Archives for posts with tag: gardening

On May 19 6:30-8PM, our Living Things in an Urban Ecosystem series ended on a high note with Beyond the Honeybee: Exploring Critical Pollinators where we explored the role pollinators play in urban ecosystems and the ways in which individuals and community groups can support their habitats.

Ecologist Howard Ginsberg, Ph.D. from United States Geological Survey first presented a brief survey of native and non-native bee species typically found in NYC.  He found that our city has approximately 50 different species of bumble bees, compared to 100 found in more natural environments which is great news for our urban ecosystem. One fun fact is that bees tend to pollinate on specific seasons because they favor flowers in bloom during that time.  One example is Halictus ligatus, a communal or non-territorial summer bumblebee whose nests are typically found in holes in the ground and their workers are daughters of the queen, unlike honeybees whose workers are typically male.

Summer bee

Halictus ligatus – Summer bee

Our second panelist Tina Harrison, Ph.D. candidate from Rutger’s University Department of Ecology, presented some key ways to support our pollinators here in NYC.

Pesticides used in gardens

Chlorantranilliprole kills less worker bumble bees in a 2013 study

Gardeners and horticulturists should be mindful of the primary chemical used in the pesticide. For example, a study by Larson, Redmond and Potter showed that pesticides containing chlorantraniliprole kills only a small amount of worker bees, especially compared to clothianidin. So be sure to read those labels!

Effects of pesticides on bumble bee populations

Effects of pesticides on bumble bee populations

And finally, biologist Sam Droege, also from USGS, focused his presentation on the challenges of studying bumble bee populations.  He not only highlighted his work on cataloguing bee species (view the beautiful photography here), he spoke on the challenges scientists face when studying bees. One fascinating example was the attempt to study the Bombus bimaculatus, a bee species that, in natural settings, kicks out and takes over nests built by chickadee birds.  After scientists recreated these nests to attract this bee species, they were unable to replicate this occurrence in a controlled setting. Clearly there is more to be studied on attractive bee habitats, which, once successful, would lead to more effective methods of attracting and keeping them within our city.


We then segued into the panel discussion, moderated by landscape architect Hans Hesselein, where we were truly able to unpack the issue of bee colony collapse (which actually does not effect bumblebees), action steps we can take to support their survival, and the potential for future on bee habitats studies .  Listen here for the entire discussion.

We at the Gowanus Canal Conservancy send our heartfelt thanks to our venue sponsor Threes Brewing for generously offering their event space, our panelists, volunteer coordinators and most of all our audience for being part of such a vibrant season.  Stay tuned for the fall schedule!

Join us on our next Clean & Green July 18 11AM-3PM by signing up at where volunteers will participate in the Tree Census and other stewardship activities.

Follow us on Twitter at @GowanusGreen and on Instagram @gowanuscanalconservancy for GCC news, volunteer events and trivia.


At this July Clean & Green at the GCC 20 volunteers came out to Detective Mayrose Park to revitalize the park gardens. Among a variety of flowers donated by the conservancy, volunteers also brought GCC’s own stash of monthly compost to add a nutrient boost the soil to help native flowers to grow at the park.

Plans for the urban garden were drawn up by Leah Wener, a conservancy volunteer with an expertise in gardens and horticulture. One of GCC’s greatest strengths is the amount of volunteers with a variety of specialties that all serve the purpose of GCC to conserve the Gowanus Watershed area in creative ways.

During this Clean & Green, volunteers set out to perform different tasks to implement this new native plant garden at Detective Mayrose Park. From raking and turning soil to incorporate GCC’s nutritious compost, to cleaning up the park and installing plant plugs according to the garden map plans, Mayrose Park turned into a beautiful community green garden space alongside the Prospect Expressway.


Picking up winter mint flowers from the Salt Lot to bring over to Mayrose Park.


Mayrose installation plan.


Weeding out old plants and trash to turn compost and install native flowers.


Volunteers installing plugs.


Young volunteers helping with the garden project.

We had a great turnout for our monthly Clean & Green event!  Volunteers came from all over the area to take part in installing a new garden along 3rd Avenue near 3rd Street.  The space started as a bare patch of weeds–there was a lot of work to do!

One of Gowanus’s local construction companies donated all the bricks to line the garden.  Thank you to our friends over at Monadnock Construction!

Once we turned the dry soil, it was ready to be covered with a new layer of cured compost from our Composting Gowanus project.

Pleasant Run Nursery graciously donated some plants for the garden–and the rest were propagated right here in Gowanus by our volunteers.

As always, we had a great time… both fixing up the neighborhood and meeting our neighbors!