Archive for October, 2016

A Revolution in Bee-Friendly Gardens

Posted in From the Library on October 31st, 2016 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.


Mason Bee RevolutionFor gardeners curious about mason bees or building pollinator havens in general, Mason Bee Revolution is a lovely new book from Dave Hunter and Jill Lightner.  The passion that the authors have for the topic at hand is infectious. Why keep mason bees? Compared to honey bees, it turns out that these pollinators are lower-maintenance, cheaper, and will pollinate more plants per insect than honey bees. They are also docile and child-friendly.

This book is filled with small projects, practical how-to information, and suggested resources from the home beekeeper. The real strength of this book is the practical, easy-to-follow instructions about setting up nesting sites and habitat for mason bees and leafcutter bees. Materials, site requirements, harvesting cocoons, and over-winter storage are all topics that the authors address. There is a lot of information, but it is easy to follow. Although the book is 154 pages there are points when the narrative meanders slightly, and there is occasional repetition.
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At Amy Goldman’s Farm, a Plethora of Pepos

Posted in Learning Experiences on October 31st, 2016 by Todd Forrest – Be the first to comment

Todd Forrest is NYBG’s Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections. He leads all horticulture programs and activities across the Garden’s 250-acre National Historic Landmark landscape, including 50 gardens and plant collections outside and under glass, the old-growth Thain Family Forest, and living exhibitions in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.


Amy Goldman's FarmFor 47 years, 4 months, and 20 days, I just didn’t know enough about pepos. “What’s a pepo?” you might ask. Pepo is the botanical term for the fruit of plants in the Cucurbitaceae (gourd family). Sure, I knew a little about pumpkins, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. I had eaten Hubbard, acorn, and delicata squash grown, harvested, roasted, and slathered in butter by my brother-in-law, a gourmand who farms in coastal Maine. I even knew that the luffa defoliators my fresh-faced friends swear by are made from the dried fibrous flesh of a gourd relative native to Africa.

The little I thought I knew about pepos could never have prepared me for the bounty of beauty I encountered when I made the journey, with a group of NYBG trustees and staff members, to NYBG Board Member Amy Goldman Fowler’s farm in the Hudson Valley one glorious October day. Amy has raised the art and science of growing vegetables to a level unimaginable to those of us who tinker in backyard plots. With the discipline of a research scientist and the passion of an artist, Amy grows a bewildering selection of melons, squash, pumpkins, and gourds (not to mention tomatoes and peppers and who knows what else) on her farm each year.
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Kiku with a Modern Twist

Posted in Kiku on October 28th, 2016 by Joyce Newman – Be the first to comment

Joyce H. Newman is an environmental journalist and teacher. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden.


Kiku

Ozukuri in the Conservatory

This year The New York Botanical Garden is celebrating chrysanthemums—the most iconic of all Japanese fall-flowering plants—in a new, awe-inspiring display. The Kiku exhibition (open through October 30) in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory has a unique contemporary feel with new sculptural shapes as well as the older traditional forms.

Kiku means chrysanthemum in Japanese. It is the national flower of Japan, part of the Imperial Crest, and the subject of regular exhibitions at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo, where Japanese masters have trained New York Botanical Garden staff over the years to cultivate special shapes and colors in the traditional Imperial style.
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Weekly Wildlife at the Garden: Snapping Up Some Sun

Posted in Wildlife on October 26th, 2016 by Patricia Gonzalez – 2 Comments

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


I was visiting the Garden on my day off and decided to check out the Native Plant Garden, which is now a major wildlife hotspot. I had just walked in when I noticed this large common snapping turtle getting a suntan. I wanted to move in closer and found a perfect spot. Unfortunately, the wind kept blowing the flowers between me and my new friend, making it very hard to keep him in focus.

I dared not move in any closer, which would have resulted in the snapper dropping into the water. I just kept on shooting for about two minutes until I got an opening. He was later joined by a red-eared slider. They were soon sharing the deck, making for a very interesting video.

Common snapping turtle

A common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) in the Native Plant Garden – Photo by Patricia Gonzalez

Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye Projects for Your Home and Wardrobe

Posted in From the Library, Shop/Book Reviews on October 24th, 2016 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.


Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye Projects for Your Home and Wardrobe by Sasha DuerrNatural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye Projects for Your Home and Wardrobe has the look of a book that is waiting to be touched.  With its slightly-textured cover materials and luscious cover photo it draws the eye while subtlety hinting at the projects it contains. This book by Sasha Duerr, published with Ten Speed Press, builds in part off of her earlier publication The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes which was published in 2010 with Timber Press.

