Top Navigation


The ‘Pope of Peppers’ Pontificates About Peppers on September 16

2 years 36 weeks ago
Dave DeWitt, author and food historian, helps celebrate Cornell Plantations’ Year of the Pepper with a lecture all about, well, peppers. DeWitt’s lecture takes place on Wednesday, September 16 and begins at 7:30 p.m. in Statler Hall Auditorium on Cornell University’s campus.

DeWitt’s lecture, entitled “Blame it on Columbus: Chile Peppers Around the World”, will be a multi-media presentation on how chile peppers circumnavigated the globe in just a century after Columbus brought pods and seeds back to the Old Word from the New in 1493.  

“We are very excited to celebrate peppers in their seemingly infinite variations in size, shape, origins and spice!” stated Sonja Skelly, director of education at Cornell Plantations.  “In addition to the lecture, we have several other programs that are themed around peppers.  First, on Saturday, September 12 we are hosting one of our popular “Garden to Table” culinary programs with Taverina Banfi, the lecture on Wednesday, September, 16; followed by a guided tour of the peppers in Plantations botanic garden with Dave DeWitt on Thursday, September 17;  and we’ll finish up the week with our Family Pepper Party: A Judy’s Day Program on Saturday, September 19 from 1pm to 5pm featuring tastings, dancing, and lots of pepper fun!”

Mr. DeWitt is a food historian and one of the foremost authorities in the world on chile peppers, spices, and spicy foods. He is the author of numerous articles and several books on peppers – most notably The Pepper Garden (gardening guide, 1993), The Hot Sauce Bible (food history/cookbook, 1996), The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia (reference, 1999) The Spicy Food Lover’s Bible (food history, cookbook, 2005). He continues to write books about chile peppers and spicy food, including The Complete Chile Pepper Book (gardening guide/cookbook, 2009), co-authored with Dr. Paul Bosland, the renowned chile pepper breeder at New Mexico State University. He’s made 100’s of apperances on TV, and has also been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, USA Today, American Way, Smithsonian, and approximately 300 newspapers and magazines across the country. Publishers Weekly has dubbed him “a veteran spice-meister.” Several years later, Dave received his ultimate accolade from no less than The New York Times that declared him to be “The Pope of Peppers.”

This lecture is free and open to the public.

Click here for the 2015 Fall Lecture lineup.

Check out the menu for the "Passion for Peppers" event

2 years 38 weeks ago
When it comes to peppers, some like ‘em hot!  But don’t worry – there are plenty of sweet and tasty varieties for the more sensitive palate.  Chef Eric from Taverna Banfi has had a love affair with peppers since the dawn of his culinary career. This class will give him the opportunity to share his passion for peppers and teach you some delicious ways to wield these botanical marvels in the kitchen. The program will begin with guided walk through the gardens to view and harvest selected varieties from our pepper collection. We will then reconvene at Taverna Banfi in the Statler Hotel for a cooking demo and three course tasting featuring delectable, pepper-enhanced creations from around the world – with a range of hotness to suit everyone’s tastes. 


1st Course:
Scallop and shrimp ceviche: aji amarillo, avocado, corn tortilla cup

2nd Course:
Scotch bonnet lime marmalade glazed salmon: jicama citrus slaw, grilled hearts of palm

3rd Course
Spiced pineapple upside down cakes with a wicked hot chocolate shooter

Date/time: Saturday, September 12; 12:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Cost: $55 ($50 for Plantations members) Pre-registration is required.
Instructor: Chef Eric Szymczak
Location: Botanical Garden and Taverna Banfi

Click here to register.

Still spots left for "Beautiful Botanicals" with Camille Doucet

2 years 39 weeks ago
This hands-on class offers an introduction to painting the flora of the Plantations’ botanical collections while guiding artists of all levels to greater breadth of skills. From plant observation and drawing, to plant perspective, composition and color mixing, we will explore black and white, color pencil, pen and ink, and go into greater depth with watercolor. A suggested materials list is available. Pre-registration is required.

Dates/times: Tuesdays from September 1 - October 6
Cost: $200 ($180 for Plantations members)
Instructor: Camille Doucet
Location: Nevin Welcome Center

Click here to register.

