Plant Talk | Science Talk

Black History Month Celebration at The New York Botanical Garden

Posted in Around the Garden on February 28th, 2017 by Elizabeth Figueroa – 2 Comments
Senator Jamaal Bailey

Senator Jamaal Bailey

On Thursday, February 16, NYBG held celebrated Black History Month with workshops and presentations commemorating the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans.

This annual event invited school groups and visitors to attend facilitator-led workshops, including:

Vickie Fremont: Students created African dolls while learning about the fabric, beads and shells as well as its significance in the African culture.

Laura Gadson: Held a creative workshop making bandanas from quilted fabric to help students discover the African culture significance behind its colors.

Pat Mabry: Presented a lively history on African Dance and Drum history

Afterwards, students filed into Ross Hall for a keynote address delivered by Senator Jamaal Bailey.

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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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An Early Spring Turn

Posted in Photography on February 24th, 2017 by Matt Newman – 2 Comments

Prunus mume 'Peggy Clarke'

Prunus mume 'Peggy Clarke'
Picture 1 of 14

The weather’s warm late February turn has convinced many of our plants to peek into bloom! All around the Garden you’ll find crocuses, snowdrops, camellias, and hellebores coloring our collections with particolored petals. With the sun up and the birds singing, now’s a great time to shake off your winter blues at the Garden.

Saving Our Swamplands

Posted in Horticulture on February 15th, 2017 by Kristine Paulus – 1 Comment

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.


Frog in Mitsubishi Wetlands

Frog in Mitsubishi Wetlands

Swamps have an undeserved negative reputation, and it’s no help when the word is used as a derogatory metaphor. A swamp is a type of wetland, one of our most important ecosystems. Wetlands control flooding, filter pollutants, slow erosion, improve water quality, store carbon, and provide necessary habitat for a wide range of plants and wildlife.

The Mitsubishi Wild Wetland Trail, a diverse landscape at NYBG, contains three kinds of wetlands: freshwater marsh, pond, and swamp.

Found on all continents except Antarctica, swamps are a type of wetland which is dominated by trees and shrubs. Trees that grow here have adapted to growing in very wet soil. Woody vegetation growing in the swamp area of the Wetland Trail includes willow, maple, buttonbush, dawn-redwood, bald-cypress, alder, oak, dogwood, and more.
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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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New Children’s Books Inspire in the Library

Posted in From the Library on January 17th, 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.


The member’s juvenile circulating collection at the LuEsther T. Mertz Library aims to provide our youngest visitors with a well-rounded understanding of the natural world. We attempt to offer a variety of subjects, genres, languages and reading levels. To offer a glimpse of what we hold in the member’s juvenile collection here are two reviews of our newest additions!

Amazing Plant Powers: How plants fly, fight, hide, hunt and change the world by Loreen Leedy and Andrew Schuerger

Amazing Plant PowersSpike E. Prickles, a charismatic cactus who hosts the narrative to Amazing Plant Powers: How Plants Fly, Fight, Hide, Hunt and Change the World by Loreen Leedy and Andrew Schuerger, makes learning about plants fun! He is joined by a live and interactive audience; three small plants who provide perfectly placed commentary throughout the book. Readers are guided by Spike E. Prickles and his friends as they learn about plant structures, different environments, soil conditions, harmful pests and everyday plant usage by humans.
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The Gardens of Luciano Giubbilei

Posted in From the Library, Shop/Book Reviews on January 9th, 2017 by Esther Jackson – Be the first to comment

The Gardens of Luciano Giubbilei by Andrew WilsonLuciano Giubbilei visited NYBG last year as one of the speakers in the 16th Annual Winter Lecture Series. Born in Siena, Italy, Giubbilei emigrated to London, England in 1994 to study at the Inchbald School of Design. In 1997 he established his own garden design practice, and over the past twenty years Giubbilei has been involved in a myriad of garden design projects and collaborations.

Giubbilei’s biography is a laundry list of laudable experiences, including three gold medals won at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2009, 2011, and 2014. In 2015 Andrew Wilson authored The Gardens of Luciano Giubbilei, a “testament to a life’s work in progress.” In 2016, Giubbilei followed up with his own book, The Art of Making Gardens.

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