Tags Posts tagged with "Nature"

Nature

Steward to host biggest cleanup of the year Sept. 21

Coastal Steward board members and local divers plunge into Port Jefferson Harbor Aug. 18. Photo from Coastal Steward

There are monsters off the coast of the North Shore, but not the kind with purple tentacles and razor teeth. Some are man made.

The Coastal Steward boat is regularly used in beach cleanups. Photo from Coastal Steward

The nonprofit Coastal Steward Long Island has been hosting underwater cleanups in Port Jefferson Harbor for the past three years. This is amongst its other activities being the steward of the Town of Brookhaven’s Mariculture Facility in Mount Sinai while hosting beach cleanup brigades and educational seminars for adults and kids alike. But the nonprofit’s volunteers have been looking for a deeper clean beyond the shore.

Ashly Carabetta, executive director for Coastal Steward, said the garbage one sees when relaxing on the sandy shore is only a small part of the debris that sits in the ocean.

“This is our effort to go beyond the regular beach cleanup and extend it to underwater,” she said. “The trash that you see on the shoreline goes far beyond what is there.” 

Deeper into the water many of the heavier objects have no chance to wash up on shore. Denis Mellett, president of the Coastal Steward’s board, is a local diver and dive instructor. He has assisted with diving cleanups all around Long Island, but said they chose Port Jefferson Harbor for their close working connection with the village. Other municipalities on Long Island, he said, can be hesitant to allow these cleanups when they could be liable for the divers well-being. 

The board president said most people rarely think about what garbage has sunk to the bottom of the water. The rest of the garbage is often located closer to the shore underwater.

“The only stuff you often see or think about is stuff that floats,” Mellett said. “Typically, closer to shore is where you find the vast bulk of that debris.”

Coastal Steward board members and local divers plunge into Port Jefferson Harbor Aug. 18. Photo from Coastal Steward

The first cleanup took place in 2017, but last year the group had to cancel due to inclement weather. During the last underwater cleanup, which took place Aug. 18, 27 divers splashed underwater, going down to about 20 feet below the surface. Many were Coastal Steward board members.  

“Divers tend to be very conscious of the environment, because it’s where we spend our time,” he said. “It’s like hikers. Hikers tend to take care of the woods, divers tend to take care of the ocean.”

In past underwater dives, the group has come up with umbrellas and engine parts, and they have even found soda and milk bottles from all the way back to the 1940s. One memorable piece of debris was a 10-foot rolled-up rug that Carabetta found at the bottom of Port Jefferson Harbor. At the time, some feared what they might find rolled up in such a large rug, but they were relieved to find nothing inside.

Much of the debris, like small boats or parts of engines, actually become part of the marine life’s habitat, so they don’t remove it. However, they also find parts such as vehicle batteries, which can release toxic materials into the water. Objects like those are especially what the Coastal Steward looks for in these underwater cleanups.

“Typically, it’s down there until it’s buried in sand or silt, or a diver goes in there and brings it up,” Mellett said.

Despite what may come out of the harbor during these dives, Mellett said the true purpose is to gather interest in doing their regular beach cleanups and as part of their educational services, especially trying to get people to be more conscious of what and where they toss away.

“You can clean the beach every single day but as the tide goes in and out it brings in more garbage,” he said. “The only way you can make a significant dent is if you can keep the garbage out of the water in the first place.”

The Coastal Steward is hosting its largest beach cleanup of the year Sept. 21 at the far side Pirate’s Cove in Port Jefferson. The organization will be using its boat to take people up to that area, and if they gather enough volunteers, they will take people further up, across to the western side of McAllister Park. Volunteers will meet at Anchorage Road South in Belle Terre village at 8:30 a.m. before marshaling out. People can visit www.coastalsteward.org or call 631-941-6528 for more information.

Tree graffiti damages trees in Avalon Park. Photo by Donna Deedy

When Avalon Park & Preserve on Harbor Road in St. James and Stony Brook first opened in 2001, it welcomed on average 50 to 550 people each week. Today, during the peak seasons of spring and fall, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people frequent the 140-acre preserve on a weekly basis, and its popularity has become the source of a problem: protecting the integrity of the place. 

Ducklings found in Avalon park. Photo by Donna Deedy

People are carving initials into trees, walking off trails and otherwise damaging habitats.

The park is trying to find ways to instill lessons on park etiquette without becoming too obtrusive. The task, though, according to Park Director Katharine Griffiths, has become more complicated with the rising popularity of Instagram and its geo-location features. 

