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cornellplantations.org

1


DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE

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—Liberty Hyde Bailey

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

All great institutions start with a great vision.

Plantations News Class of ’60 Garden / Decoursey Stairs

4

Cascadilla Gorge Repairs / Natural Areas Academy

5

On Notice on Earth Day

6

Judy’s Day Traditions in Schools

6

Public Garden Leadership Fellows

7

An Inviting Legacy: the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center

8

Puzzling out New Gardens

10

Features Cultivating Smart Water Use in the Garden by Katherine Karlson

12

A Bevy of Bulbs by Mary Hirshfeld

18

Representing the Living World in the Face of Climate Change by Lynn Purdon Yenkey

20

Become a Bird Gardener by Lynn Purdon Yenkey 25 Plantations Wish List

26

Verdant Views is published by Cornell Plantations: the botanical gardens, arboretum, and natural areas of Cornell University. Send inquiries about Cornell Plantations or Verdant Views to the following address or email:

Liberty Hyde Bailey, whose vision for Cornell Plantations still leads us today, at his desk in the Hortorium at Sage Place in the early 1950s.

Cornell Plantations Cornell University One Plantations Road Ithaca, NY 14850-2799

E-mail: plantations@cornell.edu

Telephone: 607-255-2400 Web: cornellplantations.org

Cornell University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action educator and employer. Cover: View of the Robison Herb Garden from the Mullestein Hillside Garden, Lynn Purdon Yenkey Printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. 8/10 2200 GPP

2

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Bailey Photo: Courtesy of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium, Department of Plant Biology, Cornell University. Photos: Historic Arboretum, Plantations Archives; Arboretum present day, Jon Reis Photography.

“So long as the sun shines and the fields are green we shall go to nature for our inspiration and our release; and our need is the greater with every increasing complexity of our lives.”

In the case of Cornell Plantations, that inspiration was provided in 1944 by Liberty Hyde Bailey, who proclaimed, “In the idea behind this project, we have at Cornell a new type of botanical garden. This is not a botanical garden and arboretum that is merely an adjunct to a department that teaches botany. It is far broader in its purpose. It is a project set up by ‘the friends of things that grow’ to unify into one organic whole a series of enterprises that are based on the land.” Bailey was—in addition to being an outstanding horticulturist, writer, and administrator—also a true visionary. He looked at the hills and bowls spread out to the east of the Cornell campus and imagined them as a botanical quilt of “wild, of economic, and of ornamental plants.” He conceived of how this enterprise would serve “the wider service of man” by providing a venue for research, for study, and for pleasure. And he named this new undertaking Cornell Plantations. But could even Bailey have envisioned all that Plantations has become today? His modest goal for a botanical study area has evolved into an amalgam of fifteen distinct collections, including the nationally recognized Robison York State Herb Garden and Mullestein Winter Garden. What were once cow pastures east of Caldwell Road are now the setting for the 125-acre F. R. Newman Arboretum, and Bailey’s desire for the study of wild plants is amply met with the nearly 4,000 acres of natural areas on, near, and distant from campus. Additionally, Plantations’ education programs provide learning opportunities for people of all ages in the study of all things natural. The particulars are certainly grander than what Bailey had laid out, but in our essence Plantations adheres perfectly to his concept of a single organic entity providing for every form of botanical, horticultural, or ecological study. Later this year, we will dedicate the Cornell Plantations Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center, and in its lobby will be an exhibit case devoted to the life and achievements of Liberty Hyde Bailey. Plantations owes much to this giant of a man, but the deeper truth is that we owe our continued growth and development to many people— staff, faculty, alumni, and community members who have understood and appreciated this green enterprise and who have committed to it with their intellect, effort, and financial support. With this issue of Verdant Views, Cornell Plantations launches a publication with the intent to respect the scholarly richness of our history while addressing contemporary challenges in managing everything from forests to our home gardens. Mindful that many of our most ardent supporters live many miles from our green home, we will pepper each issue with updates on our programs, capital projects, and outreach efforts. Our hope is that this and future issues will provide each reader with a sense of how Bailey’s vision continues to be nurtured by Plantations, and how each of you can contribute to its further growth.

In the F. R. Newman Arboretum, grazing cows in the early 20th century have been replaced by wandering visitors and a stunning collection of trees, shrubs, and perennials.

Donald A. Rakow, The Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director, Cornell Plantations cornellplantations.org

3


DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE

XXXXXX: XXXXXXX

—Liberty Hyde Bailey

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

All great institutions start with a great vision.

Plantations News Class of ’60 Garden / Decoursey Stairs

4

Cascadilla Gorge Repairs / Natural Areas Academy

5

On Notice on Earth Day

6

Judy’s Day Traditions in Schools

6

Public Garden Leadership Fellows

7

An Inviting Legacy: the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center

8

Puzzling out New Gardens

10

Features Cultivating Smart Water Use in the Garden by Katherine Karlson

12

A Bevy of Bulbs by Mary Hirshfeld

18

Representing the Living World in the Face of Climate Change by Lynn Purdon Yenkey

20

Become a Bird Gardener by Lynn Purdon Yenkey 25 Plantations Wish List

26

Verdant Views is published by Cornell Plantations: the botanical gardens, arboretum, and natural areas of Cornell University. Send inquiries about Cornell Plantations or Verdant Views to the following address or email:

Liberty Hyde Bailey, whose vision for Cornell Plantations still leads us today, at his desk in the Hortorium at Sage Place in the early 1950s.

Cornell Plantations Cornell University One Plantations Road Ithaca, NY 14850-2799

E-mail: plantations@cornell.edu

Telephone: 607-255-2400 Web: cornellplantations.org

Cornell University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action educator and employer. Cover: View of the Robison Herb Garden from the Mullestein Hillside Garden, Lynn Purdon Yenkey Printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. 8/10 2200 GPP

2

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Bailey Photo: Courtesy of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium, Department of Plant Biology, Cornell University. Photos: Historic Arboretum, Plantations Archives; Arboretum present day, Jon Reis Photography.

“So long as the sun shines and the fields are green we shall go to nature for our inspiration and our release; and our need is the greater with every increasing complexity of our lives.”

In the case of Cornell Plantations, that inspiration was provided in 1944 by Liberty Hyde Bailey, who proclaimed, “In the idea behind this project, we have at Cornell a new type of botanical garden. This is not a botanical garden and arboretum that is merely an adjunct to a department that teaches botany. It is far broader in its purpose. It is a project set up by ‘the friends of things that grow’ to unify into one organic whole a series of enterprises that are based on the land.” Bailey was—in addition to being an outstanding horticulturist, writer, and administrator—also a true visionary. He looked at the hills and bowls spread out to the east of the Cornell campus and imagined them as a botanical quilt of “wild, of economic, and of ornamental plants.” He conceived of how this enterprise would serve “the wider service of man” by providing a venue for research, for study, and for pleasure. And he named this new undertaking Cornell Plantations. But could even Bailey have envisioned all that Plantations has become today? His modest goal for a botanical study area has evolved into an amalgam of fifteen distinct collections, including the nationally recognized Robison York State Herb Garden and Mullestein Winter Garden. What were once cow pastures east of Caldwell Road are now the setting for the 125-acre F. R. Newman Arboretum, and Bailey’s desire for the study of wild plants is amply met with the nearly 4,000 acres of natural areas on, near, and distant from campus. Additionally, Plantations’ education programs provide learning opportunities for people of all ages in the study of all things natural. The particulars are certainly grander than what Bailey had laid out, but in our essence Plantations adheres perfectly to his concept of a single organic entity providing for every form of botanical, horticultural, or ecological study. Later this year, we will dedicate the Cornell Plantations Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center, and in its lobby will be an exhibit case devoted to the life and achievements of Liberty Hyde Bailey. Plantations owes much to this giant of a man, but the deeper truth is that we owe our continued growth and development to many people— staff, faculty, alumni, and community members who have understood and appreciated this green enterprise and who have committed to it with their intellect, effort, and financial support. With this issue of Verdant Views, Cornell Plantations launches a publication with the intent to respect the scholarly richness of our history while addressing contemporary challenges in managing everything from forests to our home gardens. Mindful that many of our most ardent supporters live many miles from our green home, we will pepper each issue with updates on our programs, capital projects, and outreach efforts. Our hope is that this and future issues will provide each reader with a sense of how Bailey’s vision continues to be nurtured by Plantations, and how each of you can contribute to its further growth.

In the F. R. Newman Arboretum, grazing cows in the early 20th century have been replaced by wandering visitors and a stunning collection of trees, shrubs, and perennials.

Donald A. Rakow, The Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director, Cornell Plantations cornellplantations.org

3


PLANTATIONS NEWS: PROGRAM AREA UPDATES

(left and right) Repairs under way on the Cascadilla Gorge Trail.

Class of ’60 Garden

The DeCoursey Stairs

Cascadilla Gorge Trail Repairs

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

This season, the dramatic stone staircase funded by Patricia DeCoursey, class of 1954, and designed and built by our landscape construction team in spring 2009, will receive its completing touches. The staircase provides an essential connection for visitors traveling between the arboretum and the test garden, and gives access to the Morgan Smith trail. It is simple yet dramatic, composed of massive slabs of bluestone that curve gracefully down the steep hillside. Local artist Durand VanDoren designed and fabricated a botanically themed wrought iron railing, which will be installed along the western edge of the stairs, embellishing them with a supporting handhold. A wide planting strip alongside the railing will be filled with witchhazels (Hamamelis x intermedia) of varying

Chinese dogwood (Cornus kousa)

shades of yellow and burnt orange. The planting area is quite steep and poses an interesting challenge to the process of getting plants and deer fencing up the hill and into place. Large rugged boulders will punctuate the planting strip adjacent to the major staircase landing. A multiple-stemmed Chinese dogwood (Cornus kousa) planted behind them along the woodland edge will soften the stones with its horizontal branches and richly colored exfoliating bark. An existing group of Chinese dogwoods near the top of the stairs will be augmented to provide a dramatic floral display in early summer, when their horizontal branches are laden with tiers of four-bracted white flowers. l Mary Hirshfeld, Director of Horticulture

Photos: Class of ’60 Garden, Jon Reis; Decoursey Stairs, Beth Anderson; Dogwood, Lynn Purdon Yenkey.

