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Inspiring students for garden careers

22 weeks 5 days ago
On a midday stroll through Cornell Botanic Gardens in summer, one will likely see artfully cultivated gardens, cheerful horticulturists, visiting families, and high school aged students getting their hands dirty. These students are part of a summer program through Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) designed to help high school students explore different career paths and build essential workplace skills.

During the summer programs, students rotate through the diverse jobs and positions at Cornell Botanic Gardens to understand how a public garden operates and to cultivate a deeper appreciation for nature. A typical day for a student could include potting, organizing, cleaning, labeling cuttings, weeding, mulching, and cutting back plants, says Missy Bidwell, who coordinates both the summer program and the botanic gardens’ role in a campus-wide program during the school year. Bidwell manages the production greenhouse for the botanic gardens.
  “In addition to the hands-on horticultural skill building, the students learn workplace practices that are important to success on the job,” she says. Punctuality, business etiquette, personal presentation, and attitude are developed and taken seriously in the summer program. “Our aim is that the BOCES students’ biggest takeaway from the program is a well-rounded skillset that is transferrable to future job opportunities.”

While Cornell Botanic Gardens enjoys volunteer service from the BOCES students, the real benefit lies in the opportunity to inspire and prepare students for jobs in horticulture, to connect youth with nature, and to empower them to have a positive impact on the planet.

Cornell Botanic Gardens a “Gem” of Ithaca

26 weeks 1 day ago
In its “Your Town” series, WSTM-NBC3, highlights the cultivated gardens around the Nevin Welcome Center. Click below to view this one-minute clip featuring Shannon Dortch, our Associate Director of Communications and Marketing.

Christopher Dunn honored by national gardens association

29 weeks 6 days ago
Christopher Dunn, our executive director, received the Award of Merit from the American Public Gardens Association June 20 in recognition of his distinguished performance in the field of public horticulture at one or more institutions.

Dunn is a leading voice for biocultural diversity worldwide. He serves on the board of directors of the International Union for Conservation of Nature-U.S. (IUCN). In 2016, he coordinated the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the largest conservation conference ever held in the U.S. He also serves on the board of directors of the Center for Plant Conservation, based in California.

“With his background in plant ecology and conservation, Christopher has a broad view of issues that relate the plant world to the role of botanic gardens in local and global plant conservation efforts,” said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Under his direction, Cornell Botanic Gardens is playing a leading role in biocultural conservation, through programs and outreach.”

Read more in the June 26 Cornell Chronicle article "Christopher Dunn honored by national gardens association."

Garden and Arboretum Hike this Sunday

30 weeks 6 days ago
Take it outside with Dr. Peter Davies, professor emeritus of plant science, on this extended hike through the diverse plant collections and landscapes of the gardens and F. R. Newman Arboretum. Experience the beautiful gardens, rolling hills and panoramic views that helped Cornell Botanic Gardens earn its #1 ranking as the most beautiful college arboretum (Best College Reviews). Walks will be held rain or shine and will include some steep slope and stair climbing. Please dress for the weather and bring a bottle of water to drink.

Date/time: Sunday, June 25; 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Cost: $5 suggested donation; pre-registration is not required
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center

Contact our visitors services desk with any questions at 607-255-2400.

Garden Tours and Gorge Hikes start this Saturday!

31 weeks 5 days ago
Another sign that summer is around the corner: Our summer garden and gorge hikes start this Saturday!

Garden Tours
Enjoy a guided tour to discover the beauty and diversity of our numerous gardens, including the Herb Garden, Flower Garden, Groundcover Collection, Tropical Container Display, and more. They will run every Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. through October 1. Learn more here.




Gorge Hikes
Explore Cascadilla and Fall Creek Gorges with Cornell’s knowledgeable Gorge Stewards, which run every Saturday and Sunday, June 17 through September 3. Learn more here.

Climate Change Garden offers a lens into the future

32 weeks 1 day ago

Created in 2014, the Climate Change Demonstration Garden is ready for its fourth season! We invite you to visit and observe how plants may be impacted by temperature variables projected for 2050. Click here to read more about this garden in a June 8 Cornell Chronicle article.

New York Times Discovers Cornell Botanic Gardens

32 weeks 5 days ago

In its “36 Hours in the Finger Lakes” travel feature, the New York Times made Cornell Botanic Gardens its first stop, calling it a “treat in early summer.” Click here to read the full article.