2015 Fall Lecture Series kicks off with author Robin Kimmerer

2 years 39 weeks ago
Our Annual Fall Lecture Series begins Wednesday, September 2, with a lecture by the renowned botanist, professor and award-wining author of “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants,” Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer.  The Harder Lecture begins at 5:30 p.m. in Call Alumni Auditorium in Kennedy Hall and will be followed by a complimentary garden party in the botanical garden of Cornell Plantations.

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer will lecture on topics found in her new book “Braiding Sweetgrass” in which she shows how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Kimmerer will be kicking-off our lecture series,” stated Dr. Sonja Skelly, director of education at Cornell Plantations.  “I believe that Jane Goodall said it best– ‘[this is] an extraordinary book, showing how the factual, objective approach of science can be enriched by the ancient knowledge of the indigenous people.’ We are very pleased that Dr. Kimmerer will be sharing her eloquence and wisdom with the Cornell community.”

Dr. Kimmerer is a distinguished teaching professor and the director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY.  As a writer and scientist, she has delivered a TEDx Talk, has addressed the general assembly of the United Nations at the request of UN President Sam Kahamba Kutesa, of Uganda, and has won the prestigious John Burroughs Medal for Writing and the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award.

Date/time: Wednesday, September 2; 5:30 (immediately followed by a garden party in Plantations botanical garden)
Cost: Free
Location: Call Alumni Auditorium in Kennedy Hall on Cornell campus

Click here for the full lecture line up.

Student interns say "thank you"

2 years 39 weeks ago
Our Summer Internship Program offers Cornell students hands-on experience working with expert staff in our gardens, natural areas, and education programs. Click here to view a short video, created by marketing intern Jessica Zheng ’17, as a special thank you to all of our supporters.

View video here.

Ten scenic spots you must visit before graduating Cornell

2 years 39 weeks ago
Our summer marketing intern Jessica Zheng '17 explored many of Plantations' gardens and natural areas during her time with us. To share her newfound love of these places, she created a top ten list on Buzzfeed. Her wish to Cornell students is: "Be sure to explore this beautiful place and don’t leave Cornell without seeing its gorgeous wonders."

Click here to view the list on Buzzfeed.

A week of pepper-themed events ends with a Family Pepper Party

2 years 39 weeks ago

Each year in our vegetable garden we display dozens of varieties of a widely-grown vegetable. This year, we chose the pepper and have a line-up of activities to explore the world of peppers:

A cooking demo and 3 course tasting of delectable pepper creations by Taverna Banfi.
Saturday, September 12; 12:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Lecture by Dave Dewitt, author and food historian
Wednesday, September 16; 7:30 p.m.

Pepper tour and tasting with food historian Dave Dewitt
Thursday, September 17; 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.

Pepper activities for kids of all ages at this family event including tastings from Agava.
Saturday, September 19; 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Visit the Nevin Welcome Center to see the exhibit “Peppers Around the World.” This exhibit traces how cultivated peppers traveled from Central and South America to quickly make their way around the globe. A delectable display of pepper-based salsas, curries and pastes highlight how peppers are key ingredients of signature dishes worldwide.

Check out the Climate Change Garden

2 years 39 weeks ago
Last summer, Plantations staff partnered with faculty in the Horticulture and Landscape Architecture departments to install a climate change garden. By growing plants inside and outside a high tunnel, visitors have the opportunity to compare how plants grow differently in today’s garden (the outside portion) with the garden of 2050 (the inside portion).  Plants inside the high tunnel are being subjected to projected climatic conditions for 2050, which include higher temperatures, periods of drought and heavy rainfall and heat waves.

This summer, we added five interpretive signs to guide visitors through the garden. Hand-written labels call attention to differences between the plants growing inside and outside the high tunnel, and we provided a space for visitors to share their observations. If you live close by, we hope you visit to make some observations for yourself. If not, you can follow what’s been happening on our Climate Change Garden blog. Also, see what’s happening on our Instagram account.

Cocktail Party in the Herb Garden on August 13!

