Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Archive: July 2008

Maintenance on a Living Masterpiece

Posted in Gardens and Collections, Video on July 31 2008, by Plant Talk

Genna Federico, a senior at St. John’s University, is an intern working in the Communications Department this summer.

Before the Waterlilies and Lotus Aquatic Exhibition in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory Courtyard pools opened, I wanted to find out how these flowers floating in water are kept bright and perky. To get to the bottom of this, so to speak, I watched one day as Foreman of Gardeners Gary Bendykowski gave the tropical pool (one of two pools in the courtyard) a cleaning. It was quite a sight to see. Donning brown waders Gary entered the pool with great enthusiasm, saying “It’s the best; you get to be in the water and away from the crowd.”

The weekly cleaning is generally done for aesthetic purposes, to remove leaves that are discolored or have been torn. It also serves to get rid of the abundance of elodea, aquatic weeds that are not needed in these hot summer months, although in colder months they help provide oxygen.

See the video below and read about the rest of Genna’s day at the pool after the jump.

Conservatory pool cleaning at The New York Botanical Garden on Vimeo.

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Spotlight on: NYBG Horticulture Student Songsuk Kim

Posted in People on July 30 2008, by Plant Talk

Dachell McSween, Publicity Coordinator, spent a morning with School of Professional Horticulture student Songsuk Kim to find out what it’s like to attend “plant school” at NYBG.

Songsuk Kim took a break from grooming, watering, and inventorying plants to talk about her experience as a student at the Botanical Garden and now as an intern in the Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. She assists staff with maintaining a variety of plant displays and preparing major blockbuster exhibits such as The Orchid Show and Caribbean Gardens.

“It makes me feel good to see the public enjoying our exhibits. As a student, it is a great accomplishment.”

Two years ago, Songsuk Kim (pictured at left), then 26, was working at a teacher in Korean but wanted to enhance her horticulture skills, so she enrolled in NYBG’s School of Professional Horticulture (SOPH). Although Songsuk, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in landscape architecture from her native country, South Korea, she wanted to increase her knowledge about botany and soil sciences. She felt that SOPH was the best place to study because she would be able to use NYBG’s 250-acre landmark site as a classroom and be trained by leading experts in the horticultural field, including SOPH alumni.

“As a student in the program, I have learned so much about horticulture. I enjoy all of the hands-on experience that I receive at NYBG,” she says.

Each day brings a new set of opportunities to learn from Garden staff. Recently, she began working with NYBG Gardener Yukie Kurashina on Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Chrysanthemum exhibit, which entails painstaking propagation techniques. During lunch hour you’ll find Songsuk viewing the “colorful plant combinations” in the Jane Watson Irwin Perennial Garden. She loves native plants as well and enjoys perusing the Native Plant Garden.

When Songsuk graduates from the School of Professional Horticulture next year she plans to use her new skills to design public gardens. But she says she will miss NYBG staff, fellow classmates (who “feel like a family”), and wandering around the Garden.

“The School of Professional Horticulture has an international reputation, known throughout the horticultural community, and this, together with my hard work, will help me to continue to develop my horticultural skills.”

SOPH is now accepting applications (due August 15) for the class of 2011.

NYBG in the News — 7/29/08

Posted in NYBG in the News on July 29 2008, by Plant Talk

The Garden and YouTube

Nick Leshi is Associate Director of Public Relations and Electronic Media.

The video review of Moore in America by Time magazine’s art critic Richard Lacayo is now on YouTube. It is a wonderful analysis of Henry Moore’s sculpture and the 20 monumental works on display at The New York Botanical Garden.

Since its creation in 2005, YouTube has revolutionized the distribution of user-generated video content. YouTube accurately describes itself as “the leader in online video and the premier destination to watch and share original videos worldwide.”

If you come across any videos about the Botanical Garden, let us know. One of my favorites is this charming clip created by “megruth” who visited with her mom a couple of years ago during our popular Chihuly exhibition.

You can also browse through the videos in The New York Botanical Garden’s own channel on YouTube. The videos from our Kiku exhibit, for example (below), have generated hundreds of hits and have been linked to a number of social networking sites.


Tip of the Week — 7/28/08

Posted in Gardening Tips on July 28 2008, by Sonia Uyterhoeven

Lepidopterist Delight

Sonia Uyterhoeven is Gardener for Public Education at The New York Botanical Garden.
Butterfly on butterfly bush panicle Butterflies delight us with a kaleidoscope of color. They are wonderful for educating children about nature, keeping us connected with the natural world, and giving us a deeper appreciation for insects in general.

Butterflies are also second to bees are our most important plant pollinator. They are sensitive to the environment and so are good indicators of the health of the environment. How then can we encourage them into our garden?

