Queens Botanical Garden Announces Official Opening of the Unity Garden

Queens Botanical Garden Announces Official Opening of the Unity Garden
September 24, 2019 Anne Tan-Detchkov

Queens Botanical Garden Announces Official Opening of the Unity Garden

Flushing, NY— September 19, 2019 — On Thursday, September 19, 2019, Queens Botanical Garden (QBG) celebrated the official opening of the Unity Garden. QBG Executive Director Susan Lacerte, Board Chair Pauline Huang, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, New York State Assembly Members Jeffrion Aubry, Nily Rozic, and David Weprin, Sandra Ung, Representative for Congresswoman  Grace Meng, staff, and community members gathered at a press conference to announce the opening.

The project was in part funded by a grant from New York State with the help of Assembly Members Jeffrion Aubry and Nily Rozic, totaling $250,000. The remaining support was provided by private funds. The project cost totals approximately $375,000.

Located in the Gardens on Parade section at QBG (an area originally modeled after the five-acre exhibit showcased at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair) the newly renovated zone features a new design with a circle of lawn, surrounded by six elegant 1964 World’s Fair-style benches, pathways, and a combination of plants that do well in shade and sun. It also incorporates the existing trees and shrubs in the former Backyard Garden, two faux bois benches, and a variety of ferns, perennials, shrubs, and trees. One of the trees is a rare Franklinia tree (Franklinia alatamaha), named after Benjamin Franklin and no longer found in the wild. Other highlights include witch hazel, Japanese painted ferns, and two cherry plum trees. The circle at the heart of the new design is a symbol familiar to all cultures and one that sends a message of unity and welcome to all who visit!

Renowned botanical garden consultant W. Gary Smith and landscape architect Harriet Grimm created the design of the Unity Garden working in consort with QBG Horticulture staff Morgan Potter and her team; Local landscapers, Scenic Designs, implemented the renovation. Funding for the Unity Garden was generously provided by a grant from New York State with the help of Assembly Members Jeffrion Aubry and Nily Rozic.

There are 40 new trees and 2,000 perennials in the Unity Garden. Some notable plants are:


Spice bush
Lindera benzoin

Sweet Pepperbush
Clethra alnifolia
AKA “Ruby Spice”

Virginia Sweetspire
Itea virginica
AKA “Henry’s Garnet”

Oakleaf Hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia

Hammamelis virginiana

Amelanchier x grandiflora
AKA “Autumn Brilliance”

Frankinia alatamaha

Stewartia pseudocamellia

Prunus cerasifera


7 ‘Van Den Akker’
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis


Full Moon Maple
Acer japonicum
AKA “Aconitifolium”

Paperbark Maple
Acer grisium

Japanese Persimmon
Diospyros kaki 

Elizabeth Magnolia
Thujopsis dolobrata
AKA “Variegata”


Blue Star
AKA “Blue Ice”

Red-Hot Poker
Aka “Orange Blaze”

Blazing Star
AKA “Kobold”


Coral Bells


Butterfly Weed
Asclepias tuberosa

The Garden also acknowledged those who have adopted benches and plants in the new garden:

  • Bianca Ng, QBG Board member
  • Julia Ermish, former QBG board member
  • Jonathan Chan
  • The Zhu and Chen Family
  • Henry Wan

“It is a thrill to thank Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry and Assembly Member Nily Rozic in person, in public, for their leadership in securing a grant from New York State to help us make a dream come true.,” said Susan Lacerte, QBG Executive Director. “We thank you, Assembly Member Aubry and Assembly Member Rozic, for seeing, believing and giving..”

“Queens Botanical Garden is a special place where everyone can come to find solace, to find comfort, enjoy the environment,” said Assemblyman Aubry. “I want to thank my colleagues in government for being here and doing what they’ve done. Thank you [Queens Botanical Garden] for doing the work that you do…and staying faithful to the charge.”

“Our community is enriched by the Queens Botanical Garden and the staff who work tirelessly to make sure it remains a place of learning and conservation,” said Assemblywoman Rozic. “It is with great excitement that we can support QBG’s expansion and I look forward to seeing the new Unity Garden come to life.”

“It was a privilege getting to work with such talented designers,” said Morgan Potter, QBG Supervisor of Gardeners. “Gary Smith and Harriet Grimm brought a fresh and inspiring perspective to the Garden, tying spaces together and really setting in motion the idea of the Gardens on Parade as a unified space. Plants flow from one section to the next connecting the gardens to each other, but perhaps more importantly, connecting people to the space, an idea we’re running with as we renovate other nearby areas.

About Queens Botanical Garden

Queens Botanical Garden is an urban oasis where people, plants, and cultures are celebrated through inspiring gardens, innovative educational programs and real-world applications of environmental stewardship. QBG is located on property owned by the City of New York, and its operation is made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Queens Borough President, the New York City Council, State elected officials, the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, along with corporate, foundation, and individual supporters. For more information, visit queensbotanical.org or call (718) 886-3800.


Photos: Giancarlos Campos, Anne Tan-Detchkov