Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Esther Jackson

Gardens of the Arts & Crafts Movement

Posted in From the Library on April 4 2019, by Esther Jackson

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.


Image of the cover of Gardens of the Arts & Crafts MovementGardens of the Arts & Crafts Movement is a beautiful book from acclaimed writer Judith B. Tankard. Tankard, who taught at the Landscape Institute of Harvard University for more than 20 years, is the author or coauthor of 10 books on landscape history (Beatrix Farrand: Private Gardens, Public Landscapes, Gertrude Jekyll at Munstead Wood), and recipient of awards from the Garden Writers Association and the American Horticultural Society. Gardens of the Arts & Crafts Movement is a revised edition of Tankard’s 2004 book titled Gardens of the Arts and Crafts Movement: Reality and Imagination.

Tankard is a careful and thorough researcher, and this book shines as a well-crafted resource for readers who are interested in the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States and Great Britain. Beginning in Britain around the 1880s, before spreading to the United States, the Arts and Crafts movement placed value in traditional craftsmanship as a counter-culture reaction to the trend of industrialization. Simple forms, often from nature, were key design elements, and the movement included social reform interests that were also in keeping with the anti-industrial values of the aesthetic concerns.

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The Life & Works of Margaret Neilson Armstrong

Posted in People on March 29 2019, by Esther Jackson

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.


Photo of the Pride of California
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Margaret Neilson Armstrong (1867 – 1944) was a book designer, field collector, botanical illustrator, mystery writer, and more. She was born in 1867 in New York City to a wealthy and artistic family and raised along the Hudson River in Danskammer. Her father, Maitland Armstrong (1836 – 1918),[i] was a stained glass artist and diplomat. Her sister, Helen Maitland Armstrong (1869 – 1948),[ii] was a prominent stained glass artist, with whom she collaborated on a number of book design and illustration projects.

Armstrong’s first book cover design was published in 1890 when she was 23 years old. When she began to work in book design, Armstrong didn’t reveal that she was a woman, using only her initials – “M. N. Armstrong.” However, in 1892 she won an award for her book design work at the World’s Colombia Exposition in Chicago. From there she went on to design approximately 314 book covers, and by 1895 she established her stylized signature “M. A.” Prior to that, she had not always signed her designs.

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The Private Gardens of SMI Landscape Architecture

Posted in From the Library on March 29 2019, by Esther Jackson

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.


Photo of Private GardensThe Private Gardens of SMI Landscape Architecture (2018), edited by Jorge Sánchez, features 15 gardens in Palm Beach, Florida, designed or redesigned by the firm. Sánchez, the author of 2017’s The Making of Three Gardens, is a principle partner of SMI Landscape Architecture, a firm that works mostly in Florida and the Bahamas. The book features lush color photos and general design plans for the gardens’ features. For the most part, the plants featured in the landscapes play backup for the hardscaping. Most useful for those in Florida or the Bahamas looking for a landscape design company, this book is nonetheless beautiful and interesting for readers who are curious about gardens of all kinds, and who are delighted to see 15 new examples. Not quite as charming as The Making of Three Gardens, it still offers new views and new landscapes to entice the reader.

Pruning Simplified

Posted in From the Library on March 21 2019, by Esther Jackson

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.


Photo of the cover of Pruning SimplifiedPruning Simplified: A Step-by-Step Guide to 50 Popular Trees and Shrubs (2018) is a helpful new book from Steven Bradley for Timber Press. Bradley is a freelance garden writer and broadcaster who has over 20 years of experience teaching horticulture in colleges in England. Pruning Simplified, in addition to including some general introductory information, suggested equipment, and techniques, is primarily organized as a directory of plants. For the most part, the directory is organized by genus, with granularity provided when there are deciduous or evergreens species in the genus, different forms within the genus (climbers versus ramblers, for example), and different flowering times within the genus.

Each plant group includes a general note about why the group might be planted, (for example, “Magnolia flowers are among the most beautiful of all blooms, and a tree laden with the spectacular flowers is an unforgettable sight”), information about why to prune, tips for pruning, when to prune, which species within the genus (or group) are pruned in the recommended manner, and which tools to use. In addition to these pointers, there is greater information about formative pruning, routine pruning, and remedial pruning.

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Creating Sanctuary

Posted in From the Library on March 15 2019, by Esther Jackson

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.


Photo of the cover of Creating SanctuaryCreating Sanctuary: Sacred Garden Spaces, Plant-Based Medicine, and Daily Practices to Achieve Happiness and Well-Being by Jessi Bloom, with photographs by Shawn Linehan, is a well-designed book meant to teach readers the ways of self-care through the growing and use of plants. Bloom, the owner of N.W. Bloom EcoLogical Services, is based in the Pacific Northwest. She is an author and a landscape designer focusing on permaculture and sustainable landscape and garden design solutions.

First, the good. There is no doubt that this book is beautiful. For readers wondering how to incorporate more plants into their lives, or even readers looking for ideas for Instagrammable tableaus, the book is worth a look. Book sections include Creating Sacred Spaces, Botanical Alchemy, and Nurturing Self: Healthy Body, Mind, and Soul.

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Getting Started with Trees & Gardens

Posted in From the Library on January 24 2019, by Esther Jackson

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.


