Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Plant Talk

New Library Visitors Explore the Special Collections

Posted in Garden News on November 13 2018, by Plant Talk

Esther Jackson is the Public Services Librarian and Samantha D’Acunto is the Reference Librarian for The New York Botanical Garden.


Photo of Library book platesThis past spring, LuEsther T. Mertz Library staff invited several NYBG Adult Education classes to view treasures from our special collections. The classes were given tours of the Library and the Rare Book Room where they viewed special collection titles related to their class subjects.

The students from the class Orchid Next Door with Dr. Matthew Pace joined Library staff for a viewing of the First Annual Catalogue of North American herbaceous plants, orchids… (1882) by James Galen, The orchid hunters: a jungle adventure (ca. 1939) by Norman MacDonald, and many other exciting titles. The Hidden World of Lichens class with Dr. James Lendemer joined the Library staff in two sessions to view materials related to the chronological history of lichenology through various materials in the Library’s collection. Other sessions included a viewing of 17th- century bulb literature for students of Landscape Plants: Bulbs! with instructors Michael Hagen and  Marta McDowell; a review of 19th-century, hand-colored floral illustrations for the students of Designing with Tropical Flowers with Bridget Vizoso; and a peek at the Library’s mounted-insect collection for the students of Entomology with Tam Nguyen.

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Conservation Starts in Our Gardens

Posted in Garden News on November 9 2018, by Plant Talk

Jessica Arcate Schuler is the Director of the Thain Family Forest at The New York Botanical Garden.


Photo of a garden

Many gardeners view their gardens as separate and isolated from the larger landscape. In reality, the larger landscape is a connected patchwork of ecosystems that support life. Having an invasive species in our garden does impact a local natural area, planting a diversity of plants including native species benefits wildlife, efficiently managing stormwater, fertilizer, plant health, compost and water use determine a garden’s resilience. On November 28, Cultivating a New Garden Ethic will showcase three distinguished speakers, Larry Weaner, Scott Freeman, and Jan Merryweather, to explore how gardening practices can create beauty and help heal the larger environment.

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Saving the American Ash: Calling All Citizen Scientists

Posted in Garden News on November 6 2018, by Plant Talk

Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., is the Vice President for Conservation Strategy and Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany, and Daniel Atha is the Director of Conservation Outreach at The New York Botanical Garden.


Photo of a volunteer measuring an American ashAshes comprise one of North America’s most widespread and ecologically important groups of trees. Yet since 2002 an invasive beetle, Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), has killed tens of millions of Ash trees across the Midwest and this pest is moving rapidly eastward through New York and New England. Ash tree mortality is nearly 100 percent within several years of beetle infestation, and there are no viable biological or chemical control solutions at the landscape level.

Most conservation efforts on behalf of North American Ashes have focused on controlling the EAB. With generous support from The Manton Foundation, The New York Botanical Garden has taken a different approach, one focused on documenting and characterizing Ash species diversity, and searching for rare individual trees that might have resistance to the EAB. Such trees are termed “lingering” Ashes—trees that appear healthy in the midst of a stand of EAB infestation. The only way to preserve the role of Ash trees in their native habitats may be through breeding of lingering Ash or genetic manipulation of resistance traits.

As part of this project, NYBG established a citizen science project in the Catskills region, which is the most intensively EAB-impacted part of New York State, and indeed in all of the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Since spring 2018, the project has established the target of five study plots in Catskill forests having heavily devastated Ash populations, and from regional workshops has recruited a small team of citizen scientists. These dedicated volunteers are scanning the Catskills’ forests for elusive lingering Ash trees, which, if detected, NYBG will report immediately to the USDA Forest Service’s EAB-resistant Ash tree breeding program. But this large and important project needs MORE citizen scientists.

This article originally appeared as part of a series on responsible citizenry in the 2018–2019 issue of Garden News, NYBG’s seasonal newsletter. For further reading, view the issue online and discover a sampling of stories about our current efforts and activities that promote, engage, and support active and responsible citizenry on local, regional, and global levels.

City Nature Challenge and the New York City EcoFlora Project

Posted in Garden News on November 2 2018, by Plant Talk

By Esther Jackson, Public Services Librarian; Samantha D’Acunto, Reference Librarian; Daniel Atha, Director of Conservation Outreach; and Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., Vice President for Conservation Strategy and Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany.


