Inside The New York Botanical Garden

LuEsther T. Mertz Library

Book Review: Montana’s Pioneer Botanists

Posted in From the Library on August 17 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.


Montana's Pioneer Botanists, edited by Rachel Potter and Peter LesicaMontana’s Pioneer Botanists: Exploring the Mountains and Prairies is a new book from editors Rachel Potter and Peter Lesica, with an introduction by Jack Nisbet.

Montana’s Pioneer Botanists, a collection of biographies of regional botanists working in Montana, is the type of book that I really enjoy. Collections like this are essential for documenting and remembering important regional workers while sharing their legacy with the world. As is the case with other books of this ilk, some of the figures profiled in Montana’s Pioneer Botanists are known to a wider audience (Meriwether Lewis, for example), while others are beloved local heroes. In his introduction, Nisbet writes, “The subjects here hold a keen awareness of those who came before them, lending a strong sense of continuity to the entire project.” This continuity travels beyond Montana documenting ties between Montana botanists and the wider world, including the New York Botanical Garden. For example, botanist Robert Statham Williams (1859-1945) collected plants in Montana for years before joining the New York Botanical Garden in 1899. John Leiberg (1853-1913), another botanist profiled in this work, was a correspondent of Elizabeth Britton throughout his career.

In an excellent earlier review of this work, Dr. Patricia Holmgren, Director Emerita of New York Botanical Garden Herbarium, wrote: “Hear ye, hear ye! Librarians, botanists, herbarium curators, historians, book aficionados! You are going to love Montana’s Pioneer Botanists, a gold mine of information about botanical exploration in Montana, beginning with indigenous people and ending with Klaus Lackschewitz (1911-1995).” Indeed, this book, although very specific in its focus, does have wide appeal for anyone who is interested in botany, history, or biography. Dr. Holmgren’s review also includes mention of some of the interesting anecdotes within this text, one involving NYBG’s own Elizabeth Britton. My singular disappointment with this book, not a criticism of the editors but of the history of science more generally, is that only two women are profiled within the thirty-one essays in this work. As the editors included biographies only for scientists who are deceased, this is cited as the reason for the imbalance.

Thanks are due to Potter and Lesica for completing this work. It’s an excellent addition to the library’s collections at NYBG, and will hopefully serve as inspiration for others to accomplish future projects of this nature.

Children’s Books Explore the Power of Community

Posted in From the Library on August 4 2017, by Samantha D’Acunto

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


The LuEsther T. Mertz Library will like to share the newest titles to our circulating children’s collection. The featured titles below are extraordinary examples of community efforts and what can truly be accomplished when we work together. Communities can take shape in a variety of ways so whatever your community looks like and wherever it is located, these titles will surely inspire you to build upon the strengths of your friends and neighbors to help make a difference in your community. From our community to yours, we hope you enjoy these titles the next time you visit us in the library!

The Flower Man by Mark LudyThe Flower Man by Mark Ludy

The Flower Man is a wordless picture book that invites readers to follow a small elderly man as he travels from town to town bringing color and happiness to everyone he encounters. A simple garden or a single flower can bring joy to all; The Flower Man does just that! Author Mark Ludy is sending a clear message: investing in the beautification of your neighborhood with color, flowers and greenery will directly benefit the residence and visitors, leading to a friendlier and healthier environment.

As each page begins to fill with color readers may find a smile is hard to contain. Ludy’s intentional use of color is meant to elicit emotion and it is certainly successful! From monochrome to a full color palette readers will experience a transformation like no other. Look carefully as you turn each page as the intricate details of the town should not be overlooked. The neighborhood pictured is home to many nameless characters that offer themselves to the imagination of an observant reader. The Flower Man was an instant favorite amongst the LuEsther T. Mertz Library staff and I believe it will continue to be for many years to come. We’re inviting all readers of all reading levels to experience the colorful world of The Flower Man! This title is available for check out for library cardholders. Hope to see you in the library!

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Small Treasures in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library

Posted in From the Library on March 17 2017, by Jane Lloyd

Jane Lloyd is a volunteer in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden.


