While the genius of Applied Imagination is on display in the Holiday Train Show, there is an equally captivating exhibition of plant architecture just steps away in the Deserts of the Americas Gallery in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. This is just a sampling of the hundreds of cacti and other arid-land plants on display. Don’t touch!
Swaying grasses, seed heads, and the persistent husks of past flowers lend a sunset golden light to certain outdoor collections at the Garden this time of year. The slightest breeze sets them to wavering like a botanical sea, and at the right time of day, the scene is the definition of peace.
Lisa Synoradzki is Senior Development Officer at The New York Botanical Garden.
In Oaxaca Journal, renowned neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks, M.D., remarks on the contributions that amateurs provide to field science: “A special power of observing and remembering particulars, a special memory for places…a lyrical feeling for nature.” Such is a naturalist I learned in NYBG’s Urban Naturalist Certificate Program. Courses provided a solid grounding on New York City’s plants, birds, and insects; their interactions; how they relate on the Tree of Life; and the ecology of their habitats.
Field trips on Garden grounds and to Pelham Bay and Van Cortlandt Parks were chances for our class to practice identification skills and record nature. We learned to identify a sign of forest succession in a meadow—a small grove of sapling sassafras trees, notice the pollination strategies of ephemeral spring beauty flowers—pink lines on white petals that point to nectar, and reflect on the success of American woodcocks in persisting in disturbed areas as we saw them ascend for sky dances at dusk.
As part of the Program, we were asked to create an ecological portrait of a patch in nature. I chose Welwyn Preserve in Glen Cove, Long Island, known for its magnificent, mature forest of tulip trees that are being threatened by storm damage, neglect, and an onslaught of invasive species. I documented Welwyn’s flora and fauna, its natural history and condition today, and the potential for restoration. My project led to an invitation from the Long Island Botanical Society (LIBS) to write an article for its newsletter, a presentation for LIBS members, and a nomination to the board of the Torrey Botanical Society. NYBG’s Urban Naturalist Program gave me the training and confidence to communicate about and advocate for the nature I love.
Join Laura Busse Dolan, owner of Applied Imagination, for a quick tour of the New York landmark replicas created by her company of artists that most speak to her, from the familiar silhouette of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to the Electric Tower of Luna Park. They’re all here on view at NYBG through January 21 as the Holiday Train Show continues into the new year—don’t miss it!
Saint Patrick's Cathedral
One of the earliest examples of our more elaborate botanical models, this structure took three different artists to complete, and uses over 60 different plant parts in its detail. The front rose window alone contains Siberian iris seed pods, grapevine, poppy seeds, eucalyptus pods, and pine cone scales.
While winter plays out in our outdoor collections, the Haupt Conservatory is always dressed for summer. Explore just a few of the vibrant fruits, nodding flowers, and unique leaf structures of the plants within.
A recent light dusting of snow made the scenery pop with the colors of winter, from Japanese stewartia bark like forest camouflage to the golden seedheads of our plants along Seasonal Walk.
Ursula Chanse is the Director of Bronx Green-Up and Community Horticulture at The New York Botanical Garden.
What do rubble-strewn vacant lots, asphalt-covered playgrounds, tiny tracts of land wedged between intersections and train tracks have in common? Each is a perfect location for creating a community garden and urban farm. For 30 years Bronx Green-Up, NYBG’s community gardening outreach program, has worked together with our community partners to create vibrant gardens in the most unlikely spaces.
Jodie Colón is the Compost Project Manager at The New York Botanical Garden.
Although silver traditionally marks a 25th anniversary, may we suggest gold for ours? Black gold, that is! Specifically, the rich, dark compost made by Bronx residents of all ages trained by the NYC Compost Project at NYBG since 1993.
At that time, as it still is today, food scraps and yard trimmings comprised nearly one-third of what New Yorkers discarded. The NYC Department of Sanitation began funding NYBG Bronx Green-Up staff to engage local residents and our community and school gardeners in composting those materials as a way to reduce waste and revive urban soils.
How long have you been a NYBG volunteer and what was the inspiration for becoming one?
I have been volunteering at NYBG for more than 25 years and have worked in many areas, including the Native Plant Garden, Perennial Garden, and the Nolen Greenhouses. I joined as a volunteer after seeing a mention of the NYBG Volunteer program in the brochure for an evening concert that my wife and I attended many years ago.
As the leaves disappear and we cozy up for the chills of winter, the trees take on an entirely different beauty defined by arching branches and unique bark patterns. See what’s beautiful now at the Garden among our own trees, then take a stroll around your block and see which street trees you can identify.