Plant Talk

Inside The New York Botanical Garden

#plantlove: Livia Martinez, Undergraduate Science Intern in the NYBG Plant Research Laboratory

Posted in People on July 17 2019, by Matt Newman

As part of #plantlove at NYBG, we’re talking with people from all over the Garden about what inspires their passion for plants. Today, meet Livia Martinez, Undergraduate Science Intern in the NYBG Plant Research Laboratory.

Photo of Livia Martinez

Where did you grow up, and did that have an impact on your decision to devote your life to plants?

I grew up in South Florida, which I would say had a pretty big impact on my interest in plants. The flora of Florida and the Caribbean are truly unparalleled, and growing up around mangrove forests and cycads and palm trees created a subconscious love for plants that I did not grow to appreciate until I got to high school.

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Wildlife at the Garden: Red-tailed Hawk Nest 2019

Posted in Wildlife on July 17 2019, by Patricia Gonzalez

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

Photo of a Red-tailed HawkI am happy to report that for a third straight year, a pair of Red-tailed Hawks has chosen to nest at The New York Botanical Garden. A brood of three scrappy, inquisitive raptors was born in 2019, and each is now exploring the Garden.

For Garden staff, this was an opportunity to observe an exciting natural event.

Like many of my colleagues, I like to walk the grounds during my break. Quite a few of our employees venture out with binoculars, in hopes that they might spot a fluffy little head peering out into the world, or perhaps one of the adults feeding their young. This proved a challenge, as the parents reinforced their nest to the point where it now stands much taller and wider than it was when they first constructed it in 2017, making it difficult to see what was going on.

Photo of Red-tailed Hawk parent and offspringFor weeks, all many of us could spot was the backside of the parents as they leaned forward into the nest bowl.  Eventually, their three offspring made themselves known.

I encourage everyone to take the time to explore the 250 acres of The New York Botanical Garden. Hawks aren’t the only residents. This time of year, frogs, turtles, butterflies, and other birds call this place home.

Speaking of birds, if you prefer a group setting, join the Bird Walk that takes place every Saturday at 11 a.m. The group meets at the reflecting pool, and it is always a good time.

Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil

Posted in Adult Education on July 16 2019, by Plant Talk

Peter Szilagyi is a Junior Mellon Fellow at the Humanities Institute, NYBG, Summer 2019.

Photo of the Elizabeth Bishop lecture speakers
Speakers, guests, and program organizers stand in front of the fountain in the Tropical Garden of Brazilian Modern

On Friday, June 21, 2019, The New York Botanical Garden partnered with the Poetry Society of America to bring a daylong celebration of the life and work of Elizabeth Bishop to the Bronx. Many of Bishop’s original poems and translations of Brazilian poets can be read on billboards set up throughout the Garden right now as complements to the current exhibit, Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx. Bishop spent what she regarded as the happiest years of her life in Brazil, where she came to know Burle Marx through her partner Lota de Macedo Soares, who, like Burle Marx, was a prominent Brazilian architect and landscape architect in the second half of the 20th century.

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What’s Beautiful Now: A Wealth of Wildlife

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on July 12 2019, by Matt Newman

Plants and wildlife go hand in hand, and as the Garden grounds grow ever more green for the summer, birds, insects, and amphibians are out and about in abundance, including goldfinches, orchard spiders, dragonflies, green frogs, and more.


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Roberto Burle Marx—A Total Work of Art

Posted in Humanities Institute on July 11 2019, by Vanessa Sellers

Photo of the exhibition speakers
Speakers Raymond Jungles, Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, Edward Sullivan, and Isabela Ono gather outside Ross Hall shortly before the start of the symposium

On Friday, June 7, 2019, the symposium Roberto Burle Marx—A Total Work of Art opened the Garden-wide exhibit Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx. Marking the Seventh Annual Humanities Symposium, the event celebrated Burle Marx’s life and work as an innovative artist, landscape architect, and conservationist, all in one.

