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Earth Day Hike on the Cayuga Trail this Sunday

26 weeks 4 days ago
The Cayuga Trails Club will sponsor this 29th 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 one of the botanic gardens’ off-campus natural areas. Wear sturdy footwear and bring drinking water and rain gear, if needed. Be prepared for steep climbs and descents; the hike is moderately strenuous. Transportation will be available at the end of the hike to take participants back to the parking area. For more information, please contact Jim Connors at

Date/time: Sunday, April 22; 1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and registration is not required
Location: Meet at the Cornell Community Garden Plots, off of Freese Road, about halfway between NY Route 366 and Hanshaw Road. Watch for a driveway entering the parking area on the east side of the road.

Note: The Cayuga Trail is among Tompkins County’s 240 miles of public trails, highlighted on the website “Out on the Trails” ( The site provides comprehensive, searchable information on all trails, and is optimized and GPS enabled for use on mobile devices.

Arboretum Open for the Season!

27 weeks 22 hours ago
The F. R. Newman Arboretum is open to vehicles starting April 13. New this spring: Thousands of bulbs will bloom in two locations in the arboretum. Chionodoxa luciliae (blue in color) will emerge in three circles in Jackson Grove; look for the planting in the grove of trees immediately north of Arboretum Road and before reaching the intersection of Weeping Willow Drive. These are early bloomers, and should present their glory as April warms.

An early summer display of Allium 'Purple Sensation' along with A. atropurpureum, A. nigrum and A. sphaerocephalum will flank the mown path in Newman Meadow near the entrance to the Arboretum on Caldwell Drive, between the Nut Tree Collection and Slim Jim Woods.

The bulb plantings are a collaboration between Cornell Botanic Gardens and Professor William Miller, of the School of Integrative Plant Science. More than 30,000 bulbs were planted in October 2017 in the arboretum and outside the Nevin Welcome Center using an innovative mechanical bulb planter and bulbs donated by from David Strabo ’80, of Longfield Gardens.

Read more about this collaboration here.

Watch spring unfurl on Mindful Botany Walks starting April 6

30 weeks 7 hours 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 unfurling on weekly nature 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 plant transformations that take place during spring. Attendance at each walk is encouraged, but not required. Presented in conjunction with Nature Rx @Cornell.

Read a short article about participants' experiences last year in a March 23 Cornell Chronicle article.

Dates/time: Six consecutive Fridays, April 6 - May 11; 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Cost: Free and no registration is required.
Instructor: Botanic Gardens staff
Location: Meet in front of the Nevin Welcome Center

Special Lecture Tuesday about Korean Botanic Gardens

30 weeks 8 hours ago
We invite you to join us Tuesday, March 27 for a special lecture about Korean botanic gardens and arboreta. Professor Yong-Shik Kim, Director of the Chollipo Arboretum Foundation in Korea and Professor Emeritus at Yeungnam University, will discuss the history of botanic gardens in Korea, their role in plant conservation, and some of the special horticultural collections of the Chollipo Arboretum, including Magnolia, Ilex, Camellia, Acer and Hibiscus.



Date/time: Tuesday, March 27, 2018; 12:30 p.m.
Location: Plant Science Building, room 404, Cornell University Campus
Cost: Free and open to the public. No registration required

Today is Giving Day and the first day of Spring!

30 weeks 3 days ago

We hope you choose to support Cornell Botanic Gardens as we enter this season of growth and blossoming. Your donation to our Annual Fund makes possible all of our conservation, cultivation, and education programs and helps us share this beautiful and amazing place with students, parents, faculty, and visitors from around the world. Click here to donate.

Learn about the role of nature in human health & well-being

31 weeks 1 day ago
Please join us at this Biophilia: ITHACA forum for a lively presentation and discussion by Nancy Wells, Cornell University Professor. This presentation will explore the research, evidence, and theory indicating that the natural environment influences human health. We will explore connections between nature and diverse health and well-being outcomes
including cognitive functioning, mental health, physical activity, community cohesion, and longevity. In addition, we will consider the potential role of nature in bolstering resilience and buffering income-based disparities in health.

After the presentation, please participate in the business meeting to form three working committees. We need you to help make Biophilia: Ithaca a true community effort.

Date/time: Thursday, March 22; 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public. No registration requried.
Location: Tompkins County Public Library Borg Warner Room


What is Biophilia: ITHACA?

Biophilia 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

Free and open to all. Refreshments will be provided. This forum is sponsored by the biophilia:ITHACA chapter is comprised of numerous individuals and organizations including Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Our mission is to strengthen human connection to nature. All are invited to attend this forum and become active with biophilia: ITHACA. Contact or for more information.

