Click here to register.
Cornell’s living botanical and natural areas collection is getting a new name.
Cornell Botanic Gardens was officially approved Oct. 28 by the Cornell University Board of Trustees, the final step in a broad rebranding effort begun more than two years ago. The new moniker replaces Cornell Plantations as the name of the world-class botanic gardens, arboretum and more than 3,500 acres of natural areas tended by an organization that welcomes to campus more than 70,000 visitors each year.
“We are thrilled by the board’s encouragement as we open a new chapter in our long and illustrious history,” said Christopher Dunn, the Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director. “Cornell Botanic Gardens expresses our position as a full-fledged public garden with first-class horticultural collections and some of the finest conservation and education programs anywhere in the world.”
Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), says the change affirms the college’s and university’s commitment to excellence, openness and diversity.
”Cornell is unrivaled for the astonishing natural beauty accessible right here on campus. The iconic landscapes beloved by generations of students are due in large measure to what is found at Cornell Botanic Gardens,” said Boor. “The new identity more clearly describes the diverse collection of plant life that truly makes Cornell Botanic Gardens not just a treasure on our campus, but a destination for visitors from around the world.”
Since 2014, leadership at CALS and the Cornell Botanic Gardens have thoroughly explored stakeholders’ feelings about a possible rebranding. That process revealed strong support for a move away from a name that many felt did not adequately reflect the full extent of what the organization offers to the university and community. In addition, for many the name Plantations evoked negative associations with slavery and racial oppression.
A broad consensus of those surveyed agreed that Cornell Botanic Gardens more appropriately identifies the organization as a public garden, and reflects its diverse collections, educational programs and vision for the future.
Dunn says the change is an opportunity to promote and strengthen the relevance of the organization and its new mission, “to inspire people – through cultivation, conservation and education – to understand, appreciate and nurture plants and the cultures they sustain.” He envisions deeper engagement with students and faculty as Cornell Botanic Gardens focuses on addressing and interpreting important issues, such as climate change, biocultural conservation and other critical concerns.
That new direction, enshrined in the theme of “cultivation, conservation and education,” according to Dunn, touches on the academic mission of virtually every discipline at Cornell, and more tightly aligns the botanic gardens with all aspects of the university’s academic priorities.
By size, Cornell Botanic Gardens is in the top five gardens in North America. More than 50,000 plants are found in the 150 acres of cultivated gardens, which include world-class collections of herbs, rhododendrons, conifers, maples, oaks and flowering trees. The Cornell Botanic Gardens also stewards 3,400 acres of natural area preserves on campus and throughout Tompkins County. These holdings along with educational outreach efforts support teaching and research at Cornell and learning opportunities for all ages.
Last year the Botanic Gardens’ F.R. Newman Arboretum was ranked the most beautiful college arboretum in the country. The organization’s stewardship of natural areas that are home to rare species helped the university earn full points for biodiversity conservation and, for a fourth consecutive year, attain gold status in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating (STAR) System, a national framework for colleges and universities to track sustainability efforts.
While the term Plantations (applied in 1944, replacing what had been Cornell University Arboretum since 1928) is being left behind, the name will not be erased. Dunn says the organization will fully acknowledge former names and history in its informational materials and educational programs.
Design of a Cornell Botanic Gardens logo is underway. New permanent signage is expected to be installed by spring 2017. The cost for the rebranding efforts will be shared by Cornell Botanic Gardens, CALS and the university.
Matt Hayes is managing editor and social media officer for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
For more information about our renaming and strategic planning process, click here.
Many bird populations in the U.S. are in steep decline, in part because our gardens and managed landscapes occupy more space than natural areas and we have not designed them with birds in mind. To do that we can no longer view plants only as ornaments but must consider all of their roles when selecting them for our landscapes. Tallamy will discuss what birds need form our landscapes to breed successfully, the important roles native plants play in maintaining food webs vital to birds, emphasize the benefits of designing landscapes with these roles in mind, and explore the consequences of failing to do so. Landscaping in this crowded world carries both moral and ecological responsibilities that we can no longer ignore.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Tallamy take part in our lecture series,” stated Sonja Skelly director of education at Cornell Plantations. “Professor Tallamy is not only a wonderful speaker, but his message is an important one – as gardeners we have a vital role to play in the health of bird populations and in our own food web. Bird lovers and plant lovers alike will not be disappointed, Dr. Tallamy offers hope and solutions that can easily be accomplished in our own backyards. ”
Doug Tallamy is the author of “Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants” published by Powell’s Books and available on Amazon.com. Tallamy is Professor and Chair of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware in Newark, DE.