We have opened up the view and added a variety of new plants of varying heights to provide the garden with a richer palette of flowering shrubs. Selections include blue-flowered Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’ and creamy white ‘Blushing Bride’, both with large, rounded heads of flowers that bloom on new wood and therefore perform nicely even if they sustain winter damage. Low edging plants include the everblooming, diminutive Buddleja ‘Blue Chip’ and several color selections of the Oso Easy™ series of landscape roses. Two small-statured, everblooming lilacs, ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ and ‘Tinkerbelle’, provide enclosure from Tower Road traffic. To finalize the renovation, a variety of colorful perennials have been added in a shaded planting bed just east of the benches.

Photos: Cascadilla gorge repair, Todd Bittner; Natural Areas Academy tour, Jeremy Jungels.

Class officers and volunteers gathered to rededicate the class of ’60 Garden during Reunion in June.

Plantations director Don Rakow, Pat DeCoursey ’54, and landscape construction crew leader John Dawson at the newly built DeCoursey Stairs.

The Class of 1960 has provided a gift in honor of longtime class president Susan Phelps Day to enrich and diversify their Tower Road garden in celebration of their 50th reunion this year. Since its original installation in 1990, the campus landscape surrounding the garden has become much more intensely cultivated and complex, making the simple, more urban plantings in the garden look out of place. Initially the garden plantings emphasized enclosure, providing a quiet site where benches could be sheltered from the bustle of traffic on Tower Road and the open spaces to either side. Now that the landscape west of the garden has been highly developed into a colorful garden and soothing waterfall, we felt it would be nice to create a view from the Class of 1960 Garden toward this new feature. 4

PLANTATIONS NEWS: PROGRAM AREA UPDATES

Efforts are now under way to repair and eventually reopen the Cascadilla Gorge Trail, one of Ithaca’s and Cornell’s most cherished landscapes. Cascadilla Gorge has been closed for the past year due to unsafe conditions. Cornell provided an allocation of $500,000 last year, and again for the 2010-11 fiscal year, for repairs. Work began in the spring to replace hand rails, restore stairs, install fencing, and repair other identified safety hazards. Posted “Trail Closed” signs remind visitors that portions of the trail are extremely dangerous. Cascadilla Gorge was originally preserved and donated to Cornell University by Robert H. Treman in 1909 for public use, education, and enjoyment. Initially constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the gorge trail system ascends 400 feet from downtown Ithaca to the

Cornell campus, and currently totals 7,800 feet in length. Plantations manages Cascadilla Gorge and is committed to protecting the natural area, providing for its ongoing educational use, and supporting safe public recreation and enjoyment in the gorge.

Natural Areas Academy On a beautiful, early spring day, Plantations’ new Natural Areas Academy welcomed 25 participants eager to learn more about preserving the integrity of the natural world. The academy is designed to offer an engaged, educational experience through monthly workshops, field trips, and hands-on volunteer stewardship projects. Experience gained will prepare participants for proactive and independent conservation roles and to become mentors in the Plantations natural areas program.

After an initial orientation about Plantations, the Natural Areas Academy program, and additional volunteer and educational opportunities, participants can attend workshops scheduled into the fall. Topics include preserve monitoring, invasive species management, trail maintenance, native seed collection, and Hemlock Woolly Adelgid monitoring. Academy members will participate as volunteers to gain additional firsthand experience while assisting in the management of Plantations’ natural areas. As part of his Master’s program, Jeremy Jungels, a Public Garden Leadership fellow, solicited feedback from participants to gauge their reactions to the academy and workshops, and to better refine opportunities and expectations. Responses to date have been highly positive, and the academy is off to a great start! For more information, please visit www.cornellplantations.org/naa. l Todd Bittner, Director of Natural Areas

Natural areas director Todd Bittner leads a field trip of Natural Areas Academy participants. cornellplantations.org

5


PLANTATIONS NEWS: PROGRAM AREA UPDATES

(left and right) Repairs under way on the Cascadilla Gorge Trail.

Class of ’60 Garden

The DeCoursey Stairs

Cascadilla Gorge Trail Repairs

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

This season, the dramatic stone staircase funded by Patricia DeCoursey, class of 1954, and designed and built by our landscape construction team in spring 2009, will receive its completing touches. The staircase provides an essential connection for visitors traveling between the arboretum and the test garden, and gives access to the Morgan Smith trail. It is simple yet dramatic, composed of massive slabs of bluestone that curve gracefully down the steep hillside. Local artist Durand VanDoren designed and fabricated a botanically themed wrought iron railing, which will be installed along the western edge of the stairs, embellishing them with a supporting handhold. A wide planting strip alongside the railing will be filled with witchhazels (Hamamelis x intermedia) of varying

Chinese dogwood (Cornus kousa)

shades of yellow and burnt orange. The planting area is quite steep and poses an interesting challenge to the process of getting plants and deer fencing up the hill and into place. Large rugged boulders will punctuate the planting strip adjacent to the major staircase landing. A multiple-stemmed Chinese dogwood (Cornus kousa) planted behind them along the woodland edge will soften the stones with its horizontal branches and richly colored exfoliating bark. An existing group of Chinese dogwoods near the top of the stairs will be augmented to provide a dramatic floral display in early summer, when their horizontal branches are laden with tiers of four-bracted white flowers. l Mary Hirshfeld, Director of Horticulture

Photos: Class of ’60 Garden, Jon Reis; Decoursey Stairs, Beth Anderson; Dogwood, Lynn Purdon Yenkey.

We have opened up the view and added a variety of new plants of varying heights to provide the garden with a richer palette of flowering shrubs. Selections include blue-flowered Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’ and creamy white ‘Blushing Bride’, both with large, rounded heads of flowers that bloom on new wood and therefore perform nicely even if they sustain winter damage. Low edging plants include the everblooming, diminutive Buddleja ‘Blue Chip’ and several color selections of the Oso Easy™ series of landscape roses. Two small-statured, everblooming lilacs, ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ and ‘Tinkerbelle’, provide enclosure from Tower Road traffic. To finalize the renovation, a variety of colorful perennials have been added in a shaded planting bed just east of the benches.

Photos: Cascadilla gorge repair, Todd Bittner; Natural Areas Academy tour, Jeremy Jungels.

Class officers and volunteers gathered to rededicate the class of ’60 Garden during Reunion in June.

Plantations director Don Rakow, Pat DeCoursey ’54, and landscape construction crew leader John Dawson at the newly built DeCoursey Stairs.

The Class of 1960 has provided a gift in honor of longtime class president Susan Phelps Day to enrich and diversify their Tower Road garden in celebration of their 50th reunion this year. Since its original installation in 1990, the campus landscape surrounding the garden has become much more intensely cultivated and complex, making the simple, more urban plantings in the garden look out of place. Initially the garden plantings emphasized enclosure, providing a quiet site where benches could be sheltered from the bustle of traffic on Tower Road and the open spaces to either side. Now that the landscape west of the garden has been highly developed into a colorful garden and soothing waterfall, we felt it would be nice to create a view from the Class of 1960 Garden toward this new feature. 4

PLANTATIONS NEWS: PROGRAM AREA UPDATES

Efforts are now under way to repair and eventually reopen the Cascadilla Gorge Trail, one of Ithaca’s and Cornell’s most cherished landscapes. Cascadilla Gorge has been closed for the past year due to unsafe conditions. Cornell provided an allocation of $500,000 last year, and again for the 2010-11 fiscal year, for repairs. Work began in the spring to replace hand rails, restore stairs, install fencing, and repair other identified safety hazards. Posted “Trail Closed” signs remind visitors that portions of the trail are extremely dangerous. Cascadilla Gorge was originally preserved and donated to Cornell University by Robert H. Treman in 1909 for public use, education, and enjoyment. Initially constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the gorge trail system ascends 400 feet from downtown Ithaca to the

Cornell campus, and currently totals 7,800 feet in length. Plantations manages Cascadilla Gorge and is committed to protecting the natural area, providing for its ongoing educational use, and supporting safe public recreation and enjoyment in the gorge.

Natural Areas Academy On a beautiful, early spring day, Plantations’ new Natural Areas Academy welcomed 25 participants eager to learn more about preserving the integrity of the natural world. The academy is designed to offer an engaged, educational experience through monthly workshops, field trips, and hands-on volunteer stewardship projects. Experience gained will prepare participants for proactive and independent conservation roles and to become mentors in the Plantations natural areas program.

After an initial orientation about Plantations, the Natural Areas Academy program, and additional volunteer and educational opportunities, participants can attend workshops scheduled into the fall. Topics include preserve monitoring, invasive species management, trail maintenance, native seed collection, and Hemlock Woolly Adelgid monitoring. Academy members will participate as volunteers to gain additional firsthand experience while assisting in the management of Plantations’ natural areas. As part of his Master’s program, Jeremy Jungels, a Public Garden Leadership fellow, solicited feedback from participants to gauge their reactions to the academy and workshops, and to better refine opportunities and expectations. Responses to date have been highly positive, and the academy is off to a great start! For more information, please visit www.cornellplantations.org/naa. l Todd Bittner, Director of Natural Areas

Natural areas director Todd Bittner leads a field trip of Natural Areas Academy participants. cornellplantations.org

5


PLANTATIONS NEWS: PROGRAM AREA UPDATES

PLANTATIONS NEWS: PROGRAM AREA UPDATES

Public Garden Leadership Fellows As summer began, the Public Garden Leadership program ended for our second-year fellows, Barbara Conolly and Erin Marteal. Before graduating, Barbara and Erin each completed their required action projects on an issue of importance to the public garden community and presented their findings at the annual American Public Garden Association Conference.

Judy’s Day Traditions in Schools

ON NOTICE: PEOPLE WHO TRASH THE GORGES In April, a crew from Plantations and the Cornell student group Friends of the Gorges (FOG) took a humorous approach to their Earth Day display on Ho Plaza in the center of campus, invoking the popular comedian Steven Colbert’s “On Notice” act, which calls out egregious transgressions by groups or individuals. A truck full of trash that volunteers collected the week before from Cascadilla and Fall Creek Gorges made clear who was on notice and why. FOG members spoke to students about how to get involved, and through their work have received pledges from several fraternities to keep our gorges clean. FOG members Curt Ganeles (left) and and Noelle Chaine (right) are shown amid the displayed refuse.

