Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights Garden Club picks window box winners

When Brooklyn blooms, everybody wins

June 9, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Borough President Eric Adams announced on Thursday the winners of the Window Box Contest sponsored by the Brooklyn Heights Garden Club. In front of 57 Willow St., front row, from left: Franklin Stone, Sally Webb, BP Eric Adams, Gwen Mann, Judy Scofield Miller. Back row: Leslie Hannafey, Serhiy Mshanetskiy, Jill Gilbert, Donna Ganson, Ann Allen-Ryan, Barbara Wilding. Photos by Mary Frost
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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was on hand on Thursday for the announcement of the winners of the Window Box Contest, sponsored by the Brooklyn Heights Garden Club, and congratulated the organization, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, for organizing the contest.

The club’s motto is: “Everyone’s a winner when Brooklyn blooms.”

However, “It’s more than the beautification,” BP Adams said at the event. “It’s also a way for people to not say, ‘She lives next door to me,’ but to say, ‘That is my neighbor.’

“I want to continue to encourage people to come out and find ways to come together,” he added. “Just as a garden should not have one flower, our lives should not be just one monolithic thought. We are a diverse place with so many different experiences, and I want to encourage people to enjoy everything about this great borough of Brooklyn.”

Kicking off a new tradition, the Brooklyn Eagle and Brooklyn Heights Press awarded $100 gift cards to the top window box winners.

The contest, revived after a ten-year hiatus, was divided into the two categories – one for “I did it myself” gardeners and another for window boxes created with the help of a professional.

Jill Gilbert, right, stands in front of her double-decker window box display at 27 Garden Place with Donna Ganson.The two first-place winners in the window box “I did it myself” category are Jill Gilbert, for her boxes at 27 Garden Place; and Susan Leitner, for her display at 16 Remsen St.

Paula Berry, at 57 Willow St., came in first for her boxes created with the help of professional Serhiy Mshanetskiy, of Brooklyn Heights Gardens.

First prize in the Best Garden category went to 10 Montague Terrace. Cathy Fitzsimons, a professional, helped the owners of The 10 Montague Terrace Owners Corporation.

Tamara Belinfanti at 182 Clinton St., came in first for her containers/planter boxes created with the help of professional Lauren Barry of Project Plant.

The Garden Club has been promoting civic beautification and education for years. After Superstorm Sandy, the group raised $2,500 for a community garden farm in Red Hook to plant blueberries and revive damaged soil in the borough.

“This is our 75th anniversary, so we’ve done a whole series of things – we’ve made a donation to dedicate a bench on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and we gave a donation to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to fund books about nature that are distributed in schools throughout Brooklyn,” said outgoing Garden Club president Donna Ganson. “We also produced ‘Please curb your dog’ plaques [to tie around street trees and plantings] and distributed them in the neighborhood for free.”

She said that Garden Club Vice President Leslie Hannafey, co-chair Judy Scofield Miller and the team “went to incredible efforts to stimulate interest in the neighborhood by planting extraordinary window boxes. Even if people didn’t enter, the whole point was to bring focus on it.”

Hannafey thanked the Brooklyn Eagle and Heights Press for stepping in with the gift certificates for the window box winners and for pledging to back the contest on an annual basis.  “We’re going to expand,” she said.

Earlier on Thursday, Ms. Gilbert held a cozy tea in her home on Garden Place for club members who had spent the chilly morning going around the neighborhood evaluating boxes.

This year she planted overwintered geraniums, strikingly colored begonias, pansies, dusty miller and ivy, Gilbert said.

Seated, from left: Jill Gilbert and Franklin Stone. Standing: Judy Scofield Miller, Leslie Hannafey, Gwen Mann and Grace Faison.

At 57 Willow, Ms. Berry wanted a tropical theme, said professional gardener Mshanetskiy.

Mshanetskiy, who tends dozens of Heights gardens, said he tried to match plants with the building owners’ preferences. For Berry, he created three-tiered boxes: In the upper tier, he planted grassy dracena and ginger plant. In the middle, he placed colorful crotons and bromeliads. In the bottom tier, he planted pothos.

“Pothos looks like sweet potato vine, but it lasts a month longer than sweet potato,” he said.

This beautiful display of three boxes was created by Susan Leitner at 16 Remsen St.

Borough President Eric Adams with incoming Garden Club President Sally Webb and outgoing President Donna Ganson, right.

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