Butterflies need sunny, open spots that are protected from heavy winds. They need a sunning area such as a rock, a path, or pavement, where they can sit and warm up (insects are cold blooded). Just like birds need a bird bath for water, butterflies need puddles or a pool of water where they can get moisture and minerals. The garden should be free of pesticides.

To draw butterflies into your yard, provide plants that are a good source of nectar such as butterfly bush, lilacs, lavender, bee balm, ornamental sage (salvia), cosmos, zinnias, coneflowers, and asters, to name a few.

Also remember to provide food sources for hungry caterpillars that will eventually be transformed—through metamorphosis—into the stately butterfly. Host plants include fennel, parsley, violets, blueberry bushes, dogwoods, viburnums, cherries, and maples.

Weekend Programming: Moore Movie Gets Thumbs Up

Posted in Exhibitions, Moore in America, Programs and Events on July 25 2008, by Kate

Kate Murphy, a junior at Fordham University, is an intern working in the Communications Department this summer.
Reclining Mother and Child

If the 20 monumental pieces in the largest outdoor exhibition of Henry Moore’s sculpture ever seen in a single venue in the United States isn’t enough for you, there is more Moore to be seen at NYBG. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through November 2, you can catch The Art of Henry Moore, a documentary film focusing on his work.

As anyone living in or visiting New York City in the past few weeks-scratch that, during the summertime in general-will understand, the heat can get pretty intense. So I decided to escape to the Arthur and Janet Ross Lecture Hall and check out The Art of Henry Moore for some air-conditioned relief.

Narrated by Moore himself, the film features footage from around the world, showcasing a variety of backdrops for his magnificent sculpture, many of which can be seen in real life at NYBG during the Moore in America exhibit.

The Art of Henry Moore opens with Moore telling about his life and the defining moments that led him to become one of the most widely known and highly regarded sculptors of all time. He drew inspiration from a range of objects: from a bleak rock in the landscape of Adel woods, outside of Leeds, to ancient Mexican art found in the British Museum. He explains the themes in his works such as the mother and child and the reclining figure and considers the benefits of working in various media using different techniques.

Before seeing the movie, I didn’t know much about Moore’s creative thought process. I gained an appreciation for how artists, and Moore in particular, use particular methods for generating ideas. Moore talks of walking in nature every day and how a sculpture begins—by finding an object such as a bone or a pebble and drawing and studying it. Moore took these “found objects” and translated the beauty of imperfection into his abstract sculpture.

I would definitely recommend seeing The Art of Henry Moore when you visit the Garden for the Moore exhibition. It puts all of the work in perspective and puts a human face on the man behind the extraordinary sculpture.

Saturday’s Programming

Sunday’s Programming

The Botanical Garden’s Own Waterfalls

Posted in Gardens and Collections, Video on July 24 2008, by Plant Talk

Nick Leshi is Associate Director of Public Relations and Electronic Media.

With Olafur Eliasson’s ambitious New York City Waterfalls project receiving so much attention, it’s worth mentioning our own cascading waterfalls that visitors can see at The New York Botanical Garden. Not to detract from the multi-million dollar display along the East River presented by the Public Art Fund in collaboration with the City of New York, the four waterfalls here at the Botanical Garden are just as captivating and mesmerizing in their beautiful settings.

Glenn Collins wrote in The New York Times about the many other aquatic falls located throughout the city, including the ones here at NYBG. In his follow-up the next day on the “City Room” blog, readers also identified the Garden’s falls as sites to see.

Read about what you’re seeing below in the video after the jump, in Nick’s rundown of the four falls that flow at the Botanical Garden:

The Waterfalls of The New York Botanical Garden from The New York Botanical Garden on Vimeo.

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Book Review: An Essential for Tending Perennials

Posted in Shop/Book Reviews on July 23 2008, by Plant Talk

John Suskewich is Book Manager for Shop in the Garden.

It happens every year. It happened again this year. In June everything looks fresh and vibrant; the parade of tulips has ended in a triumph of roses, and you are smug. Even the delphiniums look as if they might flower a two-foot-long tower, like you are Lawrence Johnston and this is Hidcote or something, and you are smug.

And then by mid-July the garden starts to sag; the color looks washed out, leaves are wilting and turning brown, stems start to tilt, and so you pray for rain. And then it rains. Torrentially. It rains and rains. The Amazon doesn’t see such downpours. And then it stops and you go out on the deck and survey the damage. And you are no longer smug. The garden looks flattened; the plants lean against each other, like partygoers after their seventh mojito, and too late you begin to stake.

But there is a book, The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques, by Tracy DiSabato-Aust, that has the cure for this perennial problem, and it is easier than a 12-step. The simple insight that she presents so elegantly is to prune plants for better maintenance. Genus by genus she tells you when and how and she tells you with such clarity and such conviction that your garden will almost immediately look a thousand times better. You must overcome your initial hesitation caused by the thought “but I will be cutting off all the flowers!” What will result is a better behaved and much more floriferous garden.

