Plant Talk | Science Talk

Wildlife in the Garden: Spa Day

Posted in Wildlife on May 24th, 2017 by Patricia Gonzalez – 2 Comments

Patricia Gonzalez is an NYBG Visitor Services Attendant and avid wildlife photographer.

Photo of frog

A bullfrog at Twin Lakes – Photo by Patricia Gonzalez

Spotlights from the Shelf: Classics Old & New

Posted in From the Library on May 23rd, 2017 by Samantha D’Acunto – 1 Comment

Samantha D’Acunto is the Reference Librarian at The New York Botanical Garden‘s LuEsther T. Mertz Library.

Photo of book coverThe circulating children’s collection at the LuEsther T. Mertz Library has titles that support the creative imaginations of our young readers! The fantastical illustrations and lyrical narratives offered in many of our books invite readers to experience a world beyond the surface all while digging deep to learn about the environment around them. The titles featured below are new to our shelves and are perfect examples of fun and educational reads. We hope to see you in the library soon!

You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without Dirt! By Ian Graham / Illustrated by Mark Bergin (2016)

In another installment of the You Wouldn’t Want to series, You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without Dirt provides insight on dirt with the familiar elements the other titles in this series offer. Weather you use dirt or soil, this book encourages all readers to view it from every angle. The interactive You Can Do It boxes sprinkled throughout the book encourage readers to explore the components of soil by conducting hands-on experiments. The book answers essential questions like “What is dirt?” and challenges the reader to consider the future of soil. The narrative offers information and new vocabulary throughout. You will not be able to turn a page without learning something new about dirt. Like its sister titles, You Wouldn’t Want To Live Without Dirt is a wonderful read for children being introduced to the topic or those who are starting an elementary grade science project.
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What’s Beautiful Now: Peony Power

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on May 22nd, 2017 by Matt Newman – Be the first to comment

The peonies are in prime form this week, and are not to be missed as they put on a parade of color beyond the Conservatory doors. The tree peonies, likewise, are showing off and living up to their fanciful cultivar names—bringing the blooms just as the nearby Rose Garden begins to tease its earliest color.

In the Native Plant Garden, you can find a taste of early summer in the rich greens and small, bright flowers, while the Rock Garden continues to grow into its lush seasonal colors.

Perennial of the Week: Paeonia lactiflora various cultivars, herbaceous peony

Perennial of the Week: <em>Paeonia lactiflora</em> various cultivars, herbaceous peony
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Glorious showy blooms are held above rich green foliage on these peonies. Amidst the Matelich Anniversary Peony Collection, you will find a wide range in form from single to fully double, with satiny petals in white, pink, coral and red. They offer up scents of rose, lemon, honey, or musk that sing of Spring and even warmer days to come! You will find this collection along Perennial Garden Way, with more than 150 herbaceous peonies reaching their peak in mid-May.

Wildlife at the Garden: Sun-Soaked

Posted in Wildlife on May 17th, 2017 by Patricia Gonzalez – Be the first to comment

Patricia Gonzalez is an NYBG Visitor Services Attendant and avid wildlife photographer.

Photo of an Italian wall lizard

An Italian wall lizard (Podarcis sicula) in the Native Plant Garden – Photo by Patricia Gonzalez

What’s Beautiful Now: Greenest Acres

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on May 15th, 2017 by Matt Newman – Be the first to comment

Photo of Magnolia x wieseneriThis week the herbaceous peonies are sitting in the spotlight, just as their buds begin to burst into whorls of white, red, and pink along the pathway before the Haupt Conservatory. These brief but beautiful flowers are a must-see in spring!

Elsewhere in the Garden, the azaleas are still showing some color as they begin their decline, and the greenery of our 250 acres is on full display, filling out the Forest with the airy glow of millions of new leaves. You won’t regret a stroll on our miles of trails.

Check out what else is happening at the Garden this week.

Perennial of the Week: Amsonia hubrichtii, threadleaf bluestar

Perennial of the Week: <em>Amsonia hubrichtii</em>, threadleaf bluestar
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Though native to the Ouachita Mountains in central Arkansas, Amsonia hubrichtii is not a common perennial. This erect, clump-forming perennial reaches three feet in height and width. Noted for its powdery-blue spring flowers, feathery green summer foliage, and golden fall color, this plant is popular for its versatility of use in borders, native plant gardens, rock gardens, and open woodland areas. You can find this beauty around the Perennial Garden and the Azalea Garden.


Garden-to-Bar Reading

Posted in From the Library on May 15th, 2017 by Esther Jackson – Be the first to comment

Esther Jackson is the Public Services Librarian at NYBG’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library where she manages Reference and Circulation services and oversees the Plant Information Office. She spends much of her time assisting researchers, providing instruction related to library resources, and collaborating with NYBG staff on various projects related to Garden initiatives and events.

Cover of the Drunken BotanistThis week we dive into a few books detailing the rich history of botanical spirits, and the ways in which we’ve called on the garden to supply us with our favorite tipples.

The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart is a treat from start to finish. Drunken Botanist follows Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs, two excellent books about organisms that can be dangerous to humans. (Read my review of Wicked Plants here.) Stewart is a talented writer, a careful historian, an excellent amateur botanist, and a skilled bartender. Drunken Botanist follows the format of her earlier books, with Stewart selecting different plants and offering readers narratives about their nativity and the history of their usage by humans—specifically how and when they were used to make alcoholic drinks. Sake, scotch, rum, tequila, bourbon, and their plant parents are just a few of the drinks that are featured. Stewart writes, “It would be impossible to describe every plant that has ever flavored an alcoholic beverage. I am certain at this very moment, a craft distiller in Brooklyn is plucking a weed from a crack in the sidewalk and wondering if it would make a good flavoring for a new line of bitters.” Before plucking sidewalk weeds, craft distiller and home bartenders alike would do well to look to Drunken Botanist for inspiration, “stirring” stories, and an infectious excitement about plants that is one of Stewart’s enduring trademarks.
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Larry Lederman’s Lens: Renewal

Posted in Ledermans-Lens on May 9th, 2017 by Matt Newman – Be the first to comment

Larry Lederman‘s lens takes you to the Garden when you can’t be there and previews what to see when you can.