Reunion events at Cornell Botanic Gardens

33 weeks 1 day ago
Welcome Back! During Reunion our rhododendrons, irises, and peonies should be blooming, and you may still find many spring wildflowers in the Mundy Wildflower Garden and natural areas. Click here for our full schedule of tours and events. At the Nevin Welcome Center and gardens on Plantations Road you can take a tour, chat with one of our wandering volunteer Garden Guides, pick up a visitor map and explore on your own, browse the exhibits and Garden Gift Shop, or just relax and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the gardens and grounds.

Schedule of events:

For a full description of events listed below, click here for a printable pdf.


Beebe Lake Natural History Walk
2:00 to 3:30 p.m., Beebe Beach


Garden Tour
10:00 - 11:00 a.m., Nevin Welcome Center, Plantations Road

Cascadilla Gorge Hikes
10:00 – 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (see also Saturday listing for additional time) Meet at the College Avenue entrance to the trail, located at the northeast corner of the Schwartz Performing Arts Center.

Mundy Wildflower Garden Tour
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon, Mundy Wildflower Garden, Caldwell Drive entrance

Rhododendron Collection Tour
2:00 to 3:00 p.m., Nevin Welcome Center, Plantations Road


Spring Plant Sale
9:00 a.m. – 12 noon; Cornell Botanic Gardens Plant Production Facility, located at
397 Forest Home Drive

Garden Tour
9:00 - 10:00 a.m., Nevin Welcome Center, Plantations Road

Cascadilla Gorge Hike
12:30 – 2:00 p.m. (see also Friday listing for additional times)
Meet at the College Avenue entrance to the trail, located at the northeast corner of the Schwartz Performing Arts Center.

“The Hangovers” – Allan Hosie Treman '21 Memorial Concert
3:00 to 4:00 pm, Nevin Welcome Center, Plantations Rd.

Climate warming is causing wildflowers to flower earlier

34 weeks 4 days ago
Since 1985, a dedicated group of volunteers has been recording the date of first flowering for all 641 plant species found in the Mundy Wildflower Garden. This includes detailed observations made each day of the growing season. Continuous observation of this type has been rarely duplicated elsewhere. These data are now playing a major role in documenting the effect climate change has on plants, and helping to unravel the mystery of why some plants are affected, while others are not.

David Weinstein, Ph.D., a researcher in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell and a member of Cornell Botanic Gardens Advisory Council, has noted warmer temperatures in the wildflower garden over time, and identified which plants are now flowering much earlier than they had in previous years because of the warming trend in climate. 

Read more in an article written by David Weinstein on our Tumblr blog.

The Robison Herb Garden has a new fence

34 weeks 4 days ago
You might have noticed that the split rail fence around the herb garden was replaced this spring. The fence, along with the garden’s local stone walls, sun dial, millstone, and antique wrought-iron gates are all part of its original design, completed in 1974, to give the garden a rural upstate New York feel.
After weathering for 43 years, the split-rail fence was replaced by botanic gardens construction staff Tim Stewart, Jay Ohlsten, and Lance Hagin. The crew first removed the fence in late December. Over winter, they worked with Locust Lumber Company in nearby Newfield to prepare and cut lumber for the replacement fence. In April, the crew drilled 60 holes for the fence posts. To ensure the fence was secured as strongly as possible, they installed two posts, tightly wired together, in each hole. Each cross rail was secured to the post with 8” screws.

The fence project was funded by gifts from Auraca Herbarists, Tom Butler (above, right, with Pam Shade), and the Ellis H. Robison ’18 Fund. Butler, who has been a regular volunteer in the Herb Garden for six years, said, "Working with Pam Shade [the garden curator], and seeing her commitment to the garden is what spurred my donation."

What does it take to open the Cascadilla Gorge Trail each spring?

34 weeks 4 days ago
The short answer is two days and the hard work of 15 people. Before opening the gorge on April 12th, three staff and twelve volunteers removed fallen rocks and other debris from the trail, picked up trash, cleared out drainage conduits, repaired parts of the chain railing, and removed hazardous trees.

A big THANK YOU to our volunteers!
Our Natural Areas program is fortunate to have weekly volunteers who, working alongside the natural areas stewardship crew, don’t shy away from strenuous labor. This team was critical to the trail cleanup.
James Hamilton, a dedicated weekly volunteer, said that although shoveling debris and hauling out wooden palettes left from a winter project wasn’t his favorite task, he “enjoyed feeling the mist by the creek.” James enjoys hiking in the woods in our natural areas while monitoring hemlocks for the invasive pest Hemlock Woolly Adelgid because he feels he is “doing something important to protect the natural areas.”
Jan Hill, also part of the weekly volunteer crew said the Cascadilla Gorge clean up was “fun but exhausting” and the gorge was a “beautiful place to work.”
In addition to these volunteers, a number of Cornell students who reside at two fraternities adjacent to the gorge donated their time and hard work.
We are grateful to everyone who helped ready the gorge for opening!

