As home gardeners track down new plants for their collections, here at NYC Parks, we’re reflecting on our past year of replanting horticulture beds in Sandy’s wake. While few plants can survive days of submersion beneath floodwaters, some possess greater tolerance for the salt, wind, drought, and sand-blown soils common to seashore gardens. When we replanted our public gardens, we chose plants for their resilience and hardiness in coastal conditions. I like to think of them as the “coastal comeback kids.” We also took the chance to replenish our parks and playgrounds with a more diverse plant palette. Below are some of my favorites, and where you can find them in Rockaway:
In Tribute Park, many of the Hawthorns, Chaste Trees, Rugosa Roses, Shore Junipers, Miscanthus, and Montauk Daisies survived flooding. After removing dead plants and amending the soil, we added Hollywood Junipers, Shamrock Holly, Knockout Roses, High-bush Blueberries, Goldmound Spirea, Oak Leaf and Big Leaf Hydrangeas, Northern Sea Oats, Swamp Mallow, Lambs’ Ears, Salvia, Blanket Flower, and Russian Sage. If you haven’t seen the tulips yet, hurry on over!
No vegetation survived at Rockaway Beach Playground (Beach 74th Street & Shore Front Parkway). TD Bank generously helped us replant with Hollywood Junipers, Knockout Roses, Mugo Pines, Montauk Daisies, Catmint, Lavender, Liriope, and Daffodils. At the entrance to the boardwalk, we created a small gold and silver landscape, composed of Gold-tip Juniper, Color Guard Yucca, Russian Sage, and Silver Mound Artemisia. All of these can thrive in the sandy soil here.
Volunteers with NYC Parks’ partner organization, New York Restoration Project, helped us replant the mall on Beach 108th Street (between Rockaway Freeway & Shore Front Parkway) with Kentucky Coffee Trees, Honey Locusts, Black Tupelos, and American Hollies. The median tips feature white Knockout Roses, Pendulous Yucca, Broomsedge Bluestem, New England Aster, False Indigo, Sea Holly, Little Bluestem, Russian Sage, and Catmint.
The Flight 587 Memorial was replanted with Hollywood Junipers, Yucca, Shasta Daisies, and Liriope. White-flowering Natchez Crepe Myrtles replaced the Callery Pears in front of the memorial.
Finally, we completely replanted the beds at Beach 94th Street and Shore Front Parkway with Blue Point Junipers, Sunny Knockout Roses, Shrub Crepe Myrtles, Color Guard Yucca, Blue-mist Shrub, Blue Pacific Shore Juniper, Russian Sage, and Husker Red Beardtongue.
If you are interested in learning more, pick up a copy of “Gardening at the Shore” by Frances Tenenbaum or “Taylor’s Guide to Seashore Gardening.” For native species, try “Coastal Plants from Cape Cod to Cape Canaveral” by Irene Stuckey and Lisa Lofland Gould.
Go beach plantings! Go park!
Adriana Jacykewycz is Director of Horticulture for Queens at NYC Parks.