Elizabeth E. Rowley Lecture
It's For the Birds
Date/time: Wednesday, November 2; 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Location: Statler Hall Auditorium, Cornell University
Parking: Free parking in Hoy Road Parking Garage
The Cornell Store will be selling books by the author at the lecture. Books are also available at Plantations' Garden Gift Shop.
Click here for the 2016 Fall Lecture Series lineup.
Although the gorge is closed, you can tour it virtually using Google's Street View feature. Click here for a 360 degree view in front of one of the gorge's waterfalls. To view more points in the gorge, click on the yellow “pegman” in the bottom right corner and drag it to a point on the trail.
Embedded in every conversation about feeding people, conserving natural resources and ensuring a healthy diet, is the threat of losing agricultural biodiversity. Award-winning journalist Simran Sethi spent five years meeting and working with people dedicated to making our food supply more secure, abundant and delicious. Join Cornell Plantations for a lecture by Ms. Sethi as she relates stories from her travels across six continents to interview scientists, farmers, chefs, winemakers, conservationists, and advocates and experts of all types to learn the intimate histories of our foods and ways we can better save—and savor—them. Her talk will include a tasting of Finger Lakes Cider House cider, tracing the journey of local historic apples into non-alcoholic shrub and hard cider. Founded by Cornell alumna Melissa Madden and Garrett Moore, the Cider House and their farm, The Good Life, are committed to preserving heirloom apples and biodiversity.
“We are thrilled to have Simran Sethi as part of our lecture series,” stated Sonja Skelly director of education at Cornell Plantations. “Simran has a fabulous story to share with us about the foods we love, how they are being lost, and what is happening across the globe to save them. It’s going to be an enlightening and delicious evening!”
Simran Sethi is a journalist and educator focused on food, sustainability and social change. Named the environmental “messenger” by Vanity Fair, a top 10 eco-hero of the planet by the U.K.’s Independent, and designated one of the top eight women saving the planet by Marie Claire, Simran is the author of award-winning book Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, about the story of changes in food and agriculture told through bread, wine, chocolate, coffee and beer. She is an associate at the University of Melbourne’s Sustainable Society Institute in Australia, a contributor for Orion Magazine and a recent visiting scholar at the Cocoa Research Centre in St. Augustine, Trinidad.
Date/time: Wednesday, October 26; 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Location: Statler Hall Auditorium, Statler Hall, Cornell University
Click here for the full lecture series lineup.
Explore Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) agricultural knowledge and traditions in the exhibit "Ah-Theuh-Nyeh-Hah: The Planting Moon"
The exhibit in the Nevin Welcome Center celebrates the 100-year relationship between Cornell researchers and the Haudenosaunee that evolved to become the American Indian and Indigneous Studies Program. The display reveals how Haudenosaunee communities are reclaiming traditional agricultural practices as a central way of life today. Two display cases showcase Haudenosaunee contemporary and traditional sculptures.
Shown left: "Calico Corn" sculpture by Natasha Santiago Smoke (Mohawk)
On Saturday, October 29, Jolene Rickard, director of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program, will provide a tour and interpretation of the “Ah-Theuh-Nyeh-Hah: The Planting Moon” exhibit and “Thirteen Moons Planting”. The program will include singing and growers from the Haudenosaunee communities.
Date/time: Saturday, October 29; 2 - 4 p.m.
Cost: Free and no registration is required
Location: Nevin Welcome Center lobby
About the Thirteen Moons Planting
In June, visual artist and Director of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora) created an earthwork planting in the Pounder Garden. A planting mound styled in the shape of a turtle is growing plants from Haudenosaunee heritage seeds. The garden was planted in a traditional manner and represents the Haudenosaunee story of Earth’s creation. Corn, beans and squash are grown in the “Three Sisters” system of symbiotic intercropping. Heritage tobacco, sunflower and wild strawberry were also planted. Altogether, 13 mounds represent the Haudenosaunee planting tradition based on the ecological calendar guided by 13 lunar cycles.
Read more about this exhibit in the September 14 Ithaca Times article "Planting by 13 Moons With the Haudenosaunee."
