Donation of Nymphaea 'Pink Ribbon' Honors
Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Judy Zuk

by Joyce Grigonis
Click images to enlarge

Judy Zuk, President Emeritus of Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, died of breast cancer on September 1, 2007. I am battling breast cancer too, so it struck close to home.

< Joyce Grigonas | Judy Zuk >
Judy Zuk image by Lindner Stuidio
Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden


From The New York Times -

Ms. Zuk arrived [at Brooklyn Botanic Garden] in 1990, after a burst of major building among the plantings. It was her commitment to restore, refurbish and enhance the garden itself, with many garden features that, however beloved, were sagging a bit.

Using millions of dollars she raised, Ms. Zuk renovated the children's garden, the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, the Fragrance Garden, Lily Pool Terrace, the Osborne Garden, the Cranford Rose Garden and Magnolia Plaza, which was named for her upon her retirement in 2005.

Judith Daria Zuk was born on Sept. 11, 1951, in Canandaigua, N.Y. She graduated from Rutgers University with a summa cum laude degree in botany, then earned a master's degree in public garden administration from the University of Delaware. She was director of the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College before coming to Brooklyn.


When I read of Judy's passing, I called the BBG to offer my 'Pink Ribbon' waterlily to honor Judy, and all of us who are battling breast cancer. Patrick Cullina, BBG's Vice President of Horticulture and Facilities, soon called me back accepting my offer. It was early Friday morning, November 2, a beautiful sunny and crisp autumn day, and I was at work. It was unseasonably warm, and I decided to call it a day (with the permission of my boss -- thanks Neal Cichanowicz!), packed my 'Pink Ribbon' (a gift from hybridizer Pairat Songpanich since I named this lily) into my Jeep, and headed up to the BBG.
I called Coco Kim (my friend and Brooklynite), and she said she'd meet me there via the subway. Traffic was as clear as the weather, so I managed to get to the BBG in record time. I parked my Jeep where I was instructed. I wandered around a bit admiring the gardens, called Patrick to tell him I was on the grounds, and then found Coco near the lily pools. Even in November, the tropicals were in full bloom!  

We met up with Lou Provost, Senior Horticulture Foreman, and went back to my Jeep so he could show me how to get to the service entrance of the BBG. We parked and took the service entrance into the bowels of the BBG.

It reminded me of an underground labyrinth. I soon lost all sense of direction, and after taking a series of underground hallways and stairways, we were in an indoor conservatory, with central pond and "jungle' all around us. Humidity was near 100%, orchids were blooming over my head. I felt like I was in heaven. I had started snapping pix when Patrick arrived. I was on sensory overload, and was barely civil while being introduced to him for the first time. I just can't stay focused when there are so many orchids...and aquatic aroids blooming, and the smell of earth, water and plants....

Patrick introduced me to Nancy Seaton (BBG's Curator of the Lily Pool Terrace and Magnolia Collection); then we all went back through the underground labyrinth to my Jeep. Nancy unloaded 'Pink Ribbon'. After being sloshed around in transit for 90 miles, it was NOT a glamorous task! Not to was VERY heavy! 

Patrick, Joyce, Lou

Nancy with 'Pink Ribbon' 

More Images from Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Read the story of N. 'Pink Ribbon' and how it was named

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