Read more about what it takes to keep the Cascadilla Gorge Trail safe year round in an article on our Tumblr Blog.

Spring Plant Sale, Saturday June 10

34 weeks 5 days ago
We are offering some of our gardeners’ favorite plants, as well as new selections from the horticultural trade, including peonies, daylilies, hostas and iris. In addition to our own plant material, our garden center partners Cayuga Landscape, The Magic Garden, The Plantsmen and RC's Plants and Produce will be on hand selling their plants! A portion of their sales will be donated to Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Click here for a list of plants that will be available at the sale.

Date/time: Saturday, June 10; 9:00 a.m. - noon
: Cornell Botanic Gardens Plant Production Facility, 397 Forest Home Drive. For more information, call 607-255-2400 or contact

Members only presale, Friday, June 9; 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.

Become a member now at, or sign up at the presale.

Gift adds to Palmer-Adams Preserve Natural Area

34 weeks 5 days ago

Gift adds 31.1 acres to Cornell Botanic Gardens’ Palmer-Adams Preserve in the Town of Caroline, a significant preserve for education, research, and the conservation of rare native plant species

Cornell Botanic Gardens has expanded the Palmer-Adams Preserve and its Bald Hill Natural Area with a gift of 31.1 acres from Arthur H. Adams, ’63, BCV ’65, MEN ’66, and his siblings Andrea A. Hastings, and Drew D. Adams. The tract, located on Bald Hill School Road in the Town of Caroline, will be known as the Palmer-Adams Hilltop Tract, Bald Hill. 

The new parcel joins the original 87-acre preserve donated in 1982 by Ithaca lawyer Armand Adams, ’31, and his family.  It was named to honor the long involvement of Charles Palmer and Armand Adams in natural history and environmental education. The addition of the hilltop tract brings the total size of the Palmer-Adams Preserve to 118.56 acres.

The hilltop tract is a welcome enhancement to the Palmer-Adams Preserve, whose unique features make it valuable for research and preservation purposes.

“The Palmer-Adams Preserve—along with a non-contiguous 100-acre parcel and some adjoining state forest land—are the only places in the Cayuga Lake drainage where native mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia, and hair grass, Deschampsia flexuosa, can be found,” said Todd Bittner, Director of Natural Areas for Cornell Botanic Gardens. “The new tract also improves access for the study and enjoyment of the plants, insects, amphibians, and birds present there. The property is bounded by Bald Hill School Road and offers a new point of entry and trailhead from the east side of the preserve.”

A number of researchers from Cornell and other area colleges and universities have utilized the Palmer-Adams Preserve for their work. The preserve has served studies in ecology, evolutionary biology, soil science, insect biology and microbiology.

One ongoing research project in the Palmer-Adams Preserve—along with other Botanic Gardens’ natural areas—is being led by Christine Goodale, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell. Goodale has been measuring uptake of carbon dioxide in these forested areas for several years.

“One especially valuable attribute of the parcel is the side-by-side location of primary forest (never cultivated or with some light harvest) and old-field forest, that which has not been cultivated in 100 or more years,” she said. “We see that the old-field forests gain CO2 in both trees and soils for more than a century after abandonment, and that the primary forests are still very productive even though they are relatively old.”

The Cornell Botanic Gardens’ provides public access to the Bald Hill Natural Area and the Palmer-Adams Preserve via a 1.1-mile trail, accessible from either Bald Hill or Bald Hill School Roads in the Town of Caroline. Wooded trails ascend portions of a very large, contiguous forested area along an abandoned road in this southeastern part of Tompkins County.


The lower Cascadilla Gorge Trail closed today

36 weeks 1 day ago

The Cascadilla Gorge Trail will be temporarily closed between Lynn Street and College Avenue on Monday, May 15th to facilitate City of Ithaca bridge maintenance work.

Forum to discuss how we can improve our connection with nature

37 weeks 6 days ago
Ithaca is launching a new Biophilia Chapter to link people together to improve human connection to nature. People are increasingly disconnected from nature in modern society, and research shows that restoring and strengthening people’s connection to nature benefits the health of individuals, communities, and the planet.

