Did you know that we have three Ocean Friendly Gardens in Far Rockaway? Our Ocean Friendly Gardens Lead Adriana takes us on a tour of these gardens below:
Ocean Friendly Garden #1 - Arverne Cinema Outdoor Screening and Event Space
Located on the corner of Beach 72nd Street and Gouverneur Avenue, in the Arverne neighborhood of Rockaway Beach, Arverne Cinema is a large outdoor venue that hosts film screenings and other events in the warmer months.
Last summer, Arverne Cinema became the site of Surfrider NYC’s first Ocean Friendly Garden in Rockaway Beach. Over two very hot days in late July, 2022, teams of dedicated Surfrider volunteers successfully removed several square feet of sand, replaced this with nutrient rich, permeable soil, and installed approximately 170 northeast native plants in a section of the cinema space adjacent its massive projection screen.
Amongst many other native plant species, included in this garden are various milkweeds, switchgrasses, Joe-Pye weeds, blazing stars, mountain mints, asters and goldenrods. Over 25 different species of plants here work to provide food and habitat for our native insects and other wildlife, while their long roots improve the soil quality and permeability.
It has been fascinating to watch how this garden has transformed during the year since its installation. Many species have thrived and become larger and more robust, and the new arrival of pollinators such as butterflies, moths and bees to the area is a testament to just some of the ecological benefits provided by these plants. The soil’s ability to capture and retain stormwater runoff has mitigated a fair amount of flooding in the neighbors’ backyard during heavy rain events, while also allowing for the replenishment of the groundwater supply.
Ocean Friendly Garden #2 - Bayside Arverne Residence
In early fall, 2022, our chapter’s second Ocean Friendly Garden in Rockaway Beach was planted in the side and front yards of a residential home in Arverne, about two blocks from Jamaica Bay. This garden is located on the corner of Beach 67th Street and Almeda Avenue, on a stretch of road that is subject to major flooding during rain events. This makes the inclusion of an Ocean Friendly Garden, which works to capture and retain stormwater, functional as well as beautiful.
This project spanned two days, the first of which involved the removal of several inches of existing soil to make way for soil that is more permeable. Volunteers then dug the garden site into a bowl-shape, which works to collect storm water and allow it to seep into the garden itself, rather than moving into roadways and sewers.
On day two, a new group of volunteers planted approximately 150 northeast native plants in the newly amended soil. The home’s side yard is relatively shady, so plants found in this garden site are mostly shade tolerant woodland species such as coral bells, blue flag iris, Christmas fern, turtlehead and cardinal flower. In the sunnier front garden species include rose mallow, ironweed, coneflower and spotted bee balm, in addition to many others.
Ocean Friendly Garden #3 - Arverne Cinema Front and Side Entrances
Surfrider NYC’s most publicly visible Ocean Friendly Garden was installed on an extremely hot and humid Saturday afternoon in early July, 2023. These gardens worked to transform the front and side entrances to Arverne Cinema’s outdoor screening space from a collection of invasive plant species and other weeds to a much more permeable landscape, complete with an assortment of native, sun-loving coastal and prairie plant species.
Surfrider volunteers braved the elements and worked very hard, first to remove mugwort and various invasive grasses from the garden site. Once these were extracted from the rocky soil, we discovered enormous sheets of thick plastic covering the ground just below the soil line. These took several people and quite a bit strength to remove, but was necessary to ensure the garden’s permeability and the ability for the roots of the new plants to establish and ultimately grow very long. Once these plastic sheets were removed, nutrient rich, highly permeable soil was added to the garden plots.
Now fully prepped, the site was ready for new native plants. Volunteers set to work installing an lush garden that includes such charismatic species as rattlesnake master, cutleaf coneflower, little bluestem and culver’s root. Approximately 150 native plants were installed at this site, creating a diverse and colorful facade for the cinema, while attracting many pollinators and other beneficial insects, improving soil quality, fostering the local ecosystem and providing a permeable receptacle for storm water runoff.