Honoring Sharon Casdin
New York Flower Show™ 2018

On April 24th, we had the pleasure of honoring Sharon Casdin at our New York Flower Show™ Dinner Dance. Sharon Casdin has been a dedicated supporter of The Hort for almost 20 years, serving as Vice Chair on our Board of Trustees for the past 10 years. Sharon’s generosity and enthusiasm about The Hort’s work has made an incredible impact on the progress and growth of our social service programs. Her commitment has inspired others to join our cause and support our mission to sustain the vital connection between people and plants. We value Sharon’s contributions to The Hort and her commitment to making New York City a greener environment for all.

As Jared Goss, Chairman of our Board of Directors noted, Sharon’s “generosity, and support have helped us grow and flourish; your wonderful connections, depth of knowledge, and breadth of vision have helped us achieve so much in terms of our programs and mission. We are so lucky to have you in our Hort family and we are proud to recognize your more-than 20 years of commitment. Without everything you do, Sharon, none of what we do would be possible.”

Thank you to everyone who joined us. And a very special thank you to Sharon, whose dedication in promoting horticulture and specifically The Hort, has helped us change lives.


Sara Hobel

Click here to view more photos from the Flower Show
Click here to read more about the Flower Show on the New York Social Diary

Greenhouse Plant of the Month: Elephant Ear | Colocasia esculenta


The elephant ear plant, or Colocasia, is a flowering plant in the Araceae family. It is native to southeastern Asian and India. It’s name is derived from the Greek work kolokasion, which Dioscorides (a Greek Botanist) meant the edible roots of both Colocasia esculenta and Nelumbo nucifera (Lotus). More obviously, the name Elephant Ear comes from its large leaves that resemble the ears of an elephant.

While the roots are edible (known as Taro) – and have been harvested for over 10,000 years – the leaves and stems are not, unless cooked or fermented first, as they contain microscopic, needle-like raphides.

The Elephant Ear plants require full sun or part shade with wet soil. They can grow anywhere from 3 to 10 feet tall with a 2 to 10 foot spread. It thrives in Zones 9-11 and can endure temperatures down to 30 degrees. They make great companions with other plants in the Araceae family or as a dramatic centerpiece in mixed containers.

Swing by the Greenhouse at Denny Farrell Riverbank State park to view the thriving elephant ear plant!

Ladybug 101 from our Educators

About Ladybugs

There are 4.000 species of ladybugs in the world and up to 150 varieties in the United States alone. They were first introduced into the Unites States from Australia.

They are categorized as insects because they have three main portions of their body: head, thorax, and abdomen.They have poor eyesight and rely on their antennae for touch and smell. In the winter they go dormant and in the spring mating occurs. The male and female are attracted to each other by smell. The female can lay from 2 to 50 eggs in a day!

Ladybugs: A Natural Pesticide

Many farmers and gardeners consider ladybugs a natural pesticide. They eat tiny insects called aphids which feed on the sap in plants. Aphids are common garden insect pests that feed in colonies. An infestation usually causes mold and plant leaves to curl and dry out.

Female ladybugs are larger than male ladybugs and can eat up to 75 aphids a day while a male can eat around 40 per day.Ladybugs in both the larval and adult stages feast on these insects. During its lifetime, a lady big will eat over 5,000 aphids!

Ladybug Release

The best time to release ladybugs in your garden is typically early during the growing season on a cool evening. A great place to release the ladybugs is an area where they can find food and water. Planting plants close together helps to maintain a humid environment. Ladybugs are attracted to plants with umbrella shaped flowers or leaves, such as angelica, caraway, cilantro, dill, fennel, tansy, wild carrot and yarrow. Ladybugs also are drawn to cosmos, coreopsis, dandelions and scented geraniums.

Greenhouse Plant of the Month: Meyer Lemon | Citrus x meyeri

Meyer Lemon tree is known for its beautiful, scented white blooms and large, bright yellow lemons. The fruit’s flavor is less acidic, juicier, and sweeter than a common lemon. These trees can be used ornamentally around homes or patios and can be grown as a houseplant.


History of the Meyer Lemon

Citrus x meyeri is a citrus fruit native to China. Agricultural explorer Frank Meyer, an employee of the USDA, collected a sample of the tree while on a trip to China in 1908. Botanists believe it is a hybrid of a Citrus limon (Lemon) and Citrus reticulata (mandarin orange). For nearly a hundred years it was widely unused as an ingredient and typically found as an ornamental. That changed in the late 90s when chefs, including Martha Stewart and Alice Waters, ‘rediscovered’ its flavor and uses in culinary dishes and treats.



Growing Tips

The Meyer Lemon thrives in warm climates and is fairly vigorous: when grown from seed, the tree usually fruits within four years and can yield many fruits year-round. While it performs best at temperatures around 70 degrees, it can survive brief temperatures below 40 degrees, but does not tolerate frost. Prolonged exposure to temperatures below 55F will cause them to go dormant. Meyer Lemons can grow anywhere from 6-10 feet tall with a 4-8 foot spread.

