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Run/Walk at Work this Friday with Cornell Botanic Gardens

1 year 22 weeks ago

Director of Natural Areas Todd Bittner shares some of the “hidden gems”
among trails with WHCU, and encouraged listeners to participate in the Run/Walk at (or to) Work/School Day, Friday, September 15; with Gary Cremeens from Cornell University Transportation Services and WHCU’s Lee Rayburn. Listen here to learn about the amazing prizes you could win, too!

Cornell Botanic Gardens featured on The Weather Channel

1 year 22 weeks ago

Sonja Skelly, Director of Eduction and Communication at Cornell Botanic Gardens, was featured on The Weather Channel to talk about the striking discoveries being made in the Climate Change Garden. Click here to view.

Lecture this Wednesday by award-winning author David Haskell on "The Songs of Trees"

1 year 22 weeks ago
Join us this Wednesday to hear from David George Haskell, Pulitzer finalist and winner of the National Academies’ Best Book Award, who spent years listening to trees, attending to the myriad sounds and stories in their branches, roots, and surroundings. In his book “The Songs of Trees,” Haskell repeatedly visits a dozen trees around the world, exploring the trees’ connections with webs of fungi, bacterial communities, cooperative and destructive animals, and other plants.

Haskell believes that we live in a world of countless untold stories hiding in plain sight. “The Forest Unseen,” his previous book and finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize, was praised by well-known biologist E. O. Wilson who called it “a new genre of nature writing, located between science and poetry, in which the invisible appear, the small grow large, and the immense complexity and beauty of life are more clearly revealed.”

In this multi-media presentation, Haskell will illustrate how sensory engagement with the world— truly listening—can reveal these hidden strands of life’s connections.

Date/time: Wednesday, September 13, 2017; 7:30 p.m.
Location:Statler Hall Auditorium, Cornell University Campus
Cost: Free and open to the public. No registration required

Veterinary college mends, releases injured bobcat

1 year 23 weeks ago

With assistance from Todd Bittner, director of natural areas for Cornell Botanic Gardens, a large area near his original home range was chosen to release the bobcat. Click here to read the August 16 Cornell Chronicle article.

Still spots left for "Paint and Sip" on September 17

1 year 23 weeks ago
Join us for an afternoon of painting and wine in this introduction to botanical watercolors, with acclaimed local artist Camille Doucet. Wine by the glass will be available for purchase from Six Mile Creek Vineyard, our partner for the event. Light snacks and basic watercolor materials will be provided, or bring your own watercolor set. Participants must be 21 or older and prepared to show proof of age. Pre-registration is required.

Date/time: Sunday, September 17; 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Cost: $40 ($36 for Members) Wine not included in registration fee.
Location:Nevin Welcome Center

Click here to register.

Lecture and Garden Party on August 30 at 5:30 p.m.

1 year 26 weeks ago
Join Cornell Botanic Gardens for its annual Harder Lecture and Garden Party on Wednesday, August 30, 2017. The Harder Lecture showcases authors and poets who write at the intersection of art and nature. Its aim is to illuminate the beauty, strength, and fragility of our natural world, as viewed through the lens of literature. The lecture and Garden Party are free and open to the public.

The 2017 Harder Lecture will be given by Assistant Professor of English at Cornell, Ishion Hutchinson and will be a reflection on John Clare’s visionary poetics of nature and politics in Caribbean light. Hutchinson is the recent recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry for his collection “House of Lords and Commons.” 

It will be followed by a Garden Party, celebrating Hutchinson’s work and the splendor of Cornell Botanic Gardens at its summer peak. The Garden Party will be held in the gardens surrounding the Nevin Welcome Center, 124 Comstock Knoll Drive, on the Cornell University campus.

Date/time: Wednesday, August 30; 5:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public?
Location:Call Auditorium, Kennedy Hall

Gardening in a Changing Climate

1 year 26 weeks ago
The rising level of greenhouse gases is warming the earth’s temperature, creating change in our environments. Specifically, in the Finger Lakes region, climate change has resulted in warmer winters, summer droughts, extreme weather events, longer growing seasons, and variable temperatures. All of these related effects change the way plants grow, says Donna Levy, environmental educator responsible for our Climate Change Garden. Levy recently presented “Gardening in a Changing Climate” to Master Gardeners and shared these insights on how gardeners can adapt their gardening to respond to changing environmental conditions.

