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Community Mourns Loss of Caretaker Behind 'Christopher's Garden'

By Nikhita Venugopal | June 19, 2015 3:02pm | Updated on June 22, 2015 8:52am
 Flowers left on the gate in front of the Degraw Street garden that Christopher Adlington tended to.
Flowers left on the gate in front of the Degraw Street garden that Christopher Adlington tended to.
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Rick Anderson

COBBLE HILL — The caretaker of a Degraw Street garden that neighbors have admired for years died last weekend, locals and co-workers said.  

To most people in the area, the green space between Clinton Street and Tompkins Place is known Christopher’s garden, named after Christopher Adlington, who lovingly tended to it for decades.

Adlington, who was in his 70s, died on June 13, according friends and the blog Pardon Me For Asking.

The community mourned the death of Adlington, described by many as a tall, slim, “classic English gentleman” who they would regularly see working on the garden.

“He was just a master,” said Rick Anderson, who has lived in the neighborhood for 26 years and recalled Adlington being there just as long. “This is an absolutely unique and unusal garden."

Many residents, including Anderson, would often walk by the garden and see Adlington working diligently to keep the space beautiful.

“He would be endlessly pruning his hedge,” said Lela Nargi, a writer who has lived nearby for nine years.

But with the loss of Adlington, some wondered what would become of the private garden, which had a gate on the sidewalk through which people would peer in and chat with the him.

Adlington would sometimes unlock the gate for visitors and everyone thought — or at least wished — the garden was their own little secret, locals said.

“Would we become good enough friends with Christopher that he would let us in?” Nargi said she would sometimes wonder.

“We would love for the space not to be taken over by developers."

Outside the neighborhood, Adlington spent years working in a creative role as a product development manager for Lee Jofa, a company that specializes in fine fabrics and textiles.   

“He was a classic English gentleman with great taste, a lovely demeanor, a sly sense of humor and just the right dose of eccentricities,” said Stephen Elrod, Lee Jofa’s executive vice president of creative design, who worked with Adlington for 19 years.

“Fabrics, gardens and dogs, though not necessarily in that order, were his loves.”

Delia McCallen, who has lived in Cobble Hill since 1974, worked with Adlington for eight years at Lee Jofa.

“Like everyone in the neighborhood, I would stop by to see if he was in his garden,” McCallen said.

“We would talk about business,” she added, “but we would also talk about our lives.”

A memorial service for Christopher Adlington will be held at St. Mary's Church, located at 145 West 46th St. at 2:00 pm on Monday.