Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Archive: December 2009

Hello! It’s Thomas!

Posted in Exhibitions, Holiday Train Show on December 31 2009, by Plant Talk

I’m Back at the Garden; Please Come Visit—I Can’t Wait to See You

Thomas the Tank Engine™ is an annual visitor to The New York Botanical Garden.

Thomas the Tank 09 006 FROM GAYLE.jpg CROPHello everyone! It’s Thomas, and I want to tell you about my next exciting destination—The New York Botanical Garden! I pull into the station on January 2 to welcome all the children who visit each day through January 10.

I see so many smiling faces every year during my visit to the Holiday Train Show. I sometimes wish I were small enough to wind through the miniature New York landscape made of sticks and leaves and pine cones like the trains in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

At the Garden I have a very important job of meeting families at the Ross Lecture Hall and posing for photos with lots of boys and girls. Remember to bring your camera!

Sir Topham Hatt will travel with me to make sure we are right on time and that everything runs smoothly while we have fun at the Holiday Train Show. We’ve brought treats like stickers, tattoos, and coloring sheets to share with all our friends. Everyone can earn these and become honorary engineers when they come and see me.

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Photography Exhibition: The Presence of Trees

Posted in Exhibitions, Shop/Book Reviews on December 30 2009, by Plant Talk

Larry Lederman’s Images on Display; Available as 2010 Calendar in Shop

POTThe form and beauty of trees drew Larry Lederman into landscape photography nine years ago, when he began visiting the Botanical Garden weekly in all kinds of weather. For Lederman, a member of the Board of Advisors, the Garden is a beautiful and diverse landscape where he can follow the growth and seasonal changes of the trees, each occasion offering singular enchantments.

Some of his resulting images are currently on display in an exhibition, The Presence of Trees, in the Arthur and Janet Ross Gallery, through April 11.

“The presence or absence of trees often defines a landscape,” Lederman has said. “In art, forests signify wilderness and clearing, its loss. The trees in these photographs are in the so-called cleared places, nurtured to be part of our lives. Growing either alone or one in relation to others, they respond to the seasons, invest the landscape with their permanence and character, and connect us to nature. They influence our moods, affect our behavior, and shape our lives. These photographs view trees as expressive presences evocative of the diversity and wonder of life.”

His images take a fresh look at trees in the landscape and reveal their beauty and structure during all seasons, underscoring their character and influence in the natural world.

In 2003 the Botanical Garden published his first calendar, Woodland Creatures, which led to his annual series, Trees. Copies of his 2010 calendar, which include several images from the exhibition, are available at Shop in the Garden.


The Herbarium’s Role in Climate Change, Conservation Policies

Posted in Science on December 29 2009, by Plant Talk

Barbara Thiers, Ph.D., is Director of the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium and oversees the C.V. Starr Virtual Herbarium.

Part 3 in a 3-part series
Read Part 1 and Part 2

herbaruim29During the past 15 years, my staff and I have devoted a great deal of effort in the creation of the C.V. Starr Virtual Herbarium, which is an on-line catalog of the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium. Entries in the Virtual Herbarium are created by transcribing the data from the specimen label into an electronic database, and often capturing a digital image of the specimens as well.

We have digitized just over 1 million of our 7.3 million specimens so far. Although we don’t know exactly what objective drives each of the 8,400 daily visits to the Virtual Herbarium, we deduce from reviewing the sources of these “hits” that most users are seeking basic biodiversity information.

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Tip of the Week: Simple Edible Centerpieces

Posted in Gardening Tips on December 28 2009, by Sonia Uyterhoeven

Sonia Uyterhoeven is Gardener for Public Education.

IMG_7200This was the year that The New York Botanical Garden and the entire nation celebrated edible gardens. A slew of beautiful and interesting fruits and vegetables flooded the market, and local farmer’s markets became very trendy. I make it a habit of going to the Union Square Farmer’s Market to search out tasty fruits and vegetables for my own table: for eating as well as for displaying in easy-to-make centerpieces. I bought a rustic, square wooden plate for my centerpieces. The container or plate you choose to showcase your creation is just as important as the centerpiece itself. Buy one that fits your decorating style.

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Happy Holiday!

Posted in Exhibitions, Holiday Train Show on December 24 2009, by Plant Talk

Enchanting Gingerbread Houses on View

Carol Capobianco is Editorial Content Manager at The New York Botanical Garden.

As in past years, Gingerbread Adventures in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden features a wondrous display of gingerbread houses created by some of the area’s most imaginative bakers.

This year’s theme was “Fairy Tales,” and the bakers delivered charming interpretations of classic children’s favorites.

Jill Adams of The Cake Studio, Brooklyn, featured the archetypal princess and frog prince in front of a castle. Kate Sullivan of Lovin Sullivan Cakes, Manhattan, gave life to the tale of the Three Little Pigs, with a big, bad wolf at the front door. Liv and Kaye Hansen of Riviera Bakehouse, Ardsley, tell the story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin with confectionary rats overrunning the town.

Irina Brandler of Sugar and Spice Bake Shop, the Bronx, offered her rendition of the Russian folklore witch Baba Yaga, who “lives in a house which walks about on chicken legs,” and Mark Tasker of Balthazar Bakery, Manhattan, created a red-and-white circus tent, “Greatest Show in the Big Apple,” with a rotating center ring inside.

