A couple of big announcements for the next few days! First off: it’s Labor Day weekend. For those of you who, like me, mentally zonk out and forget the calendar by Friday, this is a timely reminder that there’s a good chance you won’t have to listen to your alarm clock on Monday morning. So, after you’ve gotten your extra winks, know that The New York Botanical Garden will be open (we’re usually not on Mondays) for any and all visitors looking to make the most of their day off. The forecast for Monday is suggesting highs in the 70s, so I’m thinking there’s no excuse to keep yourself cooped up indoors.
Also on the schedule for this weekend–something we’ve been pretty anxious about–is the return of the Saturday Bird Walk. The Red-tailed Hawks are getting back to their center stage antics just in time for the end of Debbie Becker’s summer hiatus, so pack along a pair of binoculars and join us at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning for a trek around the Garden with one of New York’s most experienced bird watchers. Seeing as Debbie’s been doing this long enough to name our feathered guests with her eyes closed, trust me when I say that you’re in good hands.
Seeing pine cones in the trees never fails to set me off thinking about winter preparations. New boots, mending buttons on an old jacket, the mortifying possibility that I’ll have to be out on the sidewalk, smacking at ice with a shovel in the near future. But there are good things swept along with the cold, like our most beloved holiday exhibition. Stay tuned for more on that as we edge closer to the season.
In the meantime, let’s savor these last days of summer, shall we?
While we’ve been ogling the bushels of delicious vegetables growing in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, Sarah Paulson, our Coordinator of Teen Programs, tells us that there’s more than enough going on in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden to warrant a little attention. And she’s right! One look at the art and beauty going on at ECAG and you’ll know that neither educators, horticulturists, or teen Explainers are resting on their laurels this season.
With Monet’s Garden still underway and the last days of summer winding toward a close, horticulturist Katie Bronson keeps the Adventure Garden alive with a mosaic of textures and colors, maintaining lush and vivid plantings in the midst of these dry months. Sarah was kind enough to pass along a handful of photos from around the garden, showing flowers and foliage at their pre-fall peak.
Seeing an Echinops globe by its lonesome might trick you into thinking you’re looking at a smallish allium (onions, garlic) flower, but don’t be fooled. They’re actually a type of thistle (and a good way to break up the riot of orange we’ve had dominating the blog feed for the last few days).
Echinops bannaticus ‘Blue Globe’ — Photo by Ivo M. Vermeulen
Go out into your back yard (assuming you have one) and pretend you have to not only identify, but describe, designate, and catalog every plant that’s growing there. Now multiply that challenge by the entire surface of the Earth, and you’re standing in a botanist’s shoes. Of course, it’s not going to be as easy as all that; as a plant scientist, you’re also racing against a clock that stubbornly speeds up with each passing year. Climate change, human development, and myriad other influences are wiping out species before you’re even aware they’re under threat–and there are hundreds ofthousands of species to account for. Worse, the system you use to designate these plants as endangered isn’t exactly marching to the beat of your own drum.
This is where The New York Botanical Garden‘s experts step in, with a new system that could turn a challenging outlook for botanical conservationists into a bright future.
Bats in the trees, ghosts in the garden, and jack-o’-lanterns every which way you look–Halloween is soon to creep its way back into the NYBG. And even for someone like me, who’s usually too busy to realize what time of year it is until the spirit is sneaking up behind me (the best way to experience the holiday, I suppose), there’s too much incoming excitement for us to let it wait until later.
This year, the Garden’s madcap Halloween events are back and even bigger than 2011’s. That’s if you can imagine us topping a cadre of record-breaking pumpkins carved into the stuff of nightmares. But we absolutely plan to! Plans are in the works to again feature the gargantuan gourds of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, which will once again go under the knife of master carver and ghoul-whittler extraordinaire, Ray Villafane. Together with his team of skilled pumpkin sculptors, he’s on track to top last year’s masterpieces a few times over.
Gardening and instant gratification rarely go hand in hand, much as we wish they would. But while we could only dream of fresh produce while planting Mario Batali’s Kitchen Gardens this past May, we’ve made the leap from sprout to salad in almost no time at all. Once-tiny tomato plants are now heavy with full, ripe fruit, and the peppers are piling up in all shapes and sizes. Between them, heaps of fresh greens get ready to make their way into a classic Italian recipe. And just in time for September’s Edible Garden Festival!
But it’s better to show than tell, right? Below are a few of the before and after snapshots taken in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden, where Mario Batali’s top chefs have planted vegetables that best represent not only the flavors of their renowned New York City restaurants, but the nostalgic tastes that inspired them to cook in the first place.
Ed. Note: While Monet’s Garden continues to enamor thousands of visitors to the NYBG through the fall, we’re always preparing for new and intriguing exhibitions. This includes our latest artistic explorations, which will culminate with a long-awaited unveiling in late September: the renowned sculptures of Manolo Valdés. As our Director of Exhibitions and Seasonal Displays, Karen Daubmann offers an advance glimpse into the artist’s creative process.
A few of us were lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit the New York studio of artist Manolo Valdés a few weeks back. We were working on a plan for exhibiting his maquettes in the Orchid Rotunda of the Library Building during the course of his exhibition, Manolo Valdés: Monumental Sculpture. Though the exhibit on the grounds opens on September 22, the maquette display will open on November 3.
Maquettes are small-scale models of artworks which help an artist to develop an idea. You can think of it as a rough draft, or a sort of “sketch” of a sculpture, which helps the artist to visualize and test shapes and ideas without incurring the costs and effort necessary to produce the full-sized piece. You can see from the photos below the variety of ways in which Valdés has explored the butterfly motif in his work.
If you happen to stop by the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden for “Pollinator Pals,” running now through October 5, you might be lucky to catch a few fluttering monarchs as they make their annual migration to Mexico. Despite what experience tells us, this flight is somewhat more challenging than eight hours spent in coach.