Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Garden News

Conservation Starts in Our Gardens

Posted in Garden News on December 11 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.

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Volunteer Profile: Robert Gallanty

Posted in Garden News on December 7 2018, by Plant Talk

Photo of a volunteer

Started: 2005
Lifetime Volunteer Hours: 6,088

How long have you been a NYBG volunteer and what was the inspiration for becoming one?
After retiring from the Navy, I moved from Norfolk, Virginia, to Riverdale, New York, and saw an advertisement in The Riverdale Press from The New York Botanical Garden. I had volunteered at botanical gardens before and wanted to volunteer again at another garden. After visiting the Garden and learning about the diverse opportunities for volunteering, from helping out in the Children’s Adventure Garden to giving tours for visitors, I decided to sign up for the program.

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NYBG Partners with Local Schools

Posted in Garden News on December 4 2018, by Plant Talk

James S. Boyer, Ph.D., is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Vice President for Children’s Education at The New York Botanical Garden.


With funding from the New York City Council, NYBG’s Children’s Education department piloted a new and engaging multisession program in 2017–2018 with five local partner schools that have a long-term relationship with the Garden. These P–5 schools had the option of visiting the Garden—several times throughout the year—providing the opportunity for children to learn multiple garden-based concepts, while experiencing the seasonal changes in this natural landscape. Each session included garden-based, science and nature investigations, allowing children to explore the Garden in different seasons. These field trips provided opportunities to address grade-appropriate standards and practice developmentally appropriate process skills.

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Growing School Gardens and Growing Minds

Posted in Garden News on November 27 2018, by Plant Talk

Judith Hutton is the Manager of Teacher Professional Development at The New York Botanical Garden.


A photo of teachers in the Edible AcademyNow in its 24th year, the Garden’s Professional Development Program for Teachers reaches more than 3,000 teachers annually from the New York City and Tri-State area. Teachers participate in a range of high quality professional development, including customized workshops and Seasonal Institutes. Courses promote new pedagogy that goes beyond the classroom by utilizing outdoor and informal resources emphasizing real-life science learning.

Seasonal Institutes are dynamic, intensive graduate-level courses, which aim to deepen content knowledge in science, increase comfort level in incorporating science across an interdisciplinary curriculum, and provide tools to use informal resources to support instruction. Science-rich experiences help students understand the natural world, use appropriate scientific principles and processes in making personal decisions, and ultimately engage intelligently in public discourse.

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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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