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The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is hosting a bunch of events this Sunday designed to get you moving and exploring some natural beauty, including a winter bird walk, a hot cocoa and chocolate tasting and a “chase away the winter blues” plant tour. Visitors can sample JoMart Chocolates from 11 am to 2 pm, and check out a pop-up shop by Swedish clothing and home goods brand Gudrun Sjödén between 10 am and 4:30 pm.

Besides the walking tours, there will be children’s dance classes, a Victorian toy parlor, and a “nestfest” where families can search for nests or build their own. The hour-long bird stroll begins at 10 am, and the winter plant walk, which is led by a licensed psychotherapist and BBG guide, starts at 1 pm. All the events are free with admission to the garden. Take a look at the full schedule of First Sunday activities over on the BBG website.

Photo by Dave Allen via BBG

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On Saturday the Brooklyn Botanic Garden will host its annual Ghouls and Gourds festival. There will be tons of activities and entertainment for everyone: stilt walkers, giant puppets, crafts (make a potato person and drop him or her off at the Potato People Resort and Spa), live music and more. Children’s book authors will be reading stories and signing their books. The day will culminate with a costume parade at 4:30.

The event runs from noon to 5:30 pm on Saturday, October 25. Tickets are $15. Children under 12 are free. Click here for more details.

Photo: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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Learn about gardening and food policy at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this weekend during its 33rd annual Making Brooklyn Bloom conference. The event, which is free with admission to the garden, includes workshops, networking lunches for gardeners and urban famers, walking tours and gardening how-tos. Workshops will cover topics like composting, soil contamination, nature walks and kitchen botany.

Attendees can take a seasonal guided walking tour of the gardens, visit the Rotunda and learn how to build an indoor terrarium. The conference will take place from 10 am to 4 pm, with workshops starting at 11 am and 3 pm. You can register the day of, and BBG suggests you arrive early to reserve space in your preferred workshops. Check out the full schedule here on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden website.

Image via Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Visitors Center has won the American Institute of Architects’ Institute of Honor Award, the organization’s highest recognition. Designed by Weiss/Manfredi Architects, the glassed-in structure has a zig-zagging roof that transitions into undulating green grass as it extends back into the garden. Here are the AIA’s comments on the building’s design:

“…The building blends gracefully into the landscape. On the south side, too, the design mediates the relationship between ‘culture’ and ‘cultivation’ through veiled views into the Garden from the exhibition gallery. The gallery’s curved glass surfaces are spectrally selective and fritted to minimize heat gain and maximize natural illumination.”

The visitors center was built with locally purchased materials and incorporates sustainable elements, like a geothermal exchange and a rain garden. And it includes a century-old Ginkgo tree. The building also incorporates an information lobby, orientation room, restrooms, gift shop, café, catering and kitchen and an event space.

Photo by Albert Vecerka/Esto via AIA

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Last week there was a sneak peek for media of the new Brooklyn Botanic Visitors Center, and today it opens to the public. The project was designed by the firm Weiss/Manfredi. According to a rep for the institution, the mayor will be on hand to cut the ribbon today. Contractors were sprucing up the grounds this morning, and hopefully the slight drizzle that may attend the ceremony will bolster its verdant roof.
BBG’s New Visitor Center About to Open! [Brownstoner]

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These folks hadn’t yet finished getting themselves completely decked out for yesterday’s Hanami celebration at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Thought of the day: Aren’t we pretty darn lucky to live in Brooklyn? Meghan McCain has some thoughts on the matter, too: “I mean, people have bigger brownstones there.” More photos, taken by someone with better skills than us, on the jump!

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Yesterday the crowds were out at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to see the beginning of cherry blossom season. While most of the garden’s trees, especially those on the main cherry tree esplanade, are still officially considered “pre-bloom,” many of the other trees are at peak or first bloom. Click through for more photos of the trees. It’s also possible to check an official map for more information on the which trees are peaking. The garden’s Sakura Matsuri festival, signaling the end of the cherry blossom season and Hanami, is scheduled for the last weekend of the month.
Cherry Blossoms at BBG [Brooklyn Botanic Garden] GMAP

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The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s new visitor center on Washington and President looks like it’s nearing completion. The Weiss/Manfredi-designed building, which has been under construction for a few years now, is scheduled to open in mid-May. Here’s what the Botanic Garden has to say about the facility’s design: “The 20,000-square-foot Visitor Center was conceived as a new threshold between the city and Brooklyn Botanic Garden that transitions from an architectural presence at the street to a structured landscape within the Garden. The Visitor Center invites visitors from Washington Avenue into the Garden via a curved glass trellis before opening into major garden precincts like the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and Cherry Esplanade. The primary entry from Washington Avenue is visible from the street; an additional entry from the elevated Overlook and Ginkgo Allée at the top of the berm bisects the Visitor Center, revealing framed views of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and descends through a stepped ramp to the main level of the Garden. The curved glass walls of the Visitor Center offer veiled views into the Garden, their fritted glass filtering light and deterring bird strikes. In contrast to the southern face of the building, the north side is built into a preexisting berm, which increases thermal efficiency. Its clerestory glazing—along with the fritted glass on the south walls—minimizes heat gain and maximizes natural illumination. A geoexchange system heats and cools the interior spaces, and a series of rain gardens collect and filter runoff to improve storm-water management. The leaf-shaped living roof hosts over 40,000 plants—grasses, spring bulbs, and perennial wildflowers—adding a new experimental landscape to the Garden’s collection.”

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The Brooklyn Botanic Garden named Flatbush’s East 25th Street between Avenue D and Clarendon Road the greenest residential block in the borough. Here’s the writeup on the block: “This year’s winning residential block, East 25th Street between Avenue D and Clarendon Road, distinguished itself with its splendid use of native plants and superb street tree bed care, as well as with its collective watering efforts and adoption of a vacant building. This is the third time East 25th Street has been named the Greenest Block in Brooklyn, with first-place victories in 2004 and 2006. The 300 East 25th Street Block Association succeeded in including all of its neighbors in its greening efforts, going so far as to care for the front yard of a vacant building, in which squash and other vegetables are now growing.” As for the other winners: Atlantic Avenue between Bond Street and Nevins Street in Boerum Hill took first place in the commercial category; Eighth Street between Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park West in Park Slope was the big winner in the Best Street Tree Beds category; Red Shed Community Garden, Kingsland Avenue between Skillman Avenue and Maspeth Avenue in Williamsburg nabbed top honors for Best Community Garden Streetscape; 430 Eighth Street in Park Slope won for Best Window Box; and Habana Outpost in Fort Greene got the Greenest Storefront award. Garden Design has a terrific slideshow of a bunch of the winners.
The Greenest Blocks in Brooklyn [BBG]
2011 Greenest Block in Brooklyn [Garden Design]