Leave it to New York to come up with a novel idea to promote sustainability — and what a great idea! It’s a barge filled with dirt and used for gardening!! It’s called Swale.
Swale’s founding artist Mary Mattingly says “At its heart, Swale is a call to action. It asks us to reconsider our food systems, to confirm our belief in food as a human right and to pave pathways to create public food in public space.”
Swale is free and open to the public. Right now it is docked at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Pier 4 at 58th Street in New York City, but it moves from time to time to other New York docks. It offers educational programs from the origin of plants to the preparation of the food for eating to what songs bird enjoy, and welcomes visitors to harvest the fruits, vegetables and herbs for free. “Swale strives to enhance the quality and responsible use of public waterways and land; working to encourage New Yorker’s to reconsider their relationship to their environment and ecology; and to change perceptions and policies to increase responsible uses of edible perennial landscapes.” (Swale)
This floating garden is teaching kids about sustainability…and it's amazing.
Posted by Mashable on Monday, January 22, 2018
Swale’s food forest is made up of native fruit trees and shrubs, leafy self-seeding annuals and salt loving grasses donated by the Greenbelt Native Plant Center, the New York City Parks Department and visitors. Its landscape design is inspired by edible forestry, permaculture, and salt-tolerant estuary ecosystems except for the chickens. Video courtesy of Mashable
Although they didn’t list all 500+/- plant species they grow, many of the common names listed on the Swale website included native plants. Let’s hope they are true native plants and not cultivars! This sounds like a wonderful opportunity to educate visitors about the benefit to our environment from using native plants!!
Thanks to my niece, Heather Bain, for bringing this very interesting story to my attention!
I’m always finding surprises in my prairie. The latest is a Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor). I planted them in the late 1980s when I was first developing my prairie, but over time and the droughty weather we’ve had, they seemed to have disappeared. Imagine my surprise when I was walking in the wet mesic end of my prairie yesterday “to see what I could see,” and there smiling back at me was this lovely Blue Flag Iris! What a delightful surprise!!
The Blue Flag Iris has always been one of my favorite wetland plants, and I’m happy to say they grow in the standing water in between the ledge rock in the front yard of our hunting shack. We often see Easter Tiger Swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) hovering around them seeking nectar.
Non-Native Yellow Flag Iris
My delight, however, was short-lived. Not far away was a non-native Yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus) smugly sneering back at me! Unfortunately, while Blue Flag Iris prefers wetlands, marshes and ditches, Yellow Flag Iris is not quite so particular and can survive quite nicely in upland areas as well.
Looks like I have my work cut out for me; I found another clump about 20 feet away. Digging it out is probably the easiest method of eradication, since the Yellow Flag Iris propagates by rhizomatous roots just as the Blue Flag Iris does. But just like the Blue Flag, its sap and tissues are poisonous and can irritate sensitive skin so good glove protection will be essential. Wish me luck!
(Courtesy of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources):
What’s good for birds is also good for people. Here are some possible impacts of your native plant garden presented by the National Audubon Society:
“557: Varieties of butterflies and moths supported by native oak trees, as compared to only 5 butterfly and moth species supported by non-native ginkgo trees.
96: Percentage of land birds that rely on insects to feed chicks.
1,200: Number of crops that depend on pollinators to grow.
40 million: Acres of lawn in the U.S. currently.
80 million: Pounds of pesticides applied to lawns in the U.S. annually. Native plants, on the other hand, support a balance of predator and prey and thrive without pesticides.
800 million: Gallons of gas used annually by lawn mowers. This produces significant amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases driving climate change.
To read the entire article, go to Native Plants – How to Make Your Yard Bird-Friendly.