Obscure but deliciously named, Juniper Valley Park doesn't look like much in a satellite view, not, at least from the passive enjoyment perspective, as it seems mostly open fields with sports facilities. But the 55 acres of this large park in the Middle Village neighborhood of Queens offers unexpected pleasures. Mostly of the arboreal variety.
The interesting history of the land that became Juniper Valley Park is too complicated to delve into here; the Parks Department website goes into plenty of detail. Suffice it to say WPA workers built the park in the 1940s over land once claimed by a peat bog, a farm, a garbage dump, and the Pullis Farm Cemetery, which still exists, established in the 1840s, restored in the 1990s. Somehow in my circumnavigation of the park I completely missed it. Have to go back sometime, I guess.
The trees are the big visual draw here.
A dense, colorful flower arrangement decorated the 9-11 memorial on the sunny September day of my visit.
The trees fringe tremendous fields dedicated to baseball and soccer.
The minuscule size of the human figures in the next photo will give you an idea how huge these fields are.
If you know what tree bears the fruit in the next photo, please leave a comment! I can't find it in my New York City Trees book. One problem is that the fruit got my camera-eye so excited I took such a closeup that there's no clear look at the leaves.
There's this tree, too – a young ash?
And this one – some kind of pine, I think, but which kind?
Whether there are any juniper or white cedar trees, as were found here when it was the Juniper Valley Swamp, I don't know, but I suspect not. Someone did allow imaginations to run wide in selecting trees to plant in Juniper Valley Park, though.
As far as wildlife goes, this squirrel who found a tree the same color as his fur will have to suffice. A man on a bench who saw me with my camera did ask if I were looking for a falcon. No, I replied. He pointed at a small tree and told me a falcon made a habit of alighting there. For all I know, though, he was making it up. Much like his falcon, he didn't seem to be quite all there.