Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Archive: May 2015

The Healing Properties of Plants: Art, Culture, Science

Posted in Programs and Events on May 29 2015, by Vanessa Sellers

Speakers and hosts: Susan Fraser (Director Mertz Library), Arlene Shaner, Lisa O’Sullivan, Lucy Barnhouse, Ina Vandebroek, Jodi Moise, and Vanessa Sellers (Coordinator, Humanities Institute)
Speakers and hosts: Susan Fraser (Director Mertz Library), Arlene Shaner, Lisa O’Sullivan, Lucy Barnhouse, Ina Vandebroek, Jodi Moise, and Vanessa Sellers (Coordinator, Humanities Institute)

The Humanities Institute’s Winter Colloquium, The Healing Properties of Plants: Art, Culture, Science, was held at the Mertz Library on Friday, February 20, 2015. The colloquium was organized in conjunction with the NYBG exhibit on the curative properties of exotic plants, Wild Medicine in the Tropics, at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

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This Weekend: Join Us for the Annual Science Open House

Posted in Programs and Events on May 29 2015, by Lansing Moore

Enid A Haupt Conservatory Dome Perennial GardenThis weekend is NYBG’s annual celebration of the groundbreaking botanical science and research that takes place at the Garden all year round. Partake in behind-the-scenes tours with our scientists and more during the Annual Science Open House through May 31!

Saturday, May 30, is the next of our special series of Frida al Fresco evenings, featuring cocktails, shopping, and live music. During the day, film screenings and performers bring Frida’s world to life. Enhance the experience with the Frida Mobile Guide, created with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which allows you to create your own Frida-style selfie. Decorate your selfie with elements drawn from Frida’s artwork, and share it to social media with #FridaNYBG.

Read on to view the full schedule of upcoming programs, and plan your perfect day at the Garden!

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Frida Kahlo’s Natural World

Posted in Exhibitions on May 28 2015, by Joyce Newman

Joyce H. Newman is an environmental journalist and holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden. She is the former editor of Consumer Reports GreenerChoices.org and a blogger for several home and garden publications.


An evocation of Kahlo's studio in the Haupt Conservatory.
An evocation of Kahlo’s studio in the Haupt Conservatory.

Many of us got our first glimpse of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s life with the award-winning 2002 biopic starring Salma Hayek and directed by Julie Taymor, of Lion King fame. But the Frida now on view at The New York Botanical Garden’s exhibition, FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life, is a totally different person from the film version.

The new exhibition is the first to “re-imagine” Kahlo’s garden and to explore her appreciation of nature—including the many plants, insects, and fascinating animal imagery in her paintings.

Frida Kahlo adored the garden at her home, the Casa Azul (Blue House), in Coyoacán, Mexico. Her painting studio directly overlooked the garden with its cobalt blue walls and fabulous collection of native Mexican plants. The garden was both an inspiration and a private haven during Kahlo’s personal battles with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

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Algae: Under the Microscope and In Your Food

Posted in Adult Education on May 28 2015, by Plant Talk

Robin Sleith uses a compound microscope to look for algae in Naked “Green Machine” juice.
Robin Sleith uses a compound microscope to look for algae in Naked “Green Machine” juice.

Although we sometimes can’t see, smell, or taste them, many foods we eat and products we use contain algae, a group of oxygenic photosynthesizers—plants that make oxygen and perform photosynthesis, but are not part of the most familiar subkingdom of green plants.

I wanted to take a look at the itty bitty algae in a popular beverage, Naked “Green Machine” juice, which lists algae as ingredients, so I paid a visit to Robin Sleith, a research graduate student working on his Ph.D. in plant science in the Pfizer Laboratory. His research focuses on algae species, their lineage, and their relationships to land plants.

Intrigued by the prospect, Robin led me to the mycology lab, where they conduct experiments on algae and fungi. As he opened the bottle of juice, he let me know that it’s now considered science, not food, so there was no chance of me consuming it later.

He added a droplet of Green Machine to a slide, and slid it onto the compound microscope. At first, he was skeptical that we would see much at all, because Naked juice lists only 1,335 mg of Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae; 400 mg of Chlorella, another blue-green algae; and another 50 mg of generically described blue-green algae in its ingredients. In a 15.2 fluid-ounce bottle of juice, those amounts are nearly negligible. Robin wasn’t sure the juice would appear as anything more than a great, green glob under the microscope.

To our excitement, we saw algae—lots of it—at just 10-20x power.

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Speaking for the Trees

Posted in Behind the Scenes on May 27 2015, by Anna Toledano

Anna Toledano is NYBG’s Interpretive Specialist. She helps to produce signage, audio tours, and mobile experiences for the Garden’s special exhibitions and permanent collections.


What’s in a sign? At The New York Botanical Garden, the answer is quite a lot. In my day-to-day at the Garden, I tell the stories of the collection and of the special plants featured in our exhibitions. Our team works to communicate what our specimens can’t say about their histories and their significance solely by appearance. Our key tool to share these stories with you is signage, so that the lesser-known tales of our precious specimens are never far from reach on a visit to our sprawling 250 acres.

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Dig, Plant, Grow: Salad Days

Posted in Children's Education on May 26 2015, by Ann Novak

Ann Novak is the Manager of the Edible Academy at The New York Botanical Garden.


In the Ruth Rea Howell Family GardenOur lettuce transplants are getting bigger every day, snappy radish roots are turning red under the soil, and the peas are starting to vine. It’s time for Salad Days at the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden! Shakespeare called a person’s youth “salad days” for a reason: these are the sweetest days of the year, when everything seems possible. Especially a delicious salad! We’re in our last week of this wonderful program, which ends on Friday, June 5.

To learn more about all the crops in our plots, dig in with the staff in the Family Garden. We’re excited about our first harvest of the season and celebrating salads in all sorts of ways. Visitors can create a paper plate salad to learn more about plant parts as we make art. Measure and mix the dried herbs you need to take home a salad dressing to finish and enjoy at home. Explore the garden with a scavenger hunt learning more about the plant parts that make up a salad.

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Weekly Wildlife at the Garden: Lurking in the Wetlands

Posted in Wildlife on May 26 2015, by Patricia Gonzalez

Patricia Gonzalez is an NYBG Visitor Services Attendant and avid wildlife photographer.


This Red-tailed Hawk was found lurking in the Wetlands during my lunch break on April 26 of this year. I noticed him while walking along the Wetlands trail—he was staring intently at some nearby squirrels. A number of visitors caught sight of him as well and we all began snapping away with our cameras.

At that point I had to leave him to get back to my post; whether or not he made one of those squirrels his snack, I don’t know.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) – Photo by Patricia Gonzalez