6

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Last fall, Plantations celebrated Judy’s Day Traditions: Journey the World through Plants, a festive family event held in the F. R. Newman Arboretum. After the event, the displays and activities were retooled for community events and school programming. We were extremely busy this past fall and winter bringing Judy’s Day programs to nine area schools, reaching 590 children. More than 400 additional students and community members shared in activities at several Cornell and area events. For our work with younger children, we brought old tools used to grow and process corn in the 1800s to local schools. Students guessed what the tools were for and used them as they learned about corn in North America. One teacher commented, “Helping kids know where their food

comes from is so important. Thank you so much for making this goal so fun.” Our “Beans around the World” activity was a popular request from kindergarten teachers. Students learned about bean origins, and made a bean germinating book. One teacher commented that the program “reignited my science studies.” Another favorite program was “A Hint of Japanese Way,” for fifth graders. Students were honored guests in an authentic tea ceremony preformed by Sheela Kingsbury, a Plantations volunteer. The teacher said even her most active boys were entranced by it. Another Judy’s Day exhibit, the “Mexican Day of the Dead Altar,” was reused in the lobby of Ithaca’s new charter school, New Roots. Students in the art and Spanish classes told us it was an engaging and fun way to learn about Mexican

Photos: Earth Day, University Photography; Day of the Dead Altar, Raylene Ludgate.

Mexican Day of the Dead Altar at the New Roots charter school in Ithaca.

Photos: Lucky Shamrock, Carol Grove; Public Garden Leadership Fellows, University Photography.

Ireland’s Lucky Shamrock exhibit at the Mann Library

culture. Our popular chocolate exhibit and activities also traveled to a Trumansburg high school Spanish class. While learning about the ancient history of chocolate in Mesoamerica, students used an authentic metate and mano to grind chocolate nibs and made frothy hot chocolate. For the local, poetry-themed Kids Book Fest, Plantations gardener Diane Miske designed a “Japanese Chrysanthemum Festival” exhibit with chrysanthemum haiku. “Ireland’s Lucky Shamrock” exhibit was brought to the busy lobby in Cornell’s Mann Library on St. Patrick’s Day. Students voted on which of six plants was the true Irish shamrock based on surveys done in Ireland in 1893 and 1988. “Gourds—A Global Tradition” was featured as a session in the Hands-on Horticulture class and also offered as a public adult class. “Your programs were very child-centered and provided not only enjoyment but fine learning to the children,” is how one teacher summed it up. These programs could not have made this impact without the special funding provided by both the SIRUS Fund and Saquish Foundation, and the many Judy’s Day volunteers who made it come alive in the schools! l Raylene Ludgate, Youth Education Coordinator

N. Barbara Conolly

Understanding Marketing Investment at U.S. Public Gardens Public gardens in the United States face many of the same opportunities and challenges other nonprofits do. Among these are making sure that money is spent on the most effective and efficient ways to meet the organization’s mission. With this in mind, I set out to determine how public gardens measure marketing performance. Through a review of current literature, interviews with public garden leaders, and surveys of 50 organizations, my study focused on ways in which public gardens can measure and improve marketing effectiveness. I identified the presence of essential organizational conditions as the key influences on a public garden organization’s satisfaction in its ability to increase awareness of the garden and increase annual visitation rates. These include having adequate information on which to base marketing decisions and a senior management that is supportive of marketing effectiveness measures.

I found that the marketing strategies most important to public garden directors and marketing personnel are public relations and advertising. My recommendation is to begin with the organization’s mission, understanding both its inherent financial and nonfinancial goals, and then establish marketing objectives that balance both effectiveness and efficiency to meet those needs. I also outlined a five-step approach to developing a program that decision makers within public gardens can use to measure marketing performance. Once known, these measurements will help garden leaders more quickly and effectively choose their marketing strategies and understand the value of their marketing investments. l

Erin Marteal

Reaching Out to Schools: Lessons Learned from Four U.S. Public Gardens Hands-on learning, student interest, and fun may be more important than affordability in teachers’ decisions to participate in an

educational program, suggest the results from my recent study. My project aimed to identify which factors drive teacher participation and the roles they play in teachers’ decisions to participate in public garden education programs. Public gardens, facing the timeless call to be open, accessible, and also relevant to their audience, are looking for and finding ways to engage their local public in education, beyond display, interpretation, and tours. A significant method they are using is involving area schools in educational programs. Public gardens are actively serving tens of thousands of school children annually. Partnerships with schools can be mutually beneficial, meeting the needs of the schools’ learning objectives while providing the public garden with an accessible audience, and a source of budding environmentalists and potential future garden advocates. While the importance of engaging schools is recognized in the public garden arena, many of them remain unaware of what drives school participation in their education programs. To identify this, I partnered with four large U.S. public gardens to survey teachers of pre-kindergarten through grade twelve, and interviewed school program leaders at each garden. My results suggest that communication, outreach, and professional development are the most important factors in teachers’ decision-making l cornellplantations.org

7


PLANTATIONS NEWS: PROGRAM AREA UPDATES

PLANTATIONS NEWS: PROGRAM AREA UPDATES

Public Garden Leadership Fellows As summer began, the Public Garden Leadership program ended for our second-year fellows, Barbara Conolly and Erin Marteal. Before graduating, Barbara and Erin each completed their required action projects on an issue of importance to the public garden community and presented their findings at the annual American Public Garden Association Conference.

Judy’s Day Traditions in Schools

ON NOTICE: PEOPLE WHO TRASH THE GORGES In April, a crew from Plantations and the Cornell student group Friends of the Gorges (FOG) took a humorous approach to their Earth Day display on Ho Plaza in the center of campus, invoking the popular comedian Steven Colbert’s “On Notice” act, which calls out egregious transgressions by groups or individuals. A truck full of trash that volunteers collected the week before from Cascadilla and Fall Creek Gorges made clear who was on notice and why. FOG members spoke to students about how to get involved, and through their work have received pledges from several fraternities to keep our gorges clean. FOG members Curt Ganeles (left) and and Noelle Chaine (right) are shown amid the displayed refuse.

6

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Last fall, Plantations celebrated Judy’s Day Traditions: Journey the World through Plants, a festive family event held in the F. R. Newman Arboretum. After the event, the displays and activities were retooled for community events and school programming. We were extremely busy this past fall and winter bringing Judy’s Day programs to nine area schools, reaching 590 children. More than 400 additional students and community members shared in activities at several Cornell and area events. For our work with younger children, we brought old tools used to grow and process corn in the 1800s to local schools. Students guessed what the tools were for and used them as they learned about corn in North America. One teacher commented, “Helping kids know where their food

comes from is so important. Thank you so much for making this goal so fun.” Our “Beans around the World” activity was a popular request from kindergarten teachers. Students learned about bean origins, and made a bean germinating book. One teacher commented that the program “reignited my science studies.” Another favorite program was “A Hint of Japanese Way,” for fifth graders. Students were honored guests in an authentic tea ceremony preformed by Sheela Kingsbury, a Plantations volunteer. The teacher said even her most active boys were entranced by it. Another Judy’s Day exhibit, the “Mexican Day of the Dead Altar,” was reused in the lobby of Ithaca’s new charter school, New Roots. Students in the art and Spanish classes told us it was an engaging and fun way to learn about Mexican

Photos: Earth Day, University Photography; Day of the Dead Altar, Raylene Ludgate.

Mexican Day of the Dead Altar at the New Roots charter school in Ithaca.

Photos: Lucky Shamrock, Carol Grove; Public Garden Leadership Fellows, University Photography.

Ireland’s Lucky Shamrock exhibit at the Mann Library

culture. Our popular chocolate exhibit and activities also traveled to a Trumansburg high school Spanish class. While learning about the ancient history of chocolate in Mesoamerica, students used an authentic metate and mano to grind chocolate nibs and made frothy hot chocolate. For the local, poetry-themed Kids Book Fest, Plantations gardener Diane Miske designed a “Japanese Chrysanthemum Festival” exhibit with chrysanthemum haiku. “Ireland’s Lucky Shamrock” exhibit was brought to the busy lobby in Cornell’s Mann Library on St. Patrick’s Day. Students voted on which of six plants was the true Irish shamrock based on surveys done in Ireland in 1893 and 1988. “Gourds—A Global Tradition” was featured as a session in the Hands-on Horticulture class and also offered as a public adult class. “Your programs were very child-centered and provided not only enjoyment but fine learning to the children,” is how one teacher summed it up. These programs could not have made this impact without the special funding provided by both the SIRUS Fund and Saquish Foundation, and the many Judy’s Day volunteers who made it come alive in the schools! l Raylene Ludgate, Youth Education Coordinator

N. Barbara Conolly

Understanding Marketing Investment at U.S. Public Gardens Public gardens in the United States face many of the same opportunities and challenges other nonprofits do. Among these are making sure that money is spent on the most effective and efficient ways to meet the organization’s mission. With this in mind, I set out to determine how public gardens measure marketing performance. Through a review of current literature, interviews with public garden leaders, and surveys of 50 organizations, my study focused on ways in which public gardens can measure and improve marketing effectiveness. I identified the presence of essential organizational conditions as the key influences on a public garden organization’s satisfaction in its ability to increase awareness of the garden and increase annual visitation rates. These include having adequate information on which to base marketing decisions and a senior management that is supportive of marketing effectiveness measures.

I found that the marketing strategies most important to public garden directors and marketing personnel are public relations and advertising. My recommendation is to begin with the organization’s mission, understanding both its inherent financial and nonfinancial goals, and then establish marketing objectives that balance both effectiveness and efficiency to meet those needs. I also outlined a five-step approach to developing a program that decision makers within public gardens can use to measure marketing performance. Once known, these measurements will help garden leaders more quickly and effectively choose their marketing strategies and understand the value of their marketing investments. l

Erin Marteal

Reaching Out to Schools: Lessons Learned from Four U.S. Public Gardens Hands-on learning, student interest, and fun may be more important than affordability in teachers’ decisions to participate in an

educational program, suggest the results from my recent study. My project aimed to identify which factors drive teacher participation and the roles they play in teachers’ decisions to participate in public garden education programs. Public gardens, facing the timeless call to be open, accessible, and also relevant to their audience, are looking for and finding ways to engage their local public in education, beyond display, interpretation, and tours. A significant method they are using is involving area schools in educational programs. Public gardens are actively serving tens of thousands of school children annually. Partnerships with schools can be mutually beneficial, meeting the needs of the schools’ learning objectives while providing the public garden with an accessible audience, and a source of budding environmentalists and potential future garden advocates. While the importance of engaging schools is recognized in the public garden arena, many of them remain unaware of what drives school participation in their education programs. To identify this, I partnered with four large U.S. public gardens to survey teachers of pre-kindergarten through grade twelve, and interviewed school program leaders at each garden. My results suggest that communication, outreach, and professional development are the most important factors in teachers’ decision-making l cornellplantations.org

7


WATER

PLANTATIONS NEWS: WELCOME CENTER UPDATE

PLANTATIONS NEWS: WELCOME CENTER UPDATE

ENERGY

Since beginning last August, construction on Cornell Plantations’ new Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center and surrounding landscape has progressed swiftly toward its fall 2010 opening. During last fall and early winter, a sketch of steel beams began taking shape against Comstock Knoll, and the site of the former International Crop and Weed Garden began to be transformed into a new parking area, tree-lined arrival plaza, and lushly planted bioswale. By mid-spring, the building tucked in among the white pines had solidified into its distinguishing shape clad in stone and glass, and trees were being planted. There is much work yet to be done before the doors open, but we are eager to share these wonderful new indoor and outdoor spaces with you. We are planning several dedication and open house events, and as completion approaches we will be inviting you to join these celebrations.