Foot traffic has spiked over the last five to seven years, Griffiths said, just as the phone app’s use has increased.

“We don’t do publicity or have a social media presence,” she said. People are sharing photos of themselves at the park and certain social media posts, she noticed, seem to invite trouble.

After people climbed on top an art installation on site, she said, in violation of one of the preserve’s only posted rules, other people saw the image and tried the same antic. 

In talking with other park directors, Griffiths has found that they are experiencing similar concerns with social media.

To address the problem, Griffiths is looking at the efforts of a nationwide campaign called Leave No Trace, developed by the Center for Outdoor Ethics, a nonprofit organization that is raising public awareness on how to preserve and enjoy the outdoors. 

Nine out of 10 people are uninformed about the impact they have on their environment, the center’s website states. The organization has developed seven principles that people should adopt to minimize their impact. The guidelines were founded for back-country excursions, but the center states that the approaches can be easily adapted to any park setting. Griffiths agrees.

The ideas are mainly common sense:  Properly dispose of waste, respect wildlife, be considerate of other visitors. Other principles are more nuanced and need to be more widely practiced.

Leave what you find/avoid damaging trees and plants

A major concern at Avalon centers on bark damage caused by people carving their names or initials into trees. Trees along the boardwalk at the park’s main entrance on Harbor Road in St. James at the Stony Brook Mill Pond are badly scarred. Some tree species are now suffering from disease. Griffiths said it is unlikely that the tree graffiti caused the problem. 

“But it certainly stresses trees and doesn’t help,” she said.

The park has hired park rangers 24/7, which has helped curb the issue. The problem, however, continues. 

Many of the couples who have carved their initials in hearts, Griffiths notes, are likely no longer together. The tree damage, she said, is permanent.

Stay on trails 

Avalon has carefully created meandering trails through five different wildlife habitats populated entirely with native fauna. The trails are an important part of its successful land management strategy. Straying off those trails damages vegetation or disturbs communities of organisms beyond recovery. Wildlife ecosystems are often interdependent, and when you harm one species it can cause a chain reaction. 

A Black Egret found in Avalon park. Photo by Donna Deedy

Avalon has had to incorporate fencing to rope off the nesting areas of woodland ducks, for instance, because people were venturing off its boardwalk at the park’s main entrance into the pond’s edge. Griffiths said that the park’s managers prefer to leave nature unobstructed, but the fence became essential to protect the habitat.

Dogs are welcomed at Avalon, but dog owners need to be mindful of picking up waste and keeping the animals on a leash. Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket, another privately owned public parkland, asks dog owners to be diligent. 

“People like that we allow pets, but its a constant challenge,” said Robert Reuter, president of Frank Melville Memorial Park. 

Respect wildlife

The center states that people should quietly observe wildlife from a distance. Do not disturb animals or plants, they say, “just to get a better look.”

Tree graffiti damages trees in Avalon Park. Photo by Donna Deedy

Lucille Betti-Nash from Four Harbors Audubon Society recommends investing in binoculars or a super-zoom camera, sometimes called a bridge camera, if people want close-up views of wildlife.

Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service park in Shirley, is dealing with similar issues. Park Director Ann Marie Chapman said that she is also trying to better educate the public. 

“The wildlife on Long Island have very few places left to go,” she said. “We should keep these public parklands pristine.”

Like Griffiths, she hopes people adopt good outdoor habits.

Carry in, carry out

“Remember we are guests,” Chapman said. “Just like when you’re visiting someone else’s home, you need to respect the surroundings when you visit parkland.” 

Suffolk County Legislator Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said that he visits and walks through Avalon once a month and has never seen a speck of garbage.

“I love the fact that there’s no garbage cans,” he said. “It forces people to carry out any trash they bring in.”

He’s looking forward to the park’s 70-acre expansion. When completed sometime next year, the park’s trails will extend to the Long Island Sound waterfront. 

“The place is heaven on earth,” Trotta said. 

Miller Place Duck Pond at the corner of North Country Road and Lower Rocky Point Road. Photo by Kyle Barr

Miller Place Duck Pond may soon see drainage improvements Brookhaven town hopes will reduce sediment flow into the small, water lily-filled pond right outside North Country Road Middle School.

