Renovating the Ladies' Border at The New York Botanical Garden

The first phases of cleanup and bed preparation for the new design by Lynden Miller are complete

by Jennifer Brown

Lynden B. Miller takes notes as the contractor explains how the digging is going.
In January 2002, The New York Botanical Garden broke ground on a new project: the restoration of the Ladies' Border, a 260-foot long bed on the southeast side of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. New York's accomplished public garden designer Lynden B. Miller has designed the new garden and intends to push the limits of hardiness in New York by planting many zone 7 plants (the botanical garden is a Zone 6). Fine Gardening will be visiting The New York Botanical Garden from time to time this year to watch the progress of the new garden and to share it with you here on our Web site.

At left, the Ladies' Border as it appeared in November of 2001. Over the winter of 2002, more than 50 old and dying cedars and the aggressive English ivy were removed from the border, leaving a clean slate for the new installation (right).

Certain areas of the bed are being amended for better drainage that will allow the designer and gardeners to use plants that need good drainage in the winter. The first 12 inches of topsoil was removed and set aside and then another 12 inches or more of subsoil (depending on the slope) was removed from the hole. The topsoil will be mixed with 3/8-inch pea gravel and the subsoil will be mixed with 3/16-inch gravel before they are both returned to the hole.

This plaque currently sits at one end of the border to inform the public what is taking place beyond the caution tape.

For the next installment of this story, see Planting Begins.

For more on The New York Botanical Garden, visit

Jennifer Brown is associate editor at Fine Gardening.

Photos: Jennifer Brown

An Online Extra to Fine Gardening #85
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