Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Inwood chosen by the Historic Districts Council for "Six to Celebrate"

The Historic Districts Council of New York recently announced that Volunteers for Isham Park successfully submitted Inwood as one of the communities chosen in their new annual advocacy program "Six to Celebrate" (see link below for more information):


Happy 2011 to all from Volunteers for Isham Park!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fall 2010 Volunteers for Isham Park activities

Last summer, the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation assigned a gardener on Wednesdays to Isham Park.  A few members of Volunteers for Isham Park have been working with the gardener on a weekly basis, as possible.

For It's My Park Day in Isham Park, which was held on Sunday October 31st, the NYC Parks & Recreation Gardener lead the planting of small shrubs and bulbs around the Isham Memorial Benches.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Isham Park is 98 years old today September 28, 2010

Today is the anniversary of the original celebration of the gift of Isham Park to New York City.  The park is 98 years old today, Tuesday, September 28, 2010.

View from Isham Park to the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades in 1913
Credit: Archives of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation 
Julia Isham Taylor was the generous donor of the first of what turned into a series of parcels of land by Isham family members in honor of her father, William Bradley Isham, who died in 1909.  Mr. Isham had owned and occupied the northern Manhattan land since 1864.

A New York Times article, dated March 24, 1912, describes one fact all but unknown today: that the gift of Isham Park preceded the city's purchase of Inwood Hill Park.  In fact, news of the gifts of land for Isham Park helped to inspire support for the purchase of the land that became Inwood Hill Park.

According to Parks Commissioner Stover, as quoted in The New York Times on the day of the Civic Celebration in 1912, the gift of Isham Park was the first gift of private land for the purpose of a public park in Manhattan. This fact and much of the historic information gathered on Isham Park can be credited to Gail Addiss who is a founding member of the group "Volunteers for Isham Park," formed in June 2009.

The Volunteers are dedicated to the history and physical improvement of Isham Park, in conjunction with the Partnerships for Parks, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the City Parks Foundation, and existing Isham Park volunteer groups, such as Bruce Reynolds Memorial Garden, and independent gardeners.  

In addition to our other parks related activities, the members of Volunteers for Isham Park are beginning to collect funds and plan to hold a centennial celebration of the Gift of Isham Park on September 28, 2012.  Please watch for related events over the next two years.  If interested in becoming a member of the Volunteers or in making a tax deductible donation to "Volunteers for Isham Park," please contact us at: volunteersforishampark@gmail.com.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Black Rat Snake seen in PTW Margin Garden is harmless and good for rodent control

This morning at about 8:15am, as I passed the margin garden on Park Terrace West, I saw a three to four foot long black snake fully extended among the plants. The snake looked healthy.  After informing the other Volunteers about the siting, Steve sent a link to a photo of a Black Rat Snake http://www.esf.edu/pubprog/images/snakes/blackrat.jpg

Also here is a link to a fact sheet about such snakes:

They are non-venomous and good for rodent control. 
So we hope no one tries to do away with it, as we benefit from its assistance with controlling rats and mice.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Read this week's "Manhattan Times" article about tree damages and removals in Bruce's Garden, Isham Park, Inwood

To read local news reporting about the tree damages and removals described earlier this blog, see the following:
Manhattan Times interview/article on pages 8 and 10 of this week's paper issue:
August 18th-24, 2010, vol. 11, No. 33, "Community" section, heading: "Inwood," title:

Wind from July Bronx tornado costs Inwood's Bruce's Garden 11 trees

or go to the e-version: http://www.manhattantimesnews.com/2010/wind-from-july-bronx-tornado-costs-inwoods-bruces-garden-11-trees.html

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Photograph of the removal of trees in Bruce's Garden

Tree removal in Bruce's Garden

This photograph shows how tall the Norway Maples (an invasive species) had become.  As they lost branches over the past year, they became more and more unstable.  Finally the wind that came over the top of the hill and the building to the north of them hit them a bit too

More removals are expected in Bruce's Garden & some history of recent tree removals

The work begun removing the trees in Bruce's Garden that had been damaged by strong winds on the afternoon of Sunday July 25th is to continue in the next few weeks.  The next removals will include the tree with the hollow core shown in the photograph posted in this blog on August 3rd.

The trees to be removed are mostly on the extreme northern end of Bruce's Garden along the fence bordering the driveway behind the Northeastern Academy.  Access to this area is difficult for the heavy equipment needed by the Forestry Department and the trees to be removed are not stable, as at least one is dead, in addition to the one with the rotten core.

A tall ivy -covered stump will also probably be removed as it is also probably rotten and could fall.

The destabilization of the trees began last summer when a large elm tree just to the west of the garden succombed to Dutch elm disease (DED) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_elm_disease is a fungal disease of elm trees which is spread by the elm bark beetle.

Once the elm tree was removed and its stump ground, the winds from the west during many storms hit the remaining trees with far greater force causing damages to occur.  A large limb was torn from one of the removed trees the week before the Fourth of July, nearly a year after the elm went down but only three weeks before the violent winds from the north caused the more extreme tree damages.

Isham Park visitors and area residents should be aware that Dutch elm disease also has resulted in the death of several other smaller trees in the park that were recently removed, notably two in the southwestern corner at the top of the large hillside area (and near to the same) where the Volunteers for Isham Park mulched on their June 19th 2010 work day (see June 21st blog post).