Miller Place Duck Pond at the corner of North Country Road and Lower Rocky Point Road. Photo by Kyle Barr

The town board unanimously agreed to shift money around in the capital budget to make room for the pond drainage improvements, allocating $135,285 for the project. At the same time, the highway department is planning to use $2.6 million in total from grants and town funds to complete road and sidewalk repair in tandem with the drainage renovations.

“The new improvements should reduce the amount of sediment from the road, sanding and salting that washes into the pond,” said town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point). “It should reduce pollutants associated with road runoff.”

Last year, TBR News Media reported both local environmental activists and town waterways management said there were problems with invasive and destructive plant species in the pond. The town applied for a grant from the Suffolk County Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program as well as the Stewardship Initiative. The grant would have had a projected cost of $240,000 with a $120,000 town match; however, Bonner said the town failed to get the grant.

Anthony Graves, Brookhaven’s chief environmental analyst, said they have not witnessed, just from viewing the water’s surface, that the pond is as dense with destructive plants as the previous year. Though he added the problem could be because of high rainfall this year compared to previous years, meaning it’s hard to gauge the plant density on the bottom of the pond. A big part of the reason for those invasive plants was the wash of sediment into the pond’s bottom from the road. 

Involved in this new drainage includes a “stormceptor unit,” a device placed in the ground used to intercept pollutants and sediments before they enter the pond. Such pollutants include oil and grease from passing cars. Graves added the town is trying to reduce nitrogen buildup in the roadside pond. 

In addition to renovating drainage of the pond, the town is expecting to go in and dredge the bottom of the pond. 

“The drainage improvements collect the sediment before it enters the pond,” Graves said.

Meanwhile, the town’s highway department has set up to work in tandem and with those drainage improvements, both in renovating the sidewalks around the pond and completing road resurfacing. North Country Road is a Suffolk County-owned road that is managed by the town. 

Superintendent of Highways Dan Losquadro (R) said his department received close to $1.25 million from grants, though the town is supplying the rest of its total $2.6 million cost. The project will include resurfacing and restriping of the road in addition to renovated sidewalks.

Losquadro said the town has had to deal with other problems in and around the pond, such that a blocked pipe was restricting enough water from entering the pond toward the southern end.

One of the biggest components of road resurfacing is drainage — getting that water off of the roadway,” he said. “So, as we’re doing this project, we want it to last as long as possible.”

Renovations to the drainage should begin sometime in August, Bonner said, while the highway superintendent said they plan to do some sidewalk work in tandem. The rest of the roadwork will start after the new drainage is installed. While they intend to finish before classes start, he added they would have to finish that work during one of the early school recesses if they can’t finish before.

by -
0 607

They are a surprise to behold, the wildlife in the suburbs. When I was growing up in New York City, the extent of the animal population consisted of pigeons and squirrels in the park. So I marvel at Long Island’s Canadian geese, rabbits, squirrels, ducks, swans, seagulls, ospreys, raccoons and deer going about their business alongside us as we humans go about ours.

Sometimes they are beautiful to watch.

On one road I frequently use, the geese will cross to the other side, holding up traffic as they do. Drivers slow to a stop and watch as the geese unhurriedly walk single file before them. Interestingly one of the geese stands in the middle of the road in front of the line of march, a sentinel protecting the rest. Only after the last one crosses does the lookout then join on the end. These geese are definitely traffic savvy, patiently waiting on the edge of the grass and avoiding the cars as they speed by, awaiting an opening before they start to cross.

My son likes to watch the ducks swimming along, one behind the other, and wonders aloud if there is a pecking order to the line. We also marvel at the birds in strict formation when they begin to migrate.

We have a wacky rabbit that lives on our property and races the car down the driveway as we arrive home. One of these days, we are going to have rabbit stew if it isn’t careful. There are gorgeous butterflies occasionally, rising together like an umbrella of color when startled, and the buzzing bees encourage the likelihood of pollination.

The other day, as I was driving along a waterside road, two deer, one in front of the other, rushed out of the wetland grass in front of my car, crossed the road, gracefully jumped the post-and-rail fence on the opposite side and raced up the hill until they were hidden in some trees. It was a heart-stopping moment because they had come close. They were also so lyrical in their movements, their russet bodies glistening in the sunlight, that they took my breath away.

We have a woodpile that is visible from the windows on one side of the house, and early each day, it seems, there is a squirrel that runs back and forth, bushy tail held high, across the chopped logs. We have named him Jack and conjectured that he is doing his morning exercises. Later, he can be seen leaping from limb to limb among the lush trees, the ultimate gymnast gathering nuts, I suppose, for his meals.

