The Freshwater Meadow and Hell Gate Meadow are at two different locations within Randall’s Island Park Manhattan. Both meadows were developed in 2010 by Phyllis Odessey, Director of Horticulture and Eunyoung Sebazco, Horticulture Manager. The meadows were started to expand the kinds of eco-systems on Randall’s Island. Previous to 2010 Sebazco and Odessey constructed a mile long perennial garden, rock garden, and several specific theme gardens.
The goal was to develop a meadow to bring a new experience to park users and urban dwellers. Odessey noted: “We believe this was the first meadow in an urban park in New York City.”
Initially the areas available to “create” the meadows had construction as their base. In reaction to this, we scraped the soil and put in nutrient rich compost. The nutrient rich compost turned out to be one of the major challenges of both meadows. Over the last 4 years we have removed the compost and added low-nutrient topsoil. The meadows over time have been renovated, removing invasive species, replacing the soil and replanting with drought tolerant natives. Another tremendous challenge is the fact that the Freshwater Meadow is next to the Freshwater Wetlands and there is considerable seed drift from the wetlands into the meadows. There is no barrier between the two eco-systems.
The meadows were started using plugs from a Pennsylvania nursery, some of which are grown from seed and some are vegetatively propagated. Seeds are also collected and used in the meadows. Meadow plants were selected for self-sowing abilities, native origin, and pollination potential. The meadows are monitored using excel sheets with input from meadow guests via social media (I-naturalists).
The tour will discuss the process of creating and maintaining meadows and there will be time to answer questions along the way. The tour will also include a look at the BEE hotels for solitary bees that were recently created by volunteers.
The meadows have achieved one of the original goals, to provide another “venue” for public education. The meadows are used for public tours as well as educational programs for school children and are a living laboratory for family activities that promote environmental awareness. In urban settings, the public are often fearful of plants, insects, and the outdoors. The meadows are part of a larger program to involve urban dwellers in the environment with interactive activities involving smelling, handling plants, observing, and holding various insects. To increase access and interaction, in 2015 new pathways were constructed out into the meadows in order to create a more immersive experience for visitors and has proven very successful.
Overlooking the Hell Gate rapids at the Park’s southeastern tip, the Hell Gate Wildflower Meadow is filled with perennials native to the Northeast. Weed barrier bio-degradable paper, plugs, and seed mixes were used to create this garden oasis. The 25,000 square foot meadow is a unique ecosystem, providing food and shelter for diverse pollinators and other insects.
Located at the entry to the Island’s freshwater wetlands, the Freshwater Wetlands Wildflower Meadow was planted with more than 20,000 natives to the Northeast. True to its name, it is self-seeding and blooms from early spring to early winter. The 35,000 square foot meadow gives the public an opportunity to experience various insects and unusual native plants.
Meadow ecologist EunYoung Sebazco and Shawn Ganz will be on site to guide guests through the two meadows, discuss the project, and answer questions. A meadow plant list will be sent for distribution to everyone who registers for this tour.
Attendees meet at Icahn Stadium at 6:00pm. Transport to the meadows will take a half hour from there. A meadow plant list will be sent for distribution to everyone who registers for this tour.
Attendees meet at Icahn Stadium at 6:00pm. Transport to the meadows will take a half hour from there. Sunset is at 7:05, but there will be light until 7:30pm (or maybe longer). Meadow ecologist EunYoung Sebazco and Shawn Ganz will be on site to guide guests through the two meadows, discuss the project, and answer questions. A meadow plant list and directions will be sent to everyone who registers for this tour.
EunYoung Sebazco has practiced Landscape Architecture with a BA in Korea and Japan. After receiving a certificate from the New York Botanical Garden’s School of Professional Horticulture, she has been working at Randall’s Island Park Alliance since 2006. as the horticulture manager, responsible for overseeing a wide range plant planning and managing the gardens, such as the water’s edge garden, rock garden, white garden and wildflower meadows.
Shawn Ganz is an alumni of SUNY ESF (Environmental Science and Forestry). Served two terms as an environmental steward with AmeriCorps. Shawn worked at Vassar College doing environmental research on woodland invasives, large herbivore management and GIS. He is currently the Meadow Ecologist for Randall’s Island Park Alliance.