Covering Battery Park City


BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | B.P.C. boxwood at Philadelphia International Flower Show: 

Battery Park City’s boxwood isn’t actually at the Philadelphia International Flower Show this week but Andrea Filippone, the woman who brought boxwoods to Battery Park City, is there talking about her cultivation methods. The Philly flower show, which takes up 33 acres at the Philadelphia Convention Center and is the largest indoor flower show in the world, has been going on with only a few interruptions since 1829. This year’s show runs through March 11 and has as its theme “Hawaii: Islands of Aloha.” Amid masses of orchids and other tropical plants, hula dancers and a 25-foot-high waterfall, Filippone’s exhibit is generating its own quiet excitement.

“I’m trying to promote organic practices that relate to boxwood and how we can deal with our plants organically to prevent the use of pesticides and fertilizers,” she said. Her exhibit shows the cycle in which bacteria and fungi decompose organic matter and absorb nitrogen and other nutrients. Protozoa and beneficial nematodes (worms) help to metabolize micronutrients and protect plant roots from harmful pathogens and root-feeding nematodes.

Filippone has a nursery in New Jersey where she grows boxwoods. “I don’t use any fertilizers,” she said. “I manage the plants organically with compost and compost tea to keep them from getting any diseases or attacked by any pests.”

Around two years ago when some old yew hedges in Rector Park had to be replaced, Filippone was called in as a consultant. She recommended the most disease resistant and hardiest varieties of boxwood (Buxus is the Latin name).

“You have two beds of boxwoods in Rector Park,” she said. “The two gardens are there to illustrate the wide variety of boxwoods -— their shapes, their sizes, their colors, their textures, so that people don’t think of boxwood as either American or English.” The boxwoods are flourishing — proving her contention that with the correct soil and the proper organic care, very little maintenance is needed.

Art work perils:

Hot on the heels of favorable reviews for his sculpture at the New Museum, Argentinian sculptor Adrián Villar Rojas, 31, installed a site-specific work on the World Financial Center plaza called “Before My Birth.” Commissioned by Brookfield Properties as part of its arts programming, it went up on March 1 and will be on the plaza through March 29. However, there are problems. The piece, which consists of cracked cement blocks and two by fours, has objects embedded in the cement blocks. Among them are three apples. Seagulls have been eating the apples. A guard is supposed to be looking after the sculpture, but there’s only one of him and there are a lot seagulls. In addition, on March 6, the guard received instructions on his walkie talkie not to let people touch the sculptures, which are spread out all over the plaza. Apparently, prior to these instructions, touching was O.K. This gives the guard a lot to do. A little girl, approximately three feet tall, discovered that one of the structures was just the right size for her to stand under. While this distraction was going on, a seagull flew purposely onto the plaza and started eyeballing the apples. The guard didn’t know which problem to address first.

Could Rojas have anticipated the seagull issue?  The sculpture is very interesting to look at. The rectangular shapes echo the rectangles on the neighboring buildings, and there is a suggestion that Rojas might not mind the apple situation. On one of the sculptural forms, a concrete block is set on an angle. Were it to fall, it would crush the spoon beneath it. Rojas seems to be familiar with chaos and untoward events such as hungry seagulls.

South End Avenue and Albany Street:

The corner of South End Avenue and Albany Street is looking empty these days. For one thing, the fruit vendor is gone. For another, the portico in front of the former Gate House Restaurant has been torn down along with the old wisteria vine that once grew up and around it and flowered in the spring.

Abraham Merchant of Merchants Hospitality, the current owner of the site, said he plans an outdoor café on the plaza as part of the SouthWest NY restaurant. “The pergola made the building/restaurant difficult to see and less inviting,” he said. “We will have some sort of awning or umbrella.” He expects the restaurant to open in early summer.

Food trucks:

The food trucks in the cul-de-sac on North End Avenue next to the World Financial Center have proven so popular that there are now five trucks every day instead of four. They’re there from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday. For a daily schedule, go to http://www.worldfinancialcenter.com/foodtrucks.

To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb@mac.com.

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One Response to Covering Battery Park City

  1. Abraham Merchant is right in planning to put some awnings. I myself is at the market looking for cafe awnings for my cafe in Perth. It kinda acts as an invitation for anyone who passes by, especially for anyone seeking refuge from the rain.

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