Plant Selection
Strategically choosing plants to put in your garden can help address changing conditions due to climate change. Trying new plants from warmer hardiness zones, growing several varieties of a vegetables that range in days to maturity, choosing more drought-resistant plants, as well as those that tolerate standing water, are some of the ways to ensure that your garden thrives.

Diversifying and choosing your plants wisely is also a great way to attract pollinators and beneficial insects that keep pests under control.

Cultural practices
Healthy, well-drained soil is key to battling droughts and extreme events. Adding organic matter to soil should always be considered. This can be achieved by incorporating organic materials, such as manure, into the soil or growing cover crops or green manures.

During summer droughts, proper watering techniques and retaining soil moisture are critical. Constructing rain barrels, watering during the cool part of the day to avoid evaporation, and using drip irrigation are ways to conserve water.

Organic mulches such as straw will not only control weeds, but also moderate soil temperatures, retain much needed water, and will in time, breakdown and add important organic matter to the soil, which is the foundation to successful gardens.

Design or Redesign
Can you build a rain garden or a bioswale? Can you add some shade to an area of high water intensity and design an outdoor living space? Layer your garden; use vertical space.

Reduce your Carbon Footprint
Some things you can do:
•    plant trees
•    change your mowing patterns or schedules
•    recycle, reduce, and reuse your gardening materials
•    teach others to do the same

More resources on gardening in a changing climate can be found on Cornell Botanic Garden’s website. Learn more about the Climate Change Demonstration Garden online or visit in person. The garden is located across the street from the Nevin Welcome Center. The garden demonstrates how a variety of plants are effected by projected temperatures in 2050.

Partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension encourages gardeners to plant for pollinators

1 year 26 weeks ago
Cornell Cooperative Extension educators across New York State have developed pollinator demonstration gardens in response to public and scientific concern about the declining populations of native pollinators. Jennifer Stengle, Extension Educator in Putnam County, recognized that these gardens would benefit from interpretive signs that encouraged visitors to conserve and create pollinator habitats. In 2016, she received a grant from the New York State IPM program to collaborate with Cornell Botanic Gardens’ interpretation coordinator, Sarah Fiorello, to create sign templates for use by Cooperative Extension educators statewide. Four sign templates were completed in fall 2017 that focus on pollinator-friendly gardening tips, bee habitat, safe pesticide use, and suggested plants.? ?Signs have been installed in 6 gardens throughout the state so far. Jennifer felt the collaboration was valuable because “access to shared resources like these signs help CCE educators deliver a consistent message about the importance of pollinators and our roles in their stewardship.”

Want to create your own pollinator garden and share information with others? Click here to view and print the signs.

Inspiring students for garden careers

1 year 26 weeks ago
On a midday stroll through Cornell Botanic Gardens in summer, one will likely see artfully cultivated gardens, cheerful horticulturists, visiting families, and high school aged students getting their hands dirty. These students are part of a summer program through Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) designed to help high school students explore different career paths and build essential workplace skills.

During the summer programs, students rotate through the diverse jobs and positions at Cornell Botanic Gardens to understand how a public garden operates and to cultivate a deeper appreciation for nature. A typical day for a student could include potting, organizing, cleaning, labeling cuttings, weeding, mulching, and cutting back plants, says Missy Bidwell, who coordinates both the summer program and the botanic gardens’ role in a campus-wide program during the school year. Bidwell manages the production greenhouse for the botanic gardens.
  “In addition to the hands-on horticultural skill building, the students learn workplace practices that are important to success on the job,” she says. Punctuality, business etiquette, personal presentation, and attitude are developed and taken seriously in the summer program. “Our aim is that the BOCES students’ biggest takeaway from the program is a well-rounded skillset that is transferrable to future job opportunities.”

While Cornell Botanic Gardens enjoys volunteer service from the BOCES students, the real benefit lies in the opportunity to inspire and prepare students for jobs in horticulture, to connect youth with nature, and to empower them to have a positive impact on the planet.

Cornell Botanic Gardens a “Gem” of Ithaca

1 year 29 weeks ago
In its “Your Town” series, WSTM-NBC3, highlights the cultivated gardens around the Nevin Welcome Center. Click below to view this one-minute clip featuring Shannon Dortch, our Associate Director of Communications and Marketing.

Christopher Dunn honored by national gardens association

1 year 33 weeks ago
Christopher Dunn, our executive director, received the Award of Merit from the American Public Gardens Association June 20 in recognition of his distinguished performance in the field of public horticulture at one or more institutions.

Dunn is a leading voice for biocultural diversity worldwide. He serves on the board of directors of the International Union for Conservation of Nature-U.S. (IUCN). In 2016, he coordinated the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the largest conservation conference ever held in the U.S. He also serves on the board of directors of the Center for Plant Conservation, based in California.

