Inside The New York Botanical Garden

From the Library

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.

The Victory Grove of Douglas Spruce

Posted in From the Library on November 12 2018, by Don Wheeler

Don Wheeler is the Collection Development Librarian of The New York Botanical Garden.


Photo of the Douglas spruce memorial
The Douglas spruce memorial grove in 1924, Fordham hospital in the background. Photo courtesy of the Mertz Library.

There is always something to discover at the Garden, even for those of us privileged to work here every day. While looking for something else, an article in the 1919 volume of the Journal of the New York Botanical Garden caught my eye: “The planting of trees as war memorials.” In the January 1919 issue, Edward Adams, prominent banker, engineer, philanthropist, and member of the Board of The New York Botanical Garden, suggested the planting of Douglas Spruce trees as a living memorial to the men and women who had served in the recently ended First World War. He proposed that trees be planted on the grounds of The New York Botanical Garden with contributions of $10 per tree from citizens wishing to participate. (That $10 is equal to about $146 today when adjusted for inflation.)

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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.

Excursion to Barnard College and the Arthur Ross Greenhouse

Posted in Humanities Institute on November 6 2018, by Vanessa Sellers

Photo of visitors in the Arthur Ross Greenhouse
Participants gather for the Botanical Open House at Arthur Ross Greenhouse at Barnard College; Brian Boom of NYBG and Lena Struwe of Rutgers University flank the group, hosts Hilary Callahan and Nick Gershberg stand at center (photo by Carrie Glasser, Barnard College)

On September 20, 2018, The New York Botanical Garden’s Humanities Institute, NYBG Herbarium, and NYBG Conservation and Horticulture staff, students, and fellows visited Barnard College. They were invited for a special botanical Open House at the Arthur Ross Greenhouse in conjunction with the 20th Anniversary of this remarkable facility. The Arthur Ross Greenhouse is a large, state-of-the-art structure balancing high above Broadway & 120th Street atop Milbank Hall that is open to the Barnard and Columbia communities and used by its faculty to teach students about plants and plant evolution.

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Look Around You

Posted in From the Library on November 1 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 Discoveries in the GardenThese three books from the Mertz Library help readers discover new details about the world around them. From gaining a new perspective on a garden plant to delving into the world of microorganisms, two authors help readers to experience the natural world in new and interesting ways.

Discoveries in the Garden (2018) by James Nardi is a simple and accessible introduction to botany using a garden as the catalyst for topics related to plant structure and physiology. Nardi, a skilled natural illustrator, Research Scientist in the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and author of the acclaimed Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners (2007), writes in a clear manner that is appropriate for readers new to the topic of botany. Discoveries in the Garden is at times reminiscent of Brian Capon’s Botany for Gardeners, although it contains more figures and is a bit more simplified in sections. It offers a great compliment to Botany for Gardeners by way of its figures, making it appropriate for students as well as teachers who are doing lesson-planning related to introductory botany. In general, Discoveries in the Garden is a nice addition to the literature of books that are beginner-friendly and well-designed. It is appropriate for adult learners and well as more advanced young readers.

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From Place, to Ponds, to Planting

Posted in From the Library on October 26 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 front cover of Tapestry GardenThree new books in the Mertz Library show readers the breadth of possibilities available to the home gardener, from place, to ponds, to planting.

A Tapestry Garden: The Art of Weaving Plants and Place (2018) by Marietta and Ernie O’Byrne (co-owners of Northwest Garden Nursery in Eugene, Oregon) is a lovely collection of photographs and plant recommendations. Eye candy for those who are in search of new planting ideas, Tapestry Garden radiates with the authors’ love of plants as their personal stories which accompany the featured flora. The authors offer a palette of plants both native to the Pacific Northwest and from other regions of the world, with an emphasis on cultivated varieties. An eclectic, sometimes stream-of-consciousness narrative is a departure from more structured “how-to” gardening books, and invites readers to engage with the authors’ gardening philosophy and favorite plants.

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The Songs of Trees

Posted in From the Library on October 18 2018, by Esther Jackson

The Songs of TreesThe Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors is the second book from David George Haskell, also the author of The Forest Unseen. In The Songs of Trees, Haskell explores the worlds of different trees in different corners of the world, ruminating on their existences and relationships to the organisms and environments around them.

Although The Songs of Trees is in the genre of popular nature writing, it is challenging to find a description that is fitting for the whole book. The most appropriate summation I arrived at is that it would be a wonderful book to read out loud, or to hear someone read. Haskell loves words and literary devices as well as music, and his prose has been crafted for lyricism. The Songs of Trees is Aldo Leopold meets Henry David Thoreau with bigger words and more people in the nature scenes. In its best moments, it is reminiscent of John McGahern.

In The Songs of Trees, Haskell visits 12 trees around the world: ceibo, balsam fir, sabal palm, green ash, hazel, redwood, ponderosa pine, cottonwood, callery pear, olive, and Japanese white pine. For me, perhaps ironically, the most compelling passages were about animals, including an aside about rattlesnakes in Tennessee. However, different readers will connect with different chapters. As with certain other books of essays, The Songs of Trees is eclectic, and therefore difficult to read in a single sitting. Excerpted chapters are appropriate for book clubs, creative writing classes, or citizen scientists and naturalists. 

Read The Songs of Trees for a book that plays with the English language, using trees and nature as its device.

Embracing the Desert

Posted in From the Library on October 11 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.


Desert Gardens of Steve MartinoThree new books in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library will inspire readers to embrace desert landscapes and plants.

Desert Gardens of Steve Martino (2018) is a lavish ode to the landscapes of the landscape designer Steve Martino. Authored by Caren Yglesias, a licensed architect and lecturer in landscape architecture and environmental planning at UC Berkeley, with photographs by Steve Gunther, the book is well-designed and executed. Because of their artistic nature, some of the photo-documentation abstracts the designs of the gardens; it is helpful that each garden includes a site plan that illustrates the layout of the site in more measured detail. Twenty-one of Martino’s gardens in the American southwest are treated. Martino, who focuses on using plants that are native to the Sonoran region, creates gardens that are evocative of the desert from which they spring. East coast gardeners and designers may not look to Martino for practical landscape design inspiration, owing to the differences in climates. However, his use of structure and color can be universally enjoyed by those who create, maintain, and appreciate garden landscapes.

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