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Brooklyn Botanic Garden announces 2021 winners of the Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest

To keep the competition socially distant, the contest adapted its focus to window boxes.

August 24, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Brooklyn Botanic Garden is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Greenest Block in Brooklyn competition. First place for Best Overall Window Box—Residential was a tie between Althea Joseph representing Preserving Lincoln’s Abundant Natural Treasures (P.L.A.N.T.s) and Carol Wilson representing 300 East 25th Street Block Association. Winners were announced for various categories, including the National Grid Leadership in Sustainable Practices Award, Best Overall Window Box—Commercial, and Most Window Boxes Nominated on a Single Block.

Although BBG was unable to host the Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest as usual this year due to the pandemic, going another growing season without this beloved gardening tradition was not an option. Using the small but mighty window box, Brooklyn’s gardeners reshaped a “socially distant” contest into one that was incredibly intimate. Many tried their hand at window box gardening for the first time, others brought it to the next level with resourceful and sustainable practices.

Participant Nichola Cox of Sullivan Ludlam Stoddard Neighborhood Association in Crown Heights said: “The contest is especially important after the year we’ve experienced. We want to celebrate the beauty of life and nature, using the window box competition as an excuse to get outside and channel our creative energy.”

Below are some winner highlights and stories.

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Special Commendation: Best Storytelling

Photo courtesy of Southside Homeowners Association.\

Southside Homeowners Association, Williamsburg

This year marked Southside’s return to the contest after several years. Block captain Pricilla Ghaznavi submitted a series of remarkable portraits that celebrated people along with their plantings. The above photo of longtime Greenest Block gardener Gina Barros is just one example of how Southside used the contest as a way to lovingly showcase their neighbors’ commitment to gardening.

Most Window Boxes Nominated on a Single Block


Photo courtesy of Preserving Lincoln’s Abundant Natural Treasures (P.L.A.N.T.s).

Preserving Lincoln’s Abundant Natural Treasures (P.L.A.N.T.s), Crown Heights


It may come as no surprise that the reigning 2019 Greenest Block in Brooklyn, Lincoln Place between New York and Nostrand Avenues, led the pack with the most individual window boxes nominated (64 in total!), yet the consistent quality and diversity of the plantings was simply breathtaking. The block must also be congratulated for their innovative use of workshops and signage to educate neighbors about how to propagate and share plants and their general resourceful use of plant material. The block has been rightfully dubbed “Lincoln Place Plant University!”

The Greenest Block veterans of the 300 East 25th Street Block Association were a close second in this category, with 54 separate (and stunning) window box nominations.

Best Children’s Window Box

Photo courtesy of Greener Maple 4 Block Association.

Jessie Greener Maple 4 Block Association, Lefferts Gardens

What a fun and hopeful category, since Greenest Blocks are joyfully cultivating the next generation of neighborhood gardeners! With so many families rooted in place, Greener Maple 4 Block Association took full advantage of the ingenuity of a visionary building superintendent who installed several window boxes along the facade of his apartment building, inviting residents to plant and tend them. Jessie’s cheerful, colorful garden tied for second place in this category.

Most Creative Window Box

Photo courtesy of 200 Decatur Street/Stuyvesant Avenue Block Association.

Shirley Stevens
200 Decatur Street/Stuyvesant Avenue Block Association, Bedford-Stuyvesant

This window box, whimsically entitled Christmas in July, impressed the judges with its resourceful and inventive use of—you guessed it—poinsettia. It took second place in the category. We hope this beautiful arrangement, complete with accompanying blossoms and leaves evocative of snowfall, will inspire you to reuse this versatile holiday plant instead of throwing it in the trash or compost.

Best Senior’s Window Box

Photo courtesy of 200 Decatur Street/Stuyvesant Avenue Block Association.

Cynthia Cummings
200 Decatur Street/Stuyvesant Avenue Block Association, Bedford-Stuyvesant

The judges were quick to honor this impressive example of a window box hung on a tree guard! This technique makes the most of the tree bed space without competing with or harming the tree—that’s a win-win!

Honoring Our Family Gardening Traditions Award

Photos courtesy of Preserving Lincoln’s Abundant Natural Treasures (P.L.A.N.T.s) and Sullivan Ludlam Stoddard Neighborhood Association.

By far, the most competitive category was Best Senior’s Window Box, with about two dozen nominations excellent enough to advance to the final round! Our judges found special inspiration in two gardeners who inspired them to create this unique award.

For Allen Judge, a septuagenarian in Bedford-Stuyvesant, window boxes keep the memories of his brother and sister—both green thumbs—alive. And Colleen Cox at age 104 continues to inspire the subsequent four generations of her family that now garden on their block in Crown Heights.

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