Who was Brian C. Nevin? Plantations’ new welcome center is named for Brian C. Nevin, Class of 1950, at the request of C. Sherwood “Woody” Southwick, his business partner and the major donor for the building project. Woody and Brian were best known to many in the Ithaca area for the 32 years that they operated Brianwood Antiques. Early in his career, Brian worked in landscaping and developed a lifelong love of gardening. Woody and Brian were also especially fond of and skilled at historic home renovation. 8

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Later in life, Brian and Woody often brought their out-of-town guests to tour the gardens at Cornell Plantations. Of all the great places to visit in Ithaca, Plantations was Brian’s favorite— particularly the groundcover collection. Woody supported many local nonprofits and served on the boards of directors for Ithacare, the Tompkins County SPCA, and the History Center. Brian died in 1999, and Woody passed away in 2006, leaving most of his estate as a gift to Cornell Plantations for the construction of a permanent building in memory of Brian.

To achieve the internationally recognized LEED certification, buildings are scored in six categories:

MATERIALS HEALTH

A Preview At the groundbreaking ceremony, Plantations director Don Rakow said, “Plantations has long needed a single site where we can greet visitors, provide them with orientation and interpretation about our history and collections, and meet visitor amenity needs.” The Nevin Welcome Center will fulfill this dream with a design that wraps our sustainability and educational goals around the unique topography and character of the botanical garden. Visitors arriving by car, bicycle, or on foot will first encounter the shady Dallas Tree Plaza, which will include orientation and interpretive displays. A short walk will bring them into the Nevin Welcome Center, where they will find a two-story atrium and reception area, fully accessible restrooms, a gift shop, and a small café. The life and influence of Liberty Hyde Bailey will be detailed in one of the first indoor displays. Seasonally, visitors will be able to relax outdoors on a shaded plaza in view of the gardens.

The 100-seat Ten-Eyck Room upstairs will expand our ability to host educational and outreach programs, especially since it can be divided to accommodate two meetings or classes. A wall of glass will open onto a small terrace and the plateau on the knoll, so programs and events can continue there. On the east end of the center, a 10-seat conference room will overlook the botanical garden. The center will be fully accessible, and for the first time in Plantations’ history, visitors with limited mobility will be able to access the Bowers Rhododendron Collection on Comstock Knoll.

LEED-ing Green Practices The Nevin Welcome Center was designed to achieve gold certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Achieving LEED recognition advances Plantations’ goals to be

Rendering: Baird Sampson Neuert Architects; Aerial photo: Jon Reis Photography; In-floor hydronic heating tubes, Luke Brown, Welliver McGuire; Solar collectors: Lynn Purdon Yenkey.

An Inviting Legacy: the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center

How is LEED Status Determined?

LEED Features of the Nevin Welcome Center

Sustainable Sites: Minimizes impact on ecosystems and waterways. Uses regionally appropriate landscaping and smart transportation choices. Controls stormwater runoff and reduces erosion. Reduces light and construction-related pollution. Avoids contributing to a heat island effect. Water Efficiency: Encourages smarter use of water inside and out. Reduces the use of potable water through more efficient appliances, fixtures, and fittings inside, and water-wise landscaping outside.

A construction worker installs hydronic tubes that will supply in-floor heat. Winter heat will be supplemented by energy from evacuated tube solar collectors (shown at right), a feature contributing to the building’s LEED certification.

more green and sustainable in its operations. The building will also showcase our environmental stewardship efforts. According to the USBGC, LEED status demonstrates that a building uses “strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.” The center’s integrated design is guided by principles for sustainability in the use of energy, water, and materials that support the health of people and the environment. l

Energy and Atmosphere: Employs and monitors a wide variety of energy strategies—efficient design and construction; efficient appliances, systems, and lighting; renewable and clean sources of energy generated on-site or off-site. Materials and Resources: Uses sustainably grown, harvested, produced, and transported products and materials. Reduces waste and encourages reuse and recycling. Environmental Indoor Quality: Activates strategies that improve indoor air quality, provide access to natural daylight and views, and improve acoustics. Innovation and Design: Bonus credits are given to projects that use new and innovative technologies and strategies beyond other LEED requirements, and reward the inclusion of a LEED-accredited professional on the project team. Information compiled from “What LEED Measures,” U.S. Green Building Council, www.usgbc.org.

Energy

• Being built into the slope of Comstock Knoll will help naturally insulate and moderate building temperatures. • Evacuated tube solar collectors will provide approximately 40–60 percent of winter heating and also assist with summer cooling. • The building’s orientation takes advantage of sunlight for year-round natural lighting and solar heating in winter. • Wood louvers will provide external solar control: winter light will pass through them and warm the space; in summer they’ll shade the interior. • A green roof planted with sedums will mitigate the heat island effect that built environments can create. • Natural ventilation will assist cooling and reduce energy costs.

Water

• Sedum plants and special soil on the green roof will capture rainwater and slow runoff. • Silt, salt, and gravel will be filtered out of storm runoff and snow melt by a 15,000-square-foot bioswale planted with perennials, grasses, and trees.

Materials

• Regional products, like New York bluestone, are used indoors and outside. • The Ipe hardwood façade is durable and sustainably harvested. • Low emissivity double glass will control heat transfer through the windows and help reduce energy costs. • Interior materials use 30 percent recycled content.

Health

• Interior finishes and sealants use low- to no-volatile organic compounds. • Durable interior finishes are locally sourced. • Large windows and skylights optimize daylight. • Natural ventilation helps keep indoor air cleaner.

cornellplantations.org

9


WATER

PLANTATIONS NEWS: WELCOME CENTER UPDATE

PLANTATIONS NEWS: WELCOME CENTER UPDATE

ENERGY

Since beginning last August, construction on Cornell Plantations’ new Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center and surrounding landscape has progressed swiftly toward its fall 2010 opening. During last fall and early winter, a sketch of steel beams began taking shape against Comstock Knoll, and the site of the former International Crop and Weed Garden began to be transformed into a new parking area, tree-lined arrival plaza, and lushly planted bioswale. By mid-spring, the building tucked in among the white pines had solidified into its distinguishing shape clad in stone and glass, and trees were being planted. There is much work yet to be done before the doors open, but we are eager to share these wonderful new indoor and outdoor spaces with you. We are planning several dedication and open house events, and as completion approaches we will be inviting you to join these celebrations.

Who was Brian C. Nevin? Plantations’ new welcome center is named for Brian C. Nevin, Class of 1950, at the request of C. Sherwood “Woody” Southwick, his business partner and the major donor for the building project. Woody and Brian were best known to many in the Ithaca area for the 32 years that they operated Brianwood Antiques. Early in his career, Brian worked in landscaping and developed a lifelong love of gardening. Woody and Brian were also especially fond of and skilled at historic home renovation. 8

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Later in life, Brian and Woody often brought their out-of-town guests to tour the gardens at Cornell Plantations. Of all the great places to visit in Ithaca, Plantations was Brian’s favorite— particularly the groundcover collection. Woody supported many local nonprofits and served on the boards of directors for Ithacare, the Tompkins County SPCA, and the History Center. Brian died in 1999, and Woody passed away in 2006, leaving most of his estate as a gift to Cornell Plantations for the construction of a permanent building in memory of Brian.

To achieve the internationally recognized LEED certification, buildings are scored in six categories:

MATERIALS HEALTH

A Preview At the groundbreaking ceremony, Plantations director Don Rakow said, “Plantations has long needed a single site where we can greet visitors, provide them with orientation and interpretation about our history and collections, and meet visitor amenity needs.” The Nevin Welcome Center will fulfill this dream with a design that wraps our sustainability and educational goals around the unique topography and character of the botanical garden. Visitors arriving by car, bicycle, or on foot will first encounter the shady Dallas Tree Plaza, which will include orientation and interpretive displays. A short walk will bring them into the Nevin Welcome Center, where they will find a two-story atrium and reception area, fully accessible restrooms, a gift shop, and a small café. The life and influence of Liberty Hyde Bailey will be detailed in one of the first indoor displays. Seasonally, visitors will be able to relax outdoors on a shaded plaza in view of the gardens.

The 100-seat Ten-Eyck Room upstairs will expand our ability to host educational and outreach programs, especially since it can be divided to accommodate two meetings or classes. A wall of glass will open onto a small terrace and the plateau on the knoll, so programs and events can continue there. On the east end of the center, a 10-seat conference room will overlook the botanical garden. The center will be fully accessible, and for the first time in Plantations’ history, visitors with limited mobility will be able to access the Bowers Rhododendron Collection on Comstock Knoll.

LEED-ing Green Practices The Nevin Welcome Center was designed to achieve gold certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Achieving LEED recognition advances Plantations’ goals to be

Rendering: Baird Sampson Neuert Architects; Aerial photo: Jon Reis Photography; In-floor hydronic heating tubes, Luke Brown, Welliver McGuire; Solar collectors: Lynn Purdon Yenkey.

An Inviting Legacy: the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center

How is LEED Status Determined?

LEED Features of the Nevin Welcome Center

Sustainable Sites: Minimizes impact on ecosystems and waterways. Uses regionally appropriate landscaping and smart transportation choices. Controls stormwater runoff and reduces erosion. Reduces light and construction-related pollution. Avoids contributing to a heat island effect. Water Efficiency: Encourages smarter use of water inside and out. Reduces the use of potable water through more efficient appliances, fixtures, and fittings inside, and water-wise landscaping outside.

