Plant Talk

Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Ancient Brews & Growing a Revolution

Posted in From the Library on July 27 2017, 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.


Growing a Revolution: Bringing our Soil Back to Life, by David R. MontgomeryGrowing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life by David R. Montgomery challenges the “norm” in industrial farming soil care. With research, interviews, and an engaging style of writing, Montgomery invites readers and farmers alike to consider the ways in which soil fertility can be improved with better soil care.

Growing a Revolution follows fast on the heels of Montgomery’s 2016 book, The hidden half of nature : the microbial roots of life and health. Montgomery, a professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington, has made a career out of soil. Revolution is the work of an author who is comfortable with his chosen subject and skilled at writing for a popular audience. The question that Montgomery poses to readers is simple, yet daunting in its scope. “What if there was a relatively simple, cost-effective way to help feed the world, reduce pollution, pull carbon from the atmosphere, protect biodiversity, and make farmers money to boot?” The answer, as readers might guess, is to cultivate good soil health.

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Colloquium: Food, Tech, and the City

Posted in From the Library on July 26 2017, by Vanessa Sellers

Photo of the Colloqiuium
Participants gathered in the Shelby White and Leon Levy Reading Room of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library, NYBG.

On Friday, March 24, 2017, the Humanities Institute hosted the Food, Tech, and the City colloquium, organized in conjunction with Fordham University’s Urban Consortium.

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Land on Fire

Posted in From the Library on July 24 2017, 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 Land on FireLand on Fire: The New Reality of Wildfire in the West by Gary Ferguson is a new book from Timber Press, representing the publisher’s recent dedicated exploration into more ecologically minded and popular science books.

Land on Fire blends numerous color photographs with a narrative exploring the where, why, and when of wildfires in the western United States. Ferguson is quick to point out that fire, controlled properly, can be a valuable part of land management. Controlled (or prescribed) burns are used throughout the world, including in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, a fire-dependent ecosystem close to home.

For those who have not lived with the threat of forest fires, the images in Land on Fire are staggering and sobering. Decades of fire suppression, drought, climate change, and mass die-off of certain tree species because of invasive insects have all played their roles in wildfire season burning longer and hotter in the west. Thankfully, Ferguson ends Land on Fire with a chapter on risk reduction, presenting the three goals of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy—“first, to improve the ability of firefighters to respond to such emergencies; second, to restore fire-adapted landscapes (in other words, undoing some of the damage caused by 80 years of aggressive fire suppression); and finally, to create fire-adapted communities (downs and subdivisions … that will be far less prone to catastrophe from wildfire).” Meeting these three goals would, in theory, allow for better safety for people and property, save billions of dollars otherwise spent on suppression, and stabilize fire-dependent ecosystems that have been mismanaged.

Land on Fire is not totally a treatise on climate change, but it is a stark portrait of a world out of balance, thanks mostly in part to the actions of humans. Ferguson ends by writing, “clearly, we’ve still got a lot to figure out. But the incentives are high.”

New Baby Hawks Fledge in the Garden

Posted in Wildlife on July 21 2017, by Patricia Gonzalez

Patricia Gonzalez is an NYBG Visitor Services Attendant and avid wildlife photographer.


Red-tailed hawkIn 2017, we marked the occasion of two young Great-horned Owls fledging after having quite a few adventures during their stay in the Mertz Library nest. This was the same nest built by a pair of Red-tailed Hawks back in 2009, which also happened to be the last year that Red-tails nested at NYBG—until now.

I’m happy to report that there are now three fledgling hawks getting to know their way around our 250 acres. Special thanks to Debbie Becker, our eagle-eyed wildlife expert, for the news! Back in April, she spotted both parents flying overhead. They soon landed in a tree in a heavily wooded section of the Garden, which became their nest. The rest, as they say, is history!

I’ve been lucky enough to follow two of the fledglings around with my camera shortly after they left the nest. It’s fascinating to watch them explore the Garden, and I look forward to watching them grow into effective hunters like their parents.

Fledged Red-tail Hawk

Fledged Red-tail Hawk
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Gardens of the High Line

Posted in From the Library on July 19 2017, 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 Gardens of the High LineThe High Line, “a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side,” is a popular NYC attraction for locals and tourists alike. Before reading Gardens of the High Line: Elevating the Nature of Modern Landscapes by Piet Oudolf and Rick Darke, I had the benefit of reading a wonderful review of the book written by Patricia Jonas for the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries Newsletter. In her review, after a summary of the many books published on the High Line garden over the past six years, Jonas writes, “Could there possibly be any more vital books about the High Line yet to be published? Well, yes. Gardens of the High Line is the icing on all of this publishing and the only book to focus exclusively on the famous park’s planting design and the plants.” 

Gardens of the High Line is exquisite, and a treat for regular High Line visitors and those who can only admire the space from afar. In the book’s introduction, Friends of the Highline co-founder Robert Hammond writes, “when I first stepped up on the High Line in 1999, I truly fell in love. What I fell in love with was the tension. It was there in the juxtaposition between the hard and the soft, the wild grasses and billboards, the industrial relics and natural landscape, the views of both wildflowers and the Empire State Building. It was ugly and beautiful at the same time. And it’s that tension that gives the High Line its power.” This tension is captured in the photographs of Gardens of the High Line, although Lorraine Ferguson’s graphic design of the volume makes even the most “ugly” portraits of the space seem beautiful.

