The Campus Gorges are the most spectacular parts of Cornell's natural areas, swimming in them is extremely unsafe and not permitted. Learn more about how you can enjoy Cornell's gorges and where you can access swimming areas in the Chronicle article, "Gorge safety is paramount in Cornell summers."
The Ringwood Ponds Natural Area is noted for its complex, rolling glacial topography, with steep slopes, kames, eskers, kettle hole ponds, and forested wetlands. The landscape is dominated by maple-beech forest, with smaller areas of oak-hickory, hemlock, and red maple swamp forest. A large part of the forests have not been logged for over 130 years, and are considered near old-growth.
Plantations’ conservation efforts at Ringwood Ponds began in 1934 with the gift of 114 acres by the Lloyd Library and Museum of Cincinnati, Ohio. Additional donations and acquisitions have now brought the total protected holdings to 230 acres. The new preserve addition was dedicated on May 24, 2014, and will be known as the Andrew Semmler Tract, named in memory of John Semmler’s son.
Andrew Semmler was a young man who enjoyed nature and spent many hours with his father exploring the woodlands around his home. When he passed away in December 2013, John Semmler wanted to honor his son’s memory and love of the outdoors by helping Plantations preserve the natural area.
“I believe that this addition to the Ringwood Ponds Natural Area creates a more well-defined boundary between this unique preserve and one of the privately-owned parcels it borders. More important for me, it permanently recognizes Andrew's love of nature in a way that would have been truly meaningful to him.”
“We are thankful for the generosity of Mr. Semmler, the Town of Dryden, and a number of Ringwood neighbors and Plantations donors, who contributed funds to protect this tract,” stated Todd Bittner, director of Natural Areas at Cornell Plantations. “This addition to our 3,400 acres of natural area holdings will expand the diversity of habitats and unique landscapes available for use as outdoor classrooms for Cornell and other educators. Plantations protects and manages a system of 44 preserves that facilitate world-class research in the natural sciences for hundreds of University students and faculty annually. We are grateful that Mr. Semmler’s gift will not only honor his son, but will benefit researchers and students for generations.”
The Andrew Semmler Tract and Ringwood Ponds Natural Area are approximately 7 miles east of Cornell University and are open to the public. Click here to learn more about this valuable natural area.
Cascadilla Gorge Trail is slated to be fully open in time for the students' return in late summer. Read more in the May 29 Ithaca Times article "Cornell Restores Cascadilla Gorge Trail."
Krissy Boys spends much of her time removing garlic mustard in the Mundy Wildflower Garden. Learn more about this invasive plant and advice from Krissy in the May 13 Ithaca Times article, "To Pull Or Not To Pull: Research Questions Garlic Mustard Control."
Christopher Dunn, the new director of Cornell Plantations, remarked, “Although I have not been at Plantations very long, it is obvious to me, in every new discovery I make in our gardens and arboretum, that Mary’s hands have touched and molded these areas. She has helped Plantations to carry on Liberty Hyde Bailey’s dream of a ‘new type of botanical garden.’ On behalf of myself, our staff, and volunteers we are incredibly grateful to Mary for her 36 years of making Plantations a beautiful and inspirational place.”
During her tenure, Hirshfeld led the horticultural development of the botanical garden and F.R. Newman Arboretum. With a goal of having a rich and diverse pallet of plants, Hirshfeld helped create noted gardens such as the the Bowers Rhododendron Collection, the Mullestein Family Winter Garden, the Treman Woodland Walk and the Zucker Shrub Collection to name just a few. Hirshfeld also led the way for Plantations to become a member of the North American Plant Collections Consortium, which is a network of botanical gardens and arboreta to preserve key plant species and to promote high standards of plant collections management for its diverse collection of maples and oaks. Today, Plantations’ botanical gardens and the arboretum serve as models for exemplary horticulture, featuring 12,000 accessioned plants comprising over 50,000 individual plants, all of which were selected to showcase the value of plants in our lives.
Reflecting on her career at Plantations, Hirshfeld said "Over the past 36 years I have had the pleasure of watching and helping Cornell Plantations grow into a world-class Public Garden. I've seen transformation after transformation, and I'm grateful to my dedicated staff that has helped us achieve that world-class recognition. If it were not for them, we wouldn't be where we are today. I'm comfortable in the thought that my team will be able to continue the work that we've started together, and look forward to watching Cornell Plantations grow forward.”
Cornell Plantations will conduct a national search to choose Hirshfeld’s successor in the coming months.
Click here to watch a short interview with Mary on her last day.