Early in our lives here, we used to see an occasional red fox and sometimes plump pheasants, but I haven’t seen those in a long while. I do know when there is a skunk nearby, and should we just once leave the garbage cans unfastened, we are aware we would be visited by raccoons.

The variety of songbirds is lovely. In addition to the mockingbird, the cardinal and the blue jay, those little brown birds are loud and numerous. A pair of ospreys apparently have made a huge nest nearby because we can see them soaring high above. Ditto for the seagulls, crying out to each other as they glide on an air current looking for dinner.

It surprises me that the dogs in the neighborhood coexist so peacefully with the rest of the animal kingdom here. Yes, they will occasionally chase a rabbit, almost as a duty, but not for long. And they will bark at a chipmunk as it scurries along but not in any sort of vicious way. I suppose that means they are well fed by their owners. The cats, however, are a different story. We’ve got one on the block that’s a real hunter, a lion in miniature.

The cliché is that the suburbs are sterile places, but they certainly are more interesting for their variety of natural life than the pigeons I used to be thrilled by as they landed on the fire escapes and city windowsills. To take just a few moments from an otherwise busy day, draw a deep breath, and enjoy the beauty of living beings around us this summer is a pleasure we should allow ourselves.

They aren’t unicorns, tooth fairies or fantastic creatures from the C.S. Lewis “Narnia” series. And yet, for a Long Islander who spent considerable time standing knee deep in the waters around West Meadow Beach, listening to the aggressive screech of territorial red-winged blackbirds, the sight of a green ruby-throated hummingbird moving forward and backward in North Carolina brought its own kind of magic.

By the time I got out my cellphone and clicked open the camera app, the bird had disappeared.

While there are hummingbirds that periodically appear on Long Island, the sight of one in Charlotte so soon after our move here seemed like a charming welcome from the nonhuman quarters of Southeastern life.

Behind a Chili’s and Qdoba — yes, they are side by side in a strip mall here — we discovered a spectacular lake with a small walking path over the water near the shore. Looking down, we saw numerous fish hovering below and, to our delight, a collection of turtles, who all clearly have an appetite for the leftovers from the nearby restaurant.

We have also seen, and felt, considerably more bugs and mosquitoes, while we’ve heard cicadas, which, unlike the 17-year kind on Long Island, emerge here every year.

So, what about the two-legged creatures?

After the initial shock from the level of consideration other drivers displayed, it’s become clear that:

(a) The Northeast hasn’t cornered the market on aggressive and anxious drivers.

(b) You can take the New Yorker out of New York, but you can’t take New York out of the New Yorker.

Until I get North Carolina license plates, I have been driving the speed limit on smaller, local roads. Other cars have tailgated me so closely that I can practically read their lips as they talk on the phone or sing songs.

I watched a woman in a Mustang convertible, with rap music shouting profanities, weave in and out of traffic as her long hair waved in the breeze behind her. From a distance, the music and expletives were one and the same.

We have also seen an extensive collection of tattoos. A young FedEx driver climbed out of her truck and rang the bell to deliver a package. Her arms were so covered in colors and designs that it was difficult to discern a theme or pattern.

I walked into a supermarket behind a young couple pushing a baby stroller. The father had tattoos along the back of his muscular calves, while body ink adorned the well-defined shoulders and arms of his wife. I wondered if and when their young child might get her first tattoo.

When they find out we’re from the Northeast, people in North Carolina frequently become self-deprecating about their inability to handle cold weather. They laugh that flurries, or even a forecast for snow, shuts down the entire city of Charlotte. They assure us that no matter how much we shoveled elsewhere, we won’t have to lift and dump snow by the side of the road.

They ask how we’re handling the heat, which is often in the mid-90s, and the humidity, which is fairly high as well. While the three H’s — hazy, hot and humid — are my least favorite combination, I have certainly experienced many warm summers on Long Island, where shade or a trip into the ocean or a pool provide small comfort in the face of oppressive warmth.

With birds and insects of all sizes flying around, and drivers weaving in and out of traffic, North Carolina has displayed an abundance of high-energy activity.

by -
0 738

By Rita J. Egan

Dog Ear Publishing recently released John P. Cardone’s fourth book, “Waterviews: The Healing Power of Nature.” In his new book, the Ronkonkoma resident shares the wealth of knowledge he has gained from his kayak and nature photography adventures, more than 30 years of experience in health care education and his bout with cancer.

