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Friday, May 7, 2021

Borrowing Nature from History in Brooklyn

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They say a garden is simply a park where you could garden. “That’s how it’s always been,” said Richard G. Zakum, a Brooklyn botanic Garden president. “It’s the wild horticultural scene of Brooklyn.”

But after decades of mangling garden plots, over-spraying plants and watering pergolas, it recently launched a sweeping program to alter the nature of its area. The changes have given Mr. Zakum and his fellow leaders the opportunity to rewrite the script for an institution that focuses on diversity and ecology.

“We didn’t just want to chop down things and replace them,” Mr. Zakum said. “We wanted to address nature ourselves.”

The changes have transformed a neighborhood parks area into a blossoming botanic wonderland with gardens and birdsong on several sides, not to mention a new entrance and riverside paths.

On Sept. 15, hundreds of people strolled through the area, called the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Landscape, under a new canopy that was designed to bring light to the trees on the East River side. The plan was one of the highlights of the weekend of events to mark the opening.

Mr. Zakum said that the young stream that used to be at the center of the area would bring different water levels and fun to families, and that new shrubs would benefit birds. Even the remote water features would be fenced so that no one would trespass in and disrupt the birds or humans.

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