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Lecture: Planting in a Post-Wild World

1 year 34 weeks ago
We continue our Fall Lecture Series on Wednesday, September 28 with a lecture by author and planting designer, Claudia West. The lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in Statler Auditorium in Statler Hall on Cornell University’s campus.

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

Cultures and Cuisine: Cooking with the Three Sisters

1 year 34 weeks ago
The Three Sisters—winter squash, maize, and climbing beans—are the main agricultural crops of various Native American groups, particularly the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). Indigenous farmers in the northeast have been growing these crops for hundreds of years, and continue to do so today.

"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.

Join us for our Judy's Day Family Festival on September 25th

1 year 36 weeks ago
Take a journey of the Americas and discover the food plants that have shaped the cultures, communities, and industries of North, Central and South America at Cornell Plantations, on Sunday, September 25 from 1 to 5 pm in the F. R. Newman Arboretum. Visitors can enjoy hands-on activities, music, storytelling and delicious food at this fun and educational festival. 

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. Amber Meadow Adams explores the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Creation Story in a lecture

1 year 37 weeks ago

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.

Gary Snyder's August 24 lecture available to view online

1 year 38 weeks ago

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.

Rebranding Cornell Plantations to better reflect our mission, vision

1 year 38 weeks ago
Our Executive Director, Christopher Dunn, will recommend changing our name to “Cornell Botanic Gardens" to the Cornell University Board of Trustees, who are expected to vote on the proposed name change at their Oct. 28 meeting. The new name will more clearly identify this place as a public garden and better reflect our new mission, vision, and the depth and diversity of our programs.  

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."

Greenhouse Simulates a Warmer Future

1 year 39 weeks ago

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 article "Greenhouse Simulates a Warmer Future."

Enjoy the gorges safely this summer and fall

1 year 39 weeks ago
Welcome back students! Cornell's gorges are beautiful this time of year. Please view this short video that highlights how to explore the gorges safely.

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.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Beat Poet, Gary Snyder, to give 20th Anniversary Harder Lecture

1 year 40 weeks ago
Gary Snyder—Beat poet, conservationist and scholar—will speak on Wednesday, August 24, to kick off the 2016 Fall Lecture Series. In his free lecture "Scholars, Hermits and People of the Land", he will explore the concept of “bioregionalism” through the literary works of Daoist and Buddhist hermits and other peoples of the land, and how that perspective relates to the mission of Cornell Plantations. This event is free and no registration is required.

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.

"Genius Loci:" Landscape Paintings by Wynn Yarrow

1 year 41 weeks ago

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.

Plantations Responds to Drought Conditions

1 year 42 weeks ago

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.

Garden and Arboretum Hike with professor Peter Davies

1 year 42 weeks 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 Botanical Garden and F. R. Newman Arboretum. Experience the beautiful gardens, rolling hills and panoramic views that helped Plantations 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: Saturday, August 6 and Saturday September 10; 10:00 a.m.- noon
Cost: Free; no registration required
Instructor: Peter Davies, Ph.D., professor emeritus of plant science?
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center

For more informaiton call (607) 255-2400, or e-mail

Parking lot at the Botanical Garden closed July 28

1 year 42 weeks ago

The lot will be closed for resurfacing all day July 28. We apoloigize for the inconvenience. Please park at the nearby metered parking lot at the Corner of Tower Road and Judd Falls Road and take a short downhill trail to the Botanical Garden. View metered parking locations on the Cornell map here.

The Gabions: A restoration success story

1 year 42 weeks ago

Last year, Cornell Plantations staff gardener Krissy Boys began transforming an area overrun with invasive crown vetch into an attractive and diverse streamside garden abundant with wildlife. Krissy recounts this labor of love in her article "New Gardens at Cornell Plantations Mundy Wildflower Garden."

Join us for "Moths of the Night" this Saturday at 9:00 p.m.

1 year 42 weeks ago
As the sun sets we will have a brief introduction to moths and then fire up bright lights to attract them. We will learn how to identify the myriad forms of moths that arrive through the night and learn about their natural history. Stop by for a few minutes or bring a lawn chair and hang out for the evening. Bring a flashlight or headlamp.

Date/time: Saturday, August 30; 9:00 a.m. to midnight
Location: Cornell Plantations Botanical Garden
Cost: Free; no pre-registration required.
Instructor: Jason Dombroskie, PhD., Manager of the Cornell University Insect Collection and Coordinator of the Insect Diagnostic Lab

Contact 607-255-2400 for more information, or e-mail

On display: A giclée reproduction of an original watercolor

1 year 45 weeks ago
A triptych of an original watercolor by Karen English represents a gathering of birds throughout three seasons in a wooded backyard in upstate New York. In spring, American goldfinches and a northern oriole perch in a lilac bush. Eastern bluebirds enjoy a bath in summer while a ruby-throated hummingbird feeds on bee balm. In fall, a red oak tree shelters a white breasted nuthatch and a red-bellied woodpecker,while black-capped chickadees inspect the goldenrod below.

On display during July.

Schedule your group tour with us today!

1 year 46 weeks ago
Bring your garden club, church group, civic organization or other group and explore Cornell Plantations with a guided tour. Our group tours, offered May through October, are designed to provide you with a personalized, close-up look at the Plantations gardens and/or arboretum.

We offer scheduled group tours by bus or on foot.  Our tours offer visitors the chance to learn about our gardens, history, and plant collections.  Each tour is lead by an experienced staff or volunteer tour guide and lasts approximately an hour.

Click here for more information.

In Memoriam: Dorothy Dent Park (1912–2016)

1 year 47 weeks ago
Mrs. Dorothy Park, notable philanthropist and generous benefactor of Cornell Plantations and many other Ithaca-area nonprofits, died on June 18, 2016, at the age of 103.  In 1998 Mrs. Park gave Plantations a 10-acre parcel of land adjacent to Newman Arboretum and Fall Creek, to be forever preserved as a natural area.  Named Park Park at her behest, the preserve is used for research and teaching by many faculty members at Cornell, and its picnic area and trails are favorite recreational sites for local community members. Annual grants from the Park Foundation help support our ongoing stewardship and maintenance of Park Park’s diverse habitats, including meadow, prairie, creek, floodplain, and young and old-growth forests.  All of us at Cornell Plantations extend sincere condolences to Mrs. Park’s family.


(shown above): Scenic stone picnic benches in the Park Park Natural Area adjacent to Fall Creek.

Botanical Garden tours every Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

1 year 48 weeks ago
Enjoy a guided tour through the Botanical Garden and discover the beauty and diversity of our numerous theme 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 18 - September 25; 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

Click here to view our full calendar of events.

Summer Solstice walk tonight!

1 year 48 weeks ago
Enjoy an evening nature walk through the F.R. Newman Arboretum, recently voted the “#1 most beautiful college arboretum,” to celebrate the passage of spring into summer on the longest day of the year. We’ll learn about the solstice, discover some of the trees, shrubs and wildlife of the arboretum, and hike to the Newman Overlook bell to “ring in” the arrival of summer at the exact moment of solstice (6:35 p.m.)  Walk will be held rain or shine, and includes some moderately steep slopes.


Date/time: Monday, June 20; 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and no registration required
Instructor: Kevin Moss, staff educator
Location: Meet by the Sculpture Garden, in the F. R. Newman Arboretum.