Place the container outdoors in the late spring in the full sun, clear of the last frost and protected from the wind. Bring indoors in the fall to let the tree overwinter. Meyer Lemons require moderate water in the winter with an increase needed during the summer and while producing fruit.


See the Meyer Lemon at the Greenhouse

Currently, the greenhouse’s small Meyer Lemon is producing seven fruits while the taller Meyer Lemon is showing off its bright, beautiful white blooms. You can stop by the greenhouse to see the Citrus x meyeri anytime during the scheduled hours.


Click here to see our upcoming events/workshops at the Greenhouse!

OPEN CALL for the 21st Annual New York Flower Show™ Dinner Dance

We are looking for 30 creative designers to make stunning and imaginative table designs that will create a magical ambiance in The Cotillion Room at The Pierre Hotel on Tuesday, April 24th.

The Annual New York Flower Show™ Dinner Dance is a tradition of dining for a cause surrounded by exquisite floral arrangements donated by New York City’s top designers. This event brings together plants, people, and purpose; to raise vital funds for The Hort’s education, urban greening and horticultural therapy programs that provide nutrition, rehabilitation and nature to under served communities throughout New York City.


• Potential collaborations! Tap into your vibrant creative community by connecting with neighboring designers for potential collaborations and other exciting opportunities

• Potentials clients! Approximately 300 affluent members of the New York Community attend each year who have an appreciation for horticulture and promote our mission: to connect people with plants for the benefit of all

• Social features! With a growing Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter following, we love promoting supporters on our social media

• Listing on all promotional materials, including a press release, website, program, and post-event coverage





For more information, contact Jessica at jcloutier@thehort.org.

The Hort’s Top Holiday Crafts


Festive pomander balls and evergreen boughs


-Firm oranges
-Whole cloves
-Pine cones and evergreen boughs


1. Choose a pattern and poke holes in the orange with a toothpick to replicate your pattern
2. Fill the holes in the oranges with gloves and your pomander balls are ready!
3. Arrange pomander balls, pine cones and evergreen boughs to make a beautiful display

Great as a dining table centerpiece!

Holiday printmaking techniques and leaves


-Real leaves
-Sketch paper and construction paper
-Water-based paint
-Paint brushes
-Scissors and glue

1. Choose your leave and begin painting leaves (Be as creative as you would like with your color combination!)
2. Immediately after, carefully place the leaf on the sketch paper and apply pressure on the leaf to create print
3. Carefully remove leaf and allow plaint to dry for a couple of hours
4. Cut out leaf print and glue on to construction paper and you’re done!

Perfect for holiday cards!!

Healing homemade lip balm

-2 cups grated beeswax or beeswax pastilles
-2 cups virgin coconut oil
-1 cup shea butter
-A dash of organic raw honey
-1 drop of essential oil per container

About Beeswax: Beeswax can act as an emollient (moisturizer) as well as protect your lips from the elements, but the most important role it plays is that it is what gives your lip balm its stiffness and body so that it can be easily transported and applied.

About Shea Butter: The ivory-colored fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). Shea butter is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer, salve or lotion. It is edible and is used in food preparation in Africa. Occasionally, the chocolate industry uses shea butter mixed with other oils as a substitute for cocoa butter.

About coconut oil: Coconut oil will not coat and smother your skin like petroleum based products, and moisturizes deep down. Its fatty acids hold onto moisture, and can help reinforce the skins lipid (fat) layer, which promoted hydration.

About honey: Honey is a natural humectant, which means it attracts and holds onto water molecules.

About essential oil: Unlike their artificial competitors, essential oils are derived from actual plants. They are concentrated oils, so one drop goes a long way.

1. In a double boiler, melt down the beeswax,
2. Add in the coconut oil, shea butter and honey when about half of the beeswax is no longer solid
3. Stir well
4. After it’s all melted and blended together, pour into container or a tube and let cool
5. Add one drop of essential oil to each container and stir gently
6. Apply as needed for soft, moisturized lips! Enjoy!

Neighborhood Plaza Program and Parkside Plaza Committee Bring the Community Together

This Fall, The Hort’s Neighborhood Plaza Program (NPP) collaborated with the Parkside Committee to host a Neighborhood Social, located on Parkside and Ocean Avenues in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, right off the Q train. Over 30 neighbors gathered at the Neighborhood Social, held at Brooklyn Commons, a local co-working and community space. The purpose of the Neighborhood Social was to bring together community members to learn about the efforts of the Parkside Committee and engage on steps towards a better Parkside Plaza.

Neighbors gather for the Parkside Committee Neighborhood Social at Brooklyn Commons

The Parkside Committee, an all-volunteer organization, is committed to supporting the plaza as a space “by and for the community.” Parkside Plaza has been a host to many terrific community programs since it opened in the spring of 2015, including live music, movie nights, pop-up libraries, resource fairs and a GrowNYC farmers market that takes place every weekend during the spring, summer and fall. Most recently, the plaza hosted a Caribbean film screening and culture night in partnership with caribBEING. Colorful plantings, umbrellas, tables and chairs serve as an outdoor community center, performance space and simply a space to rest and read.


