New Yorkers looking to escape the hubbub of the big city now have a lush new wetland oasis to enjoy right in the heart of Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden cut the ribbon yesterday on its new Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden, a riparian sanctuary spread out over 1.5-acre of the Garden's grounds. Designed by renowned landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the serene wetland garden also ties into the BBG's innovative Water Conservation Project, a sustainable approach towards slashing the facility's freshwater usage and reducing storm-water runoff.
Part of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden‘s “Campaign for the Next Century” to renew and update the garden for the next 100 years, the Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden was designed with sustainability in mind and is directly connected to BBG’s Water Conservation Project aimed at significantly reducing the garden’s impact on the city’s water systems. The initiative, which is expected to be completed in 2018, will enable BBG to collect rainwater from its 52-acre watershed and recirculate it through the new Water Garden pond, the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden pond, and the rest of the Garden’s brook system, cutting the facility’s freshwater consumption from an estimated 22 million to 900,000 gallons per year. The Water Garden itself will also work to retain storm-water runoff and reduce discharge to NYC’s storm-water system from 8 million gallons to only 2.5 million gallons per year.
While the Water Conservation Project does its work behind-the-scenes, an eye-catching assortment of new flora designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) will take center stage as a treat for the senses and a new habitat for area wildlife. Inspired by the wetlands of New York, the Water Garden and the neighboring restored and expanded brook system, Belle’s Brook, feature thousands of new plants, including many native species. Some of the varieties are also riparian (or “wet-feet”) meaning that they can adapt to changes in water levels.
“The Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden is a remarkable new feature at Brooklyn Botanic Garden,” said Scot Medbury, president of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “When it opens, the south side of BBG will be transformed with an immersive, lush landscape where visitors can closely experience the plants and wildlife that thrive at water’s edge. The garden-wide Water Conservation Project—taking place underground—is every bit as remarkable, with a water management system that will be a model for other institutions and civic organizations, and a platform from which to educate our community on water conservation in the city, at BBG, and in their own homes. We are excited to unveil the Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden and launch the first phase of the BBG-wide Water Conservation Project in September.”
You can lend your support to the new Water Garden and get an invitation to a tour of the new space by contributing here.
Photos: Yuka Yoneda, except where noted.