The Hort’s Community Programs Recognized by AHS

Left: AHS 2019 Awardees; Right: Nick Guntli, Director of GreenTeam, with the 2019 AHS Community Greening Award


The Hort is honored to be the recipient of The American Horticultural Society (AHS) Community Greening Award!


The award is given in recognition of individuals and organizations that demonstrate the diligence and value of horticulture to creating livable communities that are greener, healthier, and more equitable.
To learn more about the other 2019 Great American Gardeners National Award Winners, check out AHS’ newsletter.
Thank you again, AHS, for the award!

Greenhouse Newsletter | March

Upcoming Events

There are a lot of exciting new classes being offered at the Greenhouse and Kitchen! Come participate in a workshop on seed starting to kick start your spring garden, learn about identifying edible foods in the wild and using them in the kitchen with Chef Noah Sheetz of Chef’s Consortium, or check out one of our upcoming fermentation series classes!

Click here to see our full schedule

The Greenhouse & Kitchen is located at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10031

Plant of the month: Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena, or Aloysia citriodora, is a strongly scented and flavorful herb in the verbenaceae family. Native to Argentina and Chile, lemon verbena can grow up to 10-15 feet tall in the tropics, and 2-4 feet tall in containers. Lemon verbena is the most strongly scented and intense of all lemon foliage plants. Ever since it was imported to Europe from Spain’s South American colonies in the 18th century, lemon verbena has become a globally accessible herb used for its medicinal effects and qualities as a food additive. Its leaves can be used in beverages and desserts, or to flavor meat and vegetable dishes, as well as in perfumes, cosmetics, potpourris, and herbal medicines. Lemon verbena is rich in antioxidants, and boasts a number of health benefits when used medicinally. This herb is typically used to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, relieve stomach issues and indigestion, reduce fever, soothe nerves, clear up congestion, and aid in weight loss.

Lemon verbena thrives in full sun and hot temperatures, and will grow as a perennial in frost free areas and as an annual in northern climates. If grown in an area with too much shade, the leaves will lose their potency and the branches will grow long and spindly. When the temperature drops below 40 degrees, the plant will drop its leaves and enter dormancy. Lemon verbena can be grown in containers and overwintered indoors in bright, cool locations with minimal watering. It requires loose, well-draining soil to prevent the roots from getting soggy, which will kill the plant. Popular planting locations for lemon verbena are along outdoor walking paths, or anywhere indoors where the leaves may be brushed up against to release the scent.


Bonnie Plants, Organic Facts, Missouri Botanical Garden

Chickpea Stew with Turmeric, Coconut and Ginger

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • ¼ cup olive oil; additional for serving
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • A knob (approximately two inches) ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon or more red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, kale or collard greens, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup mint leaves, for serving
  • Plain yogurt, for serving (optional)
  • Toasted whole wheat pita (cut into wedges)

Over medium heat in a large pot, heat oil and add garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper and cook a few minutes until the onion starts to brown a little around the edges.

Add turmeric, red pepper flakes and chickpeas. Stir frequently and cook chickpeas as they sizzle in the oil until they start to break down and brown slightly and get crisp, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.

Add coconut milk and stock to the pot and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits that formed on bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally until stew thickens, up to 30 minutes, or longer until it reaches your desired thickness or consistency. Add greens, submerging them in the liquid until they wilt and soften. Check seasoning.

Place stew in individual bowls and garnish with mint, sprinkle of red pepper flakes and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with yogurt and toasted pita and a dusting of turmeric (optional).

Banana Apple Muffins

  • 2 apples peeled and grated
  • 1 cup ripe mashed bananas (1 banana)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (10 tablespoons or 1 ¼ sticks)
  • 3 TB milk with ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Pre-heat oven to 375°F and line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat the 1 1/4 sticks of butter and 1 cup of sugar together on medium speed until it has a light and fluffy texture.
Without reducing the speed, add 2 eggs one at a time, and also buttermilk. Finally, beat in the flour mixture. Use a spoon to fold in the apples and banana.

Fill the lined muffin cups about half-way.

Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Greenhouse Newsletter | February

Upcoming Events:

There is something for everyone at the NYdigs Greenhouse & Kitchen! Whether you are interested in fermenting, want to learn about Sous Vide, or love to get cozy with fresh baked goods, we have the right class for you! Don’t forget to check out our 5-session Fermentation Series that covers popular topics like Miso, Kombucha, Cheese, and more

Click here to see our full schedule

The Greenhouse & Kitchen is located at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10031

Plant of the Month | ‘Swiss Cheese Plant’, Monstera deliciosa

Monstera at the Greenhouse and Kitchen

Monstera deliciosa, is a tropical, flowering plant native to southern Mexico and Panama. It is famous for the ridges and holes found on it’s more mature leaves, giving it the nickname “Swiss cheese plant.” Part of the Araceae family of plants, it can grow up to twelve feet tall with leaves that spread nearly two feet wide.

When growing in their native climates monstera produces fruit, known as “Mexican breadfruit,” that look like ears of corn with a pineapple-like flesh, and are said to taste like a medley of banana, mango, and pineapple. These fruits can take up to a year to ripen, and can cause mouth and stomach irritation if consumed before ripe. Important to note, all other parts of the plant are toxic to both humans and animals if eaten.

There has been much speculation about the interesting shape and pattern of the leaves, specifically about the holes giving the plant the popular nickname “Swiss cheese plant.” One theory suggests that the holes maximize the leaf’s surface area, allowing it to capture more sunlight on the forest floor. Another suggests that the holes allow tropical rains to pass through the leaves with less damage to the plant, inspiring another common nickname “hurricane plant.”

Fruit from Monstera

Monstera deliciosa is an easy plant to care for in your home. They are relatively low maintenance, and will thrive in most environments. The plants do well in areas with filtered, indirect light, as too much harsh sunlight will scorch the leaves. They prefer soil that is consistently, slightly moist, but are sensitive to overwatering. They typically need to be watered no more than once a week, or if the top two inches of soil are dry. Because monstera are natural climbers, once the plant grows more mature it helps to add a stake or trellis to provide extra support. If your monstera grows too large, they respond well to trimming, and you can even use the cuttings to start a new plant!

Sources: Missouri Botanical Garden, Gardenista, Greenerynyc, Gardeningknowhow

Seasonal Recipes: From Our Kitchen to Yours

Split Pea Soup with Parsley Croutons

Split Pea Soup is perfect, healthy meal for a cold winter day. Full of flavor and loaded with potatoes, peas, and carrots, it is not only just filling, but also delicious. For a crunchy addition, top it with homemade croutons!

8 servings

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried (or 1 Tablespoon fresh) oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium red boiling potatoes, diced (unpeeled)
  • 1 pound dried split green peas
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) vegetable stock or water


  • 1 baguette (day-old is fine)
  • ¼ cup (fresh) parsley, chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In 6-quart stockpot over medium heat, sauté onions and garlic with a few tablespoons olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper until onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add carrots, potatoes, split peas and vegetable stock. Bring to boil and simmer, uncovered for approximately 40 minutes or until peas are soft. Stir frequently.

While soup is simmering, cut up baguette into 1-inch cubes and toss with olive oil and chopped parsley and spread out on a sheet tray. Place in oven for approximately 10 minutes or until crisp.

Enjoy soup served hot with croutons.

Recipe by The Hort’s own, Annette Nielsen

Baked Chicken with Vegetables

  • 1-1/4 pounds small red potatoes, quartered

  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 small lemon, sliced
  • 1 package (5 ounces) fresh spinach


Preheat oven to 425°. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, carrots, onions, oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat. Transfer to a 15x10x1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix paprika and the remaining thyme, salt and pepper. Sprinkle chicken with paprika mixture; arrange over vegetables. Top with lemon slices. Roast until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 170°-175° and vegetables are just tender, 35-40 minutes.

Remove chicken to a serving platter; keep warm. Top vegetables with spinach. Roast until vegetables are tender and spinach is wilted, 8-10 minutes longer. Stir vegetables to combine; serve with chicken.

Recipe by Chef Noah Sheetz of Chef’s Consortium

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

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.