The announcement was made on May 22 by Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).
Horticulture professor Chris Wien was named as interim director on June 6.
“Cornell Plantations is one of the most highly regarded public gardens in the nation, with a mission to nurture and grow Cornell’s world-class natural spaces, enhancing the aesthetic, educational and recreational experience enjoyed by campus residents and visitors,” said Boor. “This transition is an opportunity to lead a dynamic portfolio of spaces and programs that serve a diverse audience.”
“Don’s leadership has been a key part of the transformation of Cornell Plantations in the last two decades. I am grateful for his expertise, enthusiasm and partnership,” Boor added. Rakow has been a member of the Cornell faculty since 1987 and joined Cornell Plantations more than 20 years ago. He was the associate director from 1993 through 1995, and was named executive director in 1996. He created and directs the Cornell Graduate Program in Public Garden Leadership, which is one of only two such programs in the nation.
Reflecting on his tenure, Rakow said: “Our growth, even through budget limitations and challenging economic climates, has certainly been among my greatest satisfactions. For so much of this, I credit Plantations’ amazing staff and our incredibly generous donors and advisors.”
Wien will take up the helm as interim Plantations director on July 1. He has previously served as acting director of the Plantations from July 2006 to Jan, 2007. Wien, who received his master’s degree from Cornell in 1967 and his Ph.D in 1971, joined the Department of Vegetable crops as a postdoctoral fellow in 1971, and returned as assistant professor in 1979, after working abroad as a research scientist studying grain legume physiology in Nigeria. He served as chair of the Department of Fruit and Vegetable Science, then the Department of Horticulture, from 1996-2002. His research focus has been the production of cut flowers and herbaceous perennials. He also leads outreach projects encouraging the use of high tunnels among both growers and in school gardens. And he has continued international work in Africa, working with smallholder horticulturists in Zimbabwe, and leading student trips through the Cornell International Institute of Food, Agriculture and Development’s SMART program.
Building on the success of the opening of the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center, Cornell Plantations is now moving forward in the next phase of an ambitious plan to reimagine the Botanical Garden. In the most significant horticultural development since the F. R. Newman Arboretum was created in 1981, the broad expanse of lawn in front of the Nevin Center will be transformed into a beautiful series of new Peony and Perennial Gardens, while the plateau on Comstock Knoll will become a dramatic East Asian Garden. A major initiative to raise almost $7 million for these projects is underway. Goals include $2.7 million for construction and plant material, and $4 million to endow the new horticulturist positions that will be required to maintain the gardens.
Click here to read more about Don Rakow's accomplishments over the past 20 years at Cornell Plantations.
Click here for the CALS news webpage.
During Reunion our rhododendrons, irises, and magnolias should be blooming, and you may still find many spring wildflowers in the Mundy Wildflower Garden and natural areas. Take one of our shuttle vans from Barton Hall, West Campus or North Campus, to the Nevin Welcome Center, where you can take a mini-tour, pick up a visitor map and explore on your own, browse the exhibits and gift shop, or just relax and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the gardens and grounds. Our staff is available inside the Welcome Center to answer your questions and help you find your way around.
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. See below for more information:
Nevin Welcome Center and Gift Shop open daily from 9:30 to 5:00 p.m. during Reunion Weekend.
Shuttle Service to Cornell Plantations
Shuttles to the Nevin Welcome Center at the botanical garden loop continuously between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with stops at Barton Hall (east side, on Garden Ave), West Campus (by the War Memorial flagpole on West Avenue), and North Campus (Helen Newman Hall, on Cradit Farm Drive). Shuttles will also loop to the F.R. Newman Arboretum on an as-needed basis. (Note: there are no shuttles on Sunday, June 9.)
Click HERE to download the Reunion schedule.
Beebe Lake Natural History Tour
Thursday, June 6; 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. TOUR IS CANCELLED DUE TO RAIN.
Botanical Garden Highlights Tour
Friday, June 7, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Meet in front of the Nevin Welcome Center. Learn more
Mundy Wildflower Garden Tour
Friday, June 7; 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Meet at the Caldwell Road entrance to the Wildflower Garden. Learn more
Botanical Garden Mini-Tours
Friday and Saturday, June 7 and 8; 1:00 – 4:30 p.m. Tours launch approximately every 20 minutes. Meet in front of the Nevin Welcome Center. Learn more
Upper Cascadilla Gorge Hikes
Friday, June 7, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.; AND Saturday, June 8, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Meet in front of the Schwartz Performing Arts Center, Collegetown. Tour ends at Rhodes Hall, Engineering Quad. Learn more
Spring Plant Sale!
Saturday, June 8; 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Plant Production Facility, 397 Forest Home Drive (across from the Flat Rock area of Fall Creek). Learn more
The Hangovers: Allan Hosie Treman '21 Memorial Concert
Saturday, June 8; 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Jackson Grove, F.R. Newman Arboretum.