On Display: "Blooms of Being Planted 2018"

31 weeks 1 day ago
“Blooms of Being Planted”
Photographic Images by Mary Kay Marks

Mary Kay Marks is an artist from Cortland, New York. Cornell Botanic Gardens plays an integral part in her artwork; this exhibit started as photographs taken in the garden. Once she has a photo, she decides whether she wants to “play” with it, using Adobe Photoshop to manipulate and/or crop the image into her own creation. Sometimes the manipulation results in softening the image and other times intensifying it. 

Opening Reception at the Nevin Welcome Center: Thursday, March 22, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

Pruning Fundamentals Rescheduled to Saturday, March 17

33 weeks 4 days ago
Pruning your trees and shrubs can beautify your landscape and improve the growth and health of your plants. Learn the basics of pruning, plus some advanced techniques in this hands-on workshop with arborists Lee Dean and Daniel Weitoish. An indoor session to discuss tools, techniques, and safety will be followed by hands-on lessons in the F. R. Newman Arboretum with a wide variety of woody plants. We will travel by carpool or van and by foot to various locations; please dress for the weather and be prepared to walk through snow. Bring your own pair of gloves, comfortable hand pruners, and/or a small folding saw. All other tools and equipment are provided. Bring a bag lunch or purchase lunch on your own during the break; morning beverages and snack are included. Pre-registration is required. 

Date/time: Saturday, March 17; 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Cost: $70; $65 for members; Register here.
Instructors: Arborists Lee Dean and Daniel Weitoish
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center

Pest Nature Walk postponed until Friday, March 9

33 weeks 4 days ago
Please note: This walk was originally scheduled for Friday, March 3 but is reschedule to Friday, March 9 due to predicted inclement weather.

Join us for a late winter hike and educational opportunity at Cornell Botanic Gardens' Fall Creek Valley Natural Area and learn how to identify eastern hemlock trees and the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), an invasive forest pest. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and celebrate National Invasive Species Awareness Week with the Cornell Botanic Gardens and New York State Hemlock Initiative teams as you learn about hemlock conservation in Ithaca and throughout New York.

Dress warmly and be sure to wear appropriate footwear, especially if conditions are snowy.

Click here to register.

Date/time: Friday, March 9; 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Cost: Free; registration is required
Instructor: Charlotte Malmborg, NYS Hemlock Initiative technician
Location: Meet at the Flat Rock parking lot off of Forest Home Drive

For more information about the New York State Hemlock Initiative, visit, or

Become part of the Cornell Botanic Gardens team as a volunteer!

34 weeks 4 days ago
Volunteers are vital to our mission. Whether tending to our gardens, caring for our natural areas or educating our visitors, there are many ways to be involved as a Cornell Botanic Gardens volunteer.

Interested in leading guided tours for the general public or for school-aged groups? Garden Docent Training begins April 4 and training for Wildflower Garden Facilitators begins February 28.

Also beginning this spring, there are opportunities to volunteer in our cultivated collections and natural areas.

Garden Guide
If you love plants, gardens and the natural world, and have a desire to share that love with others, you are qualified to join our Garden Guide (docent) program. Garden Guides serve as ambassadors to a large and diverse audience throughout the spring, summer and early fall. Our Guides interpret the diverse plant collections, unique landscapes and compelling history of Cornell Botanic Gardens, and educate adult visitors about the importance and interdependence of plants, people and the natural world. Trainings include both indoor and outdoor sessions, and there are opportunities to shadow and learn from experienced docents. The 2018 core training program will take place on Wednesdays from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in April and May, at the Nevin Welcome Center, beginning April 4, with additional trainings to be scheduled through in the summer. (Complete schedule for 2018 to be announced.) Training is free and all materials will be provided. All you need bring is your curiosity and enthusiasm!
Join the Wildflower Explorations Team!
Are you interested in working with kids and getting them excited about plants? Join our volunteer Wildflower Explorations team as they engage local 3rd grade students in learning about our native wildflowers. Our enthusiastic staff will teach you all you need to know to engage with students in their classrooms in March and April followed by field trips to the Mundy Wildflower Garden in May. The first session starts February 28 from 10:00 a.m. -  11:30 p.m. in the Nevin Welcome Center.
Contact Raylene Ludgate at for more details and to sign up!

Cultivated Plant Collections
Volunteers participate in many ways in our diverse plant collections, working closely with skilled horticulturists in our gardens and arboretum. Typical work includes weeding, transplanting seedlings, planting annuals, dividing perennials, edging garden beds, taking cuttings, and more. If you like to work outside with your hands in the dirt, this is the opportunity for you!
Natural Areas
Our 3,000-plus acres of natural areas, including the Mundy Wildflower Garden, offer opportunities for volunteers to work directly with native, naturalized and invasive flora of the Cayuga Lake Basin. Natural areas volunteers help protect fragile habitats and rare plants while learning effective conservation techniques and stewardship practices. Student and community groups can also help by participating in group service projects, such as trail maintenance or invasive plant removal.
You can learn more about these opportunities and fill out our online volunteer application form HERE, or contact Kevin Moss, Adult Education & Volunteer Coordinator, at, (607) 254-7430.

