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Lecture: The Evolution of the Indigenous Food Systems of North America

24 weeks 3 days ago
Founder of the company The Sioux Chef, Sean Sherman is committed to revitalizing Indigenous cuisine. Through his research over the last seven years, he has uncovered the foundations of the Indigenous food systems. This begins by looking at regional differences and diversity of foods throughout North America. As the details of this search materializes, it's possible to apply this to the evolution of Native American foods through cooking techniques, and applying these practices to modern life.

Learn more about Sean in an October, 2017 interview on WBUR's Here & Now.

Audrey O'Connor Lecture
: Wednesday, September 5; 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Location: Statler Hall, Cornell University

Presented in partnership with Cornell’s American Indian & Indigenous Studies Program and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future

The Discovery Trail: Examining wildflowers at Cornell Botanic Gardens

24 weeks 4 days ago

Each spring, Wildlflower Explorations introduces more than 400 area third graders to the wonder of plants. Read more in an August 27 Tompkins Weekly article.

Cornell American Literature Scholar kicks off Fall Lecture Series

26 weeks 2 days ago
by Degianni Fleming '20

Our annual Fall Lecture Series opens with renowned author George Hutchinson. Hutchinson, Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture in the College of Arts and Sciences, will deliver the 2018 William and Jane Torrence Harder Lecture. The Harder Lecture celebrates the connection between the literary and natural worlds, and is the first of the botanic gardens’ six-lecture series.  The lecture takes place Wednesday, August 29, at 5:30 p.m. in Call Auditorium, and will be followed by a garden party at Cornell Botanic Gardens. The lecture and garden party are free and open to the public.

Hutchinson’s insights dovetail with the purpose of the Harder Lecture and the mission of Cornell Botanic Gardens, said Christopher Dunn, the Elizabeth Newman Wild Director of Cornell Botanic Gardens.  “His work shows the depth of connection between people and nature,” Dunn said. “Through reevaluation of the past, he makes us see the future interrelationship of human culture and biodiversity.”

Hutchinson’s lecture, “Literary Ecology in the 1940’s,” will take a step to the mid-20th century and evaluate traditional perspectives in how “nature” and “literature” are categorized as non-human and human, respectively. The lecture will explore culture as something that happens inevitably, rather than as a conscious choice, focusing on humans and nature not as separate entities, but as one.

“Literature doesn’t simply represent ‘nature’ but is an agent of what we call nature; as Muriel Rukeyser put it, it is a “transfer of energy,” Hutchinson said. “The distinction between ‘Nature’ and ‘Culture’ was deconstructed—something Whitman had earlier intuited. This had important implications for literary form, as well as such movements as Abstract Expressionism in the visual arts.”

Hutchinson’s teaching and research focus on 19th and 20thcentury American literature. The subject of his lecture is also the topic of his forthcoming book on American literature and culture in the 1940s, for which he was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2011.

“It’s amazing how many of the insights of recent theories of the “Anthropocene” actually emerged in the immediate aftermath of World War II, when people first came to the realization that they had the power to destroy the world on which we all depend—and that we were likely to do so,” Hutchinson said. “These insights had a profound impact on American literature and other arts. 

Hutchinson is the author of several books including “In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Color Line,” which has won the Christian Gauss Award of Phi Beta Kappa; and “The Harlem Renaissance in Black and White,” a finalist for the Rea Non-Fiction Prize.

“George is a sparkling writer who draws on an incredibly rich store of knowledge about twentieth-century US culture—not only literature but music, visual art, racial and sexual politics, and philosophy,” said Caroline Levine, the David and Kathleen Ryan Professor of Humanities and chair of the Department of English.

“His research is always innovative and surprising, and his new book on the 1940s is going to reshape the ways we’ve thought about American literature in the past century.”

View the full lecture series lineup.

-Degianni Fleming ‘20 is marketing and communications intern for Cornell Botanic Gardens

Judy’s Day Festival celebrates plants and their families on September 30

26 weeks 2 days ago
Join us on Sunday September 30 for our Judy’s Day Family Festival, themed “Plants Have Families Too" in the beautiful setting of the F. R. Newman Arboretum.

This unique and fun festival will celebrate the fascinating lineage of plant families.
Join us on Sunday, September 30, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., for hands-on activities, tastings, story sharing, music and more to  learn about plants and their families.

Be awed by lycopodium magic, greet the grain goddesses, skip with the spurges, play music with the cucurbits, print flower pigments, taste orchid ice cream, share plant stories, decorate daisy fairy houses, paint a mural, and crawl through a carboniferous forest!

