From the Library

Small Treasures in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library

Posted in From the Library on March 17th, 2017 by Jane Lloyd – Be the first to comment

Jane Lloyd is a volunteer in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden.


Thuya-Lodge-bookplate-by-Jane-Lloyd-December-2016[1]As I huffed and puffed my way up that steep path from the road to Thuya Garden high on the hillside near Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine, I thought that this time curiosity about the books in the Rare Book Room of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library had taken me too far. That day in July 2016 was blisteringly hot and I was sweaty and thirsty. But there it was at last, a rustic board-and-batten house with a porch, appearing out of the forest of evergreen trees and shrubs at the end of the stone path. It looked just like the drawing on the bookplates I’d found in two books in the Mertz Library.

Joseph Henry Curtis (1846-1928) began to summer at Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island on the Maine coast in the 1870’s and later he bought a property on the slope of a mountain near Northeast Harbor, becoming one of the first summer residents of a growing summer colony of wealthy families. Curtis spent the rest of his life turning his property into a mountainside park, building a trail with granite stairways and scenic lookouts ascending the steep slope to a board-and-batten cottage that he named Thuya Lodge after the local white cedar tree, Thuja occidentalis. In 1905 Curtis created a trust to maintain his estate as a public trust for the local community; when he died his friend Charles Savage became director of the trust.

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Princeton-Mellon Exchange Program

Posted in From the Library on March 17th, 2017 by Vanessa Sellers – Be the first to comment
Students on the Princeton-Mellon Trip

Mellon Coordinators Aaron Shkuda (Princeton) and Vanessa Sellers, with the NYBG Mellon Fellows on Princeton’s Campus

On October 19, 2016, the Humanities Institute’s Andrew W. Mellon Fellows traveled to Princeton University to visit their colleagues at the Princeton School of Architecture Mellon Initiative and participate in an Urban Forum surrounding the topic of “Nature in the City.” During this visit, several of the NYBG Mellon Fellows presented their current research. Robert Corban, a doctoral student in the History Department of Columbia University and an intern at NYBG, gave a presentation about Benito Mussolini’s “Battle for Grain” and the impact on agriculture and industrialization.
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Colloquium: Shifts in the 19th-Century American Cultural Landscape

Posted in From the Library on March 16th, 2017 by Vanessa Sellers – 1 Comment

Image of an American Impressionist painting

The Humanities Institute hosted a Colloquium on Friday, September 9, 2016, entitled Shifts in the 19th-century American Cultural Landscape. Organized in conjunction with the exhibition Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas, this round-table looked at the various cultural-philosophic and economic forces that led to rapidly changing landscapes in America. Participants discussed how these developments impacted the 19th-century vision of nature, the art of landscape painting, and the design of gardens and choice of plants.
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Spotlights from the Shelf: Celebrating Culture and Nature with Books

Posted in From the Library on March 13th, 2017 by Samantha D’Acunto – Be the first to comment

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


Photo of book, Call Me TreeThe LuEsther T. Mertz Library is pleased to welcome Lee & Low Books to the Children’s Collection. The titles below celebrate diversity and all reading levels through fun and colorful stories. Come by and check them out for yourself!

Call Me Tree / Llàmame arbol by Maya Christina Gonzalez (2014)

The bilingual poetry of Maya Christina Gonzalez in Call Me Tree / Llàmame arbol flows beautifully. She invites the reader to experience what it means to be a tree—from seed to leaves. From curling up very small like a seed in the ground to reaching high into the sky, this story will make young readers want to get up and be a tree! This a perfect book to read aloud as its language and illustrations are a treat for all to experience.
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Spotlights from the Shelf: The LuEsther T. Mertz Library Children’s Collection

Posted in From the Library on March 1st, 2017 by Samantha D’Acunto – Be the first to comment

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


We Dig WormsThe LuEsther T. Mertz Library is happy to share with you some of our newest additions to our Children’s Collection! We’re delighted to feature a range of reading levels and genres for this post. We hope to see you in the library soon!

We Dig Worms! by Kevin McCloskey (2015)

In We Dig Worms Kevin McCloskey demands the reader’s attention by celebrating one of nature’s smallest creatures, the worm! Through a series of hand-painted illustrations, all of which are depicted on recycled paper bags, the reader is able to observe the work of an earthworm. The importance of a worm’s work is explained with simple vocabulary making this book great for new readers.
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A Solid Take on Landscaping Meets a Perennial Classic

Posted in From the Library on February 24th, 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.