Photo of an EcoFlora participantThis past spring, LuEsther T. Mertz Library staff organized a workshop on how to use the popular website and app iNaturalist. The workshop was held in preparation for the 2018 City Nature Challenge, a global competition to see which city could record the most number of observations in four days, April 27–30. New Yorkers turned out in force, including NYBG staff, volunteers, Members, and the general public. Daniel Atha, Director of Conservation Outreach, facilitated the two-hour class, teaching attendees about different features of the app, including how to observe, suggest identifications for the observations of others, and search the iNaturalist database for information. (New York City came in seventh place overall for the City Nature Challenge.)

Because of the popularity of the first workshop, the Library offered a second iNaturalist workshop in August. The workshop focused on website and desktop navigation, facilitated again by Daniel Atha. Workshop attendees learned how to navigate the iNaturalist website, including the New York City EcoFlora project, and how to make new observations using their smartphones and tablets. Elementary, middle, and high school teachers were among the workshop’s attendees, which also included NYBG staff, volunteers, and Members. All participants were encouraged to partake in a short “virtual scavenger hunt” to help test out their newly acquired iNaturalist knowledge. Questions included how many plant observations have been made in Bronx County, how many total observations have been made in New York City, and the most-frequently observed animal and plant species in the Bronx. Those who completed the scavenger hunt first were gifted a small Library swag bag filled with iNaturalist and NYBG-related stickers, notebooks, and pens.

In addition to the New York City EcoFlora workshops, this summer the Library staff collaborated with Kristine Paulus and Becky Thorp of the Plant Records Office to offer a workshop on NYBG’s Garden Navigator. In October Library staff hosted a Women in Science Wikipedia edit-a-thon in collaboration with the Untold Stories project at the American Museum of Natural History.

This article originally appeared as part of a series on responsible citizenry in the 2018–2019 issue of Garden News, NYBG’s seasonal newsletter. For further reading, view the issue online and discover a sampling of stories about our current efforts and activities that promote, engage, and support active and responsible citizenry on local, regional, and global levels.

Training in the Brazilian Amazon

Posted in Garden News on November 2 2018, by Plant Talk

Stephan Chenault is The New York Botanical Garden’s Director of Science Development.


Photo of Doug Daly in the AmazonDouglas Daly, Ph.D., B. A. Krukoff Curator of Amazonian Botany and Director of the Institute of Systematic Botany at NYBG, has spent several years working in collaboration with the Brazilian Forest Service to conduct extensive training and certification programs in the Amazon for traditional forestry personnel, called mateiros, forest-born but town-educated. His efforts have promoted conservation of Amazonian rain forests by ensuring far more accurate representation of tree diversity in forest inventories, and by assisting timber operations certified for sustainability. More than 100 mateiros who work in national forest concessions, universities, nongovernmental organizations, and Brazilian government environmental agencies have been trained thus far.

Recently Dr. Daly was awarded a generous grant of $200,000 over two years from the Tinker Foundation for a new but related project, Equipping Community Participation in Management and Monitoring of Amazon Forests. This initiative will build on past capacity-building accomplishments of the NYBG project team, by taking a novel approach of training community members in tree identification, forest inventory, and monitoring in protected areas. The project is a collaboration of NYBG with the Chico Mendes Biodiversity Institute (ICMBio), the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden, and the Forest Products Laboratory of the Brazilian Forest Service. These efforts aim to conserve Amazonian biodiversity and establish community members as stakeholders in protected forest areas by ensuring that local communities benefit from this initiative in terms of both livelihoods and the local economy.

This article originally appeared as part of a series on responsible citizenry in the 2018–2019 issue of Garden News, NYBG’s seasonal newsletter. For further reading, view the issue online and discover a sampling of stories about our current efforts and activities that promote, engage, and support active and responsible citizenry on local, regional, and global levels.

New York City EcoQuest Challenges

Posted in Garden News, Science on October 25 2018, by Plant Talk

By Daniel Atha, Director of Conservation Outreach, and Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., Vice President for Conservation Strategy and Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany


A group of EcoQuest volunteers looking for specimens.Citizen science is a growing trend across the globe as concern for the environment intensifies and people search for ways to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change, extinction, and habitat loss. A well-informed and engaged community is essential to conserve the indigenous flora and habitats of New York City. The most populous city in North America has many stakeholders and challenges to address. Reminding the public that plants are the foundation for life on Earth and that protecting them is important is central to the mission of The New York Botanical Garden. It is also a key component of the New York City EcoFlora project. Early in the development of the project, it was recognized that citizen scientists could not only help collect important data on the distribution and dynamics of the City’s plant species, but as active participants, they would also learn about the ecology of the City and be more effective stewards and advocates for nature.

