October 22, 2020 – Only a skeleton staff at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden witnessed the blizzard of cherry blossoms scattered by spring breezes during the pandemic shutdown. Delicate blooms of wisteria tumbled over pergolas and plump roses unfurled with no appreciative fans to say “Oooh.”
The garden reopened in August for a limited daily number of socially distanced visitors. Now, as fall’s vibrant, showy display begins, meadow and woodland gardens completed at last winter’s onset are finally coming into their own. They are the culmination of a yearslong evolution, as the garden turns over a new leaf with the selection in September of Adrian Benepe, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, as the new president and chief executive.
Botanical gardens have long represented an ideal of nature civilized, clipped and classified. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden hasn’t discarded taxonomic collecting or spectacular floral displays but has steadily brought more of an ecological ethos to its intimate 52 acres. The new plant groupings are comparatively disorderly, host insects and birds, and change constantly with flowers, seed pods, and leaf colors constantly popping and fading.