The Gardens of Alcatraz:
Punishment and Reward on the Rock
The name Alcatraz immediately conjures up images of the famous prison, perched on a rocky scrap of land weathering the elements in San Francisco Bay, of Al Capone and the Birdman. But for the past 150 years there have also been gardens on the island. Beginning with military personnel who hauled in soil from the mainland to create a Victorian landscape, to a beautification project in the 1920s that brought in hundreds of trees and shrubs, to prisoners maintaining the gardens and finding respite from prison life, Alcatraz has been a dichotomy of barrenness and beauty, tribulation and triumph. In 2003 the Garden Conservancy, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Park Service joined forces to restore the gardens and today a small staff and army of dedicated volunteers plant and prune, compost and weed. Which makes 2013 a significant milestone in the history of Alcatraz – the ten-year anniversary of this collaboration to resurrect, preserve, and amplify the gardens.
The evening's speaker is Shelagh Fritz, the Garden Conservancy's horticulturist and project manager at the Gardens of Alcatraz. Shelagh began working as a gardener on Alcatraz in 2006. As the gardens' project manager since 2009, she has been a driving force in the reclamation, interpretation, and renewal of this surprising and surprisingly beautiful landscape. Shelagh has a degree in horticultural science and business from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and has held previous positions as chief horticulturist at Manulife Financial Head Office in Toronto; garden intern at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania; and conservatory gardener at Syon Park in England.
This event is co-sponsored by the Horticultural Society of New York, whose GreenHouse program on Rikers Island has been using horticulture to reduce the prisoner recidivism rate since 1996. The program includes vocational training in garden design, installation, and maintenance, as well as design and construction of garden fixtures such as benches and planters. Upon their release, graduates of GreenHouse have the option to join the Green Team internship program. For more information on the GreenHouse program, visit www.thehort.org.
Date and time
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
6 p.m. Check-in and registration
Join us for a wine reception following the lecture, sponsored by the Horticultural Society.
The New York School of Interior Design
Arthur King Satz Auditorium
170 East 70 Street
New York, NY 10021
Click here for a map and directions to the lecture hall.
$25 Members of the Garden Conservancy and the Horticultural Society of New York
$30 General admission
February 20 update: Online registration has now been turned off. Registrations are still be accepted before noon today by telephone to the Garden Conservancy at 845.424.6500 or in person at the door this evening.