This unique festival is held outside under tents in the beautiful setting of the F.R. Newman Arboretum --- rain or shine. For kids of all ages!

Suggested donation $5/ person
FREE Parking at Cornell’s B-Lot off Route 366, with a shuttle bus to the Arboretum.

Sustainable Landscapes Trail Highlights Numerous Cornell Botanic Gardens Sites

26 weeks 2 days ago
New signs cropped up around Cornell Botanic Gardens’ natural areas and Nevin Welcome Center in summer 2018—markers for sites on Cornell University’s Sustainable Landscapes Trail.

Launched in 2017, the trail highlights sustainable design and green infrastructure across the Cornell campus. It promotes open spaces, natural areas, and landscapes with unique sustainability features that enhance and promote healthy ecosystems.

Cornell Botanic Gardens has long played a prominent role in campus sustainability efforts and is home to seven of the sixteen sites on this trail.

Sustainable landscapes and the ways in which they provide environmental benefits are often invisible to the public.  The trail aims to educate the Cornell community about the many benefits humans gain from the natural environment and from properly functioning ecosystems—known as “ecosystem services. Ecosystem services support our survival and quality of life, either directly or indirectly. They include reducing storm water runoff, improving water and air quality, and conserving energy. The features of the trail also serve as part of the “living laboratory campus,” meaning that each site can be used for research and education.
“Almost everything we do at botanic gardens is sustainable landscape, one way or another,” said Todd Bittner, director of natural areas.  “Our mission to conserve biodiversity aligned perfectly with purpose of this trail. It allows us to share our sustainability efforts, as well as the challenges that follow, and to advocate for sustainable practices.”

Cornell Botanic Gardens’ sites that are on the Sustainable Landscape Trail include: Climate Change Garden, Bioswale Garden, Nevin Center Green Roof, Mundy Wildflower Garden Deer Impact Research and Management, Integrated Pest Management, Biodiversity in Natural Areas, and our Native Lawn located next to the Mundy Wildflower Garden.

New Endowment for Fischer Old-Growth Forest

26 weeks 2 days ago
Demonstrating their continued commitment to preserving our region’s natural treasures, Professor Emeritus David K. Bandler ’55, MPS ’71, and his wife Lenore have established a new endowment at Cornell Botanic Gardens for the Fischer Old-Growth Forest Natural Area.

In the past two years, the Bandlers gifted 60 acres in two tracts of land, known as the Bandler Family Tract and the Bandler Family Forest, to expand the preserve.  The David and Lenore Bandler Endowment for Fischer Old-Growth Forest Natural Area will support the continued conservation, maintenance, and enhancement of the entire 100-acre natural area.

“We wanted to be sure the addition of the acreage didn’t become a burden for the Botanic Gardens,” said David Bandler. “From our own 57 years of stewardship, we know the labor of love it takes to keep a ‘natural area’ natural and accessible.”

“The Bandlers’ vision, conservation ethic, and generosity has enabled the protection and stewardship of a very remarkable natural area,” said Todd Bittner, director of natural areas for Cornell Botanic Gardens. “The benefits to our collective natural heritage, the public, and the Cornell community will be cherished for generations to come.”

Originally acquired by Cornell Botanic Gardens in 1997, Fischer Old-Growth Forest is among the best of a few remaining examples of pre-European settlement forests in the Finger Lakes. With the addition of the Bandler Family Tract and the Bandler Family Forest, visitors can hike through a broad continuum of habitat types and see the changes that agricultural and forestry practices have had on the landscape. The preserve now includes old-growth forest; mature, second-growth forest; meadow; and several successional forests of different ages.

Cornell Botanic Gardens manages a 3,600-acre network of preserves in Tompkins County, protecting the full range of natural community types and most rare plant habitats found in the Finger Lakes Region.  For more information about all of our natural areas, go to here.

Cornell Botanic Gardens Hosts Youth Gardening Educators

26 weeks 2 days ago
A collaboration in July 2018 with the American Horticultural Society helped Cornell Botanic Gardens advance its strategic goal to cultivate the next generation of biocultural guardians. The American Horticultural Society’s (AHS) 26th annual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium (NCYGS) took place on the Cornell campus July 11, 2018 to July 14, 2018. 

This professional development event brought together hundreds of educators, garden designers, community leaders, youth program coordinators, and others from across the country who are dedicated to connecting children and youth to the natural world. The theme was to cultivate tomorrow’s gardeners by energizing, inspiring, and training today’s garden educators. Cornell Botanic Gardens contributed to the educational offerings of the symposium with tours, an open house, and a session about engaging teen audiences.

