Plant Talk

Inside The New York Botanical Garden

What’s Beautiful Now: Autumn Perennials

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on October 11 2018, by Matt Newman

Dahlias continue to shine in the Home Gardening Center, Perennial Garden, and elsewhere in our collections, showing off their sunny faces as the weather cools. The autumn color palette is vivid and dynamic, shifting week to week as we move deeper into the season!

Home Gardening Center

Home Gardening Center
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The dahlias in our trial beds are fully flushed out for the season! Take this opportunity to acquaint yourself with the wide variety of interesting cultivars and classes we have selected.

Embracing the Desert

Posted in From the Library on October 11 2018, 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.


Desert Gardens of Steve MartinoThree new books in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library will inspire readers to embrace desert landscapes and plants.

Desert Gardens of Steve Martino (2018) is a lavish ode to the landscapes of the landscape designer Steve Martino. Authored by Caren Yglesias, a licensed architect and lecturer in landscape architecture and environmental planning at UC Berkeley, with photographs by Steve Gunther, the book is well-designed and executed. Because of their artistic nature, some of the photo-documentation abstracts the designs of the gardens; it is helpful that each garden includes a site plan that illustrates the layout of the site in more measured detail. Twenty-one of Martino’s gardens in the American southwest are treated. Martino, who focuses on using plants that are native to the Sonoran region, creates gardens that are evocative of the desert from which they spring. East coast gardeners and designers may not look to Martino for practical landscape design inspiration, owing to the differences in climates. However, his use of structure and color can be universally enjoyed by those who create, maintain, and appreciate garden landscapes.

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Gardenlust Takes Readers to the World’s Modern Gardens

Posted in From the Library on October 4 2018, 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.


Naples Botanical Garden

Naples Botanical Garden
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Photo © Chris Woods

Gardenlust: A Botanical Tour of the World’s Best New Gardens by Christopher Woods for Timber Press is a seductive new title introducing readers to 50 new and exciting modern gardens throughout the world. Woods, former director and chief designer at Chanticleer, with an impressive horticultural resume, offers readers profiles of 50 gardens that have opened in the last 18 years. Although Woods cautions that his choices are personal, the contemporary gardens and landscapes featured are unequivocally appealing although their designs are quite diverse.

Two of the noteworthy gardens featured are Vallarta Gardens in Mexico and the Naples Botanical Garden in Florida, pictured here. My personal favorite, possibly because it is so striking, is The Orpheus Project at Boughton House. Certainly, different readers will have affinity for different gardens. Regardless of which gardens inspire the most awe in any individual reader, most if not all will feel the tug of wanderlust and the gardenlust to explore many of these new and beautiful landscapes.

What’s Beautiful Now: Rosy Reminders

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on October 3 2018, by Matt Newman

The changing leaves may only just be starting, but the fall encore of color in the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden is already well on its way. We expect to see a bit of a fireworks show from the collection this weekend in particular, and with the Spooky Pumpkin Garden, our Honey & Harvest Weekend, and Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai‘i taking place at the same time, it’ll be the perfect time to stop into NYBG.

Rose Garden

Rose Garden
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The roses are beginning to return for their fall bloom.

What’s in a Plant Name? – Papaya

Posted in Around the Garden on October 2 2018, by Katherine Wagner-Reiss

Katherine Wagner-Reiss has her certificate in botany from NYBG and has been a tour guide there for three years.


PapayaGeorgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai‘i features a painting titled Papaya Tree, ‘IAO Valley, Maui. Historically, this is a particularly interesting painting because O’Keeffe submitted it to The Hawaiian Pineapple Company (later Dole) for use in their advertisements, but it was rejected because a major competitor of theirs sold papayas! It is the only painting of a tree form in the exhibition, but botanically speaking, papayas are not trees because they lack a woody trunk; they are large herbaceous perennials. Nearly all of the plant species in O’Keeffe’s Hawaiian paintings can be found growing in the Haupt Conservatory. You will find the live papaya by the hale, a typical Hawaiian structure used for social gatherings.

Another interesting aspect of the Conservatory display is that the plants are divided into those native to Hawai‘i, those brought to Hawai‘i by the Polynesians about 1500 years ago (known as canoe plants), and those introduced after Captain Cook’s landing in 1778 (post-contact plants). Carica papaya is a post-contact plant, native to Central and South America, and introduced to Hawai‘i soon after Captain Cook’s landing, as a dioecious plant with male and female specimens. In 1911 a gynodioecious solo papaya, better for commercial use, was introduced from the Caribbean. Papayas are now naturalized in Hawai‘i.