To see the benefits of this technique walk through the Jane Watson Irwin Perennial Garden here at The New York Botanical Garden. Designed by Lynden B. Miller and curated by Bruce Dryden, this is a classic example of the mixed herbaceous border, with each element showing its uniqueness but each playing its role in the overall arrangement. Following the tactics of DiSabato-Aust, every plant has been pruned and deadheaded and divided with an almost annoying exactness—I should be so focused!—and the end result is a work of art right here in the heart of the Bronx.

On any gardener’s bookshelf, The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust is one of the essentials.

NYBG in the News — 7/22/08

Posted in NYBG in the News on July 22 2008, by Plant Talk

Long-Distance Relationship

Genna Federico, a senior at St. John’s University, is an intern working in the Communications Department this summer.

Spring AfternoonWhether you refer to it as a giardino botanico, botanischer garten, jardim botânico, or simply a botanical garden, The New York Botanical Garden has been receiving a lot of buzz lately in media outlets around the world.

The very welcomed attention from the foreign press has focused on our distinguished exhibitions Moore in America and Darwin’s Garden, expanding the Garden’s international exposure.

Journalists from around the globe—Germany, Spain, Australia, Great Britain, Japan, Turkey, Canada, and elsewhere—have visited and written about The New York Botanical Garden in recent months.

In one instance, a video crew from Brazil TV’s Cultura Metropolis arts program interviewed Karen Daubmann, Director of Exhibitions, about Moore in America. From Europe, Italian media filmed a segment on Darwin’s Garden for the Pikaia Web site, and the Garden was also featured in the newspaper La Stampa, whose Web site also included dozens of images of Moore sculpture.

In addition to the Associated Press story mentioned in last week’s blog post, “The Bronx Is Blooming,” other stories reported by the International Herald Tribune have been picked up by the foreign press, including a prominent mention in an article about “museum-quality art” exhibitions at botanical gardens in the United States. No doubt the coverage will continue to snowball.

The NYBG clearly has something to offer visitors from near and far, so check it out. Adiós, au revoir, arrivederci!

Tip of the Week — 7/21/08

Posted in Gardening Tips on July 21 2008, by Sonia Uyterhoeven

Heavenly Herbs

Sonia Uyterhoeven is Gardener for Public Education at The New York Botanical Garden.
Louise Loeb Vegetable GardenHerbs are easy to grow and are rewarding for the culinary-minded gardener. It is better to neglect your herbs rather than take too much care or to fuss over them. The most work you will need to do is pinching back herbs so that they don’t get leggy or go to flower.

  • Most herbs like full sun; the few exceptions that can handle part shade are parsley, mint, dill, and basil.
  • Herbs like good drainage—if they are container-grown, normal potting soil will do.
  • Herbs tend to be more fragrant when not fertilized and kept lean—basil is the exception.
  • Basil, dill, and cilantro are easy to sow from seeds. Basil is not frost hardy and needs to be placed outside after the last frost date; cilantro on the other hand is a fast-growing, cool-season crop.
  • Mints have a tendency to be invasive and are best used as either container plants or planted in a large pot that is sunk into the ground. This will provide an effective barrier for about 3 years.

Experiment with herbs in your garden and have fun. This year we have ‘Doone Valley’ thyme and silver thyme (Thymus vulgaris ‘Argenteus’) in the vegetable garden; they both have a wonderful citrus fragrance. Cuban oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus) is a newcomer to the vegetable garden this year with its pungent foliage. It can be used just like sage in cooking. Basil ‘Red Rubin’ retains its red color even as it ages and is a staple in the Home Gardening Center, but there are so many others to choose from such as the exotic Thai basil ‘Siam Queen’.

Weekend Programming: Darwin’s Garden Takes a Bow…

Posted in Programs and Events on July 18 2008, by Plant Talk

LibraryYou’ve been working for it all week long, and now it’s here! This weekend at The New York Botanical Garden is jam- packed with awesome weather and exciting programming. Plus, the magnificent trees provide us city dwellers with a beautiful, shady oasis, a great way to escape the heat and humidity.

Mark it on your calendar: This is the last weekend to see Charles Darwin’s notebooks and sketches, which are being displayed in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library gallery.

If you are a huge fan of daylilies, like I am, then you won’t want to miss the Home Gardening demonstration devoted entirely to daylilies!

For those who love to cook—and to eat for that matter—you will be interested to know about the herbal scavenger hunt taking place in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden. During the scavenger hunt you will get to smell, touch, and even taste some of the herbs.

And, if you haven’t yet seen the massive sculpture of Henry Moore, you’re missing out. There are many ways to appreciate these works, from participating in a walking tour to watching the Henry Moore documentary, the choice is yours.

Last but not least, there is a Native Plant Garden Tour on Sunday. If you’re going native, you must attend.

Saturday’s Programming

Sunday’s Programming