A Greener Lakeside

March 15, 2016

As part of its commitment to sustainable design, the Alliance recycled a significant amount of the construction waste when creating the LeFrak Center at Lakeside, including the soil, which was stored on site and proved to be the perfect growing ground for weeds. While the Alliance added a number of native trees, flowering shrubs, perennials  and grasses to the landscape as part of the project, these plants battle for air, light, water, space and nutrients with the weeds, which if left unchecked could reign supreme.

In a new strategy to combat weeds and ensure the continued beauty and diversity of the landscape, this past year Ronen Gamil, Assistant Gardener for the Prospect Park Alliance, saved seeds from several native grasses and perennials. Ronen harvested and cleaned the seeds after they dried on the plant, and then stored and planted the seeds this winter so they could be exposed to cold weather and better germinate this spring.

Thanks to Ronen, the Alliance was able to cultivate native species with great names and even greater ecological importance, like little bluestem, bee balm, gray goldenrod, foxglove beardtongue, whorled milkweed and sideoats grama (an endangered plant) within the Park. The planting of carefully saved seeds bolsters and even expands the native plants’ range. And the more native grasses present in the Park, the more competition for unwanted weeds. Saving seeds also increases the species’ genetic diversity, and yields better-adapted plants than those grown from purchased seedlings.

Seed saving requires thoroughness, so Ronen’s task is not an easy one. But with spring around the corner, and with it thousands of blooms, it’s easy to justify the hard work that goes into making it all possible. Take a stroll up to the green roof and, thanks to the abundance of native vegetation, it’s easy to forget you’re standing atop a state-of-the-art, and LEED Gold rated skating center in the nation’s largest city.

Swing by the LeFrak Center at Lakeside this spring to check out Ronen’s handiwork on the green roof!