O’Keeffe initially labeled this painting as a papaw. Of course, common names can be confusing because, while some people call papaya “pawpaw,” most people are thinking of the fruit of Asimina triloba—a large shrub also known as the pawpaw.

Carica is derived from the Greek for a kind of fig, because of the fig-like leaves. The specific epithet “papaya” was possibly derived from the Caribbean word for this fruit. The family is Caricaceae.

If you want to see a papaya after the Georgia O’Keeffe show departs on October 28, Carica papaya ‘Thai Red’ can be found growing in the lowland rain forest house of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

What’s Beautiful Now: Early Fall Showings

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on September 28 2018, by Matt Newman

Ruby-throated hummingbirds in the Perennial Garden, dahlias in the Home Gardening Center, and Sarracenia in the Native Plant Garden. Fall is here and beaming.

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds
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You can still find hummingbirds doing the rounds in the Perennial Garden.

Fiesta de Flores 2018

Posted in Programs and Events on September 28 2018, by Elizabeth Figueroa

Fiesta de FloresOn Wednesday, September 19, 2018, we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with Fiesta de Flores, a festival at the Botanical Garden commemorating the people of Latin America and the Caribbean. The event took place at the Stone Mill from 5:30–8:30pm.

The program entailed Rose Garden Tours, food and beverage tasting, live art, floral painting workshop, artisans, musical entertainment and a Bomba dance ensemble.

Aaron Bouska, Vice President of Government and Community Relations provided the welcoming remarks and Elizabeth Figueroa, Associate Vice President of Community Relations presented Havana Café and Port Morris Distillery with the Hispanic Heritage Month Award for their outstanding community service in the Bronx and for their annual contribution to the Garden’s Fiesta de Flores event.

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Bathing Among the Trees

Posted in From the Library on September 27 2018, 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.


Shinrin-yokuShinrin-yoku, “forest bathing” in English, is definitely having a moment. Shinrin-Yoku: The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing is a new book on the discipline written by Yoshifumi Miyazaki for Timber Press. Miyazaki, a university professor, researcher, and the deputy director of Chiba University’s Centre for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, has researched forest bathing since 1990, and has published several books on the effects and benefits of forest therapy.

The term shinrin-yoku was coined in 1982 and refers to the practice of walking through the woods and experiencing nature. Specifically, practitioners enjoy nature at a leisurely pace, “bathing” in the natural environment and benefiting from lowered stress levels and a heightened sense of well-being. Japanese researchers have been measuring the positive effects of shinrin-yoku for decades, attempting to quantify both chemicals and perceptions—a difficult task. (For more information about the research surrounding shinrin-yoku, see Amitah Kalaichandran’s recent article from The New York Times.)

For those who are interested in giving shinrin-yoku a try, Miyazaki’s book is an excellent introduction. Chapter titles include “The Concept of Nature Therapy,” “Japan’s Relationship with Nature,” “The Practice of Shinrin-yoku,” “Bringing the Forest Closer to Home,” “The Science Behind Nature Therapy,” and “The Future of Forest Therapy Research.” NYBG also offers classes for those who would prefer a more hands-on instruction.

See also: NYBG volunteer Jeanne Lapsker’s Plant Talk blog on shinrin-yoku from 2015 and my Forest Bathing book review from earlier this year.

What’s Beautiful Now: Into Autumn

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on September 20 2018, by Matt Newman

We’re into the final few days of summer, and already we can feel fall in the air. Not long now till cardigans and colorful leaves become the norm! But until then, let’s send off the warmest, most verdant season with a few more looks into the collections that are shining brightest right now.

Ross Conifer Arboretum

Ross Conifer Arboretum
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Conifers are beautiful in any season, but lined with the swaying fronds of ferns and other summer favorites, now is a great time to explore them.

DIY Beyond the Garden

Posted in From the Library on September 20 2018, 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.


Keeping Honey BeesStorey’s Guide to Keeping Honey Bees: Honey Production, Pollination, Health (second edition, 2018) contains everything a beginner beekeeper needs to know to get started. At 200 pages, it is chock-full of very useful and fascinating information. The authors of the work are Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford, retired extension entomologist and professor emeritus, Department of Entomology & Nematology, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, and veteran beekeeper Richard E. Bonney. Together, they cover a remarkable amount of information about honey bees, from the practical aspects of how to start beekeeping, to more advanced colony management practices.

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