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After Closing Scare, Creative Little Garden Turns Over New Leaf

Steve RoseMelvin Felix Steve Rose in the garden.

On May 26, less than three weeks after the Creative Little Garden was touted as the best community garden in the city by readers of the Daily News, a message appeared on the garden’s Facebook page: “Without new volunteers our garden may close at the end of this summer.”

For the past five years, Steve Rose, a “semi-retired” 62-year-old resident of the block, has opened the garden’s green gates every morning at 11 a.m and watered its azaleas, hydrangeas and ferns. He closes the park at sundown — to prevent vagrants or late-night partiers from entering — and when it’s used for events: 14 weddings were held at the Creative Little Garden last year, and a “Saturday Night Live” skit was filmed there. But earlier this summer, Mr. Rose decided he would no longer be involved with the garden, citing personal reasons he did not want to discuss on the record.

Most East Village gardens are run in a communal fashion, meaning the loss of one member wouldn’t bring on a closing scare. But Mr. Rose runs the garden if not with an iron fist, then with a very green thumb. “The good thing about our garden is that it’s run by one guy,” he said. “That’s why it looks the way it does. It’s not a whole bunch of people complaining and compromising — which is most gardens, where it gets political. I sort of became the dictator and did everything when no one else did and it just worked out easily that way.”

Mr. Rose did get assistance from Ron Curtis, a friend who built the garden’s 66 birdhouses and has been involved with it since it opened in 1978. But Mr. Curtis wasn’t an ideal replacement, since he travels constantly. (This summer, he’s in Nova Scotia.) Read more…