At center, dead elm at south end of park above
Park Terrace West (since removed)
Please let us know if you see other elms that appear to be dying.  Given the drought this summer, many trees appear to be weakened and their leaves are turning brown.  But if you let us know we will get the Forestry department to investigate and take action. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Big sky over Bruce Reynolds Memorial Garden in Isham Park

Now that the damaged tall trees near the pavilion in Bruce Reynolds Memorial Garden have been removed, there is open sky above the garden.  The photographs included here were taken this morning.  The images are included as an attempt to show this new open sky condition for the garden which has been very shaded or forested for many years. 
View of the sky from the front gate of the garden
After the tree work has been completed and the stumps removed, work will begin to stabilize and establish the garden and its memorials for visitors once again.
Looking east into Bruce Reynolds Memorial Garden
Looking northeast into the garden

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Storm damage and tree removals in Bruce Reynolds Memorial Garden in Isham Park

2010 garden sign ripped out by strong winds

Most New Yorkers are aware that on Sunday afternoon, July 25th, a tornado violently touched down in the Riverdale section of New York.  However, many are not aware that the same storm did major tree damage in the Bruce Reynolds Memorial Garden in Isham Park.

As the result of the damage done to the tallest trees in Bruce's Garden, many are being removed.  This is because they were deemed by the Department of Parks and Recreation's Forestry Department to be so damaged that they were unstable.

Detail of rot revealed by lost limb
The loss of a large limb on one tree near the driveway of the Northeastern Academy revealed that the tree was rotting and had a hollow core. This damage is still visible, as the tree has not yet been removed.

The photographs included here were taken on the evening of the 25th of July.  We hope that they make everyone aware how critical the work being done is for the safety of all who enter the garden.
Loss of massive limbs left trees unstable

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sidewalk margin garden along Park Terrace West

Back on It's My Park Day in Isham Park on Saturday May 15th 2010, the children and some of the parents of Yes We Can Inwood collaborated with Volunteers for Isham Park to plant the sidewalk margin along Park Terrace West with a variety of plants provided by the Parks and Recreation Department and also Marigolds provided by Isham Park Restoration Program, 1970, Inc.   The sidewalk margin includes park benches which have been painted with the correct exterior enamel paint for the first time in many years, thanks to corporate sponsors.  

Since the planting, many of our neighbors have been complimentary of the new flower garden.  Elderly wheelchair bound neighbors have been particularly happy to experience this new garden on a daily basis.  This is particularly true as during Mulberry season and even year round, many of these neighbors cannot go up the ramp into Isham Park proper and so only experience this border area where the margin used to be a strip of dry earth, dog droppings, and weeds.

Anyway, it is so gratifying to have these lovely comments on the new garden!  Thank you!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Saturday June 19th: Mulch Day in Isham Park

Mulch Day was a success for the Volunteers for Isham Park!  Many thanks to all for the hard work...

John Emmanuel lead the charge, with Jeff Dugan, Gail Addiss, Steve Bennett, new participants Leslie and Susan from John's apartment complex, and me.  We were exhausted and filthy at the end, but much had been accomplished...

Below is a photograph of the slope of the south hill and the condition of the bare soil before mulching, followed by one of the results after mulching; the Volunteers early in the day, and near the end:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Work day in Isham Park for the Volunteers on Saturday June 19th

Next Saturday June 19th, the Volunteers are planning a work day on the south slope of Isham Street near Park Terrace West and Isham Street.  We are planning to mulch the area we cleared earlier on May 15th, It's My Park Day.

The Parks Department is to deliver a full truck load of mulch, along with the necessary wheelbarrows and tools, so we can complete the task.

We are planning to meet at 10:30am and finish work by 2:00pm.  Please come out to assist.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thank you for the great help in Isham Park on It's My Park Day

Thank you to all who participated on It's My Park Day!  Saturday May 15th was a beautiful day for the event.

Many thanks also to Rob Kleinbardt of New Heights Realty, for the bottled water.

Beginning at 11:00am, the Isham Park Restoration Program 1970, Inc. in Bruce Reynolds Memorial Garden hosted Pre-School on the Planet, whose members planted in the garden. 

Volunteers for Isham Park lead the way on the south slope of the park, by clearing small dead trees and invasive brush on the south slope near the Isham Park entrance path.  The Volunteers also began the process of creating erosion control barriers using the brush and trunks of the cleared debris.

Yes We Can Inwood weeded and cleaned the southwest slope on the retaining wall, a herculean effort!

Then at about 1:00pm, the Volunteers with Yes We Can Inwood moved on to the planting and watering of the Marigolds, donated by Isham Park Restoration Program, 1970, Inc., and the annuals, provided by the Partnerships for Parks and the NYC Parks Department, along the Park Terrace West sidewalk beds.

It all looks so beautiful!  Everyone who sees it thanks us...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

When Julia Isham Taylor offered the initial gift of land for the park in 1911, she emphasized that the views from Isham Park should be preserved for all to enjoy. The park land is a high point in Inwood's terrain. The photograph seen here demonstrates how even today the height of the park enables visitors to see the landscape unfold around, as well as within, it's boundaries.

Volunteers for Isham Park -

The Volunteers work to retain the park's aura as a "breathing space of exceptional beauty" through assisting the Parks Department with gardening and maintaining the park. The Volunteers also work to gather the park's history and the history of the family who created it by donating their land to the city for the purpose of a park at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century.