Photo of the cover of Ground RulesGround Rules: 100 Easy Lessons for Growing a More Glorious Garden is a new title from Kate Frey for Timber Press. Frey, who is a consultant, educator, designer, and freelance writer specializing in sustainable gardens and small farms that encourage biodiversity, has distilled her years of gardening experience into 100 short and sweet points aspiring gardeners. I was a big fan of Frey’s 2016 The Bee-Friendly Garden, but Ground Rules, although a pretty book, lacks real substance. Although the 100 lessons are divided into sections, there is no table of contents, making readers wonder at the attempt at structure. On a positive note, I did enjoy the lessons about soil—perhaps this topic might be a future one for Frey to explore in more detail. All in all, a charming coffee table book, and a font of useful tips, perhaps just what a novice gardener is looking for in order to take the plunge and start a garden.

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Private Gardens of the Bay Area

Posted in From the Library on December 4 2018, by Esther Jackson

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.


Photo of the cover of Private Gardens of the Bay AreaPrivate Gardens of the Bay Area (2017) by Susan Lowry and Nancy Berner, with photographs by Marion Brenner, is a beautiful book. Lowry and Berner, seasoned garden writers, have teamed up for several other titles including Gardens of the Garden State, Gardens of the Hudson Valley, and Garden Guide: New York City. They know gardens, can write about gardens well, and seem to have a knack for finding beautiful landscapes that they know readers will adore.

It can be difficult to read books about California gardens without feeling envious of all the different plants—and extended growing season—available to designers and gardeners. Private Gardens of the Bay Area is no exception to this. However, even when it’s clear that certain plants wouldn’t be hardy in our Northeastern landscapes, the 35 gardens featured are inspirational and a joy to behold. With an interesting mix of modern and classical designs from four regions—the Peninsula, San Francisco, East Bay, and Marin Sonoma Napa—Private Gardens of the Bay Area is timely and inspirational eye-candy for gardeners, designers, and garden enthusiasts.

Exploring Urban Gardens with City Green

Posted in From the Library on November 29 2018, by Esther Jackson

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.


Photo of the cover of City GreenCity Green: Public Gardens of New York (2018) is a delight. Written by Jane Garmey with photographs by Mick Hales, City Green highlights iconic and more hidden gardens in the five boroughs. Garmey is the author of several books about gardens including Private Gardens of the Hudson Valley and Private Gardens of Connecticut. For readers who enjoy gardens and who live in and around New York, the book is a lovely escape. Readers will see old friends in new ways and learn new details about the history and purpose of more familiar spaces.

Twenty-five gardens are featured, most of them in Manhattan and the Bronx, and most photographed at their peak seasonal interest. Three gardens at NYBG are treated—the Native Plant Garden, the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Some readers will have likely visited all of the gardens in City Green and will be inspired to revisit their favorites. For those who have not made it to all 25 featured gardens, the book represents a very achievable list of gardens to visit in the coming year. As the holiday season approaches, this book would make a very nice holiday gift for someone who loves gardens and loves New York.

 

Gardening Under Lights

Posted in From the Library on November 27 2018, by Esther Jackson

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.


Cover of Gardening Under LightsGardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers (2018) is a great new book by Leslie F. Halleck for Timber Press. Offering “the latest tools and techniques for growing seedlings, orchids, cannabis, succulents, and more,” Gardening Under Lights is a wonderful introduction to growing indoors while also offering very technical and detailed guidance. Halleck, who holds a master’s in horticulture from Michigan State University and is a Certified Professional Horticulturist via The American Society for Horticulture Science, runs Halleck Horticultural, a company that provides consulting services to green industry businesses. In Gardening Under Lights she shares her over 25 years of horticultural experience with her readers.

It’s difficult to create an introductory book that can be used by more advanced growers, but Halleck has managed to do just that. The book is divided into three main sections: Light, Growing Conditions, and Plants. Within the first section, Hallack outlines the basics—why plants need light and how plants respond to light—followed by information about measuring light and different grow lamps. Section two includes information about managing one’s environment, common pests and diseases (along with suggested treatments), and propagation and plant care. Finally, the third section is heavily focused on edible plants (including Cannabis), with a healthy portion of the section devoted to the growing of ornamental plants. Appropriate both for readers who want to know what lights to find to make a few more houseplants happy, and for readers who envision a more industrial production, Gardening Under Lights is a timely and very useful new book.

Handmade Houseplants

Posted in From the Library on November 8 2018, by Esther Jackson

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.


Cover of Handmade HouseplantsHandmade Houseplants: Remarkably Realistic Plants You Can Make With Paper is a fun how-to book by Corrie Beth Hogg with photographs by Christine Han. Hogg, an artist, designer, crafter, and stylist, has created a handy resource for people who would like to make paper plants for their homes or special events. The book details tools and materials, skills and techniques, and includes templates as well as step-by-step instructions for how to make over 30 paper plant projects of varying difficulty. The majority of the projects focus on foliage, as making paper flowers brings another level in complexity and is not as beginner-friendly.

For the most part, the book is well-organized and clearly laid out, although botanical names are used inconsistently, or not at all. Readers who are interested in sourcing art supplies mentioned in Handmade Houseplants can visit the book’s website for additional content and recommended vendors.

Speaking of paper plants, Plant Talk readers who enjoyed the paper flowers during the Garden’s recent Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai‘i exhibition can appreciate the skill and talent needed to create truly beautiful and detailed paper plants; the paper flowers featured in that show were created by the Garden’s own Charles Zimmerman, whose artwork can be viewed here. Although Handmade Houseplants won’t teach readers how to make specimen-quality paper plants, it offers a first step into the world of plant paper-crafts and design.