Cascadilla Gorge Hike:
During an extended hike, participants learned about the natural and cultural history of Cascadilla Gorge, a beautiful and iconic natural area connecting the Cornell campus with downtown Ithaca. Led by Todd Bittner, director of natural areas, Sarah Fiorello, interpretation coordinator, and Mike Roberts, natural areas project manager, the tour offered views of waterfalls, wildflowers, trees, and exposed Devonian bedrock.

Open House at Nevin Welcome Center:
During the open house, symposium participants explored the specialty gardens around the Nevin Welcome Center, which feature rhododendrons, groundcovers, herbs, tropical containers, ornamentals, vegetables, and more. Volunteer Garden Guides answered questions.

“It was great fun interacting with so many wonderful garden enthusiasts from across the country, and to see the gardens through their eyes,” said Kevin Moss, adult education and volunteer coordinator.

Youth Education Symposium:
In a session titled “Teaching Sustainability through the Lens of Outdoor Experiences,” participants explored the nuts and bolts of running a teen gardening program, as well as the benefits to participating teens. Donna Levy, environmental educator at Cornell Botanic Gardens, shared her experience running the PEEPS (Plantations’ Environmental Education for Sustainability) program, which engaged teens in  participation-based activities that raised ecological awareness and understanding, cultivated an environmental ethic, and developed skills for future action.

When working with teens, leaders must strike a balance between the work students must do to learn, and providing for a fun and fulfilling experience, Levy said. Her key to success: “Help teens develop a love for the work they’re doing, and the rest will follow.”

Buy plants online selected by our horticulture staff

29 weeks 6 days ago
Visitors to Cornell Botanic Gardens who are inspired by the diverse, beautiful plants in our cultivated gardens, arboretum, and natural areas now have a way to bring those plants to their own garden spaces. ShrubBucket, distributor of high-quality perennials from the region’s top producers, has launched the Cornell Botanic Gardens online store.

ShrubBucket currently serves gardeners in parts of New York State and Connecticut. Cornell Botanic Gardens’ visitors living in those areas can now choose from hundreds of plants reflected in Cornell Botanic Gardens’ collections, order them online, and have them hand delivered to their home or business within several days by ShrubBucket.

"Having visited the gardens since I was a young child, I felt that the one missing element was not being able to purchase plants you were excited about discovering,” said Rick Hedrick, founder and CEO of ShrubBucket. “This partnership is a win- win for everybody—especially those who are inspired by the plants at Cornell Botanic Gardens.  It brings the visitor experience to the gardens full circle."

ShrubBucket is one of several local and regional garden centers that partner with Cornell Botanic Gardens to provide benefits to botanic gardens members and the public. These include Ithaca AgwayBaker's AcresCayuga LandscapeDer RosenmeisterMagic GardenGreenTreeThe Plantsmen, or R.C.'s Plants & Produce.

Plants available for purchase through the Cornell Botanic Gardens online store on ShrubBucket are selected by the botanic gardens’ expert horticulture staff to best reflect the spirit and values of the gardens and natural areas. Home gardeners can search and filter plants by numerous criteria, including those that attract pollinators, butterflies, and birds, drought tolerance, and season of interest, among others.

"ShrubBucket has supplied us with unique, high-quality plants for our areas for several years,” said Christopher Dunn, PhD, Elizabeth Newman Wilds Executive Director of Cornell Botanic Gardens. “It was the logical next step to partner with ShrubBucket so that our visitors benefit from the firm’s enormous network of excellent growers, both locally and regionally."

ShrubBucket’s business model ensures that plants ordered from the online store arrive at the customer’s doorstep within five days and in fresh-from-the-grower condition. Plants are procured from producers only when ordered by customers, and are hand-delivered by ShrubBucket.

“More than anything else, the partnership with Cornell Botanic Gardens brings together growers, homeowners, and public garden visitors to promote and celebrate the best of American horticulture,” Hedrick said.

Click here to buy your plants now.

Flowers After Hours: A Garden Cocktail Party

34 weeks 3 days ago

Celebrate summer in the garden with a special evening garden party when the sun is fading and the flowers are glorious! The party will feature herb-flavored cocktails and savory hors d’oeuvres brought to you by Cornell Catering and made with fresh ingredients from our gardens and live music by Professor Tuesday’s Jazz Quartet. Registration includes six unique cocktail samples with paired tapas plates. Recipes will be provided. The event will take place rain or shine. Proceeds from the party provide essential support for programs and collections. Pre-registration is required. Participants must be 21 or older and prepared to show proof of age.

Click here to register.

