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About the Secret Garden

Our Story

The Nat LaMar and Christopher Adlington Community Garden affectionately known as The Secret Garden was started by Christopher Adlington and Nat LaMar in 1973, and designed and tended by Mr. Adlington until his death June 13, 2015. He was a meticulous and expert gardener, an Englishman, who loved the English style, in which natural plantings and features soften a formal design, and he worked tirelessly year-round to maintain it. After Mr. Adlington’s death, a community gardening group formed to restore the garden to its condition during Mr. Adlington’s life and maintain it on Mr. LaMar’s behalf. He also permitted the garden to be open to the public for the first time. Mr. LaMar died on February 9, 2022, and left his garden to the Brooklyn-Queens Land Trust to be preserved in perpetuity for the community. The land transfer is still in process as of February, 2023.   

Brooklyn is the second most densely populated county in the U.S. Every inch of green is precious to our health and well-being.

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Regular work hours: Friday mornings, 5-7 pm and Sunday 10-1 am

About the Garden: About Us

 Christopher Adlington

"Even after many years in New York, Christopher still had his suits and coats made in London, and was very much an English gentleman.  One of his greatest joys and achievements was his beautiful “English garden in Brooklyn.”  Christopher would have been delighted to know how many people had been touched by his beautiful garden, which he created and tended over many years.  He worked hard to recreate in Brooklyn the English gardens that he had seen, using sharp clippers to rein in the hedges, strict watering regimes and never-quite-violent words for the squirrels that chewed up his lawn."

From "MEMORIES OF OUR UNCLE CHRISTOPHER ADLINGTON" By Abigail Compton-Burnett, Christopher's eldest niece

About the Garden: About Us

History of the Garden

The Secret Garden takes up 2,750 square feet, a standard rowhouse lot, plus a dogleg enclosing the oak, which thrusts out of a mysterious mound in the northwest corner of the sunken garden. Based on its eleven-foot circumference, the oak is 254 years old. South Brooklyn was farmland when the progenitor acorn sprouted near the base of the 120-foot Bergen Hill, a glacial moraine. In 1846, when men began carting off the top half of the hill to fill in nearby Red Hook for a port, the tree was eighty years old. They dug around it. Tax photos from 1933 show a tall frame house with a Dutch gambrel roof, gone by 1940. The lot was a junkyard when Nat bought it in 1970 for a few thousand dollars. Today, it’s the only unbuilt private land in Cobble Hill, where brownstones go for north of $6 million.

About the Garden: About Us
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