NOTE: This is an outdoor event, so please bring sunscreen, sun hat, and umbrella (the concert will be held under a tent). Accessibility for disabled persons is limited. Refreshments provided. Shuttle vans will loop to the Arboretum before and after the concert. Learn more
For more information, please call (607) 255-2400.
1% for the Planet is an alliance of over 1,300 companies in 43 countries that have made a commitment to give one percent of their revenues to environmental causes. Last year Cornell Plantations was approved as a non-profit partner in the alliance, making us eligible to receive donations from 1% member companies.
Harney and Sons has been a corporate member of 1% since 2006, when owners Michael and Paul Harney decided that joining the alliance would provide the company with the opportunity to drive positive environmental change in their geographical region. (Their production facility in Upstate New York is minutes from the Appalachian Trail and surrounded by mountains in the Berkshire Range.)
To date, the company has donated over half a million dollars to organizations that are 1% non-profit partners.
Harney and Sons has close ties to Cornell. Founder John Harney ’56 and son Michael ’77 are both graduates of the Hotel School, and Michael’s son is a current student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “In fact, it was Michael Harney, who recommended that we apply to become a non-profit partner in 1% for the Planet,” says Beth Anderson, Plantations’ development director. “So, we are thrilled that Harney and Sons has given our first 1% gift!”
We hope you are able to save an hour or two to make a trip to the garden this weekend!
Tulipa "Quebec" (top)
Tulipa "Purissima" (above)
In concert with the construction of the Nevin Welcome Center, which was opened in 2011, Cornell Plantations also made significant improvements to the surrounding botanical garden. These improvements started with a new parking area and tour- bus drop off zone. The parking area and arrival plaza were partially constructed of Cornell Structural SoilTM, a special substrate design that allows better root penetration to encourage vigorous tree growth. The filter strip at the parking area is shaded by trees that will become part of our Urban Tree Collection. Adjacent to the parking area, a new bioswale provides an innovative landscaping approach that precludes the need for conventional underground drainage systems. The bioswale garden includes plants that can withstand dry and wet conditions, all of which filter surface water runoff from the parking lot and surrounding areas. In addition to its usefulness, the bioswale has fast become one of the most beloved gardens at Cornell Plantations. “We are thrilled that our hard work and conscientious development has been recognized by this prestigious organization,” stated Don Rakow the E. N. Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations. “Cornell Plantations strives to be a model of bold, sustainable design in all of our projects.”
About The Society for College and University Planning (SCUP):
SCUP was established in 1965 and is a community of senior, higher education leaders and the professionals who support them who are responsible for or are involved in the integration of planning on their campuses. The Society for College and University (SCUP) Excellence Awards Program began in 2000 to provide a high-quality program that acknowledges innovative, collaborative, multidisciplinary, and integrated approaches to planning and design, and share lessons learned. The program supports the Society’s goals by identifying emerging areas of knowledge and trends, recognizing significant contributions to the field of higher education planning, and enriching SCUP’s body of knowledge by including the experience and expertise of planners and designers throughout the world.
The Cascadilla Gorge Trail, between Lynn Street and Stewart Avenue, is now reopened after being closed for the winter. The trail weathered the winter relatively well, having no major damage upon initial inspection. Major repair work on upstream sections of the trail will commence in the next week or two, with contractors starting where they left off last year, rebuilding trail sections below the Stewart Avenue bridge. The current plan is to reopen the fully repaired trail by October of this year.
Ms. Oliver spent the last few years traveling the U.S. to record poets reading their poems, creating the “Knox Writers House,” a ‘map of voices’ literary audio archive. She wanted to find an unusual way to make the recordings accessible to the public and approached Cornell Plantations with the idea of a Poetry Walk.
“I’ve been looking for new ways to repurpose these recordings,” stated Ms. Oliver. “I wanted to use these poems to create new ways for people to experience the art of poetry. As I learned about each flower, it just became clear which poem to choose... the detail of the natural description felt akin to an image or phrase in something I’ve recorded.”
April is National Poetry Month and is the time when early-spring wildflowers are prolific in the Mundy Wildflower Garden – so pairing poems from the audio collection to blooming wildflowers became the perfect match! Ms. Oliver worked closely with Krissy Boys, who oversees the Mundy Wildflower Garden, to match poems to the essence of each spring wildflower.
View this short interivew with Emily Oliver about her project.
Learn about a new exhibit by landscape architect, writer, and artist Marc Peter Keane on display at the Nevin Welcome Center and view a short video of the artist discussing his sculptures. Read more
Marc's works are made from substrates of leaves and meadows grasses,some of which were harvested at the Plantations itself. The works, which resemble nests and cocoons, are fired for 5 days in a traditional Japanese wood-kiln. The color patterns and textures of the surfaces are the result of the serendipitous effects of flame on raw clay. The exhibit also includes two ceramic pieces by Momoko Takeshita Keane, Marc’s wife and noted sculptor.