Date/time: Friday, July 27; 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $40 members, $55 non-members (Become a member today and save $15 on this event!)
Location: Gardens around the Nevin Welcome Center

Fairytale Road Trip: Ithaca to Cornwall

34 weeks 3 days ago

The family travel site “Road Trips for Families” recommends an afternoon to “wander the 35-acre fairy-land of the beautiful Cornell Botanic Gardens,” and a walk through the Mundy Wildflower Garden. The F .R. Newman Arboretum is noted for ease of parking and stroller-friendliness. Read the full article here.

Our new strategic plan focuses on connecting plants and peoples

34 weeks 4 days ago
We are proud to share our strategic plan for 2018-2023. The plan resulted from many months of thoughtful examination of our organization, direction, and resolve to make a positive impact on people and the planet.

The world demands that we engage with communities and peoples to save plants and their habitats. We are committed to raising awareness, inspiring action, and sowing messages of hope. This strategic plan is a road map that guides our organization in working toward these objectives, while passionately maintaining the foundational work that makes us integral to Cornell University, the local community, and the thousands who visit our areas each year.

Carl Gortzig, director behind Cornell’s Path system, dies at 87

35 weeks 5 days ago
Carl Gortzig, former director of Cornell Botanic Gardens, passed away Saturday, June 2, 2018, at age 87. He was professor emeritus and former chair of the Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture (FOH) Department in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Gortzig served as acting director of Cornell Botanic Gardens in 1988, and returned as director from 1993 to 1996. One of his most notable achievements was the creation of what was then known as the Plantations Path system. This series of nine interconnected pedestrian trails totaling eight miles, supported by the Cowie Family, features interpretive information on the natural and architectural history of the Cornell Campus.

Gortzig and his wife Jean are honored with a plaque at the Cornell Botanic Garden which reads, "In honor of Jean and Carl Gortzig In recognition of their 57 years of service to Cornell in so many roles, in so many ways from so many friends, April 1997"

Read more in a June 11 Cornell Chronicle article.

Reunion events at Cornell Botanic Gardens

36 weeks 3 days ago
Welcome Back! During Reunion Weekend, our rhododendrons, irises, poppies, and peonies are blooming, and you may still find many spring wildflowers in the Mundy Wildflower Garden and natural areas. At the Nevin Welcome Center and gardens on Plantations Road you can take a tour, chat with one of our wandering volunteer Garden Guides, pick up a visitor map and explore on your own, browse the exhibits and Garden Gift Shop, or just relax and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the gardens and grounds.

For a full description of events listed below, click here for a printable pdf.

Schedule of events:


Beebe Lake Natural History Walk
2:00 to 3:30 p.m., Beebe Beach

FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 2018

Garden Tour
10:00 - 11:00 a.m., Nevin Welcome Center, Plantations Road

Cascadilla Gorge Hikes
10:00 – 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (see also Saturday listing for additional time) Meet at the College Avenue entrance to the trail, located at the northeast corner of the Schwartz Performing Arts Center.

Mundy Wildflower Garden Tour
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon, Mundy Wildflower Garden, Caldwell Drive entrance

Rhododendron Collection Tour
2:00 to 3:00 p.m., Nevin Welcome Center, Plantations Road


Garden Tour
9:00 - 10:00 a.m., Nevin Welcome Center, Plantations Road

Cascadilla Gorge Hike
12:30 – 2:00 p.m. (see also Friday listing for additional times)
Meet at the College Avenue entrance to the trail, located at the northeast corner of the Schwartz Performing Arts Center.

“The Hangovers” – Allan Hosie Treman '21 Memorial Concert
3:00 to 4:00 pm, Nevin Welcome Center, Plantations Rd.

Cornell plans response against emerald ash borer

36 weeks 4 days ago

The invasive insect emerald ash borer threatens 200 ash trees on central campus and more than 2,000 in campus natural areas. Staff at Cornell Botanic Gardens and Facilities and Campus Services are collaborating with faculty and students to address inevitable loss of trees. Read more in a May 21 Cornell Chronicle article.

Garden and Arboretum Hike, June 2

37 weeks 4 days ago
Take it outside on this extended hike through the diverse plant collections and landscapes of Cornell Botanic Gardens. Experience the beautiful gardens, arboretum, woodland trails, and panoramic views that helped Cornell Botanic Gardens earn its #1 ranking as the most beautiful college arboretum. Please dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Walks will be held rain or shine and will include some steep slope and stair climbing.

