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 Cecilia Zumajo, Ph.D. student at the Garden.
My Name is Cecilia Zumajo, and I am a Ph.D. student here at the Garden. I’m studying plant evolution and development, specifically seed ovules and seed development in gymnosperms. I grew up in Colombia, and growing up in a neo-tropical country exposed me to the enormous diversity of flowers and fruits, in terms of shapes, colors, textures—everything! So I started looking at fruits specifically, and all of the genetics underlying the diversity of fruits.
When I came here, the landscape was so very different. Mostly gymnosperms, such as pine trees, ginkgo, all of those. I started looking at them differently because in Colombia I didn’t like gymnosperms at all. For me, they were an invasive thing—we actually have a lot of zamias and cycads originally from Colombia, which are great, but we also cultivate a lot of pine trees for wood. I only knew the pine forest, which impacted the soil by making it more acidic. After the pines, nothing else would grow in that spot.
Ursula Chanse is the Director of Bronx Green-Up and Community Horticulture at The New York Botanical Garden.
NYBG’s Bronx Green-Up is excited to be part of a new collaboration called The Bronx Canasta, an innovative food production and empowerment program in the Bronx. The Bronx Canasta aims to build self-reliance of Bronx communities to grow their own food and create, market, and distribute value-added products. To support these efforts, The Bronx Canasta secured four years of funding through a USDA Community Food Projects Competitive Grant and is now seeking input on the first value-added product—a Bronx salad dressing and marinade recipe!
First, the good. There is no doubt that this book is beautiful. For readers wondering how to incorporate more plants into their lives, or even readers looking for ideas for Instagrammable tableaus, the book is worth a look. Book sections include Creating Sacred Spaces, Botanical Alchemy, and Nurturing Self: Healthy Body, Mind, and Soul.
Lloyd Jones is an Assistant Gardener in NYBG’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.
In the heart of the Bronx remains hidden an unlikely treasure, an oasis of lush vegetation untouched by the city. The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory houses one of the world’s most diverse living collections of plants. As one of the gardeners who cares for this green paradise, I’d like to invite you to stroll through the Lowland Rain Forest, home to many plants with extraordinary characteristics.
One of the world’s rarest plants is Osa pulchra. Sadly, only 30 known specimens exist in the wild in Costa Rica and Panama. However, it is cultivated in several botanical gardens, including NYBG. The Garden’s specimens have been growing here since 2006 when we received them in an exchange with The Huntington Botanical Garden in San Marino, California. The delicate trumpet-shaped flowers, similar to those of Brugmansia, are quite a sight to enjoy, and I’ll share with you an insider tip: the best time to experience the flowers is when the sun passes overhead and you can see the flowers from underneath. You will find Osa pulchra blooming in the lowland rain forest, midway down the path on the courtyard side of the building.
Women’s History Month is underway, and here at NYBG we’re celebrating countless contributions to the Garden’s missions in science, art, horticulture, and so much more with several events in March. The Garden’s own co-founder, Elizabeth Knight Britton, was a world-renowned botanist and advocate for the natural world, and so many other venerable women in their fields have contributed to the field of plants through their research, illustrations, landscape design, and activism. This year, we’re highlighting a few who have worked with NYBG, and helping to expound on the work of others who deserve the spotlight.
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 Rocky Douangchanh, Public Education Coordinator.
“My passion for the Garden began in fall of 2005, when I joined as a Volunteer Explainer in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden. I came to understand that learning wasn’t a practice bound to a physical classroom, but one that flourished in many forms. I was grateful for the work that I did educating children and developing plant science-based programming. In the 14 years since, my responsibilities here have grown, and I’ve grown with them, finding a voice, vision, and an understanding of NYBG’s role as a living museum. I’ve also come to feel accountable to the community of educators, volunteers, staff, and visitors who think of this place as a second home.”
We may not see the budding leaves of spring just yet when wandering the Forest at NYBG, but a careful eye will make out many signs of life nonetheless. Look closely at the trunks of trees, both standing and fallen, and you may catch sight of shelf fungi, lichen, mosses, and any number of unique lifeforms weathering winter with aplomb. It’s a joy for those who like to hunt for treasure.
Lisa Whitmer is the Director of Adult Education at The New York Botanical Garden.
Since the earliest urban public parks and gardens were built, visitors have enjoyed these green spaces, and paused—to appreciate a bit of shade, admire a view, or watch an endless parade of fellow city-dwellers. But it is probable that very few have paused to consider how such places were created, and how all the design decisions made by landscape architects—about the shape of spaces, the slope of the land, the use of light, shade and water, the choice of plants and paving materials, and even the placement of benches—foster our sense of comfort and pleasure in these places.
The goal of the Garden’s annual Landscape Design Portfolios Series is to share this knowledge of the design process through presentations of current work by outstanding landscape architects practicing around the world today. Each fall for the past 20 years, The New York Botanical Garden has provided a public forum for landscape architects and designers to discuss the projects that continue to enhance our lives.