Marc has also designed a new East Asian garden for Plantations. Learn more here.
View this 7-minute video of Marc discussing his sculptures.
Mr. Keane is a graduate of Cornell University; he lived and worked in Kyoto, Japan for 18 years, and has traveled extensively in Asia. In addition to his work as a landscape architect, Keane has published several books on the design of Asian Gardens, and poetry. His most recent garden, The Tiger Glen Garden, was completed in 2011 at the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University. Ms. Takeshita Keane was raised in Kyoto, Japan. She began studying as a potter in the famous kiln-town of Shigaraki. She went on to study in the Kyoto Laboratory of Traditional Crafts, learning many aspects of traditional glazes and clay bodies.
Cornell Plantations offers an annual spring training program for anyone interested in becoming a garden docent (tour guide) for the adult group tour program. Volunteer docents interpret the diverse plant collections,unique landscapes and compelling history of Cornell Plantations, and educate adult visitors about the importance and interdependence of plants, people and the natural world. Docents serve as ambassadors throughout the spring, summer and early fall.
Applicants are asked to commit to an eight-week training program, which will take place on Wednesday mornings from 10:00 am to 12 noon, at the Nevin Welcome Center, from March 20 through May 8. Additional monthly training sessions will be scheduled for the remainder of the season (June through October). Training is free and all materials will be provided.
A love of plants, gardens the natural world, and a desire to share that love with others is an essential qualification! Additionally, applicants should possess good oral and interpersonal communication skills, as well as a flexible schedule and availability to lead tours on weekdays, evenings, weekends, and/or holidays. General knowledge of or interest in plants, gardening, horticulture, botany, natural history and/or related areas is extremely helpful; public speaking, teaching or related experience with adult learners is desirable but not required.
If interested in signing up or learning more, please contact Kevin Moss, community outreach coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (607) 254-7430.
On Saturday, February 16, come enjoy the beautiful winter landscape and stop by our gift shop to enjoy 15% off your entire purchase (members receive 30% off).
No experience is necessary just a love for kids and commitment to attend training sessions to learn about our local wildflowers.
If you are interested in delivering this program to children in area schools, contact Raylene Ludgate at (607) 255-2407 or RGL3@cornell.edu.
The training sessions are held on Wednesdays starting February 13th from 10:30 to 12 noon and continue once per week until the end of April. The sessions are designed to prepare you for facilitating activities in the classroom and leading field trips through the Mundy Wildflower Garden at Cornell Plantations. You will also have the opportunity to shadow experienced guides.
School and Garden Visits
School and garden visits take place weekdays during school hours (8am to 2pm) starting May 1st. You pick the actual dates/times that work with your schedule.
Please note: The gift shop and the Nevin Welcome Center are closed on weekends in January. It is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Starting in February, it will again be open on Saturdays.
Bo Lipari, a local resident and volunteer Docent at Cornell Plantations, has taken pleasure in the beauty of the Arboretum for many years. In 2008 he began photographing Arboretum views, scenes and trees, trying to capture some of the brilliance and beauty he has found there. This exhibit focuses on the trees - the bark, branches, forms and foliage that capture the eyes and stir the primal connections that still reside within us.
Bo's photographs will be on display in the lobby of the Nevin Welcome Center from now through February.
The F. R. Newman Arboretum is closed to vehicle traffic until further notice. Pedestrians are welcome to explore the arboretum every day from dawn to dusk. Parking is available at the Mundy Wildflower Garden parking lot off of Caldwell Road directly across from the arboretum.
The Cascadilla Gorge Trail from Downtown to Stewart Avenue is now closed for the Winter. Read more
The Cascadilla Gorge Trail from Downtown to Stewart Avenue is now closed for the Winter. The trail is closed due to hazardous conditions from snow, ice, and falling rock that create unsafe conditions. This section of trail will re-open in the spring when conditions allow.
Dr. Peter B. Stifel ’58 has made the lead gift commitment for Cornell Plantations’ new Peony and Perennial Gardens, in honor of his daughter, Katherine Stifel ’87. Building on the success of the opening of the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center, Plantations is now moving forward in the next phase of an ambitious plan to reimagine the Botanical Garden. In the most significant horticultural development since the F. R. Newman Arboretum was created in 1981, the broad expanse of lawn in front of the Nevin Center will be transformed into a beautiful series of new perennial gardens, while the plateau on Comstock Knoll will become a dramatic East Asian garden.
Click here to read more.
Join us on Friday, December 14 and Saturday, December 15 for another holiday sale! Cornell Plantations members along with Cornell faculty, staff and students will receive 30% off their total purchase*.
Non-members will get 20% off their total purchase*.
*Discount excludes prints and other works of art, and Cornell Sheep Program blankets.