Natural Color opens with a gorgeous image of a passionflower (Passiflora edulis) photographed by Aya Bracket. Bracket’s photos coupled with precise and artistic page layouts make this book about practical handicraft a work of art in and of itself. Even those who have not dyed materials (and perhaps have no real desire to do so) can appreciate the beauty of this work. Duerr’s couching of her dyeing ethics within permaculture is both intriguing and accessible. One of the names associated with “slow fashion,” Duerr champions both self-sufficiency for people as well as respect for and harmony with the natural world. Many of the projects in Natural Color make use of cultivated garden plants, non-native plants that have become “weeds,” and plants that can be sustainably and responsibly harvested.

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A New Class of Grass

Posted in Horticulture, Kiku on October 21st, 2016 by Kristine Paulus – 2 Comments

Kristine Paulus is NYBG’s Plant Records Manager. She is responsible for the curation of The Lionel Goldfrank III Computerized Catalog of the Living Collections. She manages nomenclature standards and the plant labels for all exhibitions, gardens, and collections, while coordinating with staff, scientists, students, and the public on all garden-related plant information.


Kiku The Art of the Japanese GardenIf the idea of grass makes you think of dreaded after school yard chores or monotonous sports fields, consider a visit to Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden to amend this assessment.  Attempting to steal the spotlight from the chrysanthemums are several decorative members of the Poaceae family, better known to most of us as grasses.

Several plantings of Muhlenbergia capillaris, a highly ornamental native grass commonly called hairawn muhly, create a spectacular floral display for fall throughout the exhibition. Clouds of airy, purple-pink cotton candy-like flowers float above long slender foliage. These hazy panicles glow in the sunlight, converting garden beds into dreamscapes. Hardy and heat- and drought-tolerant, hairawn muhly is as low maintenance as it is attractive.  This colorful plant is also a highlight in the Home Gardening Center’s newly redesigned Grass and Bamboo Garden.

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At Stillman’s Wethersfield Garden, the Legacy of an NYBG Trustee

Posted in History on October 21st, 2016 by Joyce Newman – 1 Comment

Joyce H. Newman is an environmental journalist and teacher. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden.


Cupid FountainConsidered one of the best examples of a classic Italian Renaissance garden in America, Wethersfield Garden was originally just 1,200 acres of sloping hills, woods, and pastureland in Amenia, New York. The late Chauncey Devereux Stillman (1907–1989), a long-time supporter of NYBG, visited the area on a fox hunt in 1937 and promptly purchased the land.

Educated at Harvard (Class of 1929), Stillman was heir to a family fortune in banking. He became an accomplished equestrian and garden enthusiast, eventually joining the NYBG Board of Trustees in 1946 after a stint in the Navy during World War II as an air combat intelligence officer. According to NYBG Research Librarian Samantha D’Acunto, records show that he served on the board in various roles for more than two decades, until June 1967.

Although he had an advanced architecture degree from Columbia, Stillman wasn’t a practicing architect. One year after he joined the NYBG board, he went to work as a civilian for the federal government’s newly created Defense Department under Secretary James Forrestal and soon was moved to work at the Central Intelligence Agency, where he stayed until 1951—doing exactly what, we don’t know.
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Weekly Wildlife at the Garden: Raptor in Profile

Posted in Wildlife on October 19th, 2016 by Patricia Gonzalez – 1 Comment

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


I was on my break and headed to the Watson Building when I spotted this young Red-tail just off the Rock Garden. It was very much on the hunt and scanning some nearby squirrels. It didn’t seem to mind my presence one bit, which made for a most excellent photo opportunity. You can see more in this video I shot of the encounter.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk near the Rock Garden – Photo by Patricia Gonzalez

The Reason for Flowers

Posted in From the Library on October 17th, 2016 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.


The Reason for FlowersThe Reason for Flowers is the most recent book from pollination ecologist and entomologist Stephen Buchmann. Buchmann’s primary research is focused on pollinators, and several of his earlier books are specifically about bees.

Flowers, as Buchmann writes, are an integral part of human history. Flowers (or plants, more generally) are cultivated, harvested, killed, eaten, admired, and imbued with a myriad of symbols. On top of human interactions with flowers, there are also pollinator interactions with flowers. In short, the scope of this book is enormous. Fourteen chapters in five sections cover topics from flower fossils to flowers in contemporary science. In between are sections detailing popular flowers in historic gardens from around the world, edible flowers, flowers in art and literature, and “healing” flowers.
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A Talk with “Good Garden” Guru Edmund Hollander

Posted in Adult Education on October 13th, 2016 by Samantha Fletcher – 1 Comment

Ed HollanderCalled a “landscape guru” by Architectural Digest, and lauded with National and New York Honor Awards by the American Society of Landscape Architecture, Edmund Hollander is one of New York City’s biggest names in residential landscape design. He’s also an alum of NYBG’s School of Professional Horticulture.

Hollander designs gorgeous green spaces of repose from the Hamptons to Hong Kong. His award-winning work is recognized for its attention to detail—both in terms of the design and in the environmental appropriateness of each site. In advance of his October 25 lecture, The Good Garden: Thoughts on Residential Landscape Design at NYBG, we asked him to share a few thoughts on successful garden design.
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