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ISLAND 1 BIKE LANE ISLAND @ W 22 St & 8 Ave South, Manhattan

MVR Summer in (GI) Trenches with the Chelsea Garden Club*

'Green Infrastructure' (GI) wears a ton of faces, but among them 'STREET Horticulture' confronts the most extreme gardening challenges. Basic of these are poor soils, compaction, drought, salts, pollution, construction, vandalism, theft, and so on. 'Traffic island' plants, engulfed in heated asphalt and all vehicle classes, must withstand the most. And under NYC's 8th Avenue, heat from subway trains exacerbates DRYING OUT of urban soils, oh so fast, especially in high summer.

22.8 Island Transformation

During the July CGC Tour, Ms. Martha Niggeman and I (MVR) committed to make something of the 22.8 S island - that is, once the weather cooled off. In the collage above, below left shows the island when we adopted it, above it an interim state (after I could no longer stand it looking like a sow's ear), and then right after first planting the island. CGC Gardener Luis Lujan donated plants, helped plant, and assisted hydrant watering the first critical weeks. Member Madeleine Gill also contributed plants and helped with the initial planting.

Results of Post-Planting Enthusiasm

Street plantings never establish on their own, even ones planned to be ultra-drought tolerant. Thankfully, this island has Martha. Transplanted from her .3-acre California garden 8 years ago, Martha put her garden gloves back on and as a result is discovering her NYC gardening chops. On top of timely watering, she has harmoniously blended additional drought tolerant, colorful plants into my initial planting scheme to help create this dazzling emerald of an isle.


​Discoveries go beyond Street Gardening 201. Martha looks at the tiny island as a miracle of sorts-a perception fostered by all in the community who halt to thank her for the fantastic results. Indeed, for neighbors and countless visitors who pass 22.8 daily, the island is now like a breath of fresh air. Kudos to Martha! Plus, with watering wand in hand she looks likes she is having the time of her life.

8th Ave GREEN IN Horticulture

What is the lesson taken from the street island here? ​In summary, what survives in 8th Avenue islands will survive just about any other set of sunny, dry conditions in the U.S. Northeast - on or off the street, whether in urban, suburban, or rural communities. Thus, many will find the Part 22.8 S Plant List provided here quite helpful.

Existing Plants

Street Tree Zelkova serrata Japanese Zelkova

Grass Elymus arenaria Blue Lyme Grass

Initial Core Planting Species

Perennials Yucca filamentosa Adam's Needle

Sedum spectabilis 'Autumn Joy' Sedum Autumn Joy

Liriope spicata 'Silver Dragon' Lillyturf

Helictotrichon sempervirens Blue Oats Grass

Perovskia atroplicifolia Russian Sage

Solidago sp. Goldenrod

Imperata cylindrica 'Red Baron' Japanese Blood Grass

Chrysanthemum sp.


Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' Purple Fountain Grass

Ipomea sp. Potato Vine

This is MVR, Michael Victor Ruggiero, signing off!

Keywords: green infrastructure, street island planting, Manhattan island, urban heat islands

*The inspiration and incentive to develop a planting scheme for the once-daunting 22.8 S traffic island stem from the remarkable street plantings sustained since 2010 by pioneering members of the Chelsea Garden Club: Luis, Missy, Paul, Phyllis, Kent, Milt, Gloria, Hilda, and Madeleine, among others.

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