A construction worker installs hydronic tubes that will supply in-floor heat. Winter heat will be supplemented by energy from evacuated tube solar collectors (shown at right), a feature contributing to the building’s LEED certification.

more green and sustainable in its operations. The building will also showcase our environmental stewardship efforts. According to the USBGC, LEED status demonstrates that a building uses “strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.” The center’s integrated design is guided by principles for sustainability in the use of energy, water, and materials that support the health of people and the environment. l

Energy and Atmosphere: Employs and monitors a wide variety of energy strategies—efficient design and construction; efficient appliances, systems, and lighting; renewable and clean sources of energy generated on-site or off-site. Materials and Resources: Uses sustainably grown, harvested, produced, and transported products and materials. Reduces waste and encourages reuse and recycling. Environmental Indoor Quality: Activates strategies that improve indoor air quality, provide access to natural daylight and views, and improve acoustics. Innovation and Design: Bonus credits are given to projects that use new and innovative technologies and strategies beyond other LEED requirements, and reward the inclusion of a LEED-accredited professional on the project team. Information compiled from “What LEED Measures,” U.S. Green Building Council, www.usgbc.org.

Energy

• Being built into the slope of Comstock Knoll will help naturally insulate and moderate building temperatures. • Evacuated tube solar collectors will provide approximately 40–60 percent of winter heating and also assist with summer cooling. • The building’s orientation takes advantage of sunlight for year-round natural lighting and solar heating in winter. • Wood louvers will provide external solar control: winter light will pass through them and warm the space; in summer they’ll shade the interior. • A green roof planted with sedums will mitigate the heat island effect that built environments can create. • Natural ventilation will assist cooling and reduce energy costs.

Water

• Sedum plants and special soil on the green roof will capture rainwater and slow runoff. • Silt, salt, and gravel will be filtered out of storm runoff and snow melt by a 15,000-square-foot bioswale planted with perennials, grasses, and trees.

Materials

• Regional products, like New York bluestone, are used indoors and outside. • The Ipe hardwood façade is durable and sustainably harvested. • Low emissivity double glass will control heat transfer through the windows and help reduce energy costs. • Interior materials use 30 percent recycled content.

Health

• Interior finishes and sealants use low- to no-volatile organic compounds. • Durable interior finishes are locally sourced. • Large windows and skylights optimize daylight. • Natural ventilation helps keep indoor air cleaner.

cornellplantations.org

9


PLANTATIONS NEWS: WELCOME CENTER UPDATE

PLANTATIONS NEWS: WELCOME CENTER UPDATE

Puzzling out New Gardens

10

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Peonies from the beloved Peony and Perennial Garden are safe and thriving in our Plant Production Facility until their new garden is funded and installed. This is the proposed site plan for new gardens to be developed over the next several years in front of the Nevin Welcome Center, bringing back the favorite peonies and perennials within a new landscape. These new gardens will be installed as funding permits.

Director of horticulture Mary Hirshfeld (left) and plant records specialist Sarah McNaull planting the filter strip next to the new parking area.

Young trees and perennials at the Plant Production Facility, ready for planting near the new welcome center parking area.

Photos: Lynn Purdon Yenkey; Rendering: Irene Lekstutis.

With construction of the Nevin Welcome Center well under way, what was once the Peony Garden and International Crop and Weed Garden is now bare ground surrounded by a chain link fence. But what appears to be a barren construction zone to most is actually a puzzle of exciting new planting opportunities. And now with the parking lot, Dallas Tree Plaza, and bioswale roughed in, the puzzle theme is beginning to emerge. In spring, we began planting areas associated with the new arrival plaza and bioswale. One of these activities was planting the bermed area between the new parking lot and Plantations Road, which will screen the lot from the road and continue the theme of Conifer Slope, which extends down from Kienzle Overlook. Here we have an opportunity to round out the collection with deciduous conifers, including species and cultivars of bald cypress (Taxodium), dawn redwood (Metasequouia), and larch (Larix). Several evergreen species, including Serbian and Oriental spruces (Picea), will provide visual continuity with the mostly evergreen Conifer Slope. These plantings will bolster the screening during winter, when they will associate nicely with the bright red persistent fruits of the hawthorns, Crataegus ‘Winter King’. The Dallas Tree Plaza will be shaded by a bosquet of Katsura trees (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), a favorite at Plantations. The heartshaped, scalloped leaves emerge red in spring and mature to a lovely bluish green by summer.

New Gardens on the Horizon

In autumn the leaves turn a soft apricot, and, as they senesce, give off the aroma of burnt sugar. Having such a kaleidoscope of color throughout the growing seasons will be a beautiful welcome to visitors arriving at Plantations. The bioswale and associated filter strip planting will function together to capture and treat runoff from the parking area. Water will first flow through the filter strip planting, then be piped into the bioswale, where it will be held until gradually percolating into the soil. A row of maples (Acer x freemanii ‘Jeffersred’ Autumn Blaze®) will screen the parking area from the welcome center. These will be under-

planted with a matrix of grasses and flowering perennials, including the lovely prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), Aster ‘Radon’s Favorite’, bluestar (Amsonia hubrectii), and the coneflower Echinacea ‘Merlot’, which blooms with wide pink-red flowers. The bioswale planting is the largest and most time consuming on this season’s docket, and we anticipate it continuing into the autumn months. Small-statured trees such as American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) and hop hornbeam (Ostrya virginica) will create vertical structure in the swale, and combine with shrubs that include winterberry

(Ilex verticillata), northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin), and chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’). Long sinuous drifts of warm and cool season ornamental grasses will provide the foundation for a community of moist-tolerant flowering perennials chosen to provide color and texture through the seasons. Bold architectural plants such as Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum) and bluestar will provide stunning accents with the softer, less structured perennials. Much of the plant material for the swale is already in hand in our Plant Production Facility. Planting the gardens closest to the welcome center will begin after all construction is complete. These will be the last pieces of the planting puzzle. We’ll first lay out the gardens’

bones, siting the structural plantings of trees and shrubs. Some of our favorite flowering trees will be planted along the entry drive close to the center, including Sargent’s cherry (Prunus sargentii), dogwood (Cornus kousa ‘Milky Way’), and Korean mountain ash (Sorbus alnifolia). Shrubs new to our collection will include Fothergilla ‘Red Licorice’ and Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’. Eventually these will welcome visitors with their sweet and spicy floral scents. With all these planting projects, this year is busier time usual for Plantations’ gardening and other staff who will be joining the team effort to plant the berm, filter strip, and bioswale. Here’s hoping the weather cooperates! l Mary Hirshfeld, Director of Horticulture cornellplantations.org

11


PLANTATIONS NEWS: WELCOME CENTER UPDATE

PLANTATIONS NEWS: WELCOME CENTER UPDATE

Puzzling out New Gardens

10

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Peonies from the beloved Peony and Perennial Garden are safe and thriving in our Plant Production Facility until their new garden is funded and installed. This is the proposed site plan for new gardens to be developed over the next several years in front of the Nevin Welcome Center, bringing back the favorite peonies and perennials within a new landscape. These new gardens will be installed as funding permits.

Director of horticulture Mary Hirshfeld (left) and plant records specialist Sarah McNaull planting the filter strip next to the new parking area.

Young trees and perennials at the Plant Production Facility, ready for planting near the new welcome center parking area.

Photos: Lynn Purdon Yenkey; Rendering: Irene Lekstutis.

With construction of the Nevin Welcome Center well under way, what was once the Peony Garden and International Crop and Weed Garden is now bare ground surrounded by a chain link fence. But what appears to be a barren construction zone to most is actually a puzzle of exciting new planting opportunities. And now with the parking lot, Dallas Tree Plaza, and bioswale roughed in, the puzzle theme is beginning to emerge. In spring, we began planting areas associated with the new arrival plaza and bioswale. One of these activities was planting the bermed area between the new parking lot and Plantations Road, which will screen the lot from the road and continue the theme of Conifer Slope, which extends down from Kienzle Overlook. Here we have an opportunity to round out the collection with deciduous conifers, including species and cultivars of bald cypress (Taxodium), dawn redwood (Metasequouia), and larch (Larix). Several evergreen species, including Serbian and Oriental spruces (Picea), will provide visual continuity with the mostly evergreen Conifer Slope. These plantings will bolster the screening during winter, when they will associate nicely with the bright red persistent fruits of the hawthorns, Crataegus ‘Winter King’. The Dallas Tree Plaza will be shaded by a bosquet of Katsura trees (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), a favorite at Plantations. The heartshaped, scalloped leaves emerge red in spring and mature to a lovely bluish green by summer.

New Gardens on the Horizon

In autumn the leaves turn a soft apricot, and, as they senesce, give off the aroma of burnt sugar. Having such a kaleidoscope of color throughout the growing seasons will be a beautiful welcome to visitors arriving at Plantations. The bioswale and associated filter strip planting will function together to capture and treat runoff from the parking area. Water will first flow through the filter strip planting, then be piped into the bioswale, where it will be held until gradually percolating into the soil. A row of maples (Acer x freemanii ‘Jeffersred’ Autumn Blaze®) will screen the parking area from the welcome center. These will be under-

planted with a matrix of grasses and flowering perennials, including the lovely prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), Aster ‘Radon’s Favorite’, bluestar (Amsonia hubrectii), and the coneflower Echinacea ‘Merlot’, which blooms with wide pink-red flowers. The bioswale planting is the largest and most time consuming on this season’s docket, and we anticipate it continuing into the autumn months. Small-statured trees such as American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) and hop hornbeam (Ostrya virginica) will create vertical structure in the swale, and combine with shrubs that include winterberry

(Ilex verticillata), northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin), and chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’). Long sinuous drifts of warm and cool season ornamental grasses will provide the foundation for a community of moist-tolerant flowering perennials chosen to provide color and texture through the seasons. Bold architectural plants such as Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum) and bluestar will provide stunning accents with the softer, less structured perennials. Much of the plant material for the swale is already in hand in our Plant Production Facility. Planting the gardens closest to the welcome center will begin after all construction is complete. These will be the last pieces of the planting puzzle. We’ll first lay out the gardens’

bones, siting the structural plantings of trees and shrubs. Some of our favorite flowering trees will be planted along the entry drive close to the center, including Sargent’s cherry (Prunus sargentii), dogwood (Cornus kousa ‘Milky Way’), and Korean mountain ash (Sorbus alnifolia). Shrubs new to our collection will include Fothergilla ‘Red Licorice’ and Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’. Eventually these will welcome visitors with their sweet and spicy floral scents. With all these planting projects, this year is busier time usual for Plantations’ gardening and other staff who will be joining the team effort to plant the berm, filter strip, and bioswale. Here’s hoping the weather cooperates! l Mary Hirshfeld, Director of Horticulture cornellplantations.org

