BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — They got the medal for their petals!
A group of Bedford-Stuyvesant gardeners got the top prize this year for the best plantings in the borough.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden awarded Stuyvesant Avenue between Bainbridge and Chauncey streets the “Greenest Block in Brooklyn” award for 2017, the group announced Monday.
The block celebrated among leafy trees, overflowing sidewalk beds and colorful planters on the street where two Stuyvesant Avenue Block Association residents in particular, Serge Vastel and Sylvia Alexander, have kept the gardens going day after day.
Alexander said she got the gardening bug from her mother, Mary Powlett — who lives in the house since 1967 — and takes it upon herself to not just keep her own flowers nice, but to plant, weed and water at her neighbors’ houses, too.
“I go through everybody’s because I just want everything to be streamlined and nice,” she said. Geraniums are a favorite, she said, as are multi-colored coleus plants.
Novelist Elizabeth Nunez, a Stuyvesant Avenue resident of eight years, has benefited from the green thumbs of her neighbors, she said. Nunez spends many weekends in Long Island and invariably when she comes home, “all of the sudden, I see I have other plants.”
Sylvia Alexander of the Stuyvesant Avenue Block Association, pictured second from right with her family, is one of several gardeners on the Bedford-Stuyvesant block that won the "Greenest Block in Brooklyn" award this year. She said her mother, Mary Powlett (seated), gave her the bug for gardening. (DNainfo/Rachel Holliday Smith)
“People would look in your barrel and see if it needs more color,” she said. “We came together in a really good way. I don’t think I would have known my neighbors quite as well as I do [now].”
The BBG said it had many applicants in the 23rd year of the Greenest Block award. At Monday’s ceremony, the garden’s president Scot Medbury said Stuyvesant Avenue “had some real competition.”
“This has really been a particularly competitive contest. The top entrants were of such a high caliber that the judges had really lengthy deliberations before selecting this block as the 2017 winner,” he said.
Two Prospect-Lefferts Gardens blocks — Lefferts Avenue between Bedford and Rogers avenues and Lincoln Road between Bedford and Rogers avenues — received second and third places in the Greenest Block competition. A Boerum Hill block, Atlantic Avenue between Bond and Nevin streets, took home the top prize for the greenest commercial block; there are also prizes for the best window box, community garden streetscape and tree bed gardens.
Alexander said it’s “an amazing feeling” to win the award, not for herself, but for her mom.
“I cannot begin to tell you. It makes me feel so good because this is something she always wanted to do … be part of something as large as this,” she said.