Sprawling Olmstead & Vaux park in Brooklyn
It's a place that matters because of the monuments to the Battle of Long Island; because the Vale of Kashmir is the prettiest spot in town; and when you're in the Ravine you can imagine you're not in town.
There is an amazing Camperdown Elm tree located in Prospect Park, near the boathouse. Enter the park at Lincoln Rd.
About 1835 - 1840, the Earl of Camperdown's head forester, David Taylor, discovered a mutant contorted branch growing along the ground in the forest at Camperdown House, in Dundee, Scotland. The earl's gardener produced the first Camperdown Elm by grafting it to the trunk of a Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra), the only elm species that the Camperdown will accept as a root stock. Every Camperdown Elm in the world is from a cutting taken from that original mutant cutting and is grafted on a Wych elm trunk, usually 1.5-2 m above ground.
Camperdown Elms satisfied a mid-Victorian taste for curiosities in the 'Gardenesque' gardens then in vogue. In Prospect Park, Brooklyn, a Camperdown Elm planted in 1872 near the Boat House has developed into a picturesque weatherbeaten specimen, no more than 4 m high, like an oversized bonsai. It is considered the outstanding specimen tree in Prospect Park. You will never see another tree like this one, it's a beauty. (January 2007)
Olmsted & Vaux learned from their mistakes in the Central Park and, although they had a smaller canvas here, they triumphed in the then-city of Brooklyn. Their investment in the future has not always been honored over the decades, so it is up to us to preserve and celebrate it so that it is here and thriving tomorrow. Vandals, unleashed dogs and budget cuts are persistent threats. The park is a fascinating combination of natural and unnatural. All the water can be controlled from a tap, for instance. The only stand of hardwood forest in the borough is found here. (June 2010)