Inside The New York Botanical Garden


Tending Our Trees at NYBG

Posted in Horticulture on December 17 2019, by Matt Newman

Keeping our trees healthy—many of which are more than a hundred years old—means careful inspection and, when necessary, removal of dead or damaged limbs. This important work ensures our trees’ longevity and keeps everyone safe. See how our high-climbing arborists do it, and how the wood that results nurtures other plants in the Garden’s living collections. 

Daffodils of Every Shape and Shade

Posted in What's Beautiful Now on April 24 2019, by Plant Talk

Right now, cherries and crabapples paint the skies with pinks and purples while the daffodils of our One Million Daffodils initiative paint the ground in glorious swaths of yellows, creams, pinks, and oranges. Here you can see the unique color progression of Narcissus ‘Chromacolor’ as it matures from macaroni orange, to soft peach, to electric coral. Explore the slides to see more of our daffodil collection and the diverse expressions of beauty it offers, and don’t miss this outdoor spectacle as it reaches its peak this weekend on Daffodil Hill and in the Liasson Narcissus Collection!

Daffodil Diversity

Daffodil Diversity
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The Life of a Labeler

Posted in Horticulture on September 13 2017, by Kristine Paulus

Kristine Paulus is NYBG’s Plant Records Manager and Becky Thorp is the Senior Plant Recorder. They are responsible for maintaining the records of the Garden’s living collections.

Lush green lawns, majestic trees, and artfully designed flower gardens may be the first thing visitors notice when they arrive at NYBG, but as a botanical garden, our mission goes well beyond the creation of a beatiful landscape. For 125 years, NYBG has served as a cultural and educational institution where anyone can learn about horticulture and botany. One of the simplest and most effective ways we carry out this part of our mission is through the documentation, tracking, and labeling of plants. Just as visitors to an art museum learn to tell a Titian from a Twombly by reading display labels next to each work, botanical garden-goers learn to differentiate a tulip from a trillium by looking at plant labels.

Various plant labels from NYBG's history.

Every aspect of labeling the garden’s tens of thousands of plants, including research, database work, production, and placement of labels in the landscape, is managed by the Plant Records Department.

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The Writer’s Garden

Posted in From the Library on September 26 2016, 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 Writer's GardenThe Writer’s Garden: How gardens inspired our best-loved authors drew my eye even before I realized that this new book is from Jackie Bennett, the author of 2016’s Shakespeare’s Gardens (which I reviewed here). Once I realized the authors were one and the same, I knew I was in for a treat.

With photographs by Richard Hanson, Writer’s Garden is a very thoughtful and lovely book. Bennett explores the gardens and estates of 19 authors in the United Kingdom. The authors themselves—English, Irish, Scottish, or American by birth—left their marks in the form of their gardens on the British landscape. Bennett is an engaging tour-guide through the landscapes that shaped their works, inspired their art, and became their homes. Using an individual’s garden as a way of telling his or her story is indeed a popular device. At The New York Botanical Garden, there have been several garden-wide exhibitions around this theme. Most recently, FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life in 2015, which followed Monet’s Garden of 2012, Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers of 2010, and Darwin’s Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure of 2009.

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A Weed by Any Other Name

Posted in Horticulture on August 16 2016, by Kristine Paulus

Kristine Paulus is NYBG’s Plant Records Manager. She is responsible for the curation of The Lionel Goldfrank III Computerized Catalog of the Living Collections. She manages nomenclature standards and the plant labels for all exhibitions, gardens, and collections, while coordinating with staff, scientists, students, and the public on all garden-related plant information.

Pontederia cordataThere are some words that gardeners would rather eradicate from their lexicon. “Weed” is one of them, whether a noun or a verb. Although the definition of weed is subject to debate (some define it as any plant growing where it’s not wanted, therefore a rose growing in a cabbage patch might be considered a weed), and can have multiple meanings (such as a widow’s mourning garments, but that’s a discussion for another time), most people think of a weed as a plant with little value.

So when is a weed not a weed? Many common names for plants include the word “weed” and are often associated with plants that we consider nuisances like bindweed or knotweed. However, quite a few likeable plants, such as native plants and those that are beneficial to pollinators, also contain the word “weed” in their name. Botanists and horticulturists tend to avoid the use of common names because they cause confusion. These vernacular terms vary by region and culture but also the same word can be used for multiple species. Since plants have only one botanical name accepted around the world, it’s a much more accurate term.

So which “weeds” are keepers?

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Turf Care Tips from the Experts

Posted in Horticulture on August 1 2016, by Matthew Cook

Matthew Cook is the Manager for Arboretum & Grounds at The New York Botanical Garden.

