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The Diaz y Flores Community Garden on East 13th Street is one of 30 local gardens to be photographed by George Hirose. Now a resident of Stuyvesant Town, Hirose has continued his love affair with the community gardens and is involved in the tending of a couple of them.
So far, he’s captured 30 of the 39 gardens in the area, and there are some he wants to go back to. As for his own interest in the gardens, for Hirose, they were always a way to meet likeminded people, artists, musicians and other characters, along with the nightclubs in the Lower East Side in the 70s and 80s.
However, even as the neighborhood gentrified over the years since then, the volunteer-run gardens still remained a special place to Hirose.


The photos Hirose takes are always at night, enhanced by additional light sources he’ll bring into the gardens, since he wants to capture the bright colors of the trees and plantings.
For Hirose, a professor of photography at Pratt, it was only recently that he decided to start photographing the gardens. He’s also been concerned about the future of the gardens since one, called the Children’s Magical Garden on the corner of Norfolk and Stanton Streets, has been fighting to keep part of its space, which is slated for development of a six-story building.
Though he does think the grounds look attractive, the problem, said Hirose, is that the property is “too manicured for my photography,” and therefore lacking the personality and roughness of the community gardens. In particular, he was a huge fan of the community gardens that popped up then and the years that followed, since it was usually the locals’ way of thumbing – or rather greenthumbing their noses – at would-be developers of vacant lots.


He has also, since the spring of this year, been working on an ongoing exhibit of photos he’s taken of the gardens in the East Village and along the Lower East Side. A couple of them even had play areas for kids, and he would take his daughter to the gardens when she was younger.
Naturally, he has more appreciation for those where volunteers have been willing to let him in at night when the gardens are normally closed so he can do his photography.



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