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International Garden Shows Manhattan's Diversity

 The new garden, which features plants representing immigrant New Yorkers, opened June 4.
International Garden
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HUDSON SQUARE — Trees and flowers from across the globe have found a new home on Canal Street.

Spanish artist Juanli Carrión designed an international garden in the shape of Manhattan for Duarte Square, at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street, and then filled it with plants chosen by foreign-born New Yorkers to represent their home countries.

Jasmine flowers for Priyanka Dasgupta, a New Yorker from India, sit beside a pomegranate tree for Sasan Norouzi, who hails from Iran. Carrión placed the plants within the 1,000-square-foot garden based on where the immigrants live in Manhattan, so that each plant represents the diversity of a particular neighborhood.

Carrión, who lives in Carroll Gardens, said the garden symbolizes the kind of cooperation that immigrants and American-born New Yorkers engage in every day.

"These plants now live together — they have to get to know each other and adapt to each other," he said. "You have to know who you live with."

The garden, called Outer Seed Shadow #01, opened Wednesday and will host a series of public programs through the summer and fall, including community gardening days. 

On Saturday, Carrión plans to bring in a team of preschoolers from Mi Esceulita in Brooklyn to build a shade structure for an orchid that looked "a little fried" in the sun.

"We are going to make a little shade for it, to teach them that if there is someone who comes from other places, probably that person is accustomed to other climate, to other food, to other culture, and maybe that person is having a hard time adapting," he said.

"So it would be better if other people who belong to here help that person to adapt, so that person can be happy and can grow and can be part of the garden."

Cassh Kumar, 54, of Flushing, was passing by the garden shortly after it opened and recognized several of the plants from India, which he left 23 years ago.

"Ginger, palm tree, roses, what's it called — fennel," he said, pointing out each. "I am a lover of nature, nature at its natural best." 

While he hasn't found a replacement for India's lush greenery, he said he now enjoys spending time in Kissena Park in Queens.

"There's a lovely lake, families come — Chinese, Korean, Indian, Jewish," he said. "That's why I don't miss it."

The project will be maintained by the Horticultural Society of New York, and executive director Sara Hobel was on hand to inspect the plants at Wednesday's opening.

"It's hard to adjust when you come to New York," she said. "The lettuce is happy."