Come celebrate National Public Gardens Day at Cornell Plantations, and
discover the region’s premier public garden with tours, sales, art, and
coffee!Come celebrate National Public Gardens Day at Cornell Plantations, and
discover the region’s premier public garden. Enjoy an early morning bird
walk in the Arboretum, a guided “highlights” tour of the botanical
garden, and a tour of our Sustainable Backyard demonstration garden;
stop by the Nevin Welcome Center to browse the art exhibition, take
advantage of the one-day gift shop sale and enjoy a free cup of Gimme!
The gardens and grounds are yours to explore on your own from dawn until
dusk. All activities except the morning bird walk will take place in
the botanical garden and Nevin Welcome Center, on Plantations Road. The
Welcome Center will be open from 9:30 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free;
however, there is a fee for parking at the Welcome Center from 7:00 a.m.
until 5:00 p.m. (first hour is free).
Schedule of Activities:
* 8:00 a.m.: Morning Bird Walk – F.R. Newman Arboretum. (Meet by the Sculpture Garden. Free parking available.)
* 12:00 noon: Botanical Garden Highlights Tour
* 2:00 p.m.: Sustainable Backyard Tour
* 9:30 – 5:00 p.m.: Art exhibition - “Plant Portraits through the Season,” by Margaret Corbit.
* 9:30 – 5:00 p.m.: One-day only sale in the Gift Shop: members receive
30% off most items; non-members receive 15%. Free cup of Gimme! coffee.
Plantations' staff spend much effort working to curb the spread of invasive species like pale swallow-wort in many of our natural areas. Read morePlantations' staff spend much effort working to curb the spread of invasive species like pale swallow-wort in many of our natural areas. Learn about what is being done about the spread of pale swallowwort in the April 23 Cornell Chronicle article, "invasive vines swallow up New York's natural areas."
The F. R. Newman Arboretum is a place for the scientific study and public exhibition of a diversity of trees and shrubs. These plantings, all hardy to our area, help foster Plantations’ scientific, educational, and plant appreciation efforts. Here, visitors can learn about and enjoy native species, as well as species imported from similar climate zones around the world.
The arboretum’s collections—including nut trees, crabapples, oaks, maples, shrubs, and urban trees—comprise a 100-acre pastoral setting. Specialty gardens in the arboretum include the Zucker Shrub Collection and the Treman Woodland Walk. The rolling hills and valleys, or “bowls,” were carved out by Fall Creek following the retreat of the last glacier over 10,000 years ago. The arboretum’s overlooks and benches provide visitors with panoramic views.
The F. R.Newman Arboretum is open daily from dawn until dusk.
Click here to view a three minute video to get to know him a little better. We hope you enjoy meeting him!
Learn more about Christopher in his April 23 interview with the Ithaca Times, "New Plantations Director:Plants Integrated into Culture."
This exhibit is a collaboration with Cornell University's American Indian Program.
As the caretaker of much of Cornell’s natural landscapes, efforts by Cornell Plantations staff contribute to this rating in several ways.
Native Plants: The STARS rating systems recognizes universities for making efforts to use native plants in landscaped areas. There has been a long-standing practice of prioritizing and using native plants in campus landscaping, both in the maintained grounds as well as in the campus natural and cultivated landscapes that are used for teaching, research and conservation. At Cornell Plantations, a bioswale garden was constructed in 2010 to filter rainwater using native plants. Additionally, Plantations Natural Areas program dedicates much effort to restoring Cornell’s natural areas by removing invasive plant species and re-establishing native plants. These efforts and many others are guided by Cornell Plantations’ invasive species plant policy.
Management of natural landscapes: The STARS metrics recognizes institutions that have programs in place to protect and/or create wildlife habitat on institution-owned land. Cornell Plantations manages and protects two gorges, 70,425 feet of streams and riparian habitats, mature and successional forests, marsh, wet meadow, and old field habitats, as well as our Botanic Garden and F.R. Newman Arboretum. These areas, which comprise 32% of the campus, are actively protected and managed to support the educational mission of the University. Management activities include monitoring, habitat establishment, natural areas restoration, naturalization, invasive species control, and deer over-population management.
Integrated Pest Management: Cornell was recognized for carrying out the practice of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), an approach to controlling insects, weeds and plant diseased to maintain the health of living landscapes plants while minimizing the use of chemical pesticides. Cornell Plantations’ botanical garden and F. R. Newman Arboretum make up a large part of the campus’ cultivated landscape and staff follow an established IPM procedure to control pests which include naturalized landscape design that emphasizes a diversity of species, careful site selection and preparation, use of hearty, disease- and pest-resistant varieties, proper frequencies of watering, pruning, and mowing, mulching and introduction of naturally occurring organisms to control pests.