Species Spotlight: Arborvitae

34 weeks 4 days ago

A closer look at totem poles

A small grove of arborvitae (Thuja plicata), a relative of our native eastern red cedar (Thuja occidentalis), is growing in the northwest corner of our groundcover collection, adjacent to Comstock Knoll.

The arborvitae is common in forests along the coasts of the Pacific Northwest. Throughout history and today, Native American communities from coastal Oregon to southern Alaska have extensively used arborvitae for building houses, canoes, textiles, instruments, utensils, and for crafting totem poles—strong symbols of their cultural identities.

The native people of the Pacific Northwest are from several distinct nations, belonging to seven different language families with many dialects. One of their commonalities is carving totem poles, which are considered storytellers that give people their cultural identity and communicate their beginnings, history, and lineage.

Totem poles serve different purposes. Hilary Stewart, author of Looking at Totem Poles, writes “One example is the memorial pole, found in Haida, Tlingit, Tsimshian, Kwakiutl, Nuu-chah-nulth and Muzalk villages, stood before the house but was not attached to it. Raised a year or more after the death of a chief, the memorial pole displayed crest and figures that depicted special achievements or events in the deceased person’s family history.”

Stewart noted, “The Nuu-chah-nulth set up a welcome pole near the village beach. This single, larger than life human figure, with arms outstretched, stood near the beach to welcome visitors arriving for a feast or potlatch.”

Over time a new category of pole has emerged—the commercial pole—commissioned from sources outside the culture, such as government agencies, private individuals or corporations.

Almost without exception, totem poles are carved from arborvitae. It takes a specialized technique to harvest the tree and a great deal of preparation to raise a finished totem pole. Artist-carvers are commissioned to shape figures and objects into the tree. A whole host of supernatural beings have become the crests of various northwest coast peoples, which are described in Stewart’s book, a reputable source for learning more about totem poles. The author details and interprets the figures and crests found on 110 totem poles accessible to the public in communities of the Pacific Northwest.

Cornell Botanic Gardens, University, and City Collaborate to Improve Gorge Safety

34 weeks 4 days ago
New barrier diverts users to beautiful, accessible gorge areas

With the support of Cornell Botanic Gardens and Cornell University, the City of Ithaca Common Council in December voted to permit erection of a safety barrier over the 19th-century industrial relic known as “Ezra’s Tunnel.” While never intended to serve as a public access point, the former sluiceway provided unauthorized ingress to the city-owned area of Fall Creek Gorge at the top of Ithaca Falls and to nearby waterfalls and plunge pools that are among the most dangerous in the Finger Lakes.

The barrier was designed, funded, and constructed by Cornell University, then ownership turned over to the city of Ithaca in January 2018.

Closing Ezra’s Tunnel is part of a broader strategy that the Cornell Gorge Safety Committee, which includes city representation, has been working on to promote safe and responsible use of the gorges. The Nathaniel Rand ’12 Memorial Gorge Safety Education Program is named in memory of a student who died in a gorge drowning accident in 2011. The program’s goal is to prevent future tragedies by informing visitors about safe and responsible use of the gorges.

The program includes educational initiatives such as the gorge stewards, orientation hikes for new students, educational programming for orientation leaders and residence advisors, and a gorge safety video and brochure (pdf). These educational efforts are just one part of a comprehensive safety program that includes providing safe recreational alternatives, enforcement, and maintenance of gorge infrastructure.

For more, see these articles in the Cornell Chronicle, New York Times, and Cornell Daily Sun.

Now is the time to visit 30,000 new spring bulbs

34 weeks 4 days ago
Last October, Professor William Miller, of the School of Integrative Plant Science, Horticulture Section of CALS, collaborated with Cornell Botanic Gardens to plant 30,000 bulbs outside the Nevin Welcome Center and in our F. R. Newman Arboretum with a mechanical bulb planter— a novel demonstration for Cornell University.
The machine used was donated from a large bulb supplier in the Netherlands to Professor Miller's flower bulb research program. The machine lifts the turf, plants the bulbs, and places the turf immediately back in place.  A video of the planting next to the Bioswale Garden can be found here.
Bulbs were donated from Professor Miller's connections in Holland and from David Strabo, Cornell Class of ’80, of Longfield Gardens.  Irene Lekstutis, Botanic Gardens’ landscape designer, crafted the planting designs and our horticultural staff sorted and packed the bulbs into the machine. Bulbs were selected for their deer resistance and to showcase a sequence of blooms from throughout the spring.

These bulbs are emerging now and will continue to bloom through June.

