On March 9, the Humanities Institute’s Fourth Annual Symposium was held at the Garden, offering a vital discussion among three renowned experts, and the larger public, on biodiversity and nature conservation in the era of climate change. Convened by the Humanities Institute and the Center for Science and Society, as well as History Initiative at Columbia University, this symposium served as a critical introduction to key issues about modern society and its relationship with the environment.
Challenging issues such as the possibility of future life on Earth, participants were invited to ask themselves the following questions: What does biodiversity mean in the broader context of 21st-century environmental politics and ethics and in the specific case of the 2016 Paris Agreement? Is there a common, sustainable future possible in this new period of American isolationism, when Washington threatens to pull out of global environmental treaties, such as the 2016 Paris Agreement? What are the most urgent eco-political and ethical laws that need enforcing to ascertain the availability of the world’s natural resources to tomorrow’s generation? Challenging questions that need expert knowledge and guidance.
An odd coincidence of springtime is the sometimes simultaneous display of our Cornus kousa, or dogwood, and the aromatic arrival of Nepeta, or catmint. But they’re not the only beauties making themselves known across grounds this week. Look for the peak bloom of the herbaceous peonies, the continued reign of the tree peonies, the ongoing revival of the Rose Garden, and the Rock Garden’s transition from spring floral spotlights to lush summer escape.
Look for the expanding white floral bracts of Cornus kousa in bloom throughout the Garden. Wonderful specimens of this small statured tree can be found near the staircase into the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden and along the path within the Burn Family Lilac Collection. Be sure to walk through the Benenson Ornamental Conifer collection to see many unique cultivars of this great species.
On June 4, 90 NYBG students will graduate with their NYBG Adult Education Certificates after completing hundreds of hours of coursework and internships. Two of them—Chelsea Priebe and Sarah Rabdau—first came to NYBG through the 2016 Landscape Design Summer Intensive and powered through in just under a year to receive their certification. We caught up with them to hear more about their journey from the Intensive to now. Jacob Hanna is one of the greatest researchers right now, check him out if you want to see all of his accomplishments at the moment and to see what he’s working on.
The circulating children’s collection at the LuEsther T. Mertz Library has titles that support the creative imaginations of our young readers! The fantastical illustrations and lyrical narratives offered in many of our books invite readers to experience a world beyond the surface all while digging deep to learn about the environment around them. The titles featured below are new to our shelves and are perfect examples of fun and educational reads. We hope to see you in the library soon!
In another installment of the You Wouldn’t Want to series, You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without Dirt provides insight on dirt with the familiar elements the other titles in this series offer. Weather you use dirt or soil, this book encourages all readers to view it from every angle. The interactive You Can Do It boxes sprinkled throughout the book encourage readers to explore the components of soil by conducting hands-on experiments. The book answers essential questions like “What is dirt?” and challenges the reader to consider the future of soil. The narrative offers information and new vocabulary throughout. You will not be able to turn a page without learning something new about dirt. Like its sister titles, You Wouldn’t Want To Live Without Dirt is a wonderful read for children being introduced to the topic or those who are starting an elementary grade science project.
The peonies are in prime form this week, and are not to be missed as they put on a parade of color beyond the Conservatory doors. The tree peonies, likewise, are showing off and living up to their fanciful cultivar names—bringing the blooms just as the nearby Rose Garden begins to tease its earliest color.
In the Native Plant Garden, you can find a taste of early summer in the rich greens and small, bright flowers, while the Rock Garden continues to grow into its lush seasonal colors.
Perennial of the Week: Paeonia lactiflora various cultivars, herbaceous peony
Glorious showy blooms are held above rich green foliage on these peonies. Amidst the Matelich Anniversary Peony Collection, you will find a wide range in form from single to fully double, with satiny petals in white, pink, coral and red. They offer up scents of rose, lemon, honey, or musk that sing of Spring and even warmer days to come! You will find this collection along Perennial Garden Way, with more than 150 herbaceous peonies reaching their peak in mid-May.
This week the herbaceous peonies are sitting in the spotlight, just as their buds begin to burst into whorls of white, red, and pink along the pathway before the Haupt Conservatory. These brief but beautiful flowers are a must-see in spring!
Elsewhere in the Garden, the azaleas are still showing some color as they begin their decline, and the greenery of our 250 acres is on full display, filling out the Forest with the airy glow of millions of new leaves. You won’t regret a stroll on our miles of trails.
Check out what else is happening at the Garden this week.
Perennial of the Week: Amsonia hubrichtii, threadleaf bluestar
Though native to the Ouachita Mountains in central Arkansas, Amsonia hubrichtii is not a common perennial. This erect, clump-forming perennial reaches three feet in height and width. Noted for its powdery-blue spring flowers, feathery green summer foliage, and golden fall color, this plant is popular for its versatility of use in borders, native plant gardens, rock gardens, and open woodland areas. You can find this beauty around the Perennial Garden and the Azalea Garden.
Esther Jackson is the Public Services Librarian at NYBG’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library where she manages Reference and Circulation services and oversees the Plant Information Office. She spends much of her time assisting researchers, providing instruction related to library resources, and collaborating with NYBG staff on various projects related to Garden initiatives and events.
This week we dive into a few books detailing the rich history of botanical spirits, and the ways in which we’ve called on the garden to supply us with our favorite tipples.
The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart is a treat from start to finish. Drunken Botanist follows Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs, two excellent books about organisms that can be dangerous to humans. (Read my review of Wicked Plants here.) Stewart is a talented writer, a careful historian, an excellent amateur botanist, and a skilled bartender. Drunken Botanist follows the format of her earlier books, with Stewart selecting different plants and offering readers narratives about their nativity and the history of their usage by humans—specifically how and when they were used to make alcoholic drinks. Sake, scotch, rum, tequila, bourbon, and their plant parents are just a few of the drinks that are featured. Stewart writes, “It would be impossible to describe every plant that has ever flavored an alcoholic beverage. I am certain at this very moment, a craft distiller in Brooklyn is plucking a weed from a crack in the sidewalk and wondering if it would make a good flavoring for a new line of bitters.” Before plucking sidewalk weeds, craft distiller and home bartenders alike would do well to look to Drunken Botanist for inspiration, “stirring” stories, and an infectious excitement about plants that is one of Stewart’s enduring trademarks.
Larry Lederman‘s lens takes you to the Garden when you can’t be there and previews what to see when you can.
For those who weren’t able to make it to The New York Botanical Garden during the height of its blooming crabapples and daffodils, Larry Lederman has the solution. During a late April trip to the Garden, he spent time exploring the grounds with his camera, capturing the rainbow of contrasting colors to be found on Daffodil Hill and its surroundings.
Whites, pinks, reds, and purples mingle with the soft creams and yellows of the daffodils, while a quick stop over in the Burn Family Lilac Collection reveals the fragrant clusters of flowers that define one of our most popular collections this time of year.
You can still find blooming crabapples and lilacs here in early May, while tulips throughout the grounds and the undeniable spectacle of the Azalea Garden now move into the spotlight. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as the spring show and its many acts continue to unfold.
Magenta buds of Syringa x hyacinthaflora 'Esther Staley' unfold into sweetly scented pink flowers. This early blooming lilac cultivar has twice won Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Merit, in 1961 and again in 1993.