Design Brooklyn: Summit Garden and the Greenest Block in Brooklyn

Summit Garden 1

Summit Garden in Columbia Street Waterfront contributes cooperative green space to the neighborhood.

Greenest Block 1

Lincoln Road between Bedford and Rogers avenues won the title “The Greenest Block in Brooklyn” in 2012.


The summer in Brooklyn reveals itself in lush gushes of green, throughout the borough. There are the community gardens on many city corners, one of which, Summit Garden in the Columbia Street Waterfront area, offers a perfect example of tranquility in the midst of urban life. And once a year in August, the Greenest Block in Brooklyn is announced to great acclaim. In 2012, a block on Lincoln Road in Lefferts Gardens was given the title, and we had a chance to photograph it in all its glory.


Summit Garden, Columbia Street Waterfront

Summit Garden 2

The sign on the gate to this community garden reports that it comprises “.103 acre.” It doesn’t sound like a lot of land, but a verdant corner like this, if given the right amount of care and the shade of trees, can feel like a true oasis in the middle of the city.

The concept is simple: Garden members from the neighborhood share responsibilities, each pitching in to create a plot that provides both a destination on summer evenings as well as a working green space. Planting beds are divvied up so that neighbors can grow vegetables and flowers. A wooden gazebo roofed with grape vines offers members a cool place to dine. A unique element of Summit Garden is its peach trees, which produce fresh fruit in warm months that members can pluck and take home.

Summit Garden 3

Summit Garden 4

Summit Garden 5

Entering a garden like this gives the sensation of stepping off the sidewalk into the country, without the requisite car ride. Of course, there is a great amount of work involved, but it is well, well worth it.

Summit Garden 6

The Greenest Block in Brooklyn

Greenest Block 2

Each year, GreenBridge, the community environmental horticulture program of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, selects the “Greenest Block in Brooklyn.” In 2012, Lincoln Road, between Bedford and Rogers Avenues, in the Lefferts Gardens neighborhood, took first place. The contest not only promotes streetscape gardening, tree stewardship, and community development throughout the borough, it motivates beautiful results. On Lincoln Road, homeowners created lush stoops, tree beds, and window boxes, bringing nature into the city’s streets.

Greenest Block 3

Greenest Block 4

Greenest Block 5

Winners of the 2013 contest will be announced in August at a press conference held on their block.


Design Brooklyn is an occasional column featuring Brooklyn interiors, both residential and commercial. The column is written by Anne Hellman, with photographs by Michel Arnaud. They blog at Design Brooklyn and have a book of the same name coming out in October. 

3 Comment

  • I am a proud member of the Summit Street Garden, even though I have my own back yard. It really is a paradise within the city and a focal point for the community as well. A local pre-school has a box and they just had their annual farm sale; all produce grown by the kids.

    It is also true that it is a lot of work, both in gardening and administration; but the members work together well to get it all done; it’s well worth it. We have been lucky in that we have some members, past and present, who are professional gardeners; that’s one reason for the diversity and harmony of plantings. – there is always something in bloom!

  • Love, love love the Columbia Waterfront gardens — they are gorgeous! And that block of Lincoln in Crown Heights is super impressive.

    Meanwhile, I continue to have problems with dog owners who think our tree pit (which I carefully plant and water) is a canine toilet. I’ve seen people actually lift their dogs over the tree guard to make it easier for them to do their business all over my spring bulbs. Any suggestions for effective sign language? Too aggressive and they tear it down.