“Waterviews: The Healing Power of Nature” is a valuable resource for those who are looking to improve their health and well-being. The writer and photographer has written an easy-to-read, comprehensive guide where readers can learn about the health benefits of nature, the importance of calming one’s mind, how to foster the spirit of nature in children and more.

In addition to the author sharing his experiences and research, Cardone also includes photographs he has taken in various locations including Long Island sites such as Heckscher State Park, Cedar Beach, Carmans River and Little Neck Run, which are perfect examples of nature’s calming elements. Recently, Cardone took time to answer a few questions about himself and his latest venture.

Author John Cardone

 

Tell me a bit about yourself.

For starters, I’m a lover of the outdoors, so I spend a good chunk of time kayaking the waters around Long Island, hiking and biking the paths around our parks and taking photographs of nature. For over 30 years, I have been an educator writing and producing health education videos working mostly for hospitals. I have always liked teaching and helping people learn more about good health. Over the last 10 years or so, I have been a teacher in a different way — teaching people about the health benefits of spending time in nature.

How did you get involved with writing?

My interest in writing started when I studied literature in college. I found I love to read — I still do. But professionally, I was writing videos and some print pieces on health topics. Then one day, while commuting home on the Long Island Rail Road, I closed the covers of a mystery book and it hit me … could I write a book? I accepted my own challenge and started to write on paper every day on the train home from work. Some years later, I self-published that story — “Without Consent.” The book got great reviews and is still sold on Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s websites.

You are also a noted photographer. Where has your work been exhibited?

I have been very fortunate to have my photos on exhibit around Long Island. And, I like to point out that most of the photographs have been taken while kayaking Long Island waters — a challenge, of course. They have been exhibited at art shows with the Northport Arts Coalition, the Good Ground Artists out of Hampton Bays, the Islip Arts Council, the Art League of Long Island, Levittown Library, Sachem Library and Connetquot Library among others.

How did you become interested in how nature plays a part in a person’s well-being?

My very first introduction to how nature can help people took place years ago when I was working on creating teaching videos with stress reduction and relaxation experts for a couple of hospital clients. These experts were teaching people how to use the images of nature and the outdoors to relax them during stressful times.

Then, there was my own firsthand experience while I was fighting my own battle with cancer. During the later stages of chemotherapy, when I was too weak to paddle my kayak or bike, my wife and I would take slow, gentle walks at Bayard Cutting Arboretum. In my “Waterviews: A Collection of Photographs, Thoughts & Experiecnes” book, I wrote about this in a section in Chapter 4 called, “Can a River Be a Friend.” During those walks I always felt better, and frequently forgot that I was ill, forgot that I was a cancer patient.

The cover of John Cardone’s latest book

How has nature helped in improving your life in other ways?

I think nature has helped me with a positive, happy outlook on life. We’re all here on earth only a relatively short time. We can choose how we want to live — I choose to see the beauty and wonder of nature and let it inspire me. Sometimes, when I paddle my kayak deep into Yaphank Creek, a tributary off the Carmans River, I’m in an area untouched by man. What I see could very well be what Native Americans might have seen over 200 years ago. Those quiet moments, with a gentle wind blowing, and an occasional quack or chirp, recharges my batteries and prepares me for the next challenge.

How would you describe your book to someone who hasn’t read it?

I think the book’s subtitle is a good start: “A practical exploration of how nature can influence our health and well-being.” But then I would go on to explain that in our high-tech, hurry up world, spending time in nature can do wonders to help us calm our minds. I present many ideas and facts on how nature can improve our health. There are over 75 color photographs of nature, places to visit and ways nature can help us. There are also details about happiness and how spending time in nature can make a difference. I would tell anyone who has children in their lives that the book points out the importance of fostering the spirit of nature in children … to help them be connected and in learning ways to protect the earth.

You featured many spots on Long Island in your book. What are a few of your favorite places to visit on the island?

If I am walking or hiking, then the Bayard Cutting and Planting Fields arboretums come to mind, along with Avalon Park & Preserve in Stony Brook. If I am bicycling, then you’ll find me in the woods within Heckscher State Park in East Islip and the paths through Massapequa Park Preserve. If I am kayaking, then the lower portion of the Carmans River within the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge and the waters near Orient Harbor and the Orient Beach State Park.

Tell me about the PowerPoint presentation you created to promote the book?

