Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Archive: March 2012

Nature in Gouache

Posted in Adult Education on March 30 2012, by Matt Newman

Beth Breakstone, 2012

Roberta Rosenthal’s talent with the brush extends well beyond her own canvas. By helming painting courses here at The New York Botanical Garden, her legacy as a botanical painter and an instructor has trickled down to the many burgeoning artists to have studied under her in the last 25 years. But her coursework is far from a paint-by-numbers explainer for weekend hobbyists.

“The more I can get students to ask questions and develop answers for themselves, the more I can expect them to be life-long learners who will continue to develop their artistic skills and understanding,” writes Roberta. Her courses focus not only on technical ability, but on working within a social environment in which critiques from peers and instructors become integral to the process of maturing as an artist.

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A Weekend Under the Cherry Blossoms

Posted in Around the Garden on March 30 2012, by Matt Newman

What an offbeat week it’s been. Having caught word that we were making fun of it, the “long-gone” winter suddenly came knocking with frosty, clear afternoons and frigid nights; there was some worry in the northeast that confused plants with early flowers would take a hit. But spring isn’t bowing out. Stop by the NYBG and you’ll find yourself surrounded by thousands of airy plum and cherry blossoms flooding branches across the Garden. The apple blossoms, the last of the magnolias–all come together to create a pink and white snowfall of petals.

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Eat the Weeds: Chickweed

Posted in Around the Garden, Gardening Tips on March 29 2012, by Daniel Atha

Daniel Atha is an Associate Editor of NYBG’s systemic botany journal, Brittonia, and a researcher with specialties in floristics, taxonomy, and economic botany. He has also taught classes in anatomy and systemics at the Garden’s School of Professional Horticulture and is currently working on a project to develop identifying DNA barcodes for plants of the Northeastern United States.

Chickweed (left) and false chickweed (right)

Certain plants have a poor reputation, one that isn’t always deserved. And in the case of this particular “weed,” the old adage stands that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em:

Stellaria media (L.) Vill. (chickweed)

This is a direct quote from Wikipedia: “… this plant is common in gardens, fields, and disturbed grounds. Control is difficult due to the heavy seed sets. Common Chickweed is very competitive with small grains, and can produce up to 80% yield losses among barley. [It] is edible and nutritious, and is used as a leaf vegetable, often raw in salads. It is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku.”

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Darwin’s Star Orchid

Posted in Around the Garden, Darwin's Garden, Gardens and Collections, The Orchid Show on March 29 2012, by Joyce Newman

Joyce H. Newman is the editor of Consumer Reports’, and has been a Garden Tour Guide with The New York Botanical Garden for the past six years.

Of the many thousands of orchids on display during the Orchid Show, the two most requested flowers are the vanilla orchid and what is known as Darwin’s orchid. However, due to their bloom schedules, neither is currently on display in the Conservatory. Those wishing to learn more about the vanilla orchid can scan a QR code on a sign in Conservatory gallery five (just off the Palm Dome to the left) to better understand the world’s only orchid-based flavoring. In the meantime, those wishing to learn about Darwin’s orchid can read on.

Several amazing Darwin star orchids have been blooming in the Rotunda located in the Library building at the NYBG. The exquisite ivory, star-shaped blossoms (Angraecum sesquipedale) are famous for their association with Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution.

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Morning Eye Candy: Instant Shade

Posted in Around the Garden on March 29 2012, by Matt Newman

The cold snap of the past few days may be pitching everyone into sighs and confusion, but the Garden‘s caretakers aren’t wasting any time waiting for the summer sun to seize the reins. It takes an ambitious cherry picker and a steady-handed crew to give the Conservatory its yearly whitewashing.

Photo by Ivo M. Vermeulen

An Orchid Show Engagement

Posted in The Orchid Show on March 28 2012, by Matt Newman

Every now and again an event comes along during an exhibition like the Orchid Show that eclipses the beauty of the flowers themselves. It’s a statement you might find a bit on the mushy side, but I think you’ll agree that it’s apt. Because when Qu and Wahnzen stepped into the Conservatory a few weeks ago, one of the pair knew very little of the fairytale moment unfolding.

Qu had spent months meticulously planning out his proposal, ever since he got word that his college sweetheart would be in New York for her birthday. “We met while studying at Oxford,” he says. One a philosophy major and the other a chemist in training, their divergent paths might well have left them strangers if not for a serendipitous thread of connection: “We were both members of the Varsity Ballroom Dance team.”

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Orchid 1-2-3

Posted in Gardening Tips, The Orchid Show on March 27 2012, by Sonia Uyterhoeven

Sonia Uyterhoeven is the NYBG‘s Gardener for Public Education.

For all of those orchid neophytes or orchid wannabes, this article is about giving you some courage. Not enough bravado to go out and buy a vanda or a masdevallia–that would be foolish to start–but hopefully the resolution to take a stab at a moth orchid, a slipper orchid, or dancing ladies.

Let’s start from the beginning, because wise purchases come from planning. Walk around your home and look for the empty spaces that you would like to fill with orchids. What does the light in this area look like? If you are not sure, place your hand 12 inches above the spot and see what kind of shadow is cast on the area. If it is a well-defined shadow, you have bright light; if fuzzy, you have medium light; and a faint shadow signifies low light. If there is no discernible shadow, then it is not the right place to try and grow a plant.

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