11


Gardening: using water wisely

Cultivating Smart Water Use in the Garden

Water is a gardener’s most precious commodity, and many gardeners are eagerly adopting proven strategies to collect, contain, and use it efficiently. Xeriscaping or “dry landscaping” practices originated in desert or semi-arid areas, but gardeners in wetter climates are increasingly adopting these techniques to cope with seasonal dry spells, work with pockets of water-poor land, and manage soils to prevent erosion. The drive to create attractive residential or public gardens while maximizing water

by Katherine Karlson

Dense swaths of sun-loving perennials and shrubs cover the Mullestein Hillside Garden at Cornell Plantations. Selections like Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’, Stephanandra incisa ‘Crispa’, Echinacea purpurea, Amsonia tabernaemontana, and varieties of switch grass (Panicum virgatum) stabilize the steep slope and require little supplemental irrigation. 12

Verdant Views Summer/Fall 2010

Photos: Mullestein Hillside Garden, Lynn Purdon Yenkey; Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden, Katherine Karlson.

resources is no longer confined to desert dwellers. In fact, findings in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report, Outdoor Water Use in the United States, suggest that it should be a priority for all American gardeners: a third of residential water use nationwide—more than 7 billion gallons a day—is used to irrigate unsustainable landscapes. Half of that water can be wasted through evaporation, improper system design, and overwatering. Since most home irrigation is likely to come from a municipal water supply, that means fresh potable water is what’s lost. The good news is, “the practices of water conservation and good gardening go hand-in-hand,” says Peter Duncombe, curator of gardens at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, an institution dedicated to educating the southern Nevada community about green gardening and living. The first step is to retain whatever water the heavens send and use creative landscaping to conserve it, according to Brad Lancaster, the Tucson-based author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond. “Capture rain water as close as possible to where it falls, and use it there— slow it, spread it, and sink it.” He advises using a system of healthy soil

and plants to retain water and reduce supplemental irrigation. Collecting rainwater in cisterns and barrels is an economical, time-tested method for watering gardens that is becoming popular again, even in urban areas with ample rainfall. The Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper® organization in New York made sure rain barrels were noticed at this summer’s Garden Walk Buffalo, giving them lots of press and prime placement in some of the most visited stops on the tour of hundreds of home gardens. After thinking about how best to manage their own water sources, gardeners can use any of seven xeriscaping principles creatively to enjoy lush and imaginative spaces and feel good about conserving resources. Considering each of these points can help anyone build a water-wise garden: • • • • • • •

Design Soil analysis Appropriate plant selection Turf planning Efficient irrigation Mulching Maintenance

At the Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden, Southwest native trees, shrubs such as sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri), cacti like the golden barrel (Echinocactus grusonii), and varieties of succulent Agave thrive in southern Nevada’s climate.

Designing to Save Water Planning a garden’s design is paramount, and should include the area’s microclimates, determined in part by sun exposure that affects water loss. “When people pick the plants first, it leads to mistakes. You have to understand the overall aims and aesthetics,” Duncombe explains. He cites limiting turf or finding drought-tolerant grasses or groundcovers as an important component in eliminating water waste. At Cornell Plantations, the Mullestein Hillside Garden does just that, making artful use of the steep hillside that borders the Robison York State Herb Garden. Its dense cover of perennials and grasses holds the soil in place, traps moisture,

and smothers weeds. But anyone who has enjoyed its spring color, summer texture, and bright fall display knows this workhorse of a garden is anything but simply practical.

Shaping Soil to Sustain Plant Life Soil is the basic building block of any garden, but few gardeners inherit the perfect mix of fertile, well-draining ground rich in the specific nutrients that desired plants need. But whether clay-like or sandy, amendments can help give soil the right qualities for what gardeners want to grow. “Adapt the soil to the plant and create the perfect environment for what you want,” says Steve Bowdoin, landscape manager at the

cornellplantations.org

13


Gardening: using water wisely

Cultivating Smart Water Use in the Garden

Water is a gardener’s most precious commodity, and many gardeners are eagerly adopting proven strategies to collect, contain, and use it efficiently. Xeriscaping or “dry landscaping” practices originated in desert or semi-arid areas, but gardeners in wetter climates are increasingly adopting these techniques to cope with seasonal dry spells, work with pockets of water-poor land, and manage soils to prevent erosion. The drive to create attractive residential or public gardens while maximizing water

by Katherine Karlson

Dense swaths of sun-loving perennials and shrubs cover the Mullestein Hillside Garden at Cornell Plantations. Selections like Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’, Stephanandra incisa ‘Crispa’, Echinacea purpurea, Amsonia tabernaemontana, and varieties of switch grass (Panicum virgatum) stabilize the steep slope and require little supplemental irrigation. 12

Verdant Views Summer/Fall 2010

Photos: Mullestein Hillside Garden, Lynn Purdon Yenkey; Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden, Katherine Karlson.

resources is no longer confined to desert dwellers. In fact, findings in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report, Outdoor Water Use in the United States, suggest that it should be a priority for all American gardeners: a third of residential water use nationwide—more than 7 billion gallons a day—is used to irrigate unsustainable landscapes. Half of that water can be wasted through evaporation, improper system design, and overwatering. Since most home irrigation is likely to come from a municipal water supply, that means fresh potable water is what’s lost. The good news is, “the practices of water conservation and good gardening go hand-in-hand,” says Peter Duncombe, curator of gardens at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, an institution dedicated to educating the southern Nevada community about green gardening and living. The first step is to retain whatever water the heavens send and use creative landscaping to conserve it, according to Brad Lancaster, the Tucson-based author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond. “Capture rain water as close as possible to where it falls, and use it there— slow it, spread it, and sink it.” He advises using a system of healthy soil

and plants to retain water and reduce supplemental irrigation. Collecting rainwater in cisterns and barrels is an economical, time-tested method for watering gardens that is becoming popular again, even in urban areas with ample rainfall. The Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper® organization in New York made sure rain barrels were noticed at this summer’s Garden Walk Buffalo, giving them lots of press and prime placement in some of the most visited stops on the tour of hundreds of home gardens. After thinking about how best to manage their own water sources, gardeners can use any of seven xeriscaping principles creatively to enjoy lush and imaginative spaces and feel good about conserving resources. Considering each of these points can help anyone build a water-wise garden: • • • • • • •

Design Soil analysis Appropriate plant selection Turf planning Efficient irrigation Mulching Maintenance

At the Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden, Southwest native trees, shrubs such as sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri), cacti like the golden barrel (Echinocactus grusonii), and varieties of succulent Agave thrive in southern Nevada’s climate.

Designing to Save Water Planning a garden’s design is paramount, and should include the area’s microclimates, determined in part by sun exposure that affects water loss. “When people pick the plants first, it leads to mistakes. You have to understand the overall aims and aesthetics,” Duncombe explains. He cites limiting turf or finding drought-tolerant grasses or groundcovers as an important component in eliminating water waste. At Cornell Plantations, the Mullestein Hillside Garden does just that, making artful use of the steep hillside that borders the Robison York State Herb Garden. Its dense cover of perennials and grasses holds the soil in place, traps moisture,

and smothers weeds. But anyone who has enjoyed its spring color, summer texture, and bright fall display knows this workhorse of a garden is anything but simply practical.

Shaping Soil to Sustain Plant Life Soil is the basic building block of any garden, but few gardeners inherit the perfect mix of fertile, well-draining ground rich in the specific nutrients that desired plants need. But whether clay-like or sandy, amendments can help give soil the right qualities for what gardeners want to grow. “Adapt the soil to the plant and create the perfect environment for what you want,” says Steve Bowdoin, landscape manager at the

cornellplantations.org

13


Gardening: using water wisely

Plants at the Heart of the Water-Wise Garden Appropriate plant, tree, and shrub selection is where the design element of water-smart gardening takes center stage. Bowdoin’s recommendation to gardeners is, “understand what you’re planting. Some homeowners want to take plants out because they consume water, but if you choose plants that survive on oncea-week watering, it’s a better alternative” to too much rock or paving, which reflect heat and speed water runoff. More and more, garden educators and landscapers are advising gardeners to buy locally grown plants, since they have already adapted to a region’s temperature, humidity, and water quality. Mt. Cuba Center in northern Delaware uses a wide range of plants from in and around the Appalachian Piedmont region to create naturalistic but waterstingy gardens. Mt. Cuba’s director, Rick Lewandowski, says, “We use plants that have naturally adapted to stressful conditions in the forest to create layers of color and textures in the garden as the seasons change. When sited properly, 14

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

these plants not only provide great beauty, they require few resources and assist in reducing erosion.” As in natural woodlands, Mt. Cuba’s tulip poplars, oaks, beeches, and other trees contribute leaf litter that becomes a mulch layer, which reduces soil loss, improves its quality, stabilizes the ground, and prevents weed seeds from taking root. Lewandowski adds, “Our woodland gardens have seasonally dry conditions, so we integrate plants that can tolerate shade and variable soil pH conditions.” Among its programs, Mt. Cuba Center focuses on field collection research to discover more drought-tolerant plants, and is currently evaluating shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia), a summer-dormant wildflower native to southeastern states. Following the natural range and distribution of native species, they find individual plants that have adapted to conditions similar to Mt. Cuba’s. For example, the catawba rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense) prefers cooler temperatures, but they have collected ones discovered flourishing at lower elevation in warmer climates. Mt. Cuba also takes a second look at popular plants, such as shadbush (Amelanchier), looking for those that might have adapted to drier conditions.

Rhododendron catawbiense

To Irrigate or Not? Being wise about water use is not about starving your garden. “Drought-tolerant doesn’t mean you deprive plants of water, but you don’t want them to become water junkies, because they won’t develop root systems,” Duncombe explains. The Springs Preserve uses drip irrigation systems and the cycle and soak technique,

an incremental procedure of short, slow watering that allows the ground to absorb all the applied water from each cycle. The system prevents water from running off planted areas and onto paving, where it evaporates or is lost to the sewers. He cautions that even the best irrigation system can waste water if not maintained, and that timer malfunction or battery failure can result in overwatering. With their focus on environmentally responsible practices, Lewandowski says that Mt. Cuba Center makes every effort to capture as much surface water as possible to recharge the local aquifer. “We avoid irrigation if at all possible, except during the establishment phase of planting or to protect rare species when there’s a drought.”