Less focused on the history of the space and more concerned with the gardens themselves, Gardens of the Highline is a plant lover’s dream. Each of the High Line’s 13 gardens are profiled and described with extensive photographs, including wonderful aerial photographs. These aerial shots, in particular, offer a new glimpse into this popular site’s overarching design ethos.

It’s unlikely that you’ll ever find the High Line as contemplative and empty as it appears in many of the Gardens of the High Lines photographs, but the book reminds readers why this dynamic space is so special and so worth returning to again and again throughout the seasons and years.

What’s Beautiful Now: Lazy Lotuses

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on July 11 2017, by Matt Newman

Week of July 9, 2017

There’s something about a lotus blossom lazily tousled by the breeze that makes us think “summer” around here, and this week that feeling is running high. The Conservatory Pools are quickly becoming the jewels of July as the lotuses—and their friends the water lilies—bloom under the sun. Meanwhile, the Perennial Garden is a party of foliage and flowers, and the Forest, as ever around this time of year, is the sort of zen escape sorely needed in this bustling city. Check it out!

Conservatory Pools

Conservatory Pools
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The waterlilies and lotuses are beginning to flower in brilliant yellow, purple, pink, and even blue. Don’t miss these serene and magical aquatic plants!

 

The Trees of North America

Posted in From the Library on July 5 2017, 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.


The Trees of North AmericaThe Trees of North America: Michaux and Redouté’s American Masterpiece is a new book from The New York Botanical Garden and Abbeville Press. This beautiful volume includes 277 color plates from The North American Sylva, the first volumes of which were published in 1817 by François André Michaux (1770–1855), followed by subsequent volumes in the 1840s by Thomas Nuttall (1786–1859).

François André Michaux was a French botanist and explorer. François André with his father, Andre? Michaux (1746–1802), wrote some of the most important and widely-read books about North American flora. Susan Fraser (Vice President and Director of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library) and author Marta McDowell have written detailed introductory essays in The Trees of North America which include bibliographic information about the series and biographical information about the two Michaux explorers and Thomas Nuttall, the author who eventually completed the project.

It’s impossible to look at these plates without thinking about the early days of botany as we know it in North America. For those who love native trees, The Trees of North America is both beautiful and transportive. Certain plates, such as that of Castanea dentata, the American chestnut, are lovely and bittersweet. With accompanying illustrations by David Allen Sibley (who also wrote the afterword), The Trees of North America is an enjoyable read for all history of science and native plant enthusiasts.

 

What’s Beautiful Now: Perfect Green

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on June 26 2017, by Matt Newman

Week of June 26, 2017

While the Rose Garden has begun its summer settling-down, there’s still color to be seen there! Elsewhere in the Garden, such as the Native Plant Garden and the Rock Garden, you can find peaceful, shady vistas peppered with attractive summer flowers. The Azalea Garden is a lush escape as well during this time of year, with large-leaved hostas and other rich foliage creating a rolling hillscape of greens.

Tree of the Week: Catalpa × erubescens ‘Purpurea’, purple catalpa

Tree of the Week: <em>Catalpa</em> × <em>erubescens</em> ‘Purpurea’, purple catalpa
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Look for the showy pyramidal clusters of white and purple flowers of this young tree near the Harding Lab at the bottom of the Tulip Tree Allée. The cultivar ‘Purpurea’ is named for its foliage, which emerges a dark-purple and fades to green over the summer. Another catalpa, Catalpa bignoniodes, can be found blooming along Garden Way. The large, nearly heart-shaped foliage of these trees adds an interesting texture to the summer landscape.

Spotlights from the Shelf: Bees

Posted in From the Library on June 26 2017, by Samantha D’Acunto

Samantha D’Acunto is the Reference Librarian at The New York Botanical Garden‘s LuEsther T. Mertz Library.


Photo of Bee & MeHere at the LuEsther T. Mertz Library we consider bees our friends, and you should too! If you’re a bit unsure of having a friendship with a bee, let us try to convince you with the newest titles in our circulating children’s collection. In the titles featured below, you’ll be able to read about all the wonderful things bees have to offer to us and our environment, making them the most generous friends!

Bee & Me by Alison Jay (2016)

Bee & Me is a delightful story of friendship, environment and the plight of the honeybee. This wordless picture book captures the relationship between a girl and a bee in a series of delicately illustrated pages. A disoriented bee finds itself in the center of a city and flies into the room of a little girl. After their chaotic encounter, the little girl befriends the bee. The two spend time sharing food, playing games, and exploring the city together. When Bee is reminded of the home he no longer has, he is suddenly struck with melancholy. In an attempt to cheer Bee up, the little girl takes Bee to visit a park where there are plenty of trees, flowers, and open space! Overjoyed by this discovery, Bee thanks the little girl by helping her plant a window garden of his favorite flowers so when they bloom, he’ll be there to visit.

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