2 years 41 weeks ago
Booze and Botany: Herb Garden Cocktail Party

Join Roland Coggin, one of Ithaca’s top mixologists, for a cocktail party in the Robison Herb Garden featuring drinks made with fresh herbal ingredients. Registration fee for this event includes light hors d’oeuvres and tickets for three cocktails, provided by Agava Restaurant. Additional drink tickets will be available for purchase. Proceeds support the mission of Cornell Plantations. Participants must be 21 or older and prepared to show proof of age. Pre-registration is required.
(Rain location: Nevin Welcome Center)

Date/time: Thursday, August 13; 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $50 per person
Location: Robison York State Herb Garden in the Botanical Garden

Click here to register.

Sign up for "Shoot, Edit and Share" on August 8

2 years 42 weeks ago
Digital technology has revolutionized photography for the non-professional: you no longer have to wait for a roll of film to be processed, computer software allows you to edit your images in a variety of ways, and the internet allows you to quickly share your beautiful work with others. This program will cover the basic steps from capturing the best digital photos on your camera, to editing and sharing them, and safely storing them on your computer. We will spend time in the botanical garden to practice shooting, then head inside to download, edit and discuss your work. Bring your own digital camera -- smartphone, point-and-shoot, or digital single-lens reflex (DSLR). All skill levels are welcome but please have a basic understanding of your camera’s operation. Pre-registration is required.

Date/time: Saturday, August 8; 12:30 - 3:30 p.m.
Cost:$40; $36 for Plantations members
Instructor: Paul Schmitt, local photographer
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center.

Click here to register.

Free public preview of "Hemlock Woolly Adelgid" film this Thursday

2 years 43 weeks ago
The Hemlock Woolly Adeglid is devastating the Hemlock forests and the delicate ecosystems that depend upon them. This film beautifully illustrates the vital importance of The Eastern Hemlock Tree, what should be done to prevent the spread of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and the growing phenomena of invasive species as a whole. This film includes appearances by Plantations staff Zeb Strickland.


Date/time: Thursday, July 23, 7:00 p.m. Q & A following film with: Mark Whitmore - Forest Entomologist; Hilary Lambert - Executive Director of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network; Chris Foito - Filmmaker (and former Cinemapolis staffer) 

Location: Cinemapolis, 120 East Green St., Ithaca

Cost: Free

Click here for more information on the Cinemapolis website.

Celebrate National Moth Week with us!

2 years 44 weeks ago
Explore the world of moths in a new light!

Sunday, July 19; 1 - 4 p.m: Join artist Brandon Ballengee to build a "Love Motel," a sculpted canvas to attract insects. Love Motel for Insects is an ongoing series that started in 2001 in Costa Rica, and has since taken the artist to Delhi, London, Venice and Loch Ness (Scotland), and most notably – Central Park in New York City, among other venues. The original structures were made from black lights and bed sheets; today, they use ultra-violet lighting on black canvas backgrounds. Click here to read more on our Tumblr blog.

Monday, July 20: Take a tour of the Love Motel with the artist from 7-8 p.m. Stay for bug watching from 8-10 p.m.
Meet at the Ponds area in the F. R. Newman Arboretum for both events.

Wednesday, July 22; 1 - 4 p.m: Take a walk with Cornell entomologist Jason J. Dombroskie through the Mundy Wildflower Garden and around Beebe Lake to look for moths and their caterpillars. Meet at the entrance to the Mundy Wildflower Garden on Caldwell Road.

Wednesday, July 22; 9 p.m. - midnight: Cornell entomologist Jason J. Dombroskie will set up a bright mercury vapor light and two ultraviolet lights to attract nocturnal moths. Meet at the Newman Overlook in the F. R. Newman Arboretum.

Throughout June and July:  Art exhibit in the Nevin Welcome Center: "Les Papillons"
Find enchantment in “Les Papillons,” a photographic look at butterflies amongst the floral backdrop of the tropics. This collection of photos by local photographer Jason Cox brings the vibrancy of life housed at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy here to the Finger Lakes. This art exhibit will be on display from July 6 to the end of August.

All events are free and no pre-registration is required. Click here for more detail on our events calendar.