The Cascadilla Gorge Trail between Treman Triangle at Linn Street and College Avenue is closed for maintenance until further notice. Read more in the October 17 Cornell Chronicle article "Cascadilla Gorge trail closes temporarily."
Join experienced nature photographer Paul Schmitt in the Herb Garden and then in the classroom to learn how to capture what you see using a digital camera. This introductory workshop is aimed toward those using simple cameras: from smartphones and basic point & shoot designs, to entry-level DSLRs. We will begin in the botanical garden with instruction on how to create the best composition, avoid over- and under-exposure, and bring out your subject from the background. Then, we’ll proceed to the classroom to learn simple tools for editing your photos so that the final image matches what you saw. Participants should bring their own digital camera. Class size is limited so that each student can receive individual attention. Pre-registration is required.
Date/time: Saturday, October 15; 1-4p.m.
Cost: $36 ($32 for Plantations members)
Instructor: Paul Schmitt, nature photographer
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center
Click here to register.
Wade Davis, Ph.D. National Geographic Society Explorer for the Millenium; Anthropology Professor and Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk , University of British Columbia
Every culture has a unique answer to the fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? Of the world’s 7,000 languages, fully half may disappear within our lifetimes. At risk is a vast archive of knowledge and expertise, a catalogue of the imagination that is the human legacy. Ethnographer, writer, photographer and filmmaker Wade Davis will lead us on a thrilling journey to celebrate the wisdom of the world’s indigenous cultures. From Polynesia to the Amazon, the Andes, Africa, Australia, Nepal and finally the rainforests of Borneo, understanding the lessons of this journey can become our mission for the next century. Rediscovering a new appreciation for the diversity of the human spirit, as expressed by culture, is among the central challenges of our time.
Date/time: Friday, October 14; 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public. No registration is required
Location: Statler Hall Auditorium, Statler Hall, Cornell University
This lecture is funded, in part, by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future
We live in a global city and few wild places remain in today’s world. Planting designers have the opportunity and responsibility to bring wildness and ecological value back into our landscape. This challenge requires a new form of planting design that works with natural principles and marries horticulture with ecology. Join us as we explore how native plants will fit into our future landscape and how plant community based design strategies can help you meet aesthetic and ecological goals during your next planting project.
“We are very excited to have Claudia West as part of our annual Fall Lecture Series,” stated Dr. Sonja Skelly, Plantations' director of education. “At Plantations we know the value of ecologically adaptive and beautiful gardens. Claudia West’s lecture will give us new ideas to help our gardens become more self-sustaining, resilient, and naturally beautiful for years to come.”
Claudia West has an extensive background in horticulture, ecology, and environmental restoration. She is a consultant for North Creek Nurseries and has worked for landscape architects Wolfgang Oehme, Carol Oppenheimer and for Sylva Native Nursery. Her most recent book Planting In A Post-Wild World is published by Timber Press and will be available for purchase after the lecture.
William J. Hamilton Lecture
"Planting in a Post-Wild World"
Claudia West, Author, Planting Designer and International Landscape Architect
Date/time: Wednesday, September 28; 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open the the public; no registration required
Location: Statler Hall Auditorium, Cornell University campus
"Cooking with the Three Sisters" is one installment in our Cultures and Cuisine series where you’ll learn about this unique and efficient form of agriculture, and savor some tasty and filling dishes, both traditional and contemporary adaptations, made from these staple ingredients. The program will include a tour of the Pounder Vegetable Garden, an indoor lecture/discussion, and a cooking demonstration and lunch provided by Cornell Catering.
Pre-registration is required.
Date/time: Sunday, October 9; 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Cost: $45 ($40 for Plantations Members)
Location:Nevin Welcome Center
Instructors: Jane Mt. Pleasant (Tuscarora), Associate Professor, and Interim Director of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program at Cornell; Timothy Oltz, catering chef, Cornell Catering; Emily Detrick, Cornell Plantations gardener.
Click here to register.
This year’s festival theme is “Food Plants of the Americas,” focusing on plants and their unique relationships to their places of origin. "Every other year we celebrate plants through unique programming, which is brought to life by an army of dedicated Plantations staff and volunteers. Some of the fun activities this year include making ‘fufu’ from Cassava, pounding hickory nuts into milk, and whistling with acorns," said Raylene Ludgate, Plantations’ youth education coordinator and planner of Judy’s Day.
