ISSUE 33  |  Kitchen Week

Best of Brooklyn: The Winner Is…

August 13, 2012 5:00 PM

BY Jeanne Rostaing

There is jubilation on Lincoln Road in the normally quiet neighborhood of Lefferts Gardens: The block between Bedford and Rogers Avenues has for the second time been named the Greenest Block in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s annual contest.

Beating out 173 competitors in three rounds of rigorous judging, the block is blessed both with extra wide sidewalks, which contain generous gardening beds, and with community spirit. Longtime residents, many in multi-generational households, offer new arrivals gardening tutelage. Mature plants are divided and shared with instructions. The same varieties of ferns and columbines and irises show up in different settings up and down the street. They fit nicely into all sorts of diverse gardening styles.

Photographs by Jeanne Rostaing for Gardenista.

Above: Many residents are Caribbean transplants, and their plants reflect their sunny homelands.

Above: The Lincoln Road R&B Block Association preps for the summer gardening blitz all year. Communal activities such as holiday cookie baking and a fall block party help to get people acquainted and enthused. This year there was a spring ceramics workshop for kids held on the sidewalk.

Above: At the ceramics workshop, kids on the block made colorful plant labels, which can be seen in a children’s flower bed.

Above: Tolonda Tolbert, president of the block association, once again led her neighbors to victory, just as she did in 2009. The block is big. There are 80 houses; a record 75 took part this year. Three years ago, only 60 houses joined in. Ms. Tolbert, who has lived on Lincoln Road for 10 years, credits a campaign of almost relentless friendliness for the jump in participation.

Above: Flowers are everywhere, and their colors are bold. It’s unexpected under the big old shade trees.

Above: Chartreuse planters with red and orange zinnias, burgundy-striped cannas, shocking pink hibiscus flowers as big as platters and huge elephant ears… the tropics are alive and well in Brooklyn this summer.

Above: In accepting the Greenest Block prize, Tolonda Tolbert thanked everyone who not only beautified their own properties but also lent a hand in the gardens of elderly neighbors and those away on vacation.

Above: “This is about helping each other and not about watching others do it,” Ms. Tolbert said. For photos of previous years’ winners, see “The Most Beautiful Block in Brooklyn.”