Take a hike with the Cornell Gorge Stewards

2 years 46 weeks ago
Join the Cornell Gorge Stewards on weekly hikes around Fall Creek and Beebe Lake. Tours of Fall Creek Gorge are offered on Thursdays and tours around Beebe Lake are offered on Sundays. They will focus on the history of the area, geology and local flora and fauna.

Fall Creek Gorge Hikes: Thursdays,  5:30 - 6:30 p.m., August 6, 13, 20
Beebe Lake Hikes: Sundays, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m., August 9, 16, 23
Fee: Free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required.
Instructors: Cornell Gorge Stewards
Fall Creek Gorge Hikes: Meet at the corner of University Avenue and Central Avenue (Near the Johnson Museum of Art).
Beebe Lake Hikes: Meet at the front of Noyes Lodge.

Click here to view this event on our calendar.

On display at the Nevin Welcome Center

2 years 46 weeks ago
Find enchantment in “Les Papillons,” a photographic look at butterflies amongst the floral backdrop of the tropics. This collection of photos by local photographer Jason Cox brings the vibrancy of life housed at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy here to the Finger Lakes. This art exhibit will be on display from July 6 to the end of August.

Plantations rated one of "50 Most Amazing University Gardens"

2 years 46 weeks ago

On, Cornell Plantations is rated one of the “50 Most Amazing University Gardens." Each University garden or arboreta received points for variety of species, local or international recognition, education programs and conservation efforts. Click here to see who also made the list.

Botanical Garden tours every Saturday and Sunday

2 years 49 weeks ago
Enjoy a guided tour through the Botanical Gardens and discover the beauty and diversity of our numerous theme gardens, including the Herb Garden, Rhododendron Collection, Flower Garden, Groundcover Collections, Tropical Container Display, Vegetable Garden and more. Actual tour content will vary from week to week, depending on the plants, season, interests of the group, and whim of the docent.

Date/time: Saturday and Sunday, 1:00 p.m.; June 13- September 27
Cost: $5 (free for Plantations members, volunteers and Cornell students) Pre-registration is not required.
Location: Meet in front of the Nevin Welcome Center.

Reunion Weekend events, June 4-6

2 years 51 weeks ago

Cornell Plantations -- the arboretum, botanical garden and natural areas of Cornell University -- welcomes all alumni and their families to Reunion Weekend, June 4-6, 2015.

During Reunion our rhododendrons, irises, and magnolias will be blooming, and you may still find many spring wildflowers in the Mundy Wildflower Garden and natural areas.

At the botanical garden you can take a mini-tour, pick up a visitor map and explore on your own, browse the exhibits and gift shop in the Nevin Welcome Center, or just relax and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the gardens and grounds.

Free parking is available at the Nevin Welcome Center, or you can ride our shuttle van from Barton Hall (Statler Hotel side) or the Peterson parking lot across from the Dairy Bar/Stocking Hall on Tower Road. Plantations shuttle service is provided approximately every 20 minutes from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday only.

For more information, contact Kevin Moss at, (607) 254-7430.

Welcome back -- to Cornell Plantations!
A variety of tours and programs are planned for Reunion Weekend. Activities are free and are open to all Reunion attendees, the general public and members of the Ithaca community:

Nevin Welcome Center open from 9:30 to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

Shuttle service available from 12:00 to 5:00, Friday and Saturday. Stops at Barton Hall/Statler Hall and Peterson Lot (across from Dairy Bar).

Thursday, June 4 

Beebe Lake Natural History Walk
Location: Meet at Beebe Beach
Thursday, June 4; 3:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m.
Stroll around the lake to discover the history, flora, and fauna of Cornell's favorite natural area.

Friday, June 5

Plantations Botanical Garden Highlights Tour
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center
10:00 -11:00 a.m.
Guided one-hour tour through the numerous theme gardens in the Botanical Garden. 

Cascadilla Gorge Hike
Meet at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts in Collegetown,
Friday, 10:00 - 11:30  a.m. and 2:00 - 3:30 p.m.
Hike through Cascadilla Gorge and learn about the geology, natural history, and beauty of this scenic greenway. The round-trip one milehike is moderately strenuous and involves some steep stair climbing. Friday hikers have the option to take the #10 TCAT Bus back to campus
instead of returning on the trail, but there is no bus service on Saturday.