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Q&A with NYBG CEO Carrie Rebora Barratt

Posted in Garden News on October 17 2018, by Plant Talk

Photo of Carrie Rebora BarrattOn July 1, 2018, Carrie Rebora Barratt, Ph.D., became the ninth CEO and President of The New York Botanical Garden and the first woman to hold the position. She came to the Garden following a distinguished career at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she worked as a curator and transitioned from research and scholarship to governance and administration, most recently serving since 2009 as Deputy Director, leading visitor-focused, mission-aligned initiatives for the institution during a transformational period in Museum’s history. At NYBG, Dr. Barratt brings her focus to the care and presentation of the living collections and special exhibitions. Her track record for enhancing visitor engagement matches the Garden’s reputation for groundbreaking scientific research and conservation programs; creative educational programs connecting art to science and human life to living collections, with enhanced offerings from pre-K through post-graduate studies; and vibrant exhibition and public programs that serve ever-growing and diverse audiences. 

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From the Casa Azul to the GreenSchool, Frida Inspires Students and Educators Alike

Posted in Children's Education on February 10 2016, by Plant Talk

Patricia Caracappa is a Spanish Teacher at Howitt Middle School in Farmingdale.


CaracappaI am a teacher certified in both Art and Spanish who visited the FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life exhibition on three separate occasions. As I experienced the show in three different ways during a five month period, both with my students and on my own, each visit left me speechless. Here I hope to give voice to my special experiences at the Garden.

My students at Howitt Middle School first experienced the rich offerings of Children’s Education programs related to the exhibition when FRIDA KAHLO opened in May. During the Poetry for Every Season: Mexican Poetry Walk offered by the GreenSchool, my 7th grade Spanish students were challenged to find the connections between the lives of two significant contemporary Mexican artists: the painter Frida Kahlo and the poet Octavio Paz. Examining the thematic images in Kahlo’s artwork and comparing them to the written themes they identified in Paz’ poetry—in Spanish, too!—my students discovered for themselves the significance of the specific choices artists make to communicate ideas they care deeply about both visually and linguistically. This facilitated program revealed seamlessly the artists’ close observation and symbolic uses of plants, their Mexican nationalism, and their deep appreciation for the natural world.

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Concrete Jungle Flourishes through Green-Up

Posted in Learning Experiences, People on August 28 2015, by Plant Talk

Ken Iwuoha worked with Bronx Green-Up this summer, and will be attending York College this fall. Bronx Green-Up, the community garden program of The New York Botanical Garden, provides horticultural assistance, community organizing and training to Bronx gardens and urban farms. For more information, click here.


Ken readies a harvest of serrano peppers harvested from Bronx community gardens. The peppers will be made into Bronx hot sauce (http://bronxhotsauce.com), a product available at the Shop at NYBG and local Greenmarkets.
Ken readies a harvest of serrano peppers harvested from Bronx community gardens. The peppers will be made into Bronx hot sauce, a product available at the Shop at NYBG and local Greenmarkets.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ken Iwuoha. I am a SYEP (Summer Youth Employment Program) worker for the summer of 2015. I have worked for The New York Botanical Garden for over six weeks, with the Bronx Green-Up Program.

As an individual born and raised in the Bronx, I have adapted to buildings, construction, and pollution—the “City Life.” I used to think that planting a tree in front of your house was the best way of being green. After working for Bronx Green-Up, however, my point of view has changed completely. Donating plants and providing services to local community gardens and schools has opened my eyes to the beauty of the Bronx.

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Floral Designers Fast Track Their Dreams With the Summer Intensive Program

Posted in Adult Education on June 26 2015, by Plant Talk

Floral Design GraduationFor nearly 40 years, NYBG has offered its prestigious and world-respected Certificate in Floral Design.

And this year, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Floral Design Summer Intensive Program, in which designers looking to jump start their careers can complete all Certificate-required classroom hours in just five weeks!

This past month, in a beautiful Garden ceremony, 32 new graduates received their Floral Design Certificates. Many are already working in the industry, and for many, the journey to their dream began on the Summer Intensive track.

These graduates now belong to a large and influential network of alumni across the Metropolitan area and beyond, joining such well-known designers as “NYC’s Rose Queen” Alix Astir (2010 Graduate), who runs a successful floral and botanical beauty business; BRRCH Studio’s Brittany Asch (2013 Summer Intensive), whose work has been featured in Vogue, Martha Stewart Weddings, Elle Décor, and more; and Marcela Bonancio (2012 Summer Intensive), who serves a host of corporate clients from her NY-based Lotus Blossom Atelier.

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