I created the presentation to teach people about the importance of being out in nature. It is based on the research I conducted over the last three years. Of course, the presentation is only a small part of what the book covers. I focus on a few of the major points; these include a section on what nature we are referring to and how much time we have to be in it, how nature can calm our minds. I address a few of the real health benefits; things like less sadness and depression, the ability to cope with stress and improved function of the aging brain. On the physical health side, things like lower blood pressure, better cardio-respiratory function and a boost to the immune system.

What are your plans for the near future?

For me, my work is just starting. The book is only one step on the path to help people fully understand how to connect (or re-connect) with nature and how doing that can benefit their health. So, over the next months I have booked a number of presentations on the topic, as well as a number of book signings and photo exhibits. The places, dates and times are listed on the events page of my website, www.WaterviewsBook.com.

I’m also expanding my photography classes. I teach at the Art League of Long Island and at the Islip Arts Council. I now offer an introduction and an advanced class on Waterscape & Wildlife Photography. Plus, there is a Photo Printing Workshop to help folks interested in printing high-quality prints. The classes are an important part of my work for they help people appreciate nature, as well as get them outside to study it and to capture the images they see.

“Waterviews: The Healing Power of Nature” is available on Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s websites.

‘Lily,’ Oil on Linen Board, by Daniel van Benthuysen of Huntington

By Talia Amorosano

On the sunny afternoon of Saturday, June 18, in conjunction with the beginning of summer, the juried art exhibition, Of a Botanical Nature, organized by the Smithtown Township Arts Council, opened at the Mills Pond House in St. James. For the first time this year, the general public was afforded the opportunity to immerse themselves in a gallery full of art representative of the intricacies of local and nonlocal flora. 

‘Camellia,’ Watercolor, by Lynn Kinsella of Brookhaven
‘Camellia,’ Watercolor, by Lynn Kinsella of Brookhaven

The exhibit, which will run through July 20, features 60 works of art from 49 artists, 22 of whom hail from various nonlocal areas of the country including Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas and California. The remaining 27 represent the Long Island and New York City area. 

The artists
Mark Attebery
Ross Barbera *
Arthur Bernstein *
Stephen Brucker
Carol Ceraso *
Lisa Conway
Caryn Coville *
Debra Crawford
Audry Deal-McEver
Granville C. Fairchild *
Margaret Farr
Beverly Fink
Ingrid Finnan
Kathy Folino
Elizabeth Fusco *
Janice Marie Gabriel *
Kristine Gaier
Kelsey Gallagher
Vivian Gattuso *
Maureen Ginipro *
Patricia Greenberg
Stella Grove
Jillian Hauck *
Katherine Hiscox *
Kathleen Hollan
David Jaycox Jr. *
Lynn Kinsela *
Amanda Lebel
Katherine Lechler *
Madeline Lovallo
Patricia Luppino *
Louis R. Mangieri *
Lucy Martin
Kelly McLeod
Gary Mulnix
Lois Perlman
Pat Proniewski
Judith Scillia
Irene Paquette Tetrault *
Monica Ray *
Lynne Rivellese *
Robert Roehrig *
Alisa Shea *
Gisela Skoglund *
Gunter Stern *
Susan Tango *
Daniel van Benthuysen *
Camille Warmington
Sharon Way-Howard *
*Long Island artists

The works that appear in the show were chosen by Juror Wendy Hollender, a botanical artist, illustrator and author who currently instructs botanical drawing classes at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. An accomplished illustrator, her work has been published in The New York Times and Good Housekeeping magazine and exhibited at the Royal Botanical Gardens in the UK and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. 

Regarding Hollender’s selection process, the executive director of STAC, Allison Cruz, said, “She really picked a broad range of artwork based in reality. She was looking more for realism, but she did take a couple of pieces that are more abstract.” Accordingly, Hollender awarded first and second place to artists whose works exemplify a command of a photorealistic style of portraying traditionally botanical subjects: respectively, Colorado-based artist Patricia Greenberg for her pencil drawing, “The Flower Loves the Rain,” and New York City-based artist Ingrid Finnan for her color illustration, “Blue Hubbard Squash.” These two artists will go on to participate in a winner’s show next year,  which will also be held at the Mills Pond House.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Margaret Farr for various botanical illustrations, Gary Mulnix for a larger-than-life wooden sculptural representation of “Lupine” and Lois Perlman for a richly saturated color illustration of a “Parrot Tulip.”