Parkside Plaza in the Summer
Parkside Committee member Duane Joseph chats with neighbors

Over food, refreshments and desserts from local, neighbors were able to get to know each other, share ideas, and contribute to an even better Parkside Plaza. The Neighborhood Social is one of the first steps the Parkside Committee is taking as they are looking to expand the plaza’s offerings, and strengthen the plaza as a venue for culture and horticulture within the neighborhood.

Congratulations to the Parkside Plaza Committee, and we look forward to a bright and green future for the plaza! To learn more about the plaza and the committee’s activities, you can find their latest campaign here.

Pumpkin Patch & Halloween Facts

Happy Pumpkin Patch!


At this time of year, 2nd graders have candy and treats on their mind – but wait, these orange drops are sweet and delicious too! Thanks to a generous allocation of City Council funds, Council Member James Vacca, these 7 year olds commuted from their classrooms to their gorgeous Hort garden, right on their school campus to harvest their perfect pumpkin!



Agricultural Origins of Halloween


Halloween is a yearly spectacle and beloved holiday of costumes, trick-or-treating, and carving pumpkins. It’s a night of candy and mischief, where children haunt the autumn streets and jack o’ lanterns glow. Many participate every year in the festivities, but few know the holiday’s ancient agricultural beginnings.


Celtic Festival of Samhain

The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic harvest festival of Samhain (pronounced SOW-in.) Across Ireland, Wales, the British Isles, Scotland, and France, the night of October 31st marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.  This was a time to offer thanks for abundance and to make sacrifices to appease the gods for the coming winter.  Grain was reaped; mead (honey wine) and beer were brewed. Sheep and cattle were brought in from the pastures for the winter.  Old animals that were thought wouldn’t make it through the coming season were slaughtered and this meat, along with fruits and vegetables that would otherwise spoil, were shared in large festivals. Fairs, markets, and assemblies took place across the lands.


Trick or Treating

Samhain was considered a sacred time when the veils between our world and the “otherworld” were lowered and spirits, elves, and fairies would roam the earth. Bonfires were lit on hilltops and scary costumes were worn to frighten malevolent spirits. In Wales, young men would dress up and commit pranks, impersonating the spirits of the dead. Food and drinks were left out for the ancestors, which led to the modern tradition of giving out treats.


Bobbing for Apples

The practice of bobbing for apples can be traced back to the Roman invasion of Britain, after which the conquering armies incorporated their traditions into the Celtic festivals. The Romans introduced the apple tree, leading to the goddess of the orchards and abundance called Pomona being honored at Samhain with the divinatory tradition of apple-bobbing. Here, unwed young people would try to capture apples that floated in water or hung on strings. The first to catch one in their teeth would be the next.



The first Jack-o’-Lanterns were carved during Samhain in Ireland out of turnips and beets. The lanterns, hollowed out and carved with frightening or funny faces, were said to both represent the spirits that haunted the world during this time, and also to ward them off. When Irish immigrants came to America and discovered the native pumpkin, this large and hollow gourd replaced the turnips and beets as the vegetable of choice.

The name of the Jack-O’-Lantern can be explained by the myth of a clever but lazy blacksmith named Jack who tricked the devil into climbing an apple tree. Jack then carved crosses into the base of the tree to trap the devil. He forces Satan to promise to never take his soul to hell. After living a greedy and drunken life, when Jack dies, he is not allowed into heaven or the underworld. When Satan forbids his entrance to hell, he gives him an ember to place inside a lantern to light his way as he wanders the world for eternity.


Modern and Secular

After the Catholic Church came to wield great power, pagan holidays began to be supplanted by Catholic holidays. “All Hallows Eve” was superimposed over Samhain, with some of the old traditions coexisting with the new Christian holiday of “All Saints” and “All Souls”.  When these traditions came to America, they were secularized into Halloween, and the holiday came to be celebrated mostly by children. Though many have forgotten Samhain, everywhere we see symbols of harvest and mischievous spirits in the form of colorful corn, bales of hay, carved pumpkins, scary costumes, pranks, and general mirth.


Plant Giveaway at Public Plazas

Join the Horticultural Society of New York’s Neighborhood Plaza Partnership and NYdigs program as we team up with Con Edison to host a plant giveaway in two Department of Transportation plazas! 

These free events are designed to bring the community together to inspire a love of plants and the environment, educate on how to care for plants, and introduce their plaza stewards. Those who attend will have the opportunity to talk to the horticulturists who green their neighborhood, meet local stakeholders who advocate for public greenspaces, and of course, take a plant home!

Stop by to show your support for clean, safe, and beautiful plazas!

Where and when can you find us

June 22nd | 2:00PM – 5:00PM** | Knickerbocker Plaza | Myrtle Ave. & Knickerbocker Ave. | Bushwick

**While supplies last

June 29th | 2:00PM – 5:00PM** | 78th Street Plaza | 78th Street and 34th Avenue | Jackson Heights

**While supplies last

The Hort, through a strategic partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), provides maintenance, support, and horticultural care at fourteen public plazas.