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

51 weeks 5 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

51 weeks 6 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

51 weeks 6 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

1 year 1 week 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

1 year 2 weeks 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

1 year 2 weeks 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

1 year 2 weeks 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.

1 year 2 weeks 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

1 year 2 weeks 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

1 year 2 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 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

Free Lecture May 4: Intersecting Worlds of Trade, Politics, Plant Introductions and Botanical Art

1 year 3 weeks ago
Join us for this special lecture by Dr. Barbara Pickersgill, Prefessor Emeritus, University of Reading, UK, which will focus on spices, cotton, tea, the British East India Company, and the Botanical Art of John Bradby Blake.

A wine and cheese reception will follow the lecture. Sponsored by Cornell Botanic Gardens, Cornell Plant Biology & Horticulture.

Date/time: Thursday, May 4; 4:30 p.m.
Location: Room 404 in the Plant Sciences Building on Cornell Campus
Cost: Free and pre-registration is not required.

In 1600, the British East India Company was founded to compete with the Portuguese and Dutch over the lucrative trade in spices from the Indian subcontinent and the East Indies.  After murder by the Dutch of some Company employees, British (and French) interest switched to introduction of spices and other Far Eastern crops, often clandestinely obtained, to their colonies overseas.  The East India Company withdrew from trade with the Spice Islands and concentrated instead on exporting cotton textiles and silk from India to Britain.  This became a threat to the British woollen industry, so was prohibited in 1700.  This prohibition coincided with the rise in tea drinking in Britain, so the East India Company turned to trading cotton goods and opium from India to China in exchange for tea.

In 1766, John Bradby Blake went to Canton as an employee of the East India Company. He conceived the ambitious project of drawing from nature “all useful plants” and collecting living material and seeds of these to be sent back to England, to be grown there or transmitted to suitable colonies in America.  However, Bradby Blake’s principal legacy is his portfolio of over 50 paintings, scientifically accurate and beautifully coloured, of the plants brought to him, while he was in China, by his various contacts.

Vehicle Fire Necessitates Beebe Lake Shore Area Remediation

1 year 4 weeks ago
Cornell Botanic Gardens’ Natural Areas staff, in collaboration with university grounds and environmental health and safety teams, are working to remediate damage and potential contamination from a recent vehicle fire adjacent to Beebe Lake and near the Noyes Lodge. The community is asked to respect the marked boundaries of the restricted area for their own safety and to aid in cleanup efforts, which are expected to begin shortly. The trails around Beebe Lake remain open, but visitors should expect periodic closures during remediation work.
Check back here for updates on the remediation work; updates will also be posted on botanic gardens’ Facebook (@BotanicGardens), Twitter (@CUintheGarden) and Instagram (@CornellBotanicGardens) feeds.

28th Annual Earth Day Hike on the Cayuga Trail this Sunday

1 year 4 weeks ago
The Cayuga Trails Club is sponsoring the 28th annual Earth Day Hike, following a 4.4-mile-long section of the Cayuga Trail in the beautiful Monkey Run Natural Area of Cornell Botanic Gardens. This trail takes hikers along the high banks and water’s edge of Fall Creek, and features early spring wildflowers, birds, breathtaking vistas, and the beauty of very wild sections of one of Cornell’s off-campus natural areas. Wear sturdy footwear and bring drinking water and rain gear if needed.
Be prepared for steep ups and downs; the hike is moderately strenuous.

Date/time: Sunday, April 23; 1:00 p.m.
Location: Meet at the Cornell Community Garden Plots, off of Freese Road, about halfway between NYS Route 366 and Hanshaw Road. Watch for a driveway entering the parking area on the east side of the road.
Cost: Free and pre-registration is not required.
For more information, please contact Tom Reimers at

Cornell Botanic Gardens one of top-15 best gardens in New York

1 year 5 weeks ago

We are pleased to be named one of the top-15 best gardens in New York State by ProFlowers. Click here for the full list and to vote Cornell Botanic Gardens as the best botanic garden in New York State!


Cascadilla Gorge is open for the season!

1 year 5 weeks ago

Thanks to the hard work of volunteers and staff, Cascadilla Gorge is now open. Enjoy the gorge while staying safe: Please remain on gorge trails.


Arboretum gates are now open!

1 year 6 weeks ago

The F. R. Newman Arboretum is now open to vehicles. Happy spring from all of us at Cornell Botanic Gardens! Our grounds are free and open every day from dawn to dusk. Click here for the Nevin Welcome Center hours.

