Beautiful Blooms, Old Havana, Cuban Countryside Featured
Laura Collier is Marketing Associate at The New York Botanical Garden.
Garden staff have been working in overdrive for weeks, filling the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory with thousands of brilliant orchids and tropical plants in preparation for the 8th annual Orchid Show.
I’ve been craning my neck during every visit to the Conservatory to get a glimpse of the show being set up. Fortunately, Rustin Dwyer, our expert staff videographer, has been behind the scenes catching all the action. He’s been working with Karen Daubmann, Director of Exhibitions, to document the details that go into the making of The Orchid Show: Cuba in Flower.
Check out the most up-to-date installment as well as all the videos building up to the opening in the box below. The show starts tomorrow, Saturday, February 27. I’ll be stopping in to see all the beautiful blooms, which are displayed this year in vignettes from Old Havana and the Cuban countryside.
Lisa Vargues is Curatorial Assistant of the Herbarium.
Adjacent to The New York Botanical Garden’s Library building stands a 70,000 square-foot treasure chest: the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium. This “library” of over 7.3 million preserved and filed plant specimens is the largest in the Western Hemisphere and considered a crown jewel in the world of botanical research. Roughly 35,000–40,000 specimens arrive here annually from around the world, through gifts, exchanges, and staff collections, and are preserved through a careful process that has not changed for centuries.
A plant’s journey from field to filing cabinet is often a fascinating one. Botanists, including Garden Science staff, travel the globe searching for new and interesting species often in remote regions and using a variety of means of access—sometimes dugout canoes, helicopters, or helium-filled balloons. The journey can be brief yet momentous, such as when a desirable plant springs up near the Garden’s gates or by a New York City parking lot.
Plates, check. Forks, check. Pizza, check. Candles, check. I’d just finished assembling all the necessary items for the weekend’s party. The brisk early winter morning was a flurry of preparation for Taylor’s 4th birthday celebration here at the Garden. Excitement was building as party guests began to arrive.
First, Taylor and his friends were taken on a private journey through the exhibition at the time, the Holiday Train Show. With whistling train conductors leading the way, the kids chased the locomotives zooming along tracks and across bridges. Next, the group zigzagged through the wild rain forest in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, where they found their favorite plant of all, the cacao tree—this was a chocolate-loving bunch. Afterward, the group was led to the Conservatory GreenSchool for the rest of the festivities.
Sonia Uyterhoeven is Gardener for Public Education.
Last week we looked at how Dan Pearson transformed landscapes through his naturalistic vision and his skill as a designer. Today I’ll detail some of his practices that you can use in your garden.
When Pearson was young he would observe plants in the wild, studying where they grew and the patterns and associations they formed with other plants. As a result, his planting style is never rigid, and plants form loose and successful partnerships with one another.
Gardens are rarely just a healthy conglomerate of plants. In a discussion of hardscapes during his lecture, Pearson said to think of gardens as needing “good bone structure.” The walls and other structures in the garden are meant to be recessive, fading into the background and offering support for the dynamic plant palette; they frame the space.
Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center.
Photo of owls: Debbie Becker
Late last month, in frigid weather conditions, 12 loyal birders met me under the clock at 11 a.m. for the weekly bird walk around the Garden. Our main objective was to see the nesting great horned owls. We headed over to the snag at the Forest’s edge where the owls successfully nested last year, and there in a cavity we saw our resident female owl, all fluffed up sitting, presumably, on eggs—only the top half of her body was visible.
We then searched for the male owl, who usually is nearby, guarding the nest and his mate. Our binoculars scanned the bare branches of surrounding trees until we spotted him wedged between the trunk and a branch of a tree. Three blue jays were harassing him—screeching at the top of their lungs. When one jay got too close, the owl flew to a branch closer to us.
As we stood there freezing and admiring his majestic beauty a red-tailed hawk flew in and landed about 20 feet away from the owl. This wasn’t any red-tailed hawk—it was the female that nested on the Library building last spring. She and her mate (he later died from eating a poisoned rat) had three offspring; she and her brood often can be seen flying around the Garden searching for prey. We had seen the female many times before, silently perched waiting for some unsuspecting squirrel or rabbit to happen by.
Pamela Davis, a Master Composter with the New York City Compost Project, is a Landscape Design and Environmental Gardening student in the Garden’s Continuing Education Program.
Now with the winter weather, I am limited to “armchair gardening” until I start my plants by seed indoors next month. Gathering all the gardening catalogs and magazines I received recently, I sat down on my couch with a cup of hot chocolate and proceeded to review them.
The first magazine I looked at was the February/March issue of Organic Gardening. I opened to the “Features” section and noticed there was an article by Barbara Damrosch. I was introduced to her book The Garden Primeras recommended reading for the vegetable gardening class I took in pursuit of my Gardening Certificate through the Continuing Education program. Her book is clear, concise, and full of so much information for beginner and experienced gardeners alike. I read it like a novel! So I just knew that I would be in for a treat reading her article.
Sonia Uyterhoeven is Gardener for Public Education.
Just like Beethoven took ordinary musical notes and elevated them through simple and complex melodies into his immortal symphonies, the well-known British landscape designer Dan Pearson (right) has the ability to transform space into visual wonderlands.
Pearson was at the Garden last month for the first of three lectures in the series From the Ground Up: Gardens Re-Imagined. He presented Into the Wild, an exploration into his natural landscapes.
I was prepared for a talk on how a talented designer re-creates the artifact of nature on his project sites—not as nature would herself but as an artist reinterpreting and reconfiguring nature’s portrait. This point was certainly made and beautifully illustrated.
Stroll the warm greenhouses of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, take a winter walk in the 50-acre Forest, cuddle up on a brisk Tram Tour (weather permitting), pick out a gift at Shop in the Garden, and hold hands over a cup of hot chocolate in the cafe. Then go for a wonderful Italian dinner on Arthur Avenue.
The New York Botanical Garden is waiting for you and your Valentine this holiday weekend. The New York Times and the Daily News both list the Garden as among the most romantic places in the city.
Come see for yourself. And then let us know the best spot in the Garden for stealing a kiss!
Laura Collier is Marketing Associate at The New York Botanical Garden
To me, the sound of water is an immediate stress reliever. Walking into the Aquatic Plants and Vines Gallery in A World of Plants in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is almost like stepping into a spa or meditation center. Water trickles down the 19th-century French cast-iron fountain of the Three Graces, representing joy, charm, and beauty in Greek mythology. Papyrus, a personal favorite and a plant you probably associate with ancient Egyptian paper, stands energetically at the entrance. These plants can make a great, easy-to-care-for addition to your home if you have a sunny space.
Above the pool, jade and other vines climb up the walls and ceiling of the Gallery. In nature, climbing plants keep moving upward to seek the light, using adhesive pads, hooks, or even roots. In dense forests, climbers need to move quickly to compete with trees for light. Under the glass roof of the Conservatory, there isn’t the need to break through the canopy to find the sun, and the vines are plentiful over lily-pads and other water plants in the pool below.