Thuya-Lodge-bookplate-by-Jane-Lloyd-December-2016[1]As I huffed and puffed my way up that steep path from the road to Thuya Garden high on the hillside near Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine, I thought that this time curiosity about the books in the Rare Book Room of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library had taken me too far. That day in July 2016 was blisteringly hot and I was sweaty and thirsty. But there it was at last, a rustic board-and-batten house with a porch, appearing out of the forest of evergreen trees and shrubs at the end of the stone path. It looked just like the drawing on the bookplates I’d found in two books in the Mertz Library.

Joseph Henry Curtis (1846-1928) began to summer at Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island on the Maine coast in the 1870’s and later he bought a property on the slope of a mountain near Northeast Harbor, becoming one of the first summer residents of a growing summer colony of wealthy families. Curtis spent the rest of his life turning his property into a mountainside park, building a trail with granite stairways and scenic lookouts ascending the steep slope to a board-and-batten cottage that he named Thuya Lodge after the local white cedar tree, Thuja occidentalis. In 1905 Curtis created a trust to maintain his estate as a public trust for the local community; when he died his friend Charles Savage became director of the trust.

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Visiting a Summer Shakespeare Garden

Posted in Horticulture on August 25 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.


LiliesRosemallowcreditLarryBoes-headerDedicated 100 years ago in 1916 (on the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death), the Central Park Shakespeare Garden is one of the best Shakespeare gardens in the world. It was fully restored by the Central Park Conservancy in 1987 and is a great local getaway for plant and poetry lovers.

Landscape designers Bruce Kelly and David Varnell, hired by the Conservancy, expanded the area to four acres—repaving paths, adding lovely bronze plaques with Shakespeare quotations, and installing rustic fences and wooden benches (recently replaced by the Conservancy with newer versions).

The basic footprint of the garden has remained the same since the 1987 restoration, says the Conservancy’s Senior Gardener, Larry Boes. When he became the gardener in 2008, he moved several of the Shakespeare plaques to locations where he could actually grow the plants mentioned.

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Books for a Greener World this Earth Day

Posted in From the Library, Learning Experiences, Shop/Book Reviews on April 21 2016, by Samantha D’Acunto

In celebration of Earth Day, the LuEsther T. Mertz Library would like to acknowledge the march toward greener living. Two recent publications, held by the Mertz Library, highlight the collective and collaborative effort towards a greener world.


Greening Libraries by Monika Antonelli and Mark McCullough. Library Juice Press, 2012.
Greening Libraries
by Monika Antonelli and Mark McCullough.
Library Juice Press, 2012.

Greening Libraries edited by
Monika Antonelli & Mark McCullough

Greening Libraries is a compilation of essays and case studies surveying the different ways libraries are environmentally sustainable through design, outreach, and programming. Libraries in many ways have always been sustainable, but now libraries are trying to work alongside the community for a bigger and greener impact and Greening Libraries provides a peek into what libraries around the country are implementing to inspire change around them. Whether libraries are renovating their branches to comply with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) requirements, providing educational programming, or building partnerships with local organizations that work toward greening their city, these essays highlight importance of the library being at the forefront of the green movement.

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Book Review: A Beautiful Way to Introduce Children to Reading & Nature

Posted in Children's Education, From the Library, Shop/Book Reviews on March 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.


B is for Bear by Hannah Viano
B is for Bear by Hannah Viano

B is for Bear is the newest addition to the Mertz Library’s collection of juvenile literature*. This is the third book from paper artist Hannah Viano, who has also written the books S is for Salmon: A Pacific Northwest Alphabet and Arrow to Alaska: A Pacific Northwest Adventure.

B is for Bear is an alphabet book featuring plants, animals, and other ecological features in North America. The illustrations were created by cutting away black paper “to reveal the essential shapes and lines” of the elements of nature profiled by Viano. The “revealed” areas were then filled in digitally with subdued pastels. The result is simply beautiful. Examples of Viano’s work, including several illustrations from B is for Bear, can be seen on her website.

Upon opening the book, the reader sees one letter to a page, with the exception of “A” and “Z,” which bookend the collection with two-page spreads. Viano picks an eclectic set of organisms and concepts to illustrate, which makes reading the text unpredictable, echoing the adventures promised by the outside world. Each page includes an uppercase and lowercase letter in the upper left corner. The associated word, all in capital letters, appears in the upper right corner. An illustration dominates the central part of the page which finishes with a short, factual sentence about the plant, animal, or natural phenomenon depicted.