‘Cactus Flower,’ Oil on Canvas, by Louis R. Mangieri of Mount Sinai
‘Cactus Flower,’ Oil on Canvas, by Louis R. Mangieri of Mount Sinai

According to Cruz, this exhibit features a particularly wide range of artistic mediums. In addition to two-dimensional works in watercolor, acrylic, oil, wash on paper and colored pencil, the show includes six three-dimensional sculptural works made of bronze, black walnut wood, glass mosaic, steel and clay, among other materials.

Subject matter depicted ranges from close-up, scientific-looking views of individual flowers or plants with monochromatic backgrounds (Kelly McLeod’s “Wilted Alstroemeria,” Kathleen Hollan’s “Autumn Leaves”), to still life images of staged indoor plants (Katherine Hiscox’s “From the Garden,” Granville C. Fairchild’s “Reaching to Heaven”), to garden landscapes (Pat Proniewski’s “Morning Azaleas,” Carol Ceraso’s “Spring Affair”), to abstract representations of natural subjects (Lisa Conway’s “Grey Swan,” Arthur Bernstein’s “Sprout”).

However, all of the pieces in some way reflect the organic spontaneity of life in the natural world within the ordered structures of scientific classification, together forming a show that fosters an appreciation for the small examples of natural beauty that often go unnoticed in our day-to-day lives.

Cruz said, “There are a lot of watercolors by the nature of most of the flower illustrations, but it really is a broad range … I have everything in this show except photography and digital art. It’s a beautiful mix of media.”

The Smithtown Township Arts Council will present Of a Botanical Nature at the Mills Pond Gallery, 660 Route 25A, St. James through July 20. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. (closed July 3). Admission is free. For more information, call 631-862-6575 or visit www.stacarts.org.

‘Dahlia Sunrise,’ Transparent Watercolor, by Alisa Shea of Northport is on view at STAC’s Of a Botanical Nature exhibit
‘Dahlia Sunrise,’ Transparent Watercolor, by Alisa Shea of Northport is on view at STAC’s Of a Botanical Nature exhibit

Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve in Commack hosted a maple sugaring event this past Sunday, Feb. 28, where employees of the park demonstrated both Native American and colonial techniques on maple sugaring.

All participants were able to taste real maple syrup after they learned how to tap a tree for it in their own backyards and also learned about tree anatomy and photosynthesis.

by -
0 606
Coleus looks stunning in a decorative planter. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

Last week we took a look at how you can turn your need to garden, even in tiny places, into a reality. We looked at some generalities then. Now, we’ll take a look at some specific plants that can be grown in small spaces.

Flowering annuals
Any number of flowering annuals can be grown in hanging baskets, including hanging geraniums, petunias, chenille plants and fuchsia. Look for plants that trail down like nasturtium or sweet potato vine. But you can also grow herbs in hanging baskets, perhaps even mixed in with the ornamentals.

Full-sized tomato plants can be grown in a large tub or specially designed planter while grape or cherry tomatoes can be grown in hanging baskets. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Full-sized tomato plants can be grown in a large tub or specially designed planter while grape or cherry tomatoes can be grown in hanging baskets. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Hostas
Hostas are wonderful plants for a shady area. They come in a wide variety of sizes, so select carefully if you have a tiny place. One of my favorites is ‘Mouse Ears,’ but there are many tiny hostas, some variegated. Consider ‘Blue Mouse Ears,’ which grows to eight inches tall; ‘Chartreuse wiggles,’ a 10-inch-tall plant with narrow golden leaves; or ‘Bedazzled’ just eight inches tall with blue green leaves trimmed in yellow.  ‘Crumb Cake’ is just four inches tall. Most will spread, easily two or three times their height. They can be grown in a small rock garden or a small container or around the edges of a larger planter.

Dwarf hydrangeas
Hydrangeas are beautiful shrubs filled with colorful and long lasting flowers. But, be very careful here. Some hydrangeas can easily reach 10 to 15 feet tall or more. In general, Hydrangea paniculata tend to be large shrubs or small specimen trees; however, there are dwarf varieties. Again, oakleaf hydrangeas tend to be large shrubs, but ‘Ruby Slippers’ is a dwarf variety that reaches just three to four feet tall and produces flowers that come out pink and deepen to red as the summer progresses. They grow in full sun to partial shade. The flowers will not turn blue, however, in acidic soil.

