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Cornell artists win global soil competition

38 weeks 3 days ago

The soil-painting team, led by Kirsten Kurtz, included our Emily Dietrich, horticulturist and artist. The painting won first prize in the university category of a global soil painting competition sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Read more in a January 16 Cornell Chronicle.

Christopher Dunn to chair new national conservation group

39 weeks 2 days ago

Cornell Botanic Gardens’ director is leading the U.S. National Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Read more about his role in a January 16 Cornell Chronicle article.

Animal track and sign walk February 3

40 weeks 3 days ago
Join local author and animal tracker Linda Spielman for a leisurely walk through the Mundy Wildflower Garden in search of animal tracks and other signs of wildlife. Even if there’s no snow nature will offer plenty of stories for us to interpret. After the walk Linda will sign copies of her book, A Field Guide to Tracking Mammals of the Northeast, available for purchase in our Garden Gift Shop. Appropriate for adults and children over 8 years. Please dress appropriately for the weather.

Date/time: Saturday, February 3; 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: $5 suggested donation; no registration is required
Instructor: Linda Spielman, local author and animal tracker 
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center

Guided tour with conifer gardener Phil Syphrit February 2

40 weeks 3 days ago
Join conifer gardener Phil Syphrit on an easy walk through part of our conifer collection. The tour will highlight conifers, both native and non-native to the Ithaca area (including yew, metasequoia, concolor fir, larch, and cedar), their unique features, and tips for their care in the home landscape. The walk will last approximately one hour. Please dress appropriately for the weather.

Date/time: Friday, February 2; noon - 1 p.m
Cost: $5 suggested donation; no registration required
Instructor: Phil Syphrit, conifer gardener
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center

Learn how Cornell's Climate-Adapted Design Studio has helped communites adapt to climate change

41 weeks 2 days ago
Please join us at this Biophilia: ITHACA forum for a lively presentation and discussion by Josh Cerra, Cornell Landscape Architecture Associate Professor.

The Climate-Adaptive Design (CAD) Studio links Cornell University students with Hudson riverfront communities faced with extreme precipitation, flooding and sea level rise to explore design alternatives for more climate-adapted and connected waterfront areas. Cerra will introduce concepts of resilience, and share the studio’s process for inspiring awareness and action in preparation for a changing climate.

Date/time: Wednesday, January 24; 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Location: Tompkins County Public Library

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 Paleontological Research Institution, and 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.

Holiday Break Hours for the Nevin Welcome Center

41 weeks 6 days ago

Our grounds are open and free to all from dawn to dusk every day. The Nevin Welcome Center and Garden Gift Shop is closed from Sunday, December 24, 2017 through Wednesday, January 3, 2018.

Closing the Arboretum to Protect our Trees

43 weeks 4 days ago

Pedestrians are welcome to explore the arboretum every day from dawnto dusk. Vehicle access resumes in spring.
Rhoda Maurer, director of horticulture for Cornell Botanic Gardens, explains why the F. R. Newman Arboretum is closed to traffic during the winter months:

Why is the F. R. Newman Arboretum closed to vehicles during the winter? 
Cornell Botanic Gardens and Cornell University do not plow or treat the roads in the arboretum.  We have chosen to practice environmental stewardship by not using salts to treat slippery surfaces. Road salts carry a high environmental cost, as they contaminate water supplies and burn the roots of nearby plants. Our collections are a living museum, and safekeeping them is part of our responsibility to future generations. 

Can’t you find a way to keep the roads clear that won’t damage the trees? 
Keeping the roads clear without using salts limits us to physical labor and resources not available to us.

What about winter days when there’s no snow on the roads—can’t you open the gates then? 
Seasonal closure of the Arboretum is necessary to ensure the safety of our guests.  And while some roads may seem clear of frozen precipitation, others in the shaded hills often are not.

How do you decide when to close the gates and open them again in the spring? 
Opening and closing of the Arboretum for the winter is based on current weather trends and the probability for below-freezing temperatures and precipitation patterns.  Given the complexity of changing climate and weather events, we strive to keep the Arboretum open for as much of the year as possible, while also providing for the safety of our visitors. 

The Joy of Living Christmas Trees

44 weeks 1 day ago
Holiday tree selection and the search for the perfect one is upon us. Here are a few helpful hints to guide you on your quest:

Trees cut and hanging at the Christmas tree lot all seem acceptable. What to do?   Easy... simply pinch off a few needles, crush and smell.  The aroma should be pleasing. Next, with your hand, tap a couple branches at midpoint and observe how many needles fall. If many fall, decline the tree, as it has been cut for too long.  If a few fall, that’s OK. 

