Green-Wood embarked on an introspective journey in 2016 with the creation of a Cultural Landscape Report (CLR). The 800-page, encyclopedic work follows the format used by the National Park Service to “document the history, significance and treatment of a cultural landscape . . . and evaluate the history and integrity of the landscape including any changes to its geographical context.” The report was a prerequisite of a federal grant Green-Wood received to replace the over 300 trees lost during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. As part of the process, we engaged professionals to investigate the historic records in our extensive archives, explore the collection of art and ephemera, and interview current staff. Broadly speaking, the CLR will allow us to pause, take the long view, and create a thoughtful treatment plan to forge ahead with a renewed understanding of the history and character-defining elements of our site.
Rhodeside & Harwell (based in Alexandria, Virginia) led the effort, with a team of landscape architects, historians, arborists, hydrologists, and engineers. They have explored the topography and traced and tested our infrastructure. Further, they evaluated our tree collection, our glacial and man-made ponds, plus the historically and artistically significant structures and grave markers.
When the CLR is complete, the planning and succession planting of trees lost during the storm will begin. Importantly, before the new trees are planted, Green-Wood worked to protect the future of the collection and to increase its resilience in the face of future storms, pests, and diseases. This is best achieved by diversity in the plant collection. Our team established a series of new relationships with horticultural institutions on the Northeast to bring new plants to Green-Wood. Trips to the U.S. National Arboretum’s Woody Landscape Plant Germplasm Repository outside of Washington, D.C. and later, the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, yielded over thirty new species to add to our collection.
Green-Wood launched several planting projects in 2016. One significant undertaking was the infusion of new trees and woody plants in the Locust Grove area to replace failed specimens and to further fortify the canopy. These included Ulmus americana ‘Princeton’ (a cultivar of American elm), Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Lane Roberts’ (a cultivar of sweet gum), Acer triflorum (flowering maple) and Clethra acuminata (mountain pepper bush). We will continue to make efforts to enhance the beauty of this area and incorporate it into the historic character of the cemetery.
A major initiative in 2016 was the introduction of ornamental woody groundcover into two of Green-Wood’s sloped areas. The strategy allows the cemetery to reduce the amount of mowing on these slopes and thereby reduce the carbon footprint. It also creates variety across the landscape, both visually and horticulturally. Three plants were chosen for the first year of planting: Buddleia Lo & Behold® ‘Blue Chip Jr’ (a low growing cultivar of butterfly bush), Diervilla ‘Kodiak® Orange’ (a cultivar of bush honeysuckle), and Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ (a cultivar of fragrant sumac). If successful, the plantings can expanded to the myriad slopes across the cemetery. The work was a result of an important partnership with Dr. Nina Bassuk, Professor and Program Leader at the Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell University.
As a 478-acre arboretum in New York City, Green-Wood continued its work in 2016 on the health of urban forests. In collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and the New York State Department of Forest Health (within the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation), Green-Wood launched two initiatives to discover potential threats of pests (insects, mostly) and also discover insects we may not have known were here. Together with Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, Green-Wood is the only other site to date to collaborate with the U.S. Forest Service on this project.
The Horticulture Department continued its work in 2016 to maintain and steward Green-Wood’s collection of over 7,000 trees. In particular the team has worked hard to prune hazardous trees and remove invasive species. Their work will ensure that Green-Wood is a beautiful, safe arboretum well into the future.
Art has been with Green-Wood since 2006 and now oversees all aspects of our 478-acre historic landscape. With his background in exhibition design at the International Center of Photography, he also supervises the design aspects of Green-Wood including landscape design, signage and more. With a degree in horticulture from the New York Botanical Garden, he uses his artistic eye to renovate, restore, and curate the grounds of Green-Wood. Art is also an accomplished photographer, and has contributed many iconic images to the Green-Wood image archive.
In overseeing Green-Wood’s horticulture, Charap actively manages the Cemetery’s collection of trees and shrubs, which now number over 8,000. Dedicated to advancing Green-Wood as a natural oasis in Brooklyn, Charap is the engineer of the cemetery’s accreditation as an arboretum, its plan for interpretive signage, a wildlife survey and accessible technology to assist both Green-Wood and its visitors.