Out on the Trails: Explore Tompkins’ Trails with Ease

1 year 6 weeks ago
Searchable, GPS-enabled site makes local trails searchable and accessible

Cornell Botanic Gardens and partner organizations have launched a new website designed to help outdoor enthusiasts find and take the perfect walk, hike, bike, ski, or even horseback ride. Out on the Trails at is a GPS-enabled, mobile-optimized site that maps all of the trails in Tompkins County, and invites users to search by the experience they seek. Criteria include distance, difficulty, scenic views, wildlife viewing, or picnicking, and also access directions to trailheads and information on parking.

 “Our County boasts 240 miles of public trails, but since they span 15 different organizations, many residents and visitors find trail information in bits and pieces,” says Todd Bittner, Director of Natural Areas at the Cornell Botanic Gardens and one of the key grant managers. “The beauty of the new Out on the Trails website is that it provides comprehensive information on all the trails, regardless of ownership.”

The site links to each partner organization’s website for more information on the organization and its park or trail. With appealing descriptions, photographs, and a clean user-friendly layout, the site is designed to encourage users to explore the County's outdoor recreation offerings more deeply.

The Cornell Botanic Gardens maintains 32 miles of trails through its natural areas. The Cayuga Trail, which spans from Fall Creek Gorge eastward, then circumnavigates its Monkey Run Natural Area, is a 10 mile-trail, maintained in partnership with the Cayuga Trails Club. “The website also leads you to hikes in some of our lesser known natural areas such as Edwards Lake Cliffs, Fischer Old-growth Forest, and Ellis Hollow Wetlands.,” Bittner says.
The Cornell Botanic Gardens and its trail partners are offering hikes during the month of April to celebrate local trails and the launch of the new website. On April 23, the botanic gardens hosts an Earth Day Hike with the Cayuga Trails Club on the Cayuga Trail. And on April 29, Bittner will lead a hike in the Fischer Old-Growth Forest (registration required), the best of the few remaining examples of pre-European settlement forest in the region.
Additional April hikes by partner organizations include Roy H. Park PreserveCayuga Waterfront Trail; Black Diamond Trail; Stevenson Preserve;  and Jim Schug Trail. Details available at is a partnership of the Tompkins County Parks and Trails Network. Partner organizations include the Cornell Botanic Gardens, Town of Ulysses, Tompkins County Tourism Program, Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability , Ithaca Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Finger Lakes Land Trust, NY State Parks, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Ithaca College Natural Lands, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, City of Ithaca, Town of Ithaca, Town of Lansing, Town of Dryden, Town of Danby, the Nature Conservancy, and user groups, including Bike Walk Tompkins, the Cayuga Trails Club, and Finger Lakes Trails Conference.

Mindful Botany: Free guided tours every Friday starting April 7

1 year 9 weeks ago
With the arrival of spring, plants are eager to transform stored energy into new leaves and flowers. Join Cornell Botanic Gardens staff to observe the beauty of spring unfurl on weekly spring walks. While following the same route each week, we will practice mindfulness by dedicating our attention to the present moment and fully observing the amazing transformations that take place during spring.

Dates/time: Six consecutive Fridays April 7 through May 12; noon – 1pm; attendance at each walk encouraged, but not required.
Cost: Free; no registration required.
Instructor: Cornell Botanic Garden staff
Location: Meet in front of the Nevin Welcome Center

Sustainable home gardening class starts April 3rd

1 year 9 weeks ago

Landscape For Life 5-part workshop

Dates/time: Five MOnday sessions, April 3- May 8; 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Cost:$150; $135 for Botanic Garden members
Location: Nevin Welcome Center
Register here.

Every home landscape has the potential to clean air and water, reduce flooding, cool your community, combat climate change and alleviate the pressures being placed on Earth’s ecosystems. Yet conventional gardening practices too often work against nature, damaging the environment’s ability to provide these natural benefits that support the health and well-being of you, your family, and your community. The 5-part Landscape For Life program, developed by the U.S. Botanical Garden and the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, shows you how to work with nature in your garden, no matter where you live, whether you garden on a city or suburban lot, a 20–acre farm, or the common area of your condominium. It's possible to create a great–looking sustainable landscape that's healthier for you, your family, your pets, and the environment --- and that saves you time and money!  Pre-registration is required. Participants who complete all course activities will receive a Certificate of Completion.

For more information about the Landscape for Life Program and the Sustainable Sites Initiative, please visit

Click here to register.

Cornell Botanic Gardens one of 26 best hidden gems in New York

1 year 11 weeks ago

Cornell Botanic Gardens joined the ranks of Lucifer Falls in Treman State Park and Stonecrop Gardens in the Hudson Valley as one of 26 lesser-known tourist attractions around New York State on The Crazy Tourist website. Click here for the full list.