Plantations Botanical Garden Mini Tours
Nevin Welcome Center
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
15-minute mini-tours highlighting significant plants and gardens, launching approximately every 20 minutes.  

Plantations Mundy Wildflower Garden Tour
Mundy Wildflower Garden, Caldwell Road entrance
11 a.m.- noon
Explore this woodland wildflower garden and discover a rich variety of native flora.

Members-only sneak preview of the Spring Plant Sale
Cornell Plantations Plant Production Facility, 397 Forest Home Drive
4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Take home some of Plantations’ gardeners’ top picks for your own home landscape! This spring’s offerings will include some small shrubs, a wide variety of perennials, and some new additions to the horticulture trade.

Saturday, June 6

Spring Plant Sale
Cornell Plantations Plant Production Facility, 397 Forest Home Drive
9:00 a.m. – noon
Take home some of Plantations’ gardeners’ top picks for your own home landscape! This spring’s offerings will include some small shrubs, a wide variety of perennials, and some new additions to the horticulture trade.

Plantations Botanical Garden Mini Tours
Nevin Welcome Center
10:00 a.m. - noon
15-minute mini-tours highlighting significant plants and gardens, launching approximately every 20 minutes.

Cascadilla Gorge Hike
Meet at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts in Collegetown,
10:00 - 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.
Hike through Cascadilla Gorge and learn about the geology, natural history, and beauty of this scenic greenway. The round-trip one mile hike is moderately strenuous and involves some steep stair climbing.

Comstock Knoll Rhododendron Tour
Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center
1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Join gardener Phil Syphrit for this tour of one of the most beautiful places
on campus: the Bowers Rhododendron Collection on Comstock Knoll, home to over 130 different varieties of rhododendron and azalea.

“The Hangovers” - Allan Hosie Treman '21 Memorial Concert
Nevin Welcome Center lawn
2:30 – 3:30 pm
Relax in the shade and enjoy this performance by The Hangovers, the popular a capella subset of the Cornell Glee Club.  Refreshments provided.

Cascadilla Gorge Trail vanadalized again

2 years 51 weeks ago
The Cascadilla Gorge Trail was vandalized for the second time in six months this week.

"We spent six years trying to get the gorge trail fully reopened, a huge commitment, and it was really fantastic to hear the response of the community to having the trail reopened, to feel safe, to look beautiful, to look like a historic gorge trail should look," said Plantations director of Natural Areas, Todd Bittner.

Seven different areas have now been defaced, including staircases, part of a stone wall, the new cement staircase, under the stone arch foot bridge and part of a retaining wall. The removal could cost up to $20,000.

Read more in the following articles:

Ithaca Journal: Cascadilla Gorge Trail vanadalized again, May 28

Ithaca Voice: Ithaca’s reopened Cascadilla Gorge Trail vandalized again, May 28

WHCU: Gorge vandalism clean up could be difficult and costly, May 29

Plantations staff help Cornell Class of 2015 honor lives lost

2 years 51 weeks ago

Plantations natural areas staff helped the senior honor society Quill & Dagger plant a grove of trees along Cascadilla Creek to celebrate the students of the Class of 2015 whose lives were lost. In addition, the senior class, spearheaded by Lara Keskinkaya and Sam Coleman, raised
funds to plant a “Tribute Tree” on the pathway between the Engineering
Quad and Collegetown, for seven members of the Class of 2015 who died.

President Skorton paid tribute to these gestures in his Commencement speech on May 24. Read more in the Cornell Chronicle article, "At Commencement, Skorton confers the 'generosity of spirit.'"


Cornell Plantations Contributes to Cornell’s STARS 2014 Gold Rating

3 years 10 hours ago
In the continuing effort to save energy, enhance environmental operations and increase sustainability research and education, Cornell earned its fourth consecutive gold STARS rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. STARS – the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System – is a self-reporting tool that colleges and universities can use to measure progress and compare their rankings. Cornell is one of 75 schools earning gold status out of 299 rated schools for 2014.
Participating schools self-report on ways that they are contributing to the sustainability from student life, to carbon sequestering, and even to preserving bio-diversity on it’s campus.  

Click here to read more on the Plantations Tumblr blog.