“With his background in plant ecology and conservation, Christopher has a broad view of issues that relate the plant world to the role of botanic gardens in local and global plant conservation efforts,” said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Under his direction, Cornell Botanic Gardens is playing a leading role in biocultural conservation, through programs and outreach.”

Read more in the June 26 Cornell Chronicle article "Christopher Dunn honored by national gardens association."

Garden and Arboretum Hike this Sunday

1 year 34 weeks ago
Take it outside with Dr. Peter Davies, professor emeritus of plant science, on this extended hike through the diverse plant collections and landscapes of the gardens and F. R. Newman Arboretum. Experience the beautiful gardens, rolling hills and panoramic views that helped Cornell Botanic Gardens earn its #1 ranking as the most beautiful college arboretum (Best College Reviews). Walks will be held rain or shine and will include some steep slope and stair climbing. Please dress for the weather and bring a bottle of water to drink.

Date/time: Sunday, June 25; 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Cost: $5 suggested donation; pre-registration is not required
Location: Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center

Contact our visitors services desk with any questions at 607-255-2400.

Garden Tours and Gorge Hikes start this Saturday!

1 year 35 weeks ago
Another sign that summer is around the corner: Our summer garden and gorge hikes start this Saturday!

Garden Tours
Enjoy a guided tour to discover the beauty and diversity of our numerous gardens, including the Herb Garden, Flower Garden, Groundcover Collection, Tropical Container Display, and more. They will run every Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. through October 1. Learn more here.




Gorge Hikes
Explore Cascadilla and Fall Creek Gorges with Cornell’s knowledgeable Gorge Stewards, which run every Saturday and Sunday, June 17 through September 3. Learn more here.

Climate Change Garden offers a lens into the future

1 year 35 weeks ago

Created in 2014, the Climate Change Demonstration Garden is ready for its fourth season! We invite you to visit and observe how plants may be impacted by temperature variables projected for 2050. Click here to read more about this garden in a June 8 Cornell Chronicle article.

New York Times Discovers Cornell Botanic Gardens

1 year 36 weeks ago

In its “36 Hours in the Finger Lakes” travel feature, the New York Times made Cornell Botanic Gardens its first stop, calling it a “treat in early summer.” Click here to read the full article.

Climate warming is causing wildflowers to flower earlier

1 year 38 weeks ago
Since 1985, a dedicated group of volunteers has been recording the date of first flowering for all 641 plant species found in the Mundy Wildflower Garden. This includes detailed observations made each day of the growing season. Continuous observation of this type has been rarely duplicated elsewhere. These data are now playing a major role in documenting the effect climate change has on plants, and helping to unravel the mystery of why some plants are affected, while others are not.

David Weinstein, Ph.D., a researcher in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell and a member of Cornell Botanic Gardens Advisory Council, has noted warmer temperatures in the wildflower garden over time, and identified which plants are now flowering much earlier than they had in previous years because of the warming trend in climate. 

Read more in an article written by David Weinstein on our Tumblr blog.

The Robison Herb Garden has a new fence

1 year 38 weeks ago
You might have noticed that the split rail fence around the herb garden was replaced this spring. The fence, along with the garden’s local stone walls, sun dial, millstone, and antique wrought-iron gates are all part of its original design, completed in 1974, to give the garden a rural upstate New York feel.
After weathering for 43 years, the split-rail fence was replaced by botanic gardens construction staff Tim Stewart, Jay Ohlsten, and Lance Hagin. The crew first removed the fence in late December. Over winter, they worked with Locust Lumber Company in nearby Newfield to prepare and cut lumber for the replacement fence. In April, the crew drilled 60 holes for the fence posts. To ensure the fence was secured as strongly as possible, they installed two posts, tightly wired together, in each hole. Each cross rail was secured to the post with 8” screws.

The fence project was funded by gifts from Auraca Herbarists, Tom Butler (above, right, with Pam Shade), and the Ellis H. Robison ’18 Fund. Butler, who has been a regular volunteer in the Herb Garden for six years, said, "Working with Pam Shade [the garden curator], and seeing her commitment to the garden is what spurred my donation."

What does it take to open the Cascadilla Gorge Trail each spring?

1 year 38 weeks ago
The short answer is two days and the hard work of 15 people. Before opening the gorge on April 12th, three staff and twelve volunteers removed fallen rocks and other debris from the trail, picked up trash, cleared out drainage conduits, repaired parts of the chain railing, and removed hazardous trees.