Read more about Cornell's STARS rating in the March 13 Cornell Chronicle article, “For a greening Cornell, three is a gold STARS charm."
To learn more about Cornell Plantations Natural Areas program, click here.
The symposium and exhibition will focus on the Haudenosaunee symbolism of “The Tree of Peace,” also known as the white pine or Pinus strobus, one of the oldest trees in North America. The white pine is the only five-needled tree in New York State, and has been used by generations of Haudenosaunee storytellers to depict the "bundling" of five nations together under one law.
The program is a collaborative effort by Cornell University’s American Indian Program and Cornell Plantations:
- 3:00 - 4:00 p.m: Staff from the American Indian Program and Cornell Plantations will discuss the new exhibit featuring, a beaded tree titled, “Ganradaisgowah-Peace Tree” by renowned Cayuga artist, Samuel Thomas and a replica of the “Dust or The Ever-growing Tree” wampum, each the embodiment of Haudenosaunee “The Tree of Peace.”
- 4:00 - 6:00 p.m: Tom Porter (Sakokwenionkwas “The One Who Wins”), an expert in Haudenosaunee history and culture and Mohawk elder, will host a dialogue with faculty in Cornell’s American Indian Program about “The Tree of Peace”.
- Coffee, juice and light refreshments will be served.
The exhibit, Ögwe ö:weh Consciousness as Peace, will be on display from March 21 through July 2014. For more information about the exhibition and symposium, view our calendar or contact the American Indian Program website or call 607-255-6587.
The program runs outside of the school schedule during the spring, summer, and fall. Students receive a monetary reward after they complete the program in the fall and are encouraged to return each year to build new skills that come with each progressive tier. Students currently in 8th-10th grade are eligible to apply.
“This is a great opportunity for area students who are interested in the natural world and in sustainability to get hands-on experience,” stated Donna Levy, teen program coordinator at Cornell Plantations. “Since the inception of this program we have seen students cultivate their passions for being green, make serious commitments to making their planet a better place, and really starting in their own backyards. As a life long educator, it’s really an awesome thing to see.”
Teens in the program create a “Sustainable Backyard” garden, which is on display in the Botanical Garden at Cornell Plantations. They participate in weekly interpretive hikes and field trips, community projects, mentoring and leadership opportunities, and discussions around environmental topics. High School students come in regular contact with Cornell students, faculty, and staff and are exposed to many Cornell resources for an extraordinary experience.
Since the number of students accepted is limited, it is important for interested students to submit applications by the deadline of March 7, 2014.
The application window for PEEPS (Plantations Environmental Education Program for Sustainability) is now open and we will be accepting online applications until March 7, 2014.
Click here to learn more and to apply.
The proposed project will allow for the installation of an introductory panel in almost all garden areas within the botanical garden and to develop interpretive books for one garden. The purpose of the introductory signs is to introduce visitors to the main idea behind the creation of each garden, orient them to what they can explore, and share fascinating stories behind the plants found in each garden. The interpretive booklets being developed showcase flowers found in the Young Flower Garden and how they have been depicted in art and literature throughout the world and the cultural importance of the plants. Additionally, the new booklets are ADA compliant and weather resistant.
“Having a sign at the entrance of each garden is a way to ‘greet’ visitors and share with them what is unique about the garden and what they can experience in the garden.” says Sarah Fiorello, interpretation coordinator for Cornell Plantations. “These funds will help Cornell Plantations complete the final set of interpretive priorities from our 2009 Interpretive Master Plan and we are thrilled that Stanley Smith granted us this award.”
The gardens located in the Botanical Garden which are slated for interpretive upgrades are Conifer Slope, the Mullestein Family Winter Garden, Comstock Knoll, and the Young Flower Garden.
The Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust was created in 1970 by May Smith, in honor of her late husband. The Trust supports education and research in ornamental horticulture, primarily in North and South America. Grants up to $20,000 are typically made to botanical gardens, arboreta, and universities.
“Plantations is an integral part of Cornell, serving as both the largest laboratory and richest classroom on campus, while furnishing the university with a unique botanical character unlike that of other institutions of higher learning,” said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in her announcement. “I am confident that Christopher’s depth of experience and passion will foster new opportunities for Plantations to enhance its conservation mission while continuing to promote the enrichment and well-being of the entire Cornell community.”
Click here to read the February 5 Cornell Chronicle article, "Plantations appoints botanist from Hawaii as director."
We apologize for the inconvenience. The Welcome Center will reopen on Saturday, February 1st at 10 a.m. Throughout the month of February, all of our holiday-themed gift items will be 40% off. Click here for the Nevin Welcome Center hours.