In early spring, Chionodoxa luciliae (blue in color) will emerge in three circles in Jackson Grove (Arboretum). To aid the planting machine in making the tight circular curves, Horticulturist Melissa Cox used a sod-cutter to carve out the design. Chionodoxa bulbs naturalize, meaning that as they multiply the circles will become fuller. A mix of 4 varieties of daffodils, Chionodoxa 'Gigantea', Crocus vernusCamassia quamash and Allium 'Purple Sensation' were planted along the lawn side of our Bioswale Garden outside the Nevin Welcome Center (shown left). Look for these to bloom in mid spring. An early summer display of Allium 'Purple Sensation', A. atropurpureum, A. nigrum, and A. sphaerocephalum will flank the mown path in Newman Meadow near the entrance to the Arboretum at Caldwell Drive between the Nut Tree Collection and Slim Jim Woods.

Naturally dyed textiles on display in the Nevin Welcome Center

35 weeks 10 hours ago
Creating textiles from natural dyes is a labor of love involving cultivation, harvest, textile preparation, and dye extraction. Add to this the various surface design techniques and natural dyeing becomes a labor of love. Cornell Professor Denise Green and students in her Natural Dye Studio course designed textiles in brilliant hues of yellows, reds, greens, blues, purples, and more. These naturally dyed textiles made from a range of plants, including marigold, sunflower and Japanese indigo are on display through June 2018.

Read more about the students and their work in the February 12 Cornell Chronicle article, "To dye fore: Exhibit showcases naturally tinted textiles." (Photo by Jason Koski, University Photography)

Chocolatada! An "Ithaca Loves Teachers" Event, February 20

35 weeks 10 hours ago
Celebrate chocolate through history, with tastings, and hands-on activities. Come experience the rich story of chocolate starting from a tree: learn how it grows and how cacao seeds are processed to become lusciously smooth chocolate. Sample diverse chocolates as you travel through their place in history. You will taste exotic chocolate from Modica, Sicily, sample award winning white chocolate from Venezuela, smell the aromas of chocolate as it is processed through a modern conching machine, and more.


Date/time: Tuesday, February 20; Drop in any time between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Cost: $10 per person; pre-registration not required
Location: Nevin Welcome Center

Ithaca Loves Teachers! This program is one of many events offered February 16 -25 to celebrate educators with entertainment, activities, family fun, and discounts throughout the Tompkins County community. Click here to view the lineup of events.

Land Gift Provides Legacy for Old-Growth Forest Natural Area

36 weeks 19 min ago

With Bandler Family Forest Tract, the area now preserves more than 100 acres, with almost 30 acres of old-growth forest. Read more in the February 8 Cornell Chronicle article "Land gift expands old-growth forest natural area."

How do plants survive winter? Find out on our upcoming winter plant walks

36 weeks 1 day ago
Winter is a time of survival for plants in temperate zones, yet a variety of ingenious adaptations allow plants to survive the harsh season and resume their life processes anew each spring. Join plant science professor emeritus Dr. Peter Davies for a walk through the botanic gardens to learn the science behind winter plant survival strategies. Please dress appropriately for weather conditions. Walk will be cancelled if temperatures are below 20 degrees F.

Pre-registration is not required.

Dates/times: Thursday, February 22; 1 p.m. to 2 p.m and Saturday, February 24; 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: $5 suggested donation; pre-registration is not required
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center

Earthwise: A Storytelling Journey Featuring Regi Carpenter

36 weeks 1 day ago
Stories have been used throughout history to teach important life lessons, preserve cultural heritage, and encourage respect for each other and the natural world. In this engaging and participatory program, storytellers Regi Carpenter and Kevin Moss will share a sampling of earth wisdom stories, drawing on a variety of oral and folk traditions.

Date/time: Saturday, February 17; 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Cost: $5 suggested donation; no registration required
Location: Nevin Welcome Center

Appropriate for adults and children over 5 years.

Summer Internship Applications are due February 20

37 weeks 3 days ago

Become a member of the botanic gardens' professional team and learn about the operations of a public garden. We are accepting applications for positions working with staff in our botanic gardens, natural areas, and education department. Learn more on our internship page.

Opening reception for "Quiet Labor" exhibit, February 7

38 weeks 3 days ago
Creating textiles from natural dyes is a laborious process involving cultivation, harvest, textile preparation, and dye extraction. Cornell Professor Denise Green and students in her Natural Dye Studio course designed textiles in brilliant hues of yellows, reds, greens, blues, purples, and more. These naturally dyed textiles made from a range of plants, including marigold, sunflower, and Japanese indigo are on display through June 2018.

Opening Reception: Meet professor Denise Green and students who will share the various techniques used to create the pieces in this exhibit. Light refreshments will be served.

Date/time: Wednesday, February 7; 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public.
Location: Nevin Welcome Center