“An unsung American hero,” is how film director Carey Lundin describes landscape architect and pioneering conservationist, Jens Jensen (1860–1951), who rose from street sweeper to prolific city park designer amid Chicago’s steel industry boom. On Earth Day, April 22, the Garden’s Humanities Institute hosts the New York premiere of Lundin’s award-winning documentary, followed by a panel discussion exploring ways we can honor Jensen’s legacy. We sat down with Carey to hear more about the important man behind the film.
What inspired you to choose Jens Jensen as your subject matter?
I was born in Chicago and I love a great underdog man against the machine story, and I mean that two ways, both the political power machine and the rise of the machine age. Jensen fought for humanity against both.
Vanilla gets a bad rap. The term “vanilla” is bandied about to label all manner of the unexceptional, uninspiring or flat out boring. To my shock and dismay, a coworker recently applied this idiom to my beloved automobile. I’ll have you know, good sirs and madams, the 1988 Mercury Topaz has an abstruse appeal. Really, would I squander such an uproarious collection of bumper stickers on a so-called “boring” vehicle? FYI, the color isn’t beige…it’s called “Mojave Dune.” I mean, the factory only produced 300,000 units in Mojave Dune! You get the point. This is one sweet ride.
Likewise, the vanilla orchid (Vanilla planifolia) itself is far from ordinary. In my humble opinion, Vanilla planifolia may be counted among the most fascinating plants in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. More than a flavoring for criminally overpriced lattes, it’s a beautiful vining orchid with a captivating history and makes a truly unique houseplant.
April is almost here, and the weekends are only getting sunnier! Brisk tours and walks with expert Garden Guides help you enjoy the outdoors and gain a deeper understanding of the beauty that surrounds you here at NYBG.
Within the constant warmth of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, The Orchid Show continues to dazzle and delight visitors. Come experience the color and fragrance of hundreds of orchids, whether during the day with a full schedule of complementary programs including live demonstrations and dance performances, or in the evening with music and cocktails at Orchid Evenings.
Click through for this weekend’s full schedule of special programs and tours.
Friday may have been the first day of spring, but as I watched the snow cover the plants, it certainly felt like winter. I know that everyone is anxiously waiting for spring to arrive, but there is something quite perfect about witch-hazel blooms dusted with snow that demands appreciation. The Azalea Garden is full of these bright spidery flowers right now. They are not some anomaly attributed to our changing weather patterns. This is their time. When it is still gray and the threat of snow still looms large, you can count on their light and warmth in the garden.
Witch-hazels have a range of flowering times depending on species and cultivar. The American witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, flowers in autumn. Vernal witch-hazel or Ozark witch-hazel, Hamamelis vernalis, is also native to North American and often blooms in winter months despite its name. However, this species typically has small flowers and a strong tendency to hold on to its leaves all winter long, obscuring its fragrant flowers. Look for cultivars that were selected for their early leaf drop. The Chinese witch-hazel, Hamamelis mollis, and the Japanese witch-hazel, Hamamelis japonica, flower in late winter. These species are prized for their large and fragrant flowers, as well as their perfect timing – just when we need them the most! The majority of selections available today are cultivars of the hybrid between these two Asian species, Hamamelis × intermedia.
On a rainy day in January, I sat down with Katie Bronson and interviewed her about some of her favorite plants. Katie has been working as a gardener at NYBG for over 10 years, and has been in charge of maintaining the gardens in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden.
Katie has made a lasting impact on the garden during her tenure—imparting her vision of a child-friendly garden, bringing a sophisticated aesthetic with her art background from the Pratt Institute, and imbuing the landscape with the teachings and tenets of ecological landscaping that she acquired while studying for a certificate in Sustainable Landscape Design from George Washington University.
Katie’s journey as a gardener began with one of her passions—color. She has always taken great care to create seasonal combinations that captivate the eye and have the capacity to simultaneously stimulate and calm the young hoards of children that race through the gates of the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden.
I asked her about violas. Over the past decade, Katie has experimented with many different varieties of violas and pansies in her spring displays. Violas are ebullient patches of color that brighten up the garden in spring. They provide a backdrop for tulips and decorate the three large topiary caterpillars that usher the children into the Adventure Garden’s central activity space.
Tomorrow is the first official day of spring! Today’s unwelcome encore of winter notwithstanding, the forecast for the rest of the weekend is clear and mild, so check out What’s Wonderful in Early Spring at NYBG and plan your visit to the Garden for spring’s first weekend!
The Orchid Show: Chandeliers is going strong, with another one of our popular Orchid Evenings Saturday night. Saturday afternoon will also include a whole new way to complete your orchid experience, with three afternoon screenings of Vanilla: The Sacred Orchid, a beautiful short film about the only commercial crop to come from an orchid. Click through for the full schedule of special programs and events this weekend at NYBG!