Date/time: Saturday, June 2; 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Cost: Free; $5 suggested donation; registration is not required
Instructor: Dr. Peter Davies, Cornell Professor Emeritus, Plant Biology and Horticulture
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center

Sale in the Garden Gift Shop starting June 1

37 weeks 4 days ago

During National Gardening Week, Friday June 1 to Sunday, June 10, the Garden Gift Shop is offering:

    •    20 percent off all plant kits and seeds, including ones from the Seed Savers Exchange (shown left) and the Cornell Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics.
    •    20 percent off Cornell Botanic Gardens apparel.
    •    20 percent off all Beekman Collection items.

Garden Tours every Saturday, June 16 through September 29

37 weeks 4 days ago
We kick off our garden tours this June. Every Saturday at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. from June 16 through September 29, you can join a garden guide to discover the beauty and diversity of our cultivated plant collections in the gardens around the Nevin Welcome Center. Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center; $5 suggested donation.

Arboretum tours, third Sunday of each month

Starting May 19, the third Sunday of each month at 1 p.m. (May - October), join a Garden Guide on a tour of the F. R. Newman Arboretum. Each month, the guide will visit unique locations, such as Houston and Grossman Ponds, Zucker Shrub Collection, Newman Overlook, and more. Meet at the Sculpture Garden; $5 suggested donation.

Species Spotlight: Secrets of the Shadbush

37 weeks 4 days ago
by Christopher Dunn, Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director, Cornell Botanic Gardens

When I was an undergraduate student a few years ago (OK, a few decades ago), one of my favorite classes was dendrology. What I really enjoyed was learning hundreds of Latin or Latinized names of the trees of the Northeast and coming to understand what the names mean. For instance, Acer saccharum, with “saccharum” referring to sweet or sugar (think of the artificial sweeter saccharin). No wonder its common name is sugar maple.

Common names reveal a lot about a plant if you care to dig a little. Consider the small tree, Amelanchier canadensis (or any of its North American relatives of which there are many,) which often goes by the common name “shadbush.” Now, I learned this common name during my dendrology class. We were told that this plant goes by shadbush because when the shrub is in flower, shad (a type of fish) are spawning in the streams. For me, that was the end of the story.

Fast forward to today. As it turns out, the name “shadbush” does not just signify an interesting coincidence between flowering and spawning. It is much more significant, because for many Native American tribes, its flowering signals the availability of shad as a food source. Today, shadbush flowers earlier in the spring, but its namesake fish species isn’t yet spawning. Thus, this important biological cue is no longer of such cultural value.

A team of us at Cornell is working with Native American communities to find ways to “recalibrate” this kind of ecological calendar. Specifically, are there other biological cues that can substitute for shadbush, or for any other aspect of Native American cultural tradition? The temporal disconnection between Shadbush blooming and shad spawning is one of numerous examples of how environmental changes are having human cultural consequences, in some cases leading to cultural and language loss. Suffice it to say, we are very good at informing visitors, students, and others about the interesting evolutionary and economic aspects of plants. We hope to do a better job of describing their human cultural values and significance. With a greater awareness of these cultural connections, we will be better stewards of our natural world and of our amazing cultural diversity. Shown right: Amelanchier x grandiflora
'Princess Diana' grows in the Newman Arboretum

For a beautifully told version of the shadbush story, check out the children’s book When the Shadbush Blooms by Carla Messinger and Susan Katz.

Moths of the Night, June 15

37 weeks 4 days ago
Join Cornell entomologist Jason Dombroskie to explore the myriad types of moths that arrive through the night on Friday, June 15 from 9 p.m. to midnight.

As the sun sets we will have a brief introduction to moths and then fire up bright lights to attract them. We will learn how to identify the myriad forms of moths that arrive through the night and learn about their natural history. Stop by for a few minutes or bring a lawn chair and hang out for the evening. Bring a flashlight or headlamp.

Date/time: Friday, June 15; 9 p.m. to midnight
Cost: Free and registration is not required
Location: Palmer Woods Natural Area, located on Cornell's North Campus, adjacent to the “A” Lot, off Pleasant Grove Road.

Arboretum Tour, May 20

39 weeks 4 days ago
Enjoy a guided tour of the F.R Newman Arboretum and discover its diverse woody plant collections, ornamental garden beds, and idyllic landscapes. Each month, we’ll visit unique locations, such as  Houston & Grossman Ponds, the Sculpture Garden, Treman Woodland Walk, Zucker Shrub Collection, Newman Overlook, and more, as we discuss the cultural, geologic, and natural history of the site. Walks will last approximately 90 minutes and may include some moderate slopes.

Dates/time: Tours are offered the third Sunday of each month, rain or shine: May 20, June 17, July 15, August 19, September 16, & October 21 from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and no registration required
Location: Meet by the Sculpture Garden in the central arboretum area.