Lastly, gently bend a few branches with your hand. They should be flexible in all directions, yet firm enough to hold the decorations. Clean cut the trunk base at home and immediately submerse in water. Keep water level high as long as you keep the tree. Turn lights off at night, to conserve electricity and reduce fire hazard.

Now, instead of an acceptable tree, how about the perfect one? Purchase a living tree! Choose a species that grows naturally in your area. Here in the Northeast U.S., we favor blue spruce and fir varieties, such as Frasier and Douglas. Place on top of waterproof material, wrap root ball in decorative cloth, and water frequently.  Indoor air is much drier and will increase transpiration rates.  You will need to water often to keep the substrate moist.

Once the tree has served its decorative, indoor purpose, place it in a cold (approximately 40 degrees F), non-temperature- controlled space. Cover root ball with mulch, blankets, or similar material to protect it from drastic temperature fluctuations. 

Schedule a late winter/early spring family planting day and plant your Christmas tree. Not only do will you add another tree to the earth, you’ll enjoy its benefits for generations. Plus, each tree planted represents that season’s holiday and all its memories, forever expressed in the majestic crown of the tree YOU planted.

Lee Dean is lead arborist for Cornell Botanic Gardens

Click here to view a three-minute interview with Lee created by intern Diana Buckley.

Cascadilla Gorge is closed until spring

45 weeks 7 hours ago
The Cascadilla Gorge Trail from Downtown to College Avenue is now closed for winter season. The trail is closed due to hazardous conditions in winter and falling rock that create unsafe conditions. The trail will re-open in the spring when conditions allow.

Although the gorge is closed, you can tour it virtually using Google's Street View feature. Click here for a 360 degree view in front of one of the gorge's waterfalls. To view more points in the gorge, click on the yellow “pegman” in the bottom right corner and drag it to a point on the trail.

Hike on the Cayuga Trail

45 weeks 7 hours ago
The Cayuga Trail passes through many areas of Cornell Botanic Gardens near the Cornell campus including the F. R. Newman Arboretum, Fall Creek Natural Area, Mundy Wildflower Garden, Beebe Lake, and Fall Creek Gorge. Join the Cayuga Trails club for a five-mile hike on Thursday, December 14 at 9 a.m.

Meet at the parking lot at the Mundy Wildflower Garden off of Caldwell Road.

Click here for the full event description.


Above: Stevenson Footbridge in the Fall Creek Natural Area. Photo by Jay Potter

Winter Solstice Garden Tour December 21

45 weeks 2 days ago
As the sun sinks towards its lowest arc in the sky and the longest night of the year (December 21), come join plant science professor Peter Davies and horticulturist Emily Pratt for a look at the plants of the Mullestein Family Winter Garden. Learn how plants cope with winter’s cold, and enjoy some seasonal plant lore. After the walk, savor some hot wassail in the warmth of the Nevin Welcome Center and do some holiday shopping in our Gift Shop.



Date/time: Thursday, December 21; noon to 1 p.m.
Cost: $5 suggested donation; pre-registration not required
Instructors: Emily Pratt, staff horticulturist and Peter Davies, professor emeritus of plant science
Location: Nevin Welcome Center

Questions? Call 607-255-2400

Arboretum Closed to Vehicles for Winter

45 weeks 2 days ago
The F. R. Newman Arboretum at Cornell Botanic Gardens will close to vehicle traffic on Thursday, December 7, at dusk. The arboretum remains open to pedestrians during the winter months. Limited parking is available at the Mundy Wildflower Garden parking lot on Caldwell Road at the intersection with Forest Home Drive, which is directly across from the arboretum.
Pedestrians are welcome to explore the arboretum every day from dawnto dusk. Vehicle access resumes in spring.

Ithaca Lawmakers to Vote December 6 on Safety Barrier for ‘Ezra’s Tunnel’

45 weeks 3 days ago

Common Council is slated to vote on whether to allow Cornell to build a pair of safety barriers to restrict access to Fall Creek Gorge through the former industrial site known as "Ezra's Tunnel." Read more in the Nov. 30 Cornell Chronicle article.

This Weeked: BIG Holiday Sale and Wreath Making

46 weeks 4 days ago

Friends and Family Holiday Sale at the Garden Gift Shop!

Visit the Garden Gift Shop at the Nevin Welcome Center this Thursday, November 30 through Sunday, December 3, and receive 25% off all merchandise.*

*Exclusions apply

Make an Evergreen Wreath this Sunday

Make a wreath to decorate your home for the holidays! All materials provided. Drop in, or register online.

Date/time: Sunday, December 3; 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: $25 ($20 for members).
Location: Nevin Welcome Center

Learn more and register.