Because of its format and beauty, B is for Bear is appropriate for readers of varying ages. Very young readers might use the text to learn the alphabet, while slightly older readers—the young and the young at heart—can use the book to learn interesting facts about the natural world. This is a children’s book with artistic sensibilities, dedicated to “all of those who let children run a little wild” and appealing to all who are looking for a reason to be lured into an outdoor adventure.

*This collection circulates to Members and Volunteers

Bring Botanical History into Your Home with NYBG and Surface View

Posted in Shop/Book Reviews on February 25 2016, by Lansing Moore

‘Dreer’s Large Flowering’ Chromolithograph from Dreer’s Garden Book, Seventy-fourth Annual Edition, 1912 New York Botanical Garden Surface View
‘Dreer’s Large Flowering’ Chromolithograph from Dreer’s Garden Book, Seventy-fourth Annual Edition, 1912

Once again, we have delved into the Rare Book Collection of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library and brought out a new way to appreciate its exquisite array of botanical, architectural, and horticultural works of art. NYBG is proud to announce the launch of Surface View’s New York Botanical Garden Collection.

Surface View retrieves images from archival sources, which are then digitally remastered, retaining their unique character yet achieving the finest image quality, and then prints them onto a range of home decor. From hand-drawn botanical studies to aged seed packets and incredible insect illustrations, customers select the specifications and a size to perfectly suit any space. Bursting with vibrant floral imagery, this collection can be transformed into beautiful artworks and unique interior decorations by using the Surface View website to experiment with rescaling and cropping the imagery to create a thoroughly contemporary feel.

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Book Review: Selecting ‘The Indestructibles’

Posted in From the Library, Shop/Book Reviews on February 22 2016, by Lansing Moore

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 Indestructible Houseplant by Tovah Martin. Timber Press
The Indestructible Houseplant by Tovah Martin. Timber Press, 2015. 288 pages, 160 color photos. Softcover. $22.95. ISBN: 9781604695014

The staff of the Plant Information Office in the Mertz Library are always excited to see a new book from Tovah Martin. Martin has written over a dozen gardening books, drawing from her 25 years of gardening experience to craft classics as well as new favorites. The Library has eighteen books authored or coauthored by Martin, and this month we have added her newest work—The Indestructible Houseplant from Timber Press—to our collection. The Indestructible Houseplant was written for beginners, but experienced gardeners will also enjoy the beauty and advice contained in this well-crafted volume.

Martin starts The Indestructible Houseplant with an accessible yet lyrical introduction that welcomes the “window-sill gardener wannabes,” telling them that this book is for them. Martin promises to help readers overcome obstacles—cost, time, light/environment—and develop their own “lush and verdant” interior paradises. Martin writes about her home gardening environment and then moves into practical guidelines for understanding limitations of indoor space, including selecting and placing containers. Here, too, her prose is crisp, accessible, and practical; Martin even includes a section about her selection process for plants to profile, addressing the omission of some historic houseplant favorites, such as flowering maples, Abutilon cultivars.

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Inaugural Symposium Launches the Humanities Institute

Posted in From the Library on July 10 2014, by Vanessa Sellers

Peggy Rockefeller Rose GardenOn June 20, 2014, The New York Botanical Garden’s renowned LuEsther T. Mertz Library, directed by Susan Fraser, officially opened its new humanities division, coordinated by Vanessa B. Sellers.

The Humanities Institute’s inaugural Symposium, Women and the City: From a Landscape Perspective, attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd to the Ross Lecture Hall.

The audience asked insightful questions relating to the topic of women as architects and photographers—a topic linked to the Garden-wide exhibition Groundbreakers. “Cities are the grand challenge of the 21st century, and for over one hundred years women have played a crucial, if under-celebrated, role in shaping and adapting our urban spaces,” explained Thaisa Way (University of Washington, Seattle). This award-winning landscape historian moderated the fascinating morning session that featured four experts in landscape scholarship and practice, including Susannah Drake (Founding Principal, dlandstudio, Brooklyn), Sonja Dümpelmann (Harvard Graduate School of Design), Linda Jewell (University of California Berkeley), and Mary Woods (Cornell University).

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