Please join us for our first Biophilia: Ithaca forum for a lively discussion with renowned local metal worker Durand Van Doren, whose work is inspired by nature. We will introduce our new chapter and its origins thus far. Over light refreshments, we will discuss our collective goals, expectations, and roles to begin to set the course for our new chapter. 

Please join the movement!

Date/time: Thursday, May 18; 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Location: Tompkins County Library, Borg Warner Room
Cost: Free and open to the public. No registration is required.


What is Biophilia? It is the human affinity for interacting with nature.  The term “biophilia,” which literally means “love of life,” was coined by social psychologist Erich Fromm and popularized by biologist E.O. Wilson.

Biophilia: Ithaca is modeled after the Biophilia: Pittsburgh which is a “pilot chapter for a global Biophilia Network of creative minds dedicated to strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action.”

Our Mission: To strengthen human connections to nature and to advocate for policies and practices that benefit the local natural environment.

Our Goals:
•    To create a supportive and inclusive network that fosters collaboration and learning about biophilia among people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints
•    To welcome and inspire others with the concept of biophilia
•    To explore new approaches to strengthening human connections to nature and to discuss their application to our local community
•    To use our collective voice to advocate for and to assist in the implementation of policies and practices that benefit the natural environment

"Nature Framed" on display at the Nevin Welcome Center

37 weeks 6 days ago
"Nature Framed," mixed media by Trina Bruno

Trina Bruno spent her childhood amidst the frenetic rhythms of Manhattan, observing nature through windows. Using varied textures and materials, and putting her own boundaries on the haphazardness of nature, her focus is to connect the visual and emotional contrast of the man-made and natural worlds. She uses various paint techniques on paper; sands and wraps sections of Masonite, and reuses paint-packing materials to piece together designs that interpret the natural world.

On display through June 2017

Visit us on May 12 to celebrate National Public Gardens Day

37 weeks 6 days ago
Visit Cornell Botanic Gardens and celebrate National Public Gardens Day—a nationwide event honoring public gardens across North America. Take a tour, visit with one of our Garden Guides (roaming the gardens from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), or explore the gardens, arboretum, and nearby natural areas on your own. Self-guided tours are available using your cell phone.

Guided tour schedule:
    •    Wildflower Garden Tour, 10:00 a.m; Meet at the Mundy Wildflower Garden off Caldwell Dr.
    •    Mindful Botany Walk, 12:00 p.m; Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center.
    •    Garden Highlights Tour, 2:00 p.m; Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center.

Garden Party at the Garden Gift Shop:

From 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., you will receive 25% off your total purchase and all purchases of $25 or more will receive our new Cornell Botanic Gardens tote bag.

From 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., we will offer complimentary lemonade, iced tea and cookies and a "Plant a Succulent" activity: Purchase a mug and a succulent to plant for yourself or as a gift!

Garden tours every Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

37 weeks 6 days ago
Enjoy a guided tour to discover the beauty and diversity of our numerous gardens, including the Herb Garden, Flower Garden, Groundcover Collection, Tropical Container Display, and more. Tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine. Actual tour content will vary from week to week depending on what’s in bloom and the interests of the group.

Date/time: June 17 - October 1; Saturdays and Sundays, 2:00 p.m. 
Cost: $5; Free for Members and Cornell students; no registration required
Instructor: Volunteer docent
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center

Evening Wildflower Walk, May 22

37 weeks 6 days ago
Tour the woodland pathways and plant habitats of the Mundy Wildflower Garden, an 8-acre natural area with naturalistic ?gardens. Early spring is the ideal season for learning the natural history and identification of wildflowers such as ?Dutchman’s breeches, trillium, bloodroot, and Solomon’s seal.

Date/time: Monday, May 22; 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free, donations welcome; no registration required
Instructor: Krissy Boys, staff gardener
Location: Meet at the entrance to the Mundy Wildflower Garden, located at the intersection of Caldwell Road and Forest Home Drive. Limited free parking is available.

Garden and Arboretum Hike this Saturday

37 weeks 6 days ago
Take it outside with Dr. Peter Davies, professor emeritus of plant science, on this extended hike through the diverse plant collections and landscapes of gardens around the Nevin Welcome Center and F. R. Newman Arboretum. Experience the beautiful gardens, rolling hills and panoramic views that helped Cornell Botanic Gardens earn its #1 ranking as the most beautiful college arboretum by Best College Reviews. Walks will be held rain or shine and will include some steep slope and stair climbing. Please dress for the weather and bring a bottle of water to drink.

Dates/time: Saturday, May 20; 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and Sunday June 25; 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Cost: Free; $5 suggested donation
Instructor: Dr. Peter Davies
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center