The Spirit of StoneJan Johnsen’s The Spirit of Stone is a new book from Pittsburgh-based publisher St. Lynn’s Press. Johnsen, an instructor with The New York Botanical Garden’s Adult Education Department, brings 40 years of experience to bear in her newest book. In the introduction of The Spirit of Stone, Johnsen writes:

Stone is often an overlooked player in a landscape. While we may swoon over the many shapes and colors of plants within a garden, the stone walks and walls stand silently by, perhaps unnoticed. This book shines a light on the beauty and enchantment that natural stone adds to an outdoor setting. It is a celebration of the versatility of solid, durable rock and showcases the many ways stones and stonework can be featured in the landscape.

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Unseen City

Posted in From the Library on February 13th, 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.


Unseen CityUnseen City: The majesty of pigeons, the discreet charm of snails & other wonders of the urban wilderness is Nathanael Johnson’s journal documenting the journey of teaching his daughter about the natural wonders of their home city, San Francisco. For me, the beginning of this book was what really shone. Johnson writes about his daughter’s habit as a toddler to ask “that?” when pointing at all number of objects in and features of her environment. In addition to identifying things like “house” or “sky,” Johnson found himself saying “tree” so frequently that he decided to change the way in which he replied to his daughter. He writes:

“I added a rule to complicate the game—I would give the same answer only once per outing. The second time Josephine inquired about a tree, I would have to be more specific. ‘Trunk,’ I would say, or leaves, a branch, a twig, a flower. And it was in this way that I noticed for the first time, though I’d walked by this tree hundreds of times, that it had tiny yellow flowers. The leaves were long and narrow, dark green on the top and, on the underside, nearly white, spotted with black. At the center of each cluster of leaves were tiny yellow flowers. I picked a few (a difficult task because breaking the supple green branch was like tearing a red licorice rope) and stuffed them in my pocket.”

Many fellow naturalists will see themselves reflected, to some extent, in this passage. Johnson and his daughter are curious explorers and hungry to understand more about the organisms in their environment. The real strength of Johnson’s book is how accessible he makes exploring one’s natural surroundings, even in a city. The section “Some Practical Recommendations for Neighborhood Naturalists” is spot on, and easy enough to follow with children.
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Harvest & Rain Gardens

Posted in From the Library, Shop/Book Reviews on February 6th, 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.


Harvest: Unexpected projects using 47 extraordinary garden plants by Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis

Harvest: Unexpected projects using 47 extraordinary garden plants is a delightful new book from Ten Speed Press. This is the fourth book from author pair Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis whose other titles include The Beautiful Edible Garden, Branches & Blooms, and The Flower Recipe BookHarvest contains projects related to cooking, craft beverages, beauty care, decorations for the home, and flower arranging. Beautiful photographs by David Fenton accompany the projects. With plants and projects divided into three growing seasons, early (late winter to spring), mid (summer to early fall), and late (late fall to early winter), the book is an eclectic mix of inspiring ideas and ethereal photographs.

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The Nature Fix

Posted in From the Library on January 30th, 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.


The Nature FixWhy do some of us feel happier, healthier, more relaxed, or more energized by nature? Why does an isolated hike in the woods illicit strong feelings of contentment, while a walk in an urban green space devoid of trees fails to inspire the same feelings? Different people have different reactions to time spent in nature, of course, but why do we have reactions at all? Why are some people more affected than others by a babbling brook or a coniferous forest? With these big, somewhat subjective questions in mind, Florence Williams sets out on a journey to find and share answers in The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. The mix between personal and academic voice can be a tough thing for an author to navigate, but Williams accomplishes this hybridity with great skill.

Williams, like other popular science writers, brings readers along for the journey as she researches how different cultures or organizations scientifically quantify health benefits related to nature. Does that sound like a lot to cover in one book? It most certainly is. One of the great strengths of Nature Fix is that the author includes an enormous amount of cited scientific research alongside her more personal travelogue. She is also skilled with setting a scene for readers, providing descriptions that are both visual and engaging.
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For Fans of Foliage

Posted in From the Library on January 25th, 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.


Gardening with Foliage FirstGardening with Foliage First: 127 Dazzling Combinations That Pair the Beauty of Leaves with Flowers, Bark, Berries, and More is a recipe book for colorful and creative garden designs. The premise of the book is that flowers are lovely, but foliage is the longer-lasting ornament in a garden bed. For gardeners trying to create landscapes with year-round interest, starting with the foliage first is a wonderful approach.

Authors Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz “scoured gardens from British Columbia to Arizona and Florida to Washington State to find designs to delight, inspire, and embolden [readers] to try new ideas, new plants, and new ways of looking at plant combinations.” The resulting text is both beautiful and functional.
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