LilacsFor those who weren’t able to make it to The New York Botanical Garden during the height of its blooming crabapples and daffodils, Larry Lederman has the solution. During a late April trip to the Garden, he spent time exploring the grounds with his camera, capturing the rainbow of contrasting colors to be found on Daffodil Hill and its surroundings.

Whites, pinks, reds, and purples mingle with the soft creams and yellows of the daffodils, while a quick stop over in the Burn Family Lilac Collection reveals the fragrant clusters of flowers that define one of our most popular collections this time of year.

You can still find blooming crabapples and lilacs here in early May, while tulips throughout the grounds and the undeniable spectacle of the Azalea Garden now move into the spotlight. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as the spring show and its many acts continue to unfold.


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Magenta buds of Syringa x hyacinthaflora 'Esther Staley' unfold into sweetly scented pink flowers. This early blooming lilac cultivar has twice won Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Merit, in 1961 and again in 1993.


What’s Beautiful Now: Azaleas, and More Azaleas

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on May 8th, 2017 by Matt Newman – Be the first to comment

When the daffodils have faded and the cherry blossoms are snoozing for the season, you can always count on the Azalea Garden to bring the next big pop to our 250 acres. And that’s exactly what this week is about. As of right now, the azaleas are at about 90% of the way to peak bloom, and we expect this weekend—during our Mother’s Day Weekend Garden Party—to see the height of color before they begin to fade.

With the flowers coming going at a rapid pace, you won’t want to miss out!

Perennial of the Week: Trillium grandiflorum f. polymerum 'Flore Pleno', double large-flowered trillium

Perennial of the Week: <em>Trillium grandiflorum f. polymerum</em> 'Flore Pleno', double large-flowered trillium
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Trillium grandiflorum forma polymerum ‘Flore Pleno’ comes from a naturally occurring sport and has upright, bright-white, double flowers. This rhizomatous plant forms clumps at an excruciatingly slow pace, which is, perhaps, one of the reasons it is so highly coveted. If you find yourself meandering through the Native Plant Garden, don’t forget to look down! You can find this beauty and other delightful trilliums sprinkled across the landscape.


Books for Practical Gardeners, from Shady Acres to East Asian Cuisine

Posted in From the Library on May 8th, 2017 by Esther Jackson – Be the first to comment

Esther Jackson is the Public Services Librarian at NYBG’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library where she manages Reference and Circulation services and oversees the Plant Information Office. She spends much of her time assisting researchers, providing instruction related to library resources, and collaborating with NYBG staff on various projects related to Garden initiatives and events.

Photo of Glorious Shade's coverGlorious Shade from Jenny Rose Carey and Timber Press is a lovely meditation on shade gardening. Carey, the senior director at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Meadowbrook Farm, is a talented writer and photographer, and she frames her book as a conversation about shade gardening. After an introduction detailing different kinds of shade, the narrative ambles through different topics related to shade gardening, culminating in an extensive and beautifully photographed plant palette. Chapter titles include “Shades of Shade: Observing Shifting Patterns in Your Garden,” “The Gardener’s Calendar: Seasonal Changes in the Shade Garden,” “Down and Dirty: The Intertwined, Underground World of Soil and Roots,” “Planting for Success: Techniques and Maintenance,” “Designing in the Shadows: Bright Ideas of Shady Spaces,” and “The Plant Palette: Choosing Plants for Your Shade Garden.”

Carey touches on a variety of topics, and the more unique parts of her book relate to shade plants with specific seasonal interest, suggestions of appropriate under-plantings for specific trees, and, of course, her wonderful plant palette. In terms of practical advice about garden installation and design, the book is a bit too general for either a beginner or an expert. However, in all, Glorious Shade is an excellent reference for gardeners working with shaded areas who are looking for inspiration in terms of garden design and new plants to trial. For those who simply love beautiful garden books, Glorious Shade is also appropriate, as Carey’s photographs are lovely and the book’s visual design is excellent.
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Wildlife Photographer’s Notebook: A Tale of Two Owlets

Posted in Wildlife on May 4th, 2017 by Patricia Gonzalez – 3 Comments

Patricia Gonzalez is an NYBG Visitor Services Attendant and avid wildlife photographer.

Photo of a Great Horned Owl

The owlets’ father watches from his nearby roost.

Some of my favorite photographic subjects here at the Botanical Garden are its resident Great Horned Owls. Since 2009, I’ve had the pleasure of photographing and filming five of their nest sites. Sadly, 2014 was the last year that there were hatchlings here. That’s why this year’s brood was so special. But 2017 saw no ordinary owl nest. This is a tale of epic proportions!

Back in 2009, a pair of Red-tailed Hawks decided to build their nest inside the upper right pediment of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building. Rose and Hawkeye (the Red-tails that year, who are sadly no longer with us) had three hatchlings that year. It was a big deal for both staff and visitors. Each year since, I’ve always crossed my fingers in the hopes that one day the nest would be used again by our local Red-tails.

And it was used again alright. But by a completely new set of tenants!
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