Cornell Plantations celebrates Judy’s Day in memory of Judy Abrams. Judy loved children and visited classrooms. She was an avid gardener and a great friend to Plantations before she passed away in 1996. This program started through the generosity of Judy’s family and friends, to celebrate Judy's love of life, work, kids, and the natural world. Judy’s Day has greatly expanded by generous grants from the Saquish Foundation and SIRUS Fund.
Date/time: Sunday, September 25, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Cost: No admission is charged for Judy’s day, but we ask participants to “pay what they can”. Suggested donations of $5 per person will go towards keeping great programming like Judy’s Day accessible to our community.
Location: Free parking is available at Cornell’s B-Lot off Route 366 (near the Vet school); shuttles will take visitors to the event.
For more information call 607-255-2400.
Dr. Adams’ lecture "The Woman who Seeded the Earth: A Haudenosaunee Ecology" will focus on the Haudenosaunee story about the creation of Earth and the local biome told for thousands of years. Richly detailing the relationships between many of the indigenous plant species now growing on Cornell Plantations’ grounds and humans, the story richly illustrates the breakdown of these relationships during periods of ecological crisis, and the strategies human beings adopt in response. Dr. Adams’ lecture will describe how the strategies — biological, psycho-social, and economic — presented in this ancient narrative speak to current global approaches to negotiating human responses to climate change.
Date/time: Wednesday, September 14; 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public. No registration required.
Location: Statler Hall, Cornell University
Click here for the full 2016 Lecture Series line-up.
In addition to this lecture, Cornell Plantations is partnering with Cornell’s American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program to display an earthwork planting; an exhibit in the Nevin Welcome Center that celebrates the 100-year relationship between Cornell researchers and the Haudenosaunee; and finally in October with a tour and interpretation of the “Ah-Theuh-Nyeh-Hah: The Planting Moon exhibit” in the Pounder Garden.
Thirteen moons planting
In June, visual artist and Director of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora) created an earthwork planting in the Pounder Garden. A planting mound styled in the shape of a turtle is growing plants from Haudenosaunee heritage seeds. The garden, on display now, was planted in a traditional manner and represents the Haudenosaunee story of Earth’s creation. Corn, beans and squash are grown in the “Three Sisters” system of symbiotic intercropping. Heritage tobacco, sunflower and wild strawberry were also planted. Altogether, the 13 mounds represent the Haudenosaunee planting tradition based on the ecological calendar guided by 13 lunar cycles.
Nevin Welcome Center exhibit
Following Dr. Adams’ lecture, we will host a exhibit in the Nevin Welcome Center lobby celebrating the 100-year relationship between Cornell researchers and the Haudenosaunee that evolved to become the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program. The exhibit will show how Haudenosaunee communities are reclaiming traditional agricultural practices as a central way of life today. Two display cases will showcase Haudenosaunee artwork reflecting the significance of corn, beans, squash, tobacco, strawberry and sunflower in their culture.
Tour and performance in October
Jolene Rickard, Director of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program, will provide a tour and interpretation of the “Ah-Theuh-Nyeh-Hah: The Planting Moon exhibit.” During the program, the Akwesasne Mohawk Women singers will perform traditional planting and harvest songs.
To kick off our 2016 Fall Lecture Series, Pulitzer-prize winning Gary Snyder delivered the lecture "Scholars, Hermits and People of the Land" to a full house on August 24th in Call Auditorium, Kennedy Hall. Click here to view the lecture.
During the past year, our staff and Advisory Council have been engaged in a strategic planning process, which has included consideration of whether the name “Cornell Plantations” supports the mission, vision, values and brand of our organization, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), and Cornell University. Through all of our discussions, as well as focus groups and a survey conducted by an external consultant, we found clear and significant support for a new name among people who have been actively engaged with us, including Cornell faculty and students, donors, Advisory Council members, and volunteers. Three-quarters of all survey respondents supported a new name, and most chose “Cornell Botanic Gardens,” or a derivation thereof. The name change has the support of Interim University President Hunter Rawlings and his leadership team, CALS Dean Kathryn Boor and the college’s senior leaders, and the Plantations Advisory Council. Kathryn Boor and Christopher Dunn are planning to present the recommendation to the Board of Trustees at their October meeting.
The Cornell Chronicle article "Rebranding of Cornell Plantations to better reflect mission, vision," more fully describes the process and factors that have led to the recommendation to change our name, and additional information and FAQs are available on our website.