Tulip Tree Allée

Maintaining a healthy lawn through the unrelenting heat of summer isn’t easy. As with any other plant or plant community, stress increases susceptibility to diseases and reduces the ability to recover from injury. High daytime heat, as well as warm overnight temperatures provide more than enough additional stress to negatively impact your turf. Below are just a few steps that can help your lawn get through the summer.

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The Corpse Flower: A Decade in the Making

Posted in Horticulture on July 29 2016, by Marc Hachadourian

Marc Hachadourian is the Director of The New York Botanical Garden’s Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections.

Corpse FlowerAs a kid growing up in Northern New Jersey I was fascinated with biology and the diversity of nature. The idea of plants that catch and devour insects, trees thousands of years old reaching up like sky scrapers, and plants developing an army of vicious spines as defense was irresistible. I read as much as I could find about strange and unusual plants. I distinctly remember seeing an illustration and a description about a plant with a flower as large as a human, one that took ages to reach blooming size, smelled like rotting flesh, and looked like it came from outer space—it all seemed too wild to be true.

The blooming of Amorphophallus titanum has been one of the “holy grails” of botanical garden horticulture since the first plants were coaxed into bloom by gardeners nearly a century ago. First recorded by science in 1878, I can only imagine what botanists thought upon seeing the inflorescence for the first time. Anyone who has seen reports or images of the plant in flower would agree these plants look more like photographic trickery than reality. Often described as a “once in a lifetime event,” it is no wonder that when a plant of the Corpse Flower blooms it creates a sensation, with people flocking to see it with their own eyes.

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On Peonies & Patience

Posted in Horticulture on June 22 2016, by Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan is the Vice President for Landscape, Gardens and Outdoor Collections. He oversees the care, presentation, and development of the outdoor gardens and landscape management of the Garden’s 250 outdoor acres.

Matelich Anniversary Peony CollectionIf you visit the Garden this summer and walk down Perennial Garden Way to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, you will find a tidy planting bed that runs parallel to the roadway, edged with a short iron wicket fence and filled with robust perennials. If you were lucky enough to find yourself walking here three to four weeks ago, around Memorial Day, you would have been immersed in the flowers of the newly renovated Matelich Anniversary Peony Collection.

Now in its second growing season, this collection of herbaceous peonies, Paeonia lactiflora, showcases the fragrant pink, white, red, and coral blossoms of one of the most popular garden plants and cut flowers.

The tradition of growing herbaceous peonies near the Conservatory dates back to the early 1900s, when peonies were grown in double borders along pathways surrounding the elegant glasshouse.

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Spring Bulb Basics: NYBG Experts Answer FAQs

Posted in Horticulture on April 4 2016, by Joyce Newman

Joyce H. Newman is an environmental journalist and teacher. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden.

Daffodil HillTwo bulb experts, Michael Hagen, Curator of the Rock Garden and Native Plant Garden, and Marta McDowell, NYBG instructor, author, gardener, and landscape historian, recently commented on some frequently asked questions about the gorgeous spring bulbs now blossoming in the garden . Here’s what they had to say.

Q: What are some of the easiest spring/early summer bulbs to grow?

McDowell: Narcissus seem to be almost indestructible and with so many varieties, you can have them in bloom for almost two months. Other choices: Crocosmia—graceful in leaf and flower and blackberry lily (Iris domestica or Belamcanda chinensis). Great foliage, flowers, and seed pods.

Q: What are some of the most difficult bulbs to grow, aside from climate issues?

Hagen: Climate aside, the hardest to grow are the ones that our native ground squirrels, chipmunks, woodchucks, and gophers enjoy eating. Species tulips have been a particular challenge in the Rock Garden. If it’s a warm fall (and the chipmunks are not hibernating yet) they can be dug up and eaten right after they’ve been planted.

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From the Library: The Manual of Interior Plantscaping

Posted in From the Library on February 4 2016, 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.

Manual of Interior PlantscapingThe Manual of Interior Plantscaping: A Guide to Design, Installation, and Maintenance is the newest book from Kathy Fediw and her first with Timber Press. Fediw has over 30 years of experience in the world of interior plantscaping, working as a consultant, author, and speaker. She is quite prolific, and has carved out a niche as a purveyor of information for those in the interior plantscaping business and those who are considering moving into the field.

In the preface for Manual, Fediw writes, “It is my hope that this book will be a bridge between the design community and the horticulture community, so we can all work together to make plants a part of our every day lives.” To this end, Manual promises to show readers how to design different types of interior plantscapes including atriums, indoor gardens, green walls, potted office plants, color bowls, dish gardens, and terrariums—in 296 pages, no less.

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