I’m getting a strange feeling that at the Parks Dept. quarterly round table, while deciding what trees to plant near the new boardwalk someone said, “Lets plant black pines and junipers for Rockaway resident Paula DiGioia, she loves Christmas and booze!” If only our climate allowed for grapevines…
I’ve been walking to the YMCA when the weather permits and I’ve noticed new tree plantings around the boardwalk, from 90th-70th. It’s the dead of winter, but the weather has been mild. I’m guessing that’s why the Parks Dept. decided to get’em in! Props to Parks! This means the grounds around the boardwalk this spring and all summer will be more beautiful than ever.
I’ve seen many junipers planted. These are shrubs actually. As an evergreen, they never brown, not even in the winter – I took this photo last week. I believe these are communis or of the chinensis varietal. All junipers are well suited to our coastal environment.
Junipers produce edible berries! The taste is bitter, peppery and piney (like the tree). But you may recognize the flavor most as gin! Yes, gin – so who’s opening the Rockaway Beach Gin Distillery!?
The “berry” is actually a conifer cone – a reproductive pod. The berries can be used in candles and soaps; as a spice, and as I mentioned, in gin. As a spice, think of it as stronger than pepper, so use it sparingly at first, until you get familiar with using it. More on the versatile Juniper here. And most importantly, here’s how to make the gin!
The second tree I spotted are black pines. It’s actually a type of Christmas tree that is commonly sold. We have permanent Christmas trees in Rockaway now!
And big Christmas trees they will become. These pines will grow up to 180 ft high, and as wide as 40 ft! They grow about one foot per year so expect these to take off. Black pines are extremely resistant to salt spray – hence their location edging the boardwalk. Learn more about the black pine here.
I’m looking forward to seeing these trees and other planting around the Boardwalk this spring!