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Cornell Botanic Gardens Brings Blooms, Food, and Fun to Presidential Inauguration Festivities

1 year 10 weeks ago

From a tropical container garden, to whimsical flower hats, to culinary herbs, Cornell Botanic Gardens made its stamp on the installation of Cornell University President Martha Pollack. 

New presidents of Cornell University are ushered in with pomp and celebration. When President Martha Pollack was installed on August 25, 2017, Cornell Botanic Gardens participated with zest, sharing flowers, herbs, and fun, across three celebratory events. 

Trustee’s Lunch

When the Office of the Board of Trustees began planning an inauguration-day lunch, they approached Cornell Botanic Gardens for height-of-season blooms. The Zucker Shrub Collection yielded lush stems of white hydrangeas, hosta leaves, and ornamental grass fronds for 25 table centerpieces. Each was accompanied by a branded card noting Cornell Botanic Gardens contribution. This elevated the presence of the botanic gardens among 275 high-profile trustees, alumni, and friends. 

Street Fair
Immediately following the installation ceremony on the Arts Quad, Martha Pollack was feted with a street fair showcasing the best of Cornell University. Cornell Botanic Gardens wanted its display to draw visitors in with the beauty of plants and to convey its educational mission. Above all, guests were to experience plants with surprise and delight, in an interactive activity. 

Developing and executing the display leveraged the expertise and creativity of staff across the organization—horticulture, education, facilities, and communication. The result was a lush tropical container garden on the Arts Quad, and a photo booth, where visitors donned whimsical hats made from plants and flowers. 

At the close of the presidential installation ceremony, more than 7,000 people flocked to the street fair. Many lined up to have their photos made with the hat creations, including CALS Dean Kathryn Boor, Soumitra Dutta, dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Fred Van Sickle, vice president for alumni affairs and development, and Kathy Zoner, Cornell’s chief of police. 

Watch for a behind-the-scenes view of how Cornell Botanic Gardens created a tropical container garden and photo booth with living hats to celebrate the installation of Cornell University President Martha Pollack in this short video.

Inauguration Dinner, Barton Hall
Some 600 people filled Barton Hall in the evening for a gala dinner honoring Martha Pollack. In his welcome remarks, Joel Malina, vice president for university relations, recognized Cornell Botanic Gardens for providing herbs and edible flowers for the celebratory meal. The prior day, Tim Oltz, executive chef for Cornell Catering, visited the Robison York State Herb Garden. He and Horticulturist Pam Shade selected culinary herbs for dishes such as boursin- and herb-stuffed mini zucchini. “The herbs took the menu to the next level of flavor,” Oltz said. “We can’t get these herbs in a store.”