Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Behind the Scenes

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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The Botany That Inspired the Artist: Discovering Frida Kahlo’s Garden

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Exhibitions on April 30 2015, by Karen Daubmann

Karen Daubmann is NYBG’s AVP for Exhibitions. She has researched, planned, and installed over 50 exhibitions in her seven years at the Garden.

Frida Kahlo's studio Coyoacan Mexico City Casa Azul

At The New York Botanical Garden, exhibitions are planned over many years with the intent of bringing to life distant lands, influential people, interesting plants, rarely seen gardens, and fantastic landscapes. We immerse ourselves in the study of our subjects with the goal of evoking the gardens and the spirits of their creators within the walls of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. In 2010, we transformed the galleries into Emily Dickinson’s Garden, complete with a path “just wide enough for two who love.” In 2012, when we celebrated Claude Monet, we knew the garden we created was one that he was surely enjoying when the glasshouse emptied each evening.

When we began to research Frida Kahlo, we wanted to delve into the story of the woman who has been examined through her pain and suffering and paint her in a different light. We wanted to learn more about the iconic face that is emblazoned on canvases, the strong and fierce-looking dark-haired, dark-eyed woman who used to be known as Diego Rivera’s wife and is now known simply as Frida. The more we researched, the more intrigued we became.

To us, Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird was an image of a woman immersed in tropical flora. Her still-life paintings, an important yet lesser-known portion of her work, are informative displays of the rich diversity of Mexico’s plant life. We were fascinated by the incredible detail of Kahlo’s curated life, as evidenced by her paintings, her letters, and archival photos of Kahlo and Rivera in their garden. Her story was ripe to be told by The New York Botanical Garden.

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Wild Medicine: Healing Plants Around the World

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Exhibitions on May 9 2013, by Ann Rafalko

_IVO5459Do you know what plant is in your aspirin? In your mouthwash? How about your lotion? Plants are all around us, even in the concrete jungle. They’re in your medicine cabinet, vitamins and supplements, makeup bag, and at your local hospital. And beginning May 18—with a special introductory lecture featuring world-renowned expert Andrew Weil, M.D.—Wild Medicine: Healing Plants Around the World, Featuring The Italian Renaissance Garden will introduce a world of medicinal plants on display throughout the 11 galleries of the one-acre Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

On Saturday, May 18, hear Andrew Weil, M.D., a world-renowned leader in the field of integrative medicine, share fascinating experiences and offer unique perspectives on the power of plants to maximize well-being and quality of life. The recipient of the Garden’s first H.H. Rusby Award, Dr. Weil, a Harvard-trained physician, botanist, and Founder and Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, is being recognized for his distinguished contributions to the fields of ethnobotany and integrative medicine, and for advancing our understanding of the importance of plants in clinical care. After his remarks, meet Dr. Weil, who will sign copies of his recent books, True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure and Spontaneous Happiness: A New Path to Emotional Well-Being.

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Unearthing History in the Herbarium

Posted in Around the Garden, Behind the Scenes, Learning Experiences on March 27 2012, by Amy Weiss

Amy Weiss works in The New York Botanical Garden’s Herbarium, cataloging and preserving plant specimens from around the world.

Part of my job in the Herbarium of the NYBG is processing plant collections researchers have stored over the years. In general, we only mount plants that have been identified to species. That process can be quick if there is currently a specialist–we send the person a duplicate of a plant collection, and they send us the plant’s name once it has been identified. However, identifying plants to specific species can take much longer if there is no one currently specializing in a certain family or genus.

Herbaria are important because they are the depositories of such historical collections, and with our care they will still be around when a specialist is available. Once identified, we mount the plant specimen for New York, and distribute any duplicates to other herbaria around the world. The collections gathered by NYBG scientists that are still waiting for identification reside in our cold room in the meantime, where they will occasionally remain for decades before the right specialist becomes available.

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An Orchid’s Accompaniment

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Exhibitions, The Orchid Show on March 21 2012, by Rustin Dwyer

Patrick Blanc‘s travels and expertise have taught him that no one plant can convey the true beauty of a vertical wall–the living art, as Francisca Coelho, our VP for Glasshouses and Exhibitions explains, can’t realize its full potential on the shoulders of an individual flower. That’s why this year’s Orchid Show is not only about spotlighting these captivating tropical blooms, but about complementing their place in one of our most complex and beautiful presentations of the last decade!

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Chris Benz on What to Wear in a Winter Wonderland

Posted in Behind the Scenes on December 8 2011, by Ann Rafalko

Chris Benz Resort 2011
Chris Benz Resort 2011

One of the highlights of the winter social calendar is, without doubt, The New York Botanical Garden’s Winter Wonderland Ball. The Ball serves as an exclusive chance for the Garden’s Junior Patrons to enjoy the magic of the Holiday Train Show as well as cocktails, dinner, and dancing.

But what to wear when the invitation suggests “Winter white, and black, black tie”? We asked fashion designer and member of the Ball’s Benefit Committee Chris Benz what he thinks ladies should wear to this most festive event.

I think the Winter Wonderland Ball is the perfect moment to dress up in full holiday glamour Think white, silver, texture, glitter and luxury It’s also a great time to play with accessories A little bit of dramatic sparkle
and shine go a long way!

~ Chris Benz

The look at the right from Benz’s 2011 Resort Collection is a perfect example of this luxe look, and it looks perfectly delightful to us!

Returning to the Meadow

Posted in Around the Garden, Behind the Scenes, Gardens and Collections on November 9 2011, by Jody Payne

Native Plant Garden MeadowThe Native Plant Garden is designed to showcase the beauty of native plants throughout the year. If this were spring, I might be talking about the planting of the woodland, where trillium, lady slippers and ferns were planted in April and May. But this is another time and another season.

Now the meadow is in focus. We haven’t had a meadow in the Native Plant Garden for a very long time–not since the old one succumbed to dodder. But once in bloom, the meadow will be an open, full sun grass garden punctuated with flowers. It has three distinct conditions available for plants, each offering a different environment to support a variety of species.

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How Do They Do That?: Ogiku, or ‘Triple Stem’ Kiku

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Exhibitions on October 5 2011, by Ann Rafalko

Ogiku Display
Ogiku display in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, 2008

After more than a week of counting down the classes and styles of kiku, these beautiful flower displays are back in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory as part of Fall Flowers of Japan.

Come visit these extraordinary flowers, just 20-minutes from Grand Central to Botanical Garden station on Metro North‘s Harlem Line. While you’re here, you should also visit the sublimely beautiful Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, indulge in a delicious lunch at the Garden Cafe, wander along the Bronx River in New York City’s largest remaining plot of old-growth forest; the 50-acre Thain Family Forest, and marvel at the beautiful fall light as it plays off the Garden’s 250-acres. The Garden is never the same two days in a row, so come spend a day in one of the world’s greatest urban gardens, The New York Botanical Garden!

How do they do that? Learn how our horticulturists train the Ogiku kiku below.