Come and have fun as I—and the moms and kids around me—did picking out the types of candy and other treats that creatively construct each design: frosted cereal as roof tiles, candy canes as columns, pretzel sticks as firewood, bubblegum as a ceiling light fixture, and so much more.

Get Your Tickets

Holiday Highlights: School’s Out, Come Visit!

Posted in Exhibitions, Holiday Train Show on December 23 2009, by Plant Talk

Lit Up ConservatoryThe tree is trimmed, the stockings are hung, and it’s time to enjoy the holiday weekend. Join us at the Garden and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Train Show.

Gingerbread Adventures has activities for the whole family, including gingerbread houses from the city’s most imaginative bakers.

The Little Engine That Could™ Puppet Show has daily shows from December 26 through January 1 at 1, 2, and 3 p.m.

Don’t worry about the chilly weather; the trains are winding through palm trees and tropical greenery in the Conservatory, and there is hot chocolate, cider, and a variety of holiday treats at the Garden’s two Cafes.

Get Your Tickets

New Offerings Enhance Dining Experience at Garden Cafes

Posted in Exhibitions, Holiday Train Show on December 22 2009, by Plant Talk

Also Savor Special Seasonal Holiday Fare and Treats

David Sanchez is General Manager of Abigail Kirsch at The New York Botanical Garden.

Cafe Holiday TreatsNo doubt you’ve noticed a few changes in the Garden’s two cafes in recent weeks. We listened to you, our customers; incorporated your suggestions; and added some of our own thoughts on how to create a sense not of eating but of dining. As the new General Manager of Abigail Kirsch at The New York Botanical Garden, I bring the commitment of Abigail Kirsch to offering fresh food, great service, and appealing variety.

The transformation has included…

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Tip of the Week: Decorative Trees Made of Chocolate Kisses

Posted in Gardening Tips on December 21 2009, by Sonia Uyterhoeven

Sonia Uyterhoeven is Gardener for Public Education.

IMG_7202A colleague of mine has a plaque in her office that says “Life without chocolate would be chaos and darkness.” For those of you who adhere to this philosophy, here is an easy holiday activity that is fun for the entire family.

I went to the Floral District in Manhattan on 28th Street and 6th Avenue and purchased an Oasis™ cone. Some of the vendors are strictly wholesale, while others will sell you items and simply charge you the tax if you don’t have an exemption form.

Oasis™, for the uninitiated, is a trademark name for florist foam. It generally comes in green rectangular blocks that you can cut into pieces and saturate for floral centerpiece displays. I wanted the cone, so the vendor went down into his stock room and reappeared with a 12-inch cone, which cost me $4.50. Large craft stores sell similar products. A Styrofoam cone serves the same purpose. I then picked up a box of toothpicks and two bags of Hershey’s Kisses®.

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The Nuts & Bolts—Er, Bark—of Creating the Holiday Train Show

Posted in Exhibitions, Holiday Train Show on December 18 2009, by Plant Talk

Sculptor Takes Us Behind-the-Scenes Building the Botanical Replicas

Sculptor Annette Skinner has worked on the Applied Imagination team since 1992.

Memories of travels, saved in a giant box. The twisty stick, obscure seed pod, shapely leaf quietly await the next decisive moment. If lucky, my boss, Paul Busse, will require my sculptural eye for the intriguing job of creating another scale model of a historic building. These varied natural objects possibly will become a banister, urn, or portico.

annete and paulPaul, designer of the Holiday Train Show, (see the two of us in the photo at right, courtesy of Judy Glattstein) has a unique concept that requires integration of the natural world with traditional G-scale model railroad layouts. His highly dimensional, textural interpretation is populated by finely detailed versions of American art and architecture. Each year The New York Botanical Garden adds to its collection of New York landmarks, and I have been helping on these starting with Poe Cottage in the early days. This year’s newcomer, Penn Station, took staff at Applied Imagination over 1,1,00 collective hours to complete. Also new this year is the Brooks Brothers flagship store, LED lights on the Yankee Stadium replica, and an audio of lovely organ music by Paul’s son, Brian, accompanying the St. Patrick’s Cathedral replica.

Most of Paul’s designs are drawn in a studio he shares with his wife, Margaret Duke, in northern Kentucky. His drafting table overlooks a stream, reflecting the flow and curves of his blueprint sketches for track assembly.

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Lecture Series Lineup Gets a “Wow!”

Posted in Learning Experiences on December 17 2009, by Plant Talk

Groundbreaking Speakers Challenge Traditional Ways

Phyllis Odessey, Horticulture Manager at Randall’s Island Park, earned a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden’s Continuing Education Program.

Dan Person BROUGHTON_04The life of a gardener is filled with many “Aha!” moments. But when I opened the NYBG Fall/Winter Catalog and turned to page 62, to the winter gardening lecture series lineup of speakers, it was not an “Aha!” moment but rather a “Wow!” moment. Three names jumped off the page: Dan Pearson, Barbara Damrosch and Fritz Haeg. From the Ground Up: Gardens Re-Imagined is the perfect name for a series featuring this rabble-rousing trio.

In the forward to Dan Pearson’s new book, Spirit: Garden Inspiration, Beth Chatto writes, “Dan Pearson shows how the most intimidating situations can be transformed. It takes a rare mind and eye to break away from our traditional view of what makes a garden…” Dan’s also a great plantsman, as I well know, but that’s not why I’m going to his lecture on January 21. I am going because I know that Dan will challenge my notions of order, color, and texture.

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