Grow-Boken: Optimizing Your Hoboken Green Space
Natural Pest Protection
Mmmm, these delicious plants growing your garden will attract some unwanted guests. “Sage and mint are natural insect repellants,” shared Dr. Roberts. “You can plant them in between vegetables.” Sage specifically helps to deter moths. Another trick that this clever couple uses is small, low bowls of beer to catch slugs. These pests are the most damaging to a garden and the beer diverts them from your food. If you have ants, use peppermint oil to keep them from coming back. Make sure to get rid of standing water to deter mosquitoes and use a fan when enjoying your garden outside.
You probably have caught on to the trend of adding microgreens and superfoods to your juices or salads. You can sprout these expensive goodies right at home! Mung beans, split peas, wheatgrass, etc. can be sprouted in a jar or a tray that you can order or make. Add these healthy delicacies to salads, or sauté them with olive oil! These are great if you’re doing a cleanse or looking to eat a more plant-based, raw food diet. Dr. Roberts gets her seeds and sprouting trays from wheatgrasskits.com. “Make sure there is no humidity to avoid mold and recycle the water often so that it does not get stale,” she advises.
Taking It Up A Notch
For those of you that do have the space, but need ideas, I suggest taking a look at the gardens of Bo Dziman & Adrienne Choma, and Caryl & Bill Heard. Both have been featured in the Hoboken Historical Museum’s Annual Secret Garden Tour which happens each Spring. Adam Hoppe, of Hoboken’s Green Room Landscape Designs, had a hand in the design for both, and he helped to create green oases of beauty. Bo & Adrienne’s shade garden features a 5ft deep pool surrounded by hostas, ferns, and purple secretia. There is also a small flowing waterfall, a deck with a beautiful, well-lit tree rising up from the center, and candle-chandeliers from their travels. Pool mechanicals have been disguised with what looks like old church ruins. Bo explained that, “A combination of yogurt, beer, and moss were applied to the stone to create an aged look.” It’s truly a magical place!
Caryl & Bill’s yard is divided diagonally and features a blue stone patio, sustainable Brazilian Ipe, a garden, and a water fountain made with recycled glass. The bluestone patio is embedded with fiber optic lights that change color and create an enchanting glow at night. Out of the garden grows a tall River Birch, suiting for Hoboken and small spaces because the roots grow straight down.
Hoboken Flower Traditions
Community gardens are becoming popular as everyone wants to get outside and grow, grow, grow! Check out 3rd & Jackson and thank the Hoboken Volunteers for cleaning it up last year. Also, there is a community garden on 11th street that stretches for 3 blocks. Renters or homeowners volunteer time or money to upkeep this lovely garden.
I adore when Hoboken restaurants or stores bedazzle their entrances with flowers. It beautifies the streets and invites us in. While driving past the 10th and Willow Bar & Grill, I noticed climbing mandevilla along the outdoor patio. Owner, Mario Steriti, told me, “We do it every year and choose a different color. Everyone loves them!” Mario recalled a story where a couple got engaged there and returned to take engagement photos in front of the flowers. Swing by 10th & Willow for lunch and ask to sit outside to enjoy the view! I would also check out the oversized flower boxes chock-full of various pansies at Willie McBride’s.
A Post Office Tradition
Long ago, the Post Office at 89 River was dotted with rose bushes out front tended by a young man. When he passed away over 20 years ago, Naomi Harley offered to continue this tradition. Naomi and her friend, Isabel Fisenne, are still taking care of the garden today. Both live in Hoboken and work at NYU. Naomi researches environmental radioactivity while Isabel is an adjunct professor and also a retired chemist for the US Department of Energy.
They have done thousands of plantings over the years, donated or brought to town from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, where Isabel is a member. This year she was able to score two designer forsythia plants. In the Spring, there are tulips, hyacinth, crocus, and miniature iris. The Summer brings day lilies, roses, and hosta. In the Fall, purple hosta blooms abound, while the shasta daisies push white flowers. Naomi jokes, “And in the Winter…everything is dead. Or down there sleeping!” It brings her joy to see the green start poking through every Spring.
Hoboken Garden Club
To learn more, the Hoboken Garden Club is a great resource. With about 35 members, the club focuses on the urban gardener. They provide information and opportunities to participate in events such as lectures, plant swaps, field trips, tours, and civic beautification projects. Their next event will be a plant swap in mid-October. Check it out at hobokengardenclub.com.