Cue week three of our Tropical Paradise exhibition, and the third round in our ongoing, six-week photography contest! Already we’ve seen dozens of entries from local and visiting photographers hoping to take home the brass ring—a certificate good for one Adult Education photography course of the winner’s choosing. And because we have two categories in which to enter, Macro and Sense-of-Place, that’s two opportunities to win a certificate. Easy! Just check out our photo contest rules page to get a handle on submission guidelines and schedules.
There are still four whole weeks of competition left as of this Saturday, February 1, but if you’re not much of a camera fiend there’s still plenty of interest to be found in our daily events and activities in the Conservatory. You’ll find our permanent collection of tropical rarities and stunning blooms augmented by Tropical Interactive Encounters, hands-on demos that open up the rejuvenating properties of plants like nutmeg and annatto with samples to boot. And for kids, Tropical Wintertime Wonders in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden offer a chance to chase away the winter gloom in the cozy Discovery Center. There they’ll pot up their own specimen plants to take home and use a field notebook to discover the beginnings of new plantlife waiting for spring’s arrival.
If the weather’s got you down, don’t suffer it! Just hop up to our Conservatory and make the instant transition to the tropics, only a step inside our classic glasshouse.
This month’s featured alumna is Nina Antze, who holds an NYBG Certificate in Botanical Art & Illustration. While she is currently teaching colored pencil in California, Nina was initially a quilt maker with a degree in Fine Art from San Francisco State University before coming to the NYBG’s Certificate Program. She now teaches botanical art students of her own, including those at the Botanical Illustration Certificate Program at Filoli Gardens outside of San Francisco. We asked her to guide us along the path that brought her to the NYBG and a new career.
What made you pursue a Botanical Art & Illustration Certificate with NYBG? Were you looking for a new career, or just a hobby?
NYBG introduced me to the world of Botanical Illustration. I started taking colored pencil classes when we moved from California to New York, and it was basically to meet people. My new friend Jane found NYBG instructor Carol Ann Morley’s Colored Pencil class; after that we took Laura Vogel’s drawing class and we really wanted to continue. I was not thinking of a new career, but I fell in love with drawing all over again and I loved having all the plants in the world for possible subjects.
Being a “foodie” (I know, that term has run its course with so many of us who love to eat!) is often something left up to adults—people who know how to order off-menu or pick a perfect table wine. And alternatively, someone who’s tried every form of offal under the sun, but let’s tackle one thing at a time. As with so many things, your passions can often find their footing when you’re a kid, meaning taste and good eating habits start early. So to help our young gourmands get off on the right foot, we’re setting aside an entire week dedicated to the celebrated relationships between plants, farms, and every kid’s favorite foods.
Join us February 17 through 23 for a full week of edible fun in our Conservatory Dining Pavilion, where our staff and a team of experts from Growing Chefs will be on hand offering demonstrations, choice recipes, and hands-on activities backed by plenty of music and food tastings. A variety of activity stations will have your little ones making the rounds from pickles to cheese, tinkering with the kitchen chemistry that brings the staples of your table to life. And a daily cooking demonstration at 1 p.m. supplies kid-friendly recipes and delicious samples with support from local chefs.
And off we go! Last Friday marked the close of the first week of competition for our Tropical Paradise photography contest, and our early submissions are already looking fantastic. (Though with the roller-coaster of icy weather we’ve been having lately, it’s no surprise our shutterbugs are happily holing up in the summer warmth of the Conservatory.) For those of you who haven’t already made it out to our glasshouse for some shooting, don’t worry—there’s still the better part of five weeks left (’til February 28) to take part.
Still, I wouldn’t wait too long. Submitting new photos during each week’s judging period can only better your chances to win our grand prize: a free Adult Education class of your choice. And because we have two categories of submission—macro and sense-of-place (close-up and wide angle, respectively)—you’re welcome to play to your photographic strengths. For anyone not sure about rules, schedules, or submission guidelines, check out our contest page.
But that’s enough of recaps. Let’s get down to the winners and runners-up for this first week of competition. We’ve got some familiar faces among the early birds this year, and they’re often the ones to beat.
This is the time of year when gardeners like to cruise the seed catalogs looking for something new, hoping to create a renewed palette of edibles for their garden in the coming months. For those of you that like to delve into the world of vegetables, there are a few fresh faces on the market representing a favorite of mine that’s as good fried on its own as it is stealing the spotlight from chicken parmesan.
Today I thought I would give you a glimpse into some of the new offerings on the market to whet your appetite for the upcoming gardening season. On the eggplant scene, Johnny’s Select Seeds is offering two new Indian types this year—‘Suraj’ and ‘Raja’.
Both ‘Suraj’ and ‘Raja’ are small eggplants that average 2 ½ – 3 inches long and 2 inches wide. ‘Raja’ is a white eggplant while ‘Suraj’ is a pretty, medium to light purple. The plants are compact and high-yielding. Due to the diminutive size of the eggplants, this new duo is recommended for stuffing.
Our Tropical Paradise exhibition is in full swing under the glass of the Conservatory, offering up all the summer warmth and escapism you could need during this winter of frigid polar vortexes. But it’s more than just bright rain forest flowers and a place to ditch your gloves and galoshes. Believe it or not, this highlight of our permanent tropical collection is also a test of skill! Though not to worry—there’s minimal exercise involved beyond working your shutter finger.
This year’s photography contest is all-inclusive. By that, I mean you’re all welcome regardless of gear or skill level. Are you a novice with an iPhone in tow, hoping to get a few pics for your Twitter account? You’re in. Canon-toting DSLR superstar with a years-deep portfolio? Also more than welcome! (Though you’ll have to leave the tripods and monopods at home—sorry!) If you’re rocking an ancient Polaroid SX-70 with disposable flash bars, we want to see your photos. So don’t shy away. As long as you’ve got a Flickr account (and they’re incredibly easy to make), you’ve got a chance at winning our grand prize: a certificate for a free NYBG Adult Education class of your choice.
If you’re not sure what to expect, just lend Kevin Character your eyes and ears for a moment and he’ll set everything straight. He’s got a knack for this sort of thing.