On October 12, The Cornell faculty Senate passed a resolution encouraging the board of trustees to approve “Cornell Botanic Gardens” as the new name of Cornell Plantations. Read more in the October 13 Cornell Chronicle article "Faculty Senate votes for Cornell Botanic Gardens naming."
Our Climate Change Demonstration Garden, now in its third season, uses a high tunnel to demonstrate how plants are affected by climate change. Read how this year's plants fared in a high tunnel 5 degrees warmer than outside temperatures in the Ithaca.com article "Greenhouse Simulates a Warmer Future."
Todd Bittner, Director of Plantations' Natural Areas, speaks on the efforts Cornell has taken to educate students and the community on how to safely enjoy Cornell's Gorges in this 2-minute interview.
The lecture will be followed by a complimentary garden party in the Botanic Garden, celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Harder Family Lecture.
Date/time: Wednesday, August 24; 5:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public. No registration required.
Location: Call Auditorium, Kennedy Hall at Cornell University
Click here for a map of locations for the lecture and garden party following.
Click here for the full lecture series line-up.
Yarrow draws on memory, imagination and intuition to create landscapes that resonate with the spirit of place, genius loci.
Wynn Yarrow’s work is landscape as metaphor for the inner life. It exists in the shadowland between technique and vision; emotion and intellect; the physical realm and the spiritual one. The colors, light and design elements of her landscapes reflect the mystery and wonder of the natural world.
Yarrow is the artist-in-residence of The Rockwell Museum, Corning, NY, an affiliate of Smithsonian Institution. Her work has been exhibited in national and international exhibits, including Re-Presenting Representation, Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY; Night Visions, Coconino Cultural Center, Flagstaff, AZ; and Unfolding a solo show on four floors at Northwestern Seminary, Roberts Wesleyan University, Rochester, NY. Yarrow’s work is in the collections of Penn State Milton Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA and Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA. She is a recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts individual creative arts fellowship and an ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes Artist Crossroads fellowship.
“Transitions are meaningful and emotionally charged times in human life; so I tend to paint times of transition in nature. My best known work explores transition in the night sky, where change occurs swiftly,” says Yarrow.
Listen to a 6-minute interview with Wynn Yarrow on WSKG.
New York State is experiencing an abnormally dry summer owing to lack of precipitation. The Finger Lakes Region, and Ithaca specifically, is in a “severe drought” as classified by the U.S. Drought Monitor, receiving the lowest amount of rainfall from March to June on record. This is a significant concern for Cornell Plantations because our water source, Fall Creek, is at a record low level.
Cornell Plantations is a living museum of plants that conserves genetic and botanical diversity with a mission to preserve and enhance diverse horticultural collections and natural areas for the enrichment and education of academic and public audiences, and in support of scientific research. Our plant collections are irreplaceable and an invaluable research and educational resource to Cornell, our community, and the global community of plant scientists. For our collections to survive, the plants must receive water. Recognizing the severity of the drought and the need to conserve water, our horticulture and natural areas staff have developed plans to significantly reduce our water use without letting plants die.
Our strategies include those that prevent evapotranspiration or unused water being absorbed into the air. Thus, we are watering in the early morning and late evening when temperatures are lower. At other times, only hand watering directed at root level is used, while sprinklers on timers are used at night. Our staff also employ soaker hoses and water bags to provide irrigation to plants in the botanic gardens and arboretum.
In our natural areas, well-established plants are accustomed to fluctuations in precipitation and, we hope, will to survive this drought. However, within habitat restorations where root systems are not yet well established plants will be more seriously affected and damaged. Therefore, our natural areas stewards are bringing water to priority plants and conserving water around such plants. This involves using landscape fabric to trap water and tree bags.
As the drought continues, Cornell Plantations’ plan to cope with the lack of water is constantly responding strategically as conditions warrant. Our directors of horticulture and natural areas are working closely with Cornell’s Drought Emergency Planning Team on water conservation techniques and identifying alternative water sources, such as water from non-potable water sources and gray water recycling. Our staff have developed a priority plan for continued watering, focusing our efforts primarily on iconic and valuable trees, the long-lived and irreplaceable members of our collections, the botanic garden collections, and newly established native plant communities.
We are taking every step to conserve water and protect our valuable collections. Our staff are working closely with Cornell and City of Ithaca officials to be good stewards of our collections and of our shared water.
Learn more about our efforts in this three-minute interview with Director of Horticulture, Rhoda Maurer.