Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Archive: October 2015

This Weekend: Send Off FRIDA KAHLO during Day of the Dead

Posted in Programs and Events on October 30 2015, by Vilina Phan

mco-1020753FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life concludes this weekend–if you have yet to catch the blockbuster exhibition, hurry and grab your tickets before it’s too late! And what better way to celebrate the great artist then by honoring her heritage with grand Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) festivities? Live performances from The Villalobos Brothers and Los Chinelos de Morelos can be seen on the Conservatory Lawn. The stilt-walkers of Los Zancudos de Zaachila, presented by Laura Anderson Barbata, will be roaming the grounds, surprising and delighting all. Inside the Conservatory, see a beautiful ofrenda, or altar, paying homage to Kahlo. Fun activities can be found throughout the grounds, such as face painting and a mask-making workshop!

And let’s not forget, it is Halloween weekend—come see North America’s largest pumpkin alongside other prize-winning gourds. Marvel at the intricate giant pumpkin carving of Ray Villafane and his team—based on a satirical illustration by Jose Guadalupe Posada in the 20th century.

This is the weekend to come if you haven’t seen Frida. And if you have, come again and celebrate the Dead of the Dead with us!

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Karen Washington: A Champion of Urban Agriculture

Posted in Adult Education on October 29 2015, by Jenifer Willis

Bronx community activist Karen Washington remembers when there were so many vacant lots in the Bronx that the borough looked like “a war zone.”

Karen Washington
Karen Washington smiles in The Garden of Happiness in the Bronx.

Over the years, some were turned into community gardens, primarily in an effort to beautify and reclaim neighborhoods devastated by New York’s fiscal crisis of the 1970s. Over time, the dedicated volunteers who created these urban oases realized they could provide so much more than simple beauty. Community gardens became centers for community organization, expressions of cultural identity, and sources of fresh fruit and vegetables for a population in dire need of healthy food.

Washington recently sat down with us to tell us about her experiences working to keep urban gardening alive and well in the Bronx, a mission she’s been on since 1985.

A NYBG Board member and founding member of NYBG’s Bronx Green-Up program, Washington has helped dozens of neighborhoods build their own community gardens. She joins a panel of other urban agriculture experts in our Growing the Urban Farm Symposium on November 18.

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Purposeful Gaming

Posted in From the Library on October 28 2015, by Mertz Library


Crowd-sourcing is a term that has been popularized in recent years. One example of crowd-sourcing is the Purposeful Gaming and BHL project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Studies (IMLS) in 2013. The Mertz Library at NYBG is one of the partners on this grant project along with Missouri Botanical Garden (the lead institution), Cornell University, and the Ernst Mayr Library of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. The crowd-sourcing component of the project involves devising ways to recruit the world-wide public to improve the accuracy of transcriptions of digitized material in BHL. Another component of the project is the digitization of previously unavailable seed and nursery catalogs from the collections of the libraries at NYBG and Cornell University.

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Morning Eye Candy: Calaveras & Calabazas

Posted in Photography on October 26 2015, by Lansing Moore

We’re thrilled to present this year’s eagerly anticipated Giant Pumpkin Carving! Ray Villafane has outdone himself with this spooky and monumental homage to the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) as a nod to FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life. The design is based on an early 20th-century satirical cartoon by the famous Mexican printmaker and illustrator Jose Guadalupe Posada. See it in person at the Clay Family Picnic Pavilions, alongside our annual Giant Pumpkin Display, through November 1!

Ray Villafane Giant Pumpkin Carving La Calavera Oaxaqueña Ben Hider

Help Us Support NYBG Board Member Karen Washington!

Posted in People on October 23 2015, by Matt Newman

Karen WashingtonFew have had such immeasurable impact on the lives of the people of the Bronx like local resident Karen Washington. As an NYBG Board Member and an urban farmer, she’s transformed this borough’s landscape for so many local residents, taking neglected city lots and using them as the foundation for verdant and prolific community gardens. Each new greenspace she champions is a testament not only to the work she’s put in over the last 30 years, but the care and effort of the many people she’s inspired to help create these sources of food, happiness, and livelihood.

For everything Karen’s done, it only makes sense for us to give back, and help her out in 2015 as she competes for the NationSwell AllStar Award—a $10,000 honor that will benefit her ongoing work to beautify the lives and locales of this incredible borough.

NationSwell’s competition puts Karen up against the country’s greatest innovators and builders in their respective communities, and all it takes is a vote each day (it resets every 24 hours, so try to vote around the same time from day to day!) to keep her in the running for this important recognition. Better yet, it’s easy to participate—just head over to the NationSwell site; have a look at the video about Karen, her background, and her work; and cast your vote at the bottom of the page. You can check in once each day to revote, which will add up to quite a swell of support if we all chip in!

This Weekend: Celebrate Day of the Dead with Frida & Our Giant Pumpkins!

Posted in Programs and Events on October 23 2015, by Vilina Phan

Pumpkins at NYBGFRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life goes out on a particularly high note in its closing weekends, with a bevy of exciting Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) activities! Live performances from Calpulli Danza Mexicana, Jarana Beat, and The Villalobos Brothers with Los Chinelos de Morelos dancers take over the Conservatory lawn and steps throughout the weekend. Giant skeletons, La Catrina puppets, and Los Zancudos de Zaachila stilt dancers will be roaming the Garden for all to enjoy. In addition see the Day of the Dead ofrenda, or altar, honoring Kahlo in the Conservatory, and Humberto Spíndola‘s The Two Fridas come alive (literally) in the Library Rotunda. You’ll also have fun with hands-on activities such as mask-making and face painting.

And because Halloween is right around the corner, we are pleased to welcome back master carver Ray Villafane, who will carve a giant pumpkin inspired by the Day of the Dead. Come watch, and enter for a chance to win a carving from the master himself.

Come to the Garden this weekend and celebrate a wonderful Mexican tradition with us!

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