Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Archive: April 2010

Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers Opens Today

Posted in Emily Dickinson, Exhibitions, Programs and Events on April 30 2010, by Plant Talk

Mayor Bloomberg, Sigourney Weaver, State Poet Kick Off Exhibition

During her lifetime, Emily Dickinson
(1830–1886) was better known as a gardener than as a poet. Plants and flowers significantly influenced her poetry and other writings, most of which were not published until after her death. The Garden’s exhibition, Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers, co-presented with the Poetry Society of America, illuminates this American poet’s life and work, the connections that exist between her life and poems, and her study and love of flowers and gardens.

The show features a re-creation of Dickinson’s home and garden in the Haupt Conservatory, an exposition about her life in the Mertz Library, and a Poetry Walk, a self-guided tour, with Dickinson’s poems on signs located among the Botanical Garden’s collections, near the flowers that inspired her.

Yesterday, the Garden kicked off the exhibition with Poem in Your Pocket Day. We celebrated with Mayor Bloomberg, Sigourney Weaver, Garden President and CEO Gregory Long, State Poet of New York Jean Valentine, and 5th grader Lanasia McMillan of P.S. 46 reading poems by and inspired by Emily Dickinson. The Mayor even wrote his own New York City version of Hope is a thing with feathers. Live tweeting during the program definitely put a modern feel to the classic poetry.

The Big Read Marathon Poetry Reading and other kickoff events for Emily Dickinson’s Garden continue all weekend.

  • It’s not too late to sign up to read your favorite Dickinson poems. Click here.
  • Bring the family! The Children’s Poetry Garden is filled with flowers and the words of Emily Dickinson. Kids catch the inspiration and then can draw, color, and write their own poetry in a field notebook to take home.
  • In a live one-woman performance, The Belle of Amherst, actress and author Barbara Dana presents the life and poetry of Dickinson.
    Enjoy garden lectures, home gardening demonstrations, tours, and more!

Don’t miss out. The forecast looks great for the next few days, and the Poetry Walk in the Garden is the perfect way to spend a sunny day.

Get Your Tickets

Special Trees to See at the Garden

Posted in Gardens and Collections on April 29 2010, by Plant Talk

For Arbor Day, Staff Name Some Favorites; Tell Us Yours

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

In honor of Arbor Day tomorrow, I asked some of the Horticulture staff to divulge their favorite tree at the Garden. With over 30,000 trees to select from, this could be daunting. For some, it was a cinch and they rattled off a tale about a special specimen. For others, it was like picking a favorite child, so they gave several choices.

Todd Forrest, Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections, judiciously noted: “My favorite tree is always the one we just planted, because it helps ensure that our historic landscape will have trees for people to enjoy for decades to come.” (But he later did offer up a name, see below.)

Here, then, are some exceptional trees at the Garden and the reasons why they made the grade. Let us know which of the thousands of trees at the Garden—and we keep planting additional ones—is your favorite. We’d love to hear from you.

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Endangered Plants Focus of Botanical Art Show

Posted in Exhibitions on April 27 2010, by Plant Talk

Traveling Exhibition Opens Next Week at the Garden

Carol Woodin is Exhibitions Coordinator for the American Society of Botanical Artists and a freelance botanical artist.

An organization of artists and illustrators who depict plants, the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA) began a project in 2006 to tell two stories: the continuing relevance of botanical art and the often neglected story of plant endangerment, as the decline of the world’s plant life is one of the most significant issues of our time. The result is the traveling exhibition Losing Paradise? Endangered Plants Here and Around the World, which opens at The New York Botanical Garden Thursday, May 6.

Artists from around the country and the world worked to capture the threatened and endangered plant life in their neighborhood or farther afield over the course of about three years (such as the image above
© Jean Emmons, Ixia viridiflora, Green Ixia, watercolor on vellum). This project has encouraged ASBA members to learn about today’s endangered plants, to depict more of them, to grow relationships with people involved in studying and conserving them, and to develop ethical field study techniques. Endangered plants are by definition difficult to find, and in some cases, excellent orienteering skills are needed. Once found, they sometimes require multiple years of study for a completely accurate depiction. Collaboration with scientists, conservationists, and botanical gardens bridges the disciplines of art and science and enriches both.

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Tip of the Week: Make a Floral Bouquet as Did Emily Dickinson

Posted in Gardening Tips on April 26 2010, by Sonia Uyterhoeven

Botanical Crafts Series: Create a Victorian-Era Tussie-Mussie

Sonia Uyterhoeven is Gardener for Public Education. Join her each weekend for home gardening demonstrations on a variety of topics in the Home Gardening Center.

Beginning Friday, this spring we will be paying tribute to the great 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson in the exhibition Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers. Her poetry personified and celebrated the fauna and flora of her life in pastoral Amherst, Massachusetts.

Emily Dickinson was an avid gardener and an amateur botanist. She strolled through the countryside collecting wildflowers, taking them home, and carefully drying and pressing them into the pages of her poetry and correspondence, as well as creating a herbarium of over 400 specimens. When an important visitor was expected, she presented them with floral tokens and a few lines of verse as a welcoming gift.

Dickinson’s study of botany and an appreciation of the crafts associated with it was part of a well-established Victorian tradition for women of the educated classes. Over the next few weeks we will sojourn back into history and explore some Victorian pastimes that are still popular in the craft world today.

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The Man in the Green Jacket

Posted in People on April 23 2010, by Plant Talk

Garden Mourns Passing of Gardening Educator Ralph Snodsmith

Jeff Downing is Vice President for Education.

The staff of the New York Botanical Garden was very sorry to hear that renowned gardening educator and radio personality Ralph Snodsmith passed away last Saturday.

