Today’s news:

Gardening Day come to Flushing

Gardeners, horticulturists, and herbalists alike are expected to have a field day as the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing hosts its fifth annual Gardening Day on Sunday. The day’s events which will focus on the how-tos of gardening, will include talks and demonstrations by experts in the field of horticulture.

Influenced in part by the tragic events of Sept. 11, this year’s theme is, “The Healing Nature of Plants,” is aimed at making one’s home the ideal place of emotional nurturing and respite. The events will kick off at noon with a talk by Joan Glasgow, an influential author who has for 40 years been espousing principles of healthy lifestyles, among them growing food for the table. She is also expected to endorse the ideas of eating locally, and how our daily activities impact the environment.

According to Queens Botanical Gardens spokeswoman Margaret Anne Tockarshewsky, “This is the best opportunity for people who do home gardening to come out and experience, firsthand, a wide range of wonderful topics geared towards making a better garden.”

The event has over the last four years pulled strong support from gardening buffs and other people who are just curious about nature and its advantages. Children who are also young gardeners or otherwise fascinated by Mother Earth are expected along with adults.

A special “Just For Kids” program targeting ages 3-12 years will provide the opportunity to meet “Andre the Wonder Worm,” and feed it vegetables and other food scraps. Other attractions include using local produce from the Flushing Market, such as lotus root, taro leaves, mushrooms and peppers, to stamp designs on rice paper and other surfaces. The children will also learn face-painting, and how animals forage for food.

Patty Kleinberg, the director of composting project at the Queens Botanical Garden, said, “It will be interesting, as we get to teach people about the beauty of natural gardening.” Composting, which is the use of food waste, including banana peel and orange rind, placed in a container and left for a period of time, will be taught. With the right moisture and treatment it eventually degrades into soil. Kleinberg’s presentation will be called “Compost: Chicken Soup for Soil,” and explain the rewards of healing the soil and other natural gardening practices.

About 3,000 visitors came to last year’s festival, and people at the Queens Botanical Garden are hoping to improving the numbers this time around. They have called upon Newsday gardening editor and columnist Irene Virag to speak on “Lessons I’ve Learned Along the Garden Path,” which covers a decade of experiences in gardening. It will detail her history as a cancer survivor and the role her gardening played in helping her through tough times.

Other topics include “Healing with Herbs, Humor, and Reiki,” courtesy of a team of registered nurses who will explain how people can be treated for sicknesses and “Ayurveda and Indian Herbs,” by journalist and photographer Joseph Aranha who will discuss appreciating the principles of an ancient Indian system of holistic healing. There will also be “Building a Backyard Sanctuary for Birds,” “Creating a Healing Garden” and “The Horticultural History of Flushing.”

The Queens Botanical Garden began as the Garden of Parade in a horticultural exhibit at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. With the emergence of World War II, the garden was ignored until 1946 when it was officially re-established by a group of civic-minded citizens, with strong support from then-Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. In the 1960s it was relocated to Flushing Meadows Corona Park for the 1964-65 New York World Trade Fair. Currently, the garden welcomes 320,000 visitors a year.

Admission to the garden is free, however, parking costs $3. For further information on Gardening Day, call 886-3800 or visit Queens Botanical Garden online at

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