A big THANK YOU to our volunteers!
Our Natural Areas program is fortunate to have weekly volunteers who, working alongside the natural areas stewardship crew, don’t shy away from strenuous labor. This team was critical to the trail cleanup.
James Hamilton, a dedicated weekly volunteer, said that although shoveling debris and hauling out wooden palettes left from a winter project wasn’t his favorite task, he “enjoyed feeling the mist by the creek.” James enjoys hiking in the woods in our natural areas while monitoring hemlocks for the invasive pest Hemlock Woolly Adelgid because he feels he is “doing something important to protect the natural areas.”
Jan Hill, also part of the weekly volunteer crew said the Cascadilla Gorge clean up was “fun but exhausting” and the gorge was a “beautiful place to work.”
In addition to these volunteers, a number of Cornell students who reside at two fraternities adjacent to the gorge donated their time and hard work.
We are grateful to everyone who helped ready the gorge for opening!

Read more about what it takes to keep the Cascadilla Gorge Trail safe year round in an article on our Tumblr Blog.

Spring Plant Sale, Saturday June 10

1 year 38 weeks ago
We are offering some of our gardeners’ favorite plants, as well as new selections from the horticultural trade, including peonies, daylilies, hostas and iris. In addition to our own plant material, our garden center partners Cayuga Landscape, The Magic Garden, The Plantsmen and RC's Plants and Produce will be on hand selling their plants! A portion of their sales will be donated to Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Click here for a list of plants that will be available at the sale.

Date/time: Saturday, June 10; 9:00 a.m. - noon
: Cornell Botanic Gardens Plant Production Facility, 397 Forest Home Drive. For more information, call 607-255-2400 or contact

Members only presale, Friday, June 9; 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.

Become a member now at, or sign up at the presale.

Gift adds to Palmer-Adams Preserve Natural Area

1 year 38 weeks ago

Gift adds 31.1 acres to Cornell Botanic Gardens’ Palmer-Adams Preserve in the Town of Caroline, a significant preserve for education, research, and the conservation of rare native plant species

Cornell Botanic Gardens has expanded the Palmer-Adams Preserve and its Bald Hill Natural Area with a gift of 31.1 acres from Arthur H. Adams, ’63, BCV ’65, MEN ’66, and his siblings Andrea A. Hastings, and Drew D. Adams. The tract, located on Bald Hill School Road in the Town of Caroline, will be known as the Palmer-Adams Hilltop Tract, Bald Hill. 

The new parcel joins the original 87-acre preserve donated in 1982 by Ithaca lawyer Armand Adams, ’31, and his family.  It was named to honor the long involvement of Charles Palmer and Armand Adams in natural history and environmental education. The addition of the hilltop tract brings the total size of the Palmer-Adams Preserve to 118.56 acres.

The hilltop tract is a welcome enhancement to the Palmer-Adams Preserve, whose unique features make it valuable for research and preservation purposes.

“The Palmer-Adams Preserve—along with a non-contiguous 100-acre parcel and some adjoining state forest land—are the only places in the Cayuga Lake drainage where native mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia, and hair grass, Deschampsia flexuosa, can be found,” said Todd Bittner, Director of Natural Areas for Cornell Botanic Gardens. “The new tract also improves access for the study and enjoyment of the plants, insects, amphibians, and birds present there. The property is bounded by Bald Hill School Road and offers a new point of entry and trailhead from the east side of the preserve.”

A number of researchers from Cornell and other area colleges and universities have utilized the Palmer-Adams Preserve for their work. The preserve has served studies in ecology, evolutionary biology, soil science, insect biology and microbiology.

One ongoing research project in the Palmer-Adams Preserve—along with other Botanic Gardens’ natural areas—is being led by Christine Goodale, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell. Goodale has been measuring uptake of carbon dioxide in these forested areas for several years.

“One especially valuable attribute of the parcel is the side-by-side location of primary forest (never cultivated or with some light harvest) and old-field forest, that which has not been cultivated in 100 or more years,” she said. “We see that the old-field forests gain CO2 in both trees and soils for more than a century after abandonment, and that the primary forests are still very productive even though they are relatively old.”

The Cornell Botanic Gardens’ provides public access to the Bald Hill Natural Area and the Palmer-Adams Preserve via a 1.1-mile trail, accessible from either Bald Hill or Bald Hill School Roads in the Town of Caroline. Wooded trails ascend portions of a very large, contiguous forested area along an abandoned road in this southeastern part of Tompkins County.