As she strolled by a dense patch of goldenrod, Brooklyn Bridge Park horticulturist Rebecca McMackin paused to gaze out at Manhattan. "We're in an area that used to have the ecological value of a parking lot, and now, just look at it."
McMackin, along with a sizable team of architects, designers, landscapers, and gardeners, has helped turn the Park's Pier 6—a five-acre span of concrete elevated above the East River—into a beautiful, lush garden filled with hundreds of native species including showy aster, pink vervain, wool grass, and hot lips turtlehead (we're not making that last one up). Planters were hard at work preparing the garden throughout 2015, and the area was opened to the public last October, but this spring and summer marks the first blooming season; McMackin and other Parks officials are ecstatic about what they've seen.
"It's a quiet milestone, but nonetheless an important one," said Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer. All told, the pier holds 35 different species of plants, from sedges to rushes to flowers to ferns. "It's beautiful and so full of life. People have this vision that Brooklyn Bridge Park is always crowded, but there's also incredible places to get away from it all." By planting numerous species of blooming flowers, as well as milkweed, Park workers have attracted large populations of bees and monarch butterflies to the pier. In places where the paths narrow and the vegetation grows lush, the pollenating bugs become a kind of swarm.
The farthest edge of the pier is home to what Myer calls the "flower field"—a half-acre span of neatly-cut grass that features multiple patches of dense wildflowers and trees along with Understanding, Martin Creed's towering revolving art piece. Early Wednesday morning the area was deserted, save for one runner who meditated under the Creed piece. "This is a living, breathing place for passive recreation" Myer said.
Say hello to the Park's goats on your way to the flowers, and hope the two never meet up.