Volunteer Symposium Hosted by Cornell Botanic Gardens

48 weeks 2 days ago
On October 11 - 13, Cornell Botanic Gardens was the host site and co-sponsor for the Volunteer Engagement Symposium “Remarkable, Resilient and Rewarding Volunteer Engagement,” offered by the American Public Gardens Association.

The symposium was attended by over 45 professionals from the public garden field who are involved with volunteer management and supervision.  The group included six staff and one volunteer from Cornell Botanic Gardens.  Adult Education and Volunteer Coordinator Kevin Moss was instrumental in organizing the symposium with the Association.
The symposium featured a variety of speakers, with sessions on best practices, student engagement, volunteer retention, risk management, and more. The keynote address, “Land Stewardship and the Volunteer Connection”, was delivered by Andrew Zepp, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust. Tours of the F. R. Newman Arboretum and Cascadilla Gorge, and an excursion to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, rounded out the week.

One attending Volunteer Manager had this to say, “This gathering is so vital to us. For volunteer managers at public gardens, this is the only peer networking group that is gardens-based, which means that we have the chance to confer with colleagues sharing the same issues and learn from each other. The sessions and presentations were interesting, and our time at the Ornithological Research Center and Cascadilla Gorge were enlightening and thought provoking (and hiking back up through the gorge was breathtaking in the truest sense of the word…good exercise for mind and body).  The planning, location and conduct of the event were wonderfully orchestrated. Our thanks to all those who helped in making this a great success.”

Click here to view images from this event.

Removing cattails requires a team effort and engages students

48 weeks 2 days ago
On Sept 17th, 23 Cornell students from EcoHouse joined Cornell Botanic Gardens staff to remove invasive cattails from Houston Pond in the F. R. Newman Arboretum. 

With the help of Plant Science professor Tom Whitlow, 10 canoes, 5 pairs of waders and sickle knives, the group removed the overgrown cattails that were crowding out other plants and changing the ecology of the ponds. This pilot project helped us understand what it would take to successfully remove cattails in the future. Sam Schultz, Ecology and Biology student, is following up with a research project that will recommend next steps and future maintenance strategies.  A local flowering sedge (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani) is being grown at our Plant Production Facility to replace the cattails. 

Click here to view images of this effort.

Dunn Part of Cornell’s Delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference

48 weeks 2 days ago
The United Nations’ Conference of Parties, COP23, on Climate Change was held in Bonn, Germany earlier this month.  Director Christopher Dunn was part of Cornell University’s delegation of faculty and students attending the conference to present and confer with attendees about how to deal with climate change.
Dunn gave a presentation on community-based adaptations to climate change by the peoples of the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia and the Lakota Sioux (click here to view the presentation).  As a delegate, Dunn is also working to raise awareness of the work being done at Cornell Botanic Gardens to raise awareness about climate change and how we and visitors can mitigate its effects or adapt to its impacts.

View Christopher's presentation here.

Read more about the Cornell students and staff who attended COP23 in the November 17 Cornell Chronicle article "Cornell students meet, learn from COP23 world leaders."

We're helping kids discover the (natural) world through our Wildflower Explorations program

48 weeks 4 days ago

Each spring we teach over 500 third grade students about our native wildflowers as part of the Kids Discover the Trail program. Read more about it in this Tompkins Weekly article.

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

49 weeks 1 day 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.” 

Lecture on climate change adaptation by National Geographic Explorer Alizé Carrère, Nov. 8

50 weeks 4 days ago
Adapt and Thrive: Creatively Living in a Climate Changed World

Alizé Carrère, National Geographic Explorer & Cultural Ecologist

With the persistence of climate change, people across the world are experimenting daily with different adaptive methods on the ground. At a time when doomsday narratives dominate the current climate conversation, adaptation plays an increasingly vital role for both its practical application and as a hopeful reminder of our resilience as a species. Alizé Carrère, an Ithaca native and a National Geographic Explorer, will be sharing her experiences from the field looking at remarkable examples of human adaptation. With support from National Geographic, she has been documenting case studies in places such as Madagascar, Bangladesh, India, Norway and the United States to create a web series that reveals human ingenuity and resourcefulness in the face of environmental adversity. Collectively, the story they tell is far grander than the sum of its parts: it is one that reminds us of the single most important trait that has allowed for survival for as long as life has existed on earth.

Interview with Alizé
Here is an insider's look at Alizé, her work, and her insights on human ingenuity in this interview written by Cornell intern Diana Buckley.

Date/time: Wednesday, November 8; 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Location: Statler Hall, Cornell University