will be a blaze of color, due to the massive, volunteer planting of 1.8 million tulips and daffodils (Holland donated one million). The collaborative effort of the Parks Council, The New York Restoration Project (founded by Bette Midler) and other committed city and community organizations lead in the largest planting effort ever attempted.

In a recent conversation with T Fleisher, horticulturist for Battery Park City (half a block from ground zero), it was inspiring to learn that the plantings in the gardens, along the waterfront facing the Hudson River, miraculously survived being in the shadows of the World Trade Center. In spite of all of the fallout and concrete dust, it is his belief that the reason for the survival of plant life is due to a maintenance program of an "organic, sustainable, environment", implemented from the inception of the gardens and continues today. The use of compost and compost tea are key to this program, increasing the amount of beneficial bacteria, fungi, etc. essential for great soil (black gold) which supports and produces healthy, strong, plants. The lesson for all gardeners to learn from this is that the addition of compost to your soil is a worthwhile, long-term investment.

Battery Park City

A one and one-half mile esplanade was created along the waterfront from Battery Place to Chambers Street, facing the Hudson River. Pedestrians can stroll leisurely, passing by various plazas and distinct gardens (10,000 square feet of gardens) and rest on benches along the way. Just to mention one located at Battery Place, (southern most portion of Battery Park City) you will enter through an allee (avenue of trees) of linden trees and find Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park. Lynden Miller designed the gardens, which includes a large ornamental grass terrace positioned on the axis with the Statue of Liberty.

There are many parks and gardens to visit and lift your spirit. In the spring, take a ride down Harlem River Drive and see 30,000 bulbs in bloom. Imagine what a site that would be!

Until next time,

Marie P. Androski is a resident of Orange and is a horticulturist/landscape designer