Tomatoes
Tomato plants are divided into two types of plants: indeterminate, that is, vining plants that continue to grow throughout the growing season, and determinate plants, bush-type plants that flower at the end of each branch and cease growing. Indeterminate plants can be grown in large pots or tubs since they have the room to produce a large root system. Determinate plants do better in a smaller hanging basket since there is a smaller amount of soil in hanging baskets. Cherry tomatoes are ideal for hanging baskets. I’ve even seen them growing in outdoor restaurants, both functional and decorative. Put one or two per basket, possibly interspersed with herbs or flowers. Remember the fertilizer since tomatoes are heavy feeders.

A sweet potato vine spills over a large planter. Photo by Ellen Barcel
A sweet potato vine spills over a large planter. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Herbs
Herbs are great for a small garden since most of them are small plants to start with. Most herbs prefer a sunny location; so take this into consideration when selecting a planting location. Herbs can be grown in pots, even grouped together in a large pot, but a really great place is in a sunny window box. If the window box(es) are located outside your kitchen window, so much the better. Just open your window and pick the herbs you need.

Small herbs include sage (some are larger than others, for example, pineapple sage can easily reach two feet tall, and has beautiful red flowers while common sage is smaller), thyme (common thyme, lemon thyme, lime thyme, orange thyme, red creeping thyme, French thyme, etc.), parsley [curly parsley, flat leaf parsley, Chinese parsley (cilantro), etc.], mint (chocolate mint, orange mint, spearmint, banana mint, variegated mint, pineapple mint, apple mint, etc.). Note that orange mint has a hint of an orangey flavor, pineapple sage a hint of a pineapple flavor, etc.

Basil, chives, dill and oregano are a few other herbs that you can grow in a window box. Scented geraniums have the advantage of pretty flowers as does nasturtium.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions and/or comments to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

'Cutchogue Barn’ by George Gough

Update, Feb. 11, 1:10 p.m.: According to the Huntington Arts Council, the opening reception scheduled for Feb. 5, originally postponed due to snow conditions, has been moved to Friday, Feb. 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Main Street Gallery.

The Huntington Arts Council’s Main Street Gallery will present its latest exhibit titled “Earth, Air and Water: A Celebration of Tri-State Wildlife and Nature” from Feb. 5 to 27. An opening reception will be held on Feb. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

‘Osprey in the Rain’ by Tom Reichert
‘Osprey in the Rain’ by Tom Reichert

Participating artists in the juried photography show include Talia Amorosano, Irene Andreadis, Debra Baer, Amy Bisagni, Holly Black, Winifred Boyd, Laura Rittenhouse Burke, Terry Canavan, Dorothy M. Chanin, Tom Colligan, Joseph Cutolo, Leonard Digiovanna, Jessie Edelstein, Monica Friedrich, Jay Gammill, Shannon Gannon, Susan Geffken Burton, Phyllis Goodfriend, George Gough, Jovanna Hopkins, Patrick Keeffe, John Killelea, Susan Kozodoy Silkowitz, Julia Lang-Shapiro, Mark Lefkin, Matthew Levine, Elizabeth Milward, Vera Mingovits, Trish Minogue Collins, Howard Pohl, Tom Reichert, Burt Reminick, Spencer Ross, Max Schauder, Harry Schuessler, Ruth Siegel, Don Thiergard, E. Beth Thomas, Susan Tiffen, Mac Titmus, Pamela Waldroup and Joan Weiss.

The exhibit was judged by Andrew Darlow,  a New Jersey-based photographer and digital imaging consultant whose photography has been exhibited internationally and has been featured in numerous magazines and websites. He has lectured and conducted seminars and workshops around the world. Of the 154 pieces of work submitted, Darlow chose 42 photographs to appear in the show.

‘Crab Meadow Sunset’ by Irene Andreadis
‘Crab Meadow Sunset’ by Irene Andreadis

“Photography is like magic. In a fraction of a second, a moment can be captured that will never be repeated exactly the same way again. This is especially true when our images include wildlife and nature,” said Darlow. “The entries for this show truly showcased the natural beauty and splendor of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In addition to many spectacular images of animals, flowers and breathtaking water scenes, I selected some photographs that include people and man-made structures. This balance between the human and natural worlds fascinates me, and I really look forward to viewing the exhibition on the gallery walls,” he added.

Best in show went to “Crab Meadow Sunset” by Irene Andreadis, and honorable mentions  were “Osprey in the Rain” by Tom Reichert and “Cutchogue Barn” by George Gough. Congratulations!

The Huntington Arts Council’s Main Street Gallery is located at 213 Main Street in Huntington. It is open Monday to Friday  from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-271-8423 or visit www.huntingtonarts.org.