Native Plant Demonstration Garden, NYC
Commissioned by the Staten Island Greenbelt Conservancy
and NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
The Circle Garden was the first installation of a planned public Native Plant Demonstration Center on Staten Island, associated with the nearby NYC Parks Department's Greenbelt Native Plant Nursery.
The half-acre site graded down from a dry urbanized upland into a wetland bordered by a stream, and its existing trees cast many types and degrees of shade.
As such, it was ideal for showing the great variety of metropolitan area forest and forest-edge plants.
Diversity and variation is the theme of this garden. Beyond displaying native species in their contexts and using local provenance plants wherever possible, it deliberately includes examples of varying populations within species, varying individuals within populations, and some cultivars too.
This serves to invite visitors to explore questions like: "What makes a plant native?", "Why is it important to grow native plants?", "What is diversity about?", and "How can we preserve native plants and their diversity?"
Diagrams provide the locations of taxonomically related species, populations, and cultivars within the garden. Plant lists include geographic sources where known. The management plan details an ecologically sensitive approach that allows for interaction, growth, and change.
A 58-foot diameter circle of lawn at the garden's center, carved around trees and into the edge of the woodland, serves as classroom and meeting space. With the plants in the surrounding habitat areas carefully arranged to be visible from the circle, anyone standing anywhere in it is given a strong sense of the regional flora's richness and diversity. Over 1000 feet of pathways extending off the circle into the different habitat areas allow for closer looks at the 275 different plantings.
More than fifty people gathered in the Circle Garden
for the Demonstration Center’s dedication ceremonies
on June 17, 2000, led by NYC Parks Commissioner
The Center was for a few years open by appointment
to school and other groups, then left to go fallow.
View from the Northeast Section, The Circle Garden, Native Plan Demonstration Center, Staten Island, NY