Keeping the Low-Water Garden Strong and Beautiful

Under the tall tulip poplars (Liriodendron tulipifera) of Mt. Cuba Center’s Woods Path, communities of naturally interdependent shrubs and wildflowers flourish with little or no added water or supplements.

Photos: Courtesy of Mt. Cuba Center.

Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden in Las Vegas. His basic soil recipe is one-third native soil, one-third sand, and one-third manure or other source of organic matter. In his work as a residential landscaper, Bowdoin tests the soil before installing new plants, removing turf, or otherwise modifying the environment. Adding organic material like compost enables the soil to hold water without losing valuable nutrients. He notes that sculpting the soil by creating berms and terraces can give a garden greater aesthetic appeal while controlling erosion.

Gardening: using water wisely

Amelanchier canadensis

The team at Mt. Cuba Center seeks out native plants that have adapted to dry conditions, like the catawba rhododendron (above) and shadbush (below), and share their findings with the nursery trade.

Even the most thoughtfully designed water-smart garden requires maintenance, which includes both pest control and fertilization. Using communities of naturally interdependent plants, trees, and shrubs can help limit the use of supplements. Lewandowski notes that Mt. Cuba Center has dramatically reduced pesticide use by maintaining high levels of plant diversity in landscapes appropriate for them. Horticulturists stress proper pruning for plant survival and to conserve water, but when homeowners and even professional landscapers apply the wrong pruning techniques, it can create an unnatural look and contribute to plant decline and early death. Bowdoin credits judicious pruning for having helped his desert garden survive major damage following a rare heavy December snowfall.

Educating Water-Wise Gardeners Both new backyard hobbyists and tomorrow’s garden design leaders can learn and practice methods to help create inviting landscapes that save resources. Many public gardens offer education and outreach programs to share their experiences with native plants and conservative irrigation. According to Lewandowski, once Mt. Cuba Center identifies a new plant population that will grow successfully there, they bring it to the attention of the nursery trade: “We use our public gardens to grow plants that tolerate drought, and teach others how to pick appropriate ones.” At the Springs Preserve, Duncombe says, “Las Vegas’ growth has driven the market to find our own species and bring them back….We do a lot of do-it-yourself education, giving homeowners the technical information that they can use to be specific with a professional landscaper.” Landscape professionals are encouraged to design more responsible gardens through the efforts of the national Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™), which provides guidelines and performance benchmarks. Two locations on the Cornell University campus illustrate this approach, which credits a landscape for use of soil, vegetation, hydrology, materials, and human health and well-being. The new garden at the Mann Library entrance is part of the SITES pilot program, testing the rating system. The Mann Library courtyard is one of its case studies. Both were designed and installed by Cornell landscape architecture and horticulture students in Professors Nina Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge’s course, Creating the Urban Eden, as was the green roof on the Mann terrace. cornellplantations.org

15


Gardening: using water wisely

Plants at the Heart of the Water-Wise Garden Appropriate plant, tree, and shrub selection is where the design element of water-smart gardening takes center stage. Bowdoin’s recommendation to gardeners is, “understand what you’re planting. Some homeowners want to take plants out because they consume water, but if you choose plants that survive on oncea-week watering, it’s a better alternative” to too much rock or paving, which reflect heat and speed water runoff. More and more, garden educators and landscapers are advising gardeners to buy locally grown plants, since they have already adapted to a region’s temperature, humidity, and water quality. Mt. Cuba Center in northern Delaware uses a wide range of plants from in and around the Appalachian Piedmont region to create naturalistic but waterstingy gardens. Mt. Cuba’s director, Rick Lewandowski, says, “We use plants that have naturally adapted to stressful conditions in the forest to create layers of color and textures in the garden as the seasons change. When sited properly, 14

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

these plants not only provide great beauty, they require few resources and assist in reducing erosion.” As in natural woodlands, Mt. Cuba’s tulip poplars, oaks, beeches, and other trees contribute leaf litter that becomes a mulch layer, which reduces soil loss, improves its quality, stabilizes the ground, and prevents weed seeds from taking root. Lewandowski adds, “Our woodland gardens have seasonally dry conditions, so we integrate plants that can tolerate shade and variable soil pH conditions.” Among its programs, Mt. Cuba Center focuses on field collection research to discover more drought-tolerant plants, and is currently evaluating shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia), a summer-dormant wildflower native to southeastern states. Following the natural range and distribution of native species, they find individual plants that have adapted to conditions similar to Mt. Cuba’s. For example, the catawba rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense) prefers cooler temperatures, but they have collected ones discovered flourishing at lower elevation in warmer climates. Mt. Cuba also takes a second look at popular plants, such as shadbush (Amelanchier), looking for those that might have adapted to drier conditions.

Rhododendron catawbiense

To Irrigate or Not? Being wise about water use is not about starving your garden. “Drought-tolerant doesn’t mean you deprive plants of water, but you don’t want them to become water junkies, because they won’t develop root systems,” Duncombe explains. The Springs Preserve uses drip irrigation systems and the cycle and soak technique,

an incremental procedure of short, slow watering that allows the ground to absorb all the applied water from each cycle. The system prevents water from running off planted areas and onto paving, where it evaporates or is lost to the sewers. He cautions that even the best irrigation system can waste water if not maintained, and that timer malfunction or battery failure can result in overwatering. With their focus on environmentally responsible practices, Lewandowski says that Mt. Cuba Center makes every effort to capture as much surface water as possible to recharge the local aquifer. “We avoid irrigation if at all possible, except during the establishment phase of planting or to protect rare species when there’s a drought.”

Keeping the Low-Water Garden Strong and Beautiful

Under the tall tulip poplars (Liriodendron tulipifera) of Mt. Cuba Center’s Woods Path, communities of naturally interdependent shrubs and wildflowers flourish with little or no added water or supplements.

Photos: Courtesy of Mt. Cuba Center.

Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden in Las Vegas. His basic soil recipe is one-third native soil, one-third sand, and one-third manure or other source of organic matter. In his work as a residential landscaper, Bowdoin tests the soil before installing new plants, removing turf, or otherwise modifying the environment. Adding organic material like compost enables the soil to hold water without losing valuable nutrients. He notes that sculpting the soil by creating berms and terraces can give a garden greater aesthetic appeal while controlling erosion.

Gardening: using water wisely

Amelanchier canadensis

The team at Mt. Cuba Center seeks out native plants that have adapted to dry conditions, like the catawba rhododendron (above) and shadbush (below), and share their findings with the nursery trade.

Even the most thoughtfully designed water-smart garden requires maintenance, which includes both pest control and fertilization. Using communities of naturally interdependent plants, trees, and shrubs can help limit the use of supplements. Lewandowski notes that Mt. Cuba Center has dramatically reduced pesticide use by maintaining high levels of plant diversity in landscapes appropriate for them. Horticulturists stress proper pruning for plant survival and to conserve water, but when homeowners and even professional landscapers apply the wrong pruning techniques, it can create an unnatural look and contribute to plant decline and early death. Bowdoin credits judicious pruning for having helped his desert garden survive major damage following a rare heavy December snowfall.

Educating Water-Wise Gardeners Both new backyard hobbyists and tomorrow’s garden design leaders can learn and practice methods to help create inviting landscapes that save resources. Many public gardens offer education and outreach programs to share their experiences with native plants and conservative irrigation. According to Lewandowski, once Mt. Cuba Center identifies a new plant population that will grow successfully there, they bring it to the attention of the nursery trade: “We use our public gardens to grow plants that tolerate drought, and teach others how to pick appropriate ones.” At the Springs Preserve, Duncombe says, “Las Vegas’ growth has driven the market to find our own species and bring them back….We do a lot of do-it-yourself education, giving homeowners the technical information that they can use to be specific with a professional landscaper.” Landscape professionals are encouraged to design more responsible gardens through the efforts of the national Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™), which provides guidelines and performance benchmarks. Two locations on the Cornell University campus illustrate this approach, which credits a landscape for use of soil, vegetation, hydrology, materials, and human health and well-being. The new garden at the Mann Library entrance is part of the SITES pilot program, testing the rating system. The Mann Library courtyard is one of its case studies. Both were designed and installed by Cornell landscape architecture and horticulture students in Professors Nina Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge’s course, Creating the Urban Eden, as was the green roof on the Mann terrace. cornellplantations.org

15


Gardening: using water wisely

GARDENING: USING WATER WISELY AT PLANTATIONS

Bassuk, who serves on the SITES technical committee, says students designed the entrance garden to require no supplemental irrigation after the first year of establishing plants. Facing west, and backed by the library’s stone wall, the garden will endure the full force of afternoon sun, so plants were chosen for their adaptation to dry conditions: selections like Persian ironwood tree (Parrotia persica), St. John’s Wort (Hypericum), various shrubby dogwoods (Cornus), the spreading red cedar (Juniperus virginiana ‘Grey Owl’), and creeping silver willow (Salix arenaria).

(August 2008), United States Environmental Protection Agency www.epa.gov/watersense/docs/ws_outdoor508.pdf

Harvesting Rainwater for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster

techniques that can help, and they’re catching on.

www.harvestingrainwater.com

The Sustainable Sites Initiative www.sustainablesites.org

“Installing a Rain Garden” www.ccealbany.com/documents/ RainGardenHandoutfromrocklandCounty.pdf

No matter where in the country public or residential gardens grow, there are opportunities and compelling reasons to apply dry gardening methods. An area nursery or native plant society can advise on the most appropriate local plants and trees, and garden experts can share their best practices for maintenance through extension programs or as volunteers in the community. Local governments, especially parks departments, may offer practical instruction on simple water conservation techniques. Whether it’s installing a rain barrel or reshaping the landscape itself to better contain water, gardeners in all climates and regions can adopt various techniques for achieving a handsome horticultural display while saving the planet’s most precious resource.n

“Install a Rain Barrel”

“Green Infrastructure for Homeowners” bnriverkeeper.org/programs/rain-barrels/ green-infrastructure

“Watering Lawns” www.hort.cornell.edu/gardening/lawn/lawncare/ watering.html

“The Homeowners Lawn Care Water Quality Almanac” www.hort.cornell.edu/gardening/lawn/almanac/ index.html

Find Your State’s Cooperative Extension www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/index.html

The new garden at the entrance to Cornell’s Mann Library demonstrates the principles of the Sustainable Sites Initiative and invites people into a green space to relax, read, talk, or enjoy the scenic campus quad.