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What’s Beautiful Now: Earthly Fireworks

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on July 5 2019, by Matt Newman

This week’s fireworks high above are met with a similar show down below, with summer’s Crocosima, water lilies (Nymphaea), torch-ginger (Etlingera), and more now bursting in abundance in the Perennial Garden, the Conservatory Courtyard Pools, and beyond. See these and other colorful characters from NYBG’s collections in this glimpse into what’s beautiful now.

Crocosima ‘Lucifer’

<em>Crocosima</em> ‘Lucifer’
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#plantlove: Nsombi Woodson, Floral Designer and NYBG Adult Education Instructor

Posted in Around the Garden on July 1 2019, by Matt Newman

As part of #plantlove at NYBG, we’re talking with people from all over the Garden about what inspires their passion for plants. Today, meet Nsombi Woodson, Floral Designer and Instructor for Adult Education at NYBG.

Photo of Nsombi Woodson

My #plantlove started in my grandmother’s garden. Back then, my absolute favorite flower was the rose. Nana, as we called her, planted a rose bush for each of her grandchildren. For me, she planted a variety of tiny pink sprays. Born and raised in the Bronx, I treated The New York Botanical Garden as my backyard—class trips, birthdays, and summer vacations were spent on its lawns. During these visits to NYBG, I’d head straight to the rose garden and claim every pink spray rose as my very own.

I’ve been blessed to turn my love of flowers into a career in floral design, and now my favorites are too numerous to name. However, I must say that spring inspires me the most. Just like me, the flowers have survived the dark, cold winter and are ecstatic to be out in the sunshine again. Blooming branches burst with color; scents of hyacinths fill the air; and the happy faces of daffodils pop up waving hello.

In the end, what feeds my #plantlove the most is its ability to evoke sweet memories of the past, excitement for the future, and gratefulness for the present.

What’s Beautiful Now: Seasonal Walk

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on June 28 2019, by Matt Newman

The Marjorie G. Rosen Seasonal Walk is the place to be as we boldly move into summer. You’ll see an abundance of beauty among the white lace flowers (Orlaya grandiflora), moor grass (Molinia caerulea ‘Moorhexe’), rusty foxglove (Digitalis ferruginea), queen of the prairie (Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’), Chinese astilbe (Astilbe ‘Vision in Pink’), and Culver’s root (Veronicastrum ‘Adoration’). And that’s only the beginning of this season of verdant color.

Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties

Posted in From the Library on June 27 2019, by Esther Jackson

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 the cover of TeaTea: History, Terroirs, Varieties (ed. 3, 2018) by authors Kevin Gascoyne, François Marchand, Jasmin Desharnais, and Hugo Américi, takes readers into the present-day world of the culture and economy of tea.

The authors, co-owners of the Camellia Sinensis Tea House in Montreal, Quebec, give a general look at the topic of tea in four sections: “From Garden to Cup,” which includes information about the cultivation and harvesting of tea; “From One Terroir to Another,” which tours the world’s major tea-growing regions—China, Japan, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Kenya, and Malawi; “From Cup to Plate,” which details the preparation of tea; and “Tea and Health,” which includes information about the chemical components of tea, including caffeine levels and antioxidant properties.

There is a brief section related to the history of tea, which is interesting but lacking in citations, and therefore not research-grade. A directory of 42 select teas and 15 recipes using tea, as well as recommendations about infusion accessories and teapots, offer practical guidance to readers who want to explore different aspects of tea consumption. Marketed as a reference work, the book is most useful as a contemporary snapshot of the current landscape of tea distribution, production, and culture around the world.

Readers looking for a more detailed historic treatment of tea may wish to read George van Driem’s impressive (and large) The Tale of Tea: A Comprehensive History of Tea from Prehistoric Times to the Present Day (2019). This work is available for use in the Mertz Library.