As an instructor in the Garden’s Adult Education program for 40 years, Ralph trained generations of New Yorkers in the essentials of home gardening. His thorough approach covered everything from basic botany to soil testing and improvement, proper pruning, and integrated pest management. But Ralph’s classes were always greater than the sum of their parts. What really came through was the genuine warmth of his personality, his enduring passion and curiosity about plants, and the contagious enthusiasm he brought to his classes—along with his trademark green sports jacket.

Outside the garden, Ralph was best known for The Garden Hotline, his weekly radio program on WOR, which he hosted for 35 years. There he welcomed horticulture personalities, dispensed gardening wisdom, and answered a never-ending stream of questions from everyday gardeners with an affable, engaging charm. He also appeared on Good Morning America for eight years, providing gardening advice to millions of viewers.

Ralph distilled the essence of his course material into Ralph Snodsmith’s Fundamentals of Gardening, an all around garden primer published in 1993. He also authored Tips From the Garden Hotline, The Tri-State Gardener’s Guide, and the New York Gardener’s Guide, as well as innumerable fact sheets and newsletter articles.

The Garden honored Ralph in 1985 with both The New York Botanical Garden Distinguished Service Award and The New York Botanical Garden Distinguished Educator in Plant Studies Award. But there really is no award that could adequately convey Ralph Snodsmith’s contribution to The New York Botanical Garden and the world of horticulture. His true contribution lives on in the millions of lives he touched, and in the flourishing gardens everywhere improved and inspired by his wisdom.

When renowned gardening author Michael Pollan was at the Garden lecturing in 2002, he mentioned to me that he had learned the fundamentals of gardening years earlier at The New York Botanical Garden in a class with Ralph Snodsmith. “I’ll never forget that green jacket,” he remarked.

Neither will we.

Share with us and others your favorite stories and remembrances of Ralph Snodsmith by leaving a comment.

For Earth Day: A New Effort in Composting

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22 2010, by Plant Talk

You Are Part of the Solution in the Garden’s Cafe Waste Program

Daniel Avery is Sustainability and Climate Change Program Manager at The New York Botanical Garden.

Every day New York City’s households and not-for-profits that receive waste handling services from the City of New York such as The New York Botanical Garden generate about 12,000 tons of garbage and recyclables that must be hauled away by trucks to distant landfills and incinerators. The city’s businesses contribute an additional 10 million tons per year of garbage, recyclables, construction waste, and fill material.

Of the 11,500 tons per day of so-called municipal waste, about 36 percent is recyclable material as designated under the city’s current recycling program. That means that, even if every accepted item was recycled, there would still be almost 7,360 tons of waste a day to get rid of.

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Reserve a Date with Nature

Posted in Programs and Events on April 20 2010, by Plant Talk

Groups Pampered with Private Tour, Luxurious Lunch

Suzanne Flanagan is Group Tours Coordinator.

Spring ColorWhen groups of 20 or more visit the Garden, they generally like to make a day of it. Who wouldn’t want to spend time relaxing in this beautiful National Historic Landmark? Reserve a Date with Nature allows you to combine a private tour of your choice with a delicious catered lunch.

This premier, all-inclusive package is a favorite among groups, many of which come back year after year and keep things fresh by trying different tours and menus. We handle everything for you, which makes the planning process a cinch.

Private catered lunches are held in an exclusive area in one of our on-site dining locations, the modern Visitor Center Cafe or the historic Stone Mill (which will reopen in September), eliminating all worry of seating and schedules. Menu options are specifically designed for group dining and range from assorted sandwiches to grilled buffet entrées with gourmet salads and hearty grain sides. This is no plain-Jane spread. Group members will leave smiling and satisfied, especially once they notice the dessert tray!

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Tip of the Week: Compost, Mulch, and Good Soil Practices

Posted in Uncategorized on April 19 2010, by Sonia Uyterhoeven

Sonia Uyterhoeven is Gardener for Public Education. Join her each weekend for home gardening demonstrations on a variety of topics in the Home Gardening Center.

This week we’ll celebrate Earth Day by focusing on sustainable practices. In the Home Gardening Center from Thursday through Sunday we’ll present demonstrations on composting, compost teas, vermicomposting, and vegetable gardening.

You can greatly improve your soil by adding compost to your garden, as I wrote in last week’s blog.

Compost can be added any time, but is usually applied in the spring and often repeated in the fall after garden cleanup. Spread a half-inch to an inch of compost around your trees, shrubs, and perennials, on your lawn, and in your annuals and vegetable gardens. In established gardens, spread the compost on top of the soil, where it will eventually seep into the ground below; or you can lightly fork it over. This will improve the first 6–15 inches.

Shredded leaves are a cheap and easy way to add organic matter to your garden. They decompose quickly and add nutrients to the soil. To shred the leaves, run your lawn mower over them or use a leaf shredder. Leaves that aren’t shredded take longer to break down and if too thick can become matted, impenetrable clumps. Remember to use caution when using a leaf shredder or any powered equipment. Avoid wearing dangling scarves or loose clothing.

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Family Garden Reopens: Kids—and Rabbits—Are “Hoppy”!

Posted in Gardens and Collections, Learning Experiences on April 16 2010, by Plant Talk

Children Learn About Plants Through Hands-on Gardening

Toby Adams is Manager of the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden.

Clickety clank. Bumpity bumpity bump. Two pairs of ears stand up scanning the Family Garden for the noise. Clickety clank. Bumpity bumpity bump. Two curious, twitching noses aim this way and then that.

“What’s that clanking and bumping?” wondered sleepy Darwin, the Family Garden’s newest resident rabbit (at left in photo).

Newton hopped around his hutch, the Family Garden’s original resident rabbit had heard these noises before. “I think I know what the clinkety clanks and bumpity bumps are,” Newton assured Darwin. “The Family Garden must be open again!”

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