Photos: Mann Library entrance garden and Plantations watercourse garden, Lynn Purdon Yenkey.

bnriverkeeper.org/programs/rain-barrels

Katherine Karlson is a freelance writer in Binghamton, New York.

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Water-wise garden practices aren’t limited to arid zones. Gardeners in areas with abundant rainfall should manage water to prevent erosion, conserve resources, and help minimize pollution from storm runoff. Rain gardens, bioswales, and green roofs are practical and attractive

“Outdoor Water Use in the United States”

Be Water Wise

16

Water-Wise Practices for Wetter Climates

Resources:

The watercourse garden in the F. R. Newman Arboretum at Cornell Plantations demonstrates a beautiful way to slow and sink storm runoff.

Rain Gardens Rain gardens look like ornamental perennial gardens, but employ shallow areas to collect rainwater runoff from nearby parking lots, roofs, or sidewalks, becoming temporary ponds. Plants slow the water down, and using a porous substrate encourages it to percolate rather than flood, preventing erosion while naturally filtering out pollutants in the runoff. Cornell Cooperative Extension estimates that a well-constructed rain garden can filter about 30 percent more rainfall than a lawn of the same size. The watercourse garden near the Harder memorial bench in the F. R. Newman Arboretum was created to solve an erosion dilemma, where water had carved a deep channel on the hilltop near the bench. The design centers around two connected detention ponds that intercept runoff from Plantations Road and allow water to slowly filter into the ground. The first, larger pond captures most of the runoff, and in heavier storms allows impurities to settle out before water flows downhill toward the second pond. A mixed planting of new and tried-and-true perennial favorites lends a comfortable backdrop to the bench and connects it to the surrounding landscape. The plant palette represents the beautiful and the tough, since plants must accept both wet and dry conditions expected in a rain garden. They include threadleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’), whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), red and yellow twigged dogwoods, ‘Flame’ willow, and ‘Red Sprite’ winterberry.

Bioswales A bioswale does similar but more heavy-duty work than a rain garden, channeling large quantities of storm water into deeper, gently sloped areas, where it is held until gradually

seeping into the soil or another drainage. Plant roots and soil filter out silt and pollutants as in a rain garden. Trees and herbaceous perennials will serve this purpose in the 15,000-square-foot filter strip and bioswale next to Plantations’ new parking area and arrival plaza. “The filter strip’s job,” says Mary Hirshfeld, director of horticulture, “will be to pick up the particulates of gravel and salt before water is channeled into the bioswale”—long before those could end up in Beebe Lake. Please see “Puzzling out New Gardens” on page 10 for a more thorough description of the grasses, perennials, and trees chosen for the bioswale installation.

Green Roofs Quite literally a roof made of plants and special soil over an impermeable surface, a green roof serves many good purposes: moderating roof and in-building temperatures to lower fuel usage and costs; helping clean the air through the action of the plants; and serving as habitat for birds and wildlife—especially in designs that include small trees. Green roofs look beautiful, but they’re also great rainwater managers, letting plants and soil drink it in, and reducing strain on water collection systems at ground level. The new Nevin Welcome Center’s green roof will be planted with shallow-rooted sedums. Since sedums are extremely easy to propagate through cuttings, a slurry of small plant pieces will be mixed and spread on the roof, eventually filling it in with these tough, vigorous plants. Plantations’ will be the latest in a growing list of green roofs at Cornell, including two on West Campus residence halls, at Weill Hall, and on the Mann Library terrace. Green roofs are an option for both new and existing buildings, but a qualified designer and builder should always be part of the plan. l

cornellplantations.org

17


Gardening: using water wisely

GARDENING: USING WATER WISELY AT PLANTATIONS

Bassuk, who serves on the SITES technical committee, says students designed the entrance garden to require no supplemental irrigation after the first year of establishing plants. Facing west, and backed by the library’s stone wall, the garden will endure the full force of afternoon sun, so plants were chosen for their adaptation to dry conditions: selections like Persian ironwood tree (Parrotia persica), St. John’s Wort (Hypericum), various shrubby dogwoods (Cornus), the spreading red cedar (Juniperus virginiana ‘Grey Owl’), and creeping silver willow (Salix arenaria).

(August 2008), United States Environmental Protection Agency www.epa.gov/watersense/docs/ws_outdoor508.pdf

Harvesting Rainwater for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster

techniques that can help, and they’re catching on.

www.harvestingrainwater.com

The Sustainable Sites Initiative www.sustainablesites.org

“Installing a Rain Garden” www.ccealbany.com/documents/ RainGardenHandoutfromrocklandCounty.pdf

No matter where in the country public or residential gardens grow, there are opportunities and compelling reasons to apply dry gardening methods. An area nursery or native plant society can advise on the most appropriate local plants and trees, and garden experts can share their best practices for maintenance through extension programs or as volunteers in the community. Local governments, especially parks departments, may offer practical instruction on simple water conservation techniques. Whether it’s installing a rain barrel or reshaping the landscape itself to better contain water, gardeners in all climates and regions can adopt various techniques for achieving a handsome horticultural display while saving the planet’s most precious resource.n

“Install a Rain Barrel”

“Green Infrastructure for Homeowners” bnriverkeeper.org/programs/rain-barrels/ green-infrastructure

“Watering Lawns” www.hort.cornell.edu/gardening/lawn/lawncare/ watering.html

“The Homeowners Lawn Care Water Quality Almanac” www.hort.cornell.edu/gardening/lawn/almanac/ index.html

Find Your State’s Cooperative Extension www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/index.html

The new garden at the entrance to Cornell’s Mann Library demonstrates the principles of the Sustainable Sites Initiative and invites people into a green space to relax, read, talk, or enjoy the scenic campus quad.

Photos: Mann Library entrance garden and Plantations watercourse garden, Lynn Purdon Yenkey.

bnriverkeeper.org/programs/rain-barrels

Katherine Karlson is a freelance writer in Binghamton, New York.

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Water-wise garden practices aren’t limited to arid zones. Gardeners in areas with abundant rainfall should manage water to prevent erosion, conserve resources, and help minimize pollution from storm runoff. Rain gardens, bioswales, and green roofs are practical and attractive

“Outdoor Water Use in the United States”

Be Water Wise

16

Water-Wise Practices for Wetter Climates

Resources:

The watercourse garden in the F. R. Newman Arboretum at Cornell Plantations demonstrates a beautiful way to slow and sink storm runoff.

Rain Gardens Rain gardens look like ornamental perennial gardens, but employ shallow areas to collect rainwater runoff from nearby parking lots, roofs, or sidewalks, becoming temporary ponds. Plants slow the water down, and using a porous substrate encourages it to percolate rather than flood, preventing erosion while naturally filtering out pollutants in the runoff. Cornell Cooperative Extension estimates that a well-constructed rain garden can filter about 30 percent more rainfall than a lawn of the same size. The watercourse garden near the Harder memorial bench in the F. R. Newman Arboretum was created to solve an erosion dilemma, where water had carved a deep channel on the hilltop near the bench. The design centers around two connected detention ponds that intercept runoff from Plantations Road and allow water to slowly filter into the ground. The first, larger pond captures most of the runoff, and in heavier storms allows impurities to settle out before water flows downhill toward the second pond. A mixed planting of new and tried-and-true perennial favorites lends a comfortable backdrop to the bench and connects it to the surrounding landscape. The plant palette represents the beautiful and the tough, since plants must accept both wet and dry conditions expected in a rain garden. They include threadleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’), whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), red and yellow twigged dogwoods, ‘Flame’ willow, and ‘Red Sprite’ winterberry.

Bioswales A bioswale does similar but more heavy-duty work than a rain garden, channeling large quantities of storm water into deeper, gently sloped areas, where it is held until gradually

seeping into the soil or another drainage. Plant roots and soil filter out silt and pollutants as in a rain garden. Trees and herbaceous perennials will serve this purpose in the 15,000-square-foot filter strip and bioswale next to Plantations’ new parking area and arrival plaza. “The filter strip’s job,” says Mary Hirshfeld, director of horticulture, “will be to pick up the particulates of gravel and salt before water is channeled into the bioswale”—long before those could end up in Beebe Lake. Please see “Puzzling out New Gardens” on page 10 for a more thorough description of the grasses, perennials, and trees chosen for the bioswale installation.

Green Roofs Quite literally a roof made of plants and special soil over an impermeable surface, a green roof serves many good purposes: moderating roof and in-building temperatures to lower fuel usage and costs; helping clean the air through the action of the plants; and serving as habitat for birds and wildlife—especially in designs that include small trees. Green roofs look beautiful, but they’re also great rainwater managers, letting plants and soil drink it in, and reducing strain on water collection systems at ground level. The new Nevin Welcome Center’s green roof will be planted with shallow-rooted sedums. Since sedums are extremely easy to propagate through cuttings, a slurry of small plant pieces will be mixed and spread on the roof, eventually filling it in with these tough, vigorous plants. Plantations’ will be the latest in a growing list of green roofs at Cornell, including two on West Campus residence halls, at Weill Hall, and on the Mann Library terrace. Green roofs are an option for both new and existing buildings, but a qualified designer and builder should always be part of the plan. l

cornellplantations.org

17


Plantations picks: bulbs

XXXXXX: XXXXXXX

A Bevy of Bulbs by Mary Hirshfeld

Early Tulips

Narcissus cyclamineus ‘Foundling’

Narcissus cyclamineus ‘Peeping Tom’

Late summer and early fall are when most gardeners make their selections for next spring’s bulbs, studying the pictures on the front of bulb boxes in stores or poring over catalog descriptions. But remember to also scout gardens in spring, when you can see flowers in the petal. Noting the colors and characteristics of your favorites in April can help you firm up the decisions to make before planting time. For horticultural purposes, the general term “bulb” includes corms and tubers. In more precise botanical terms, a bulb is a modified thickened leaf base with fleshy leaf scales (daffodil). A corm is a thickened stem base that is rounded like a bulb (crocus), while a tuber is a thickened—more elongated than rounded—stem that carries several buds (dahlia). Recently these have all been grouped

Favorite Daffodils

The fragrant jonquilla daffodil ‘Trevithian’ has been a favorite in the

I always look forward to seeing stands of cyclamineus daffodils pop into flower. More diminutive than more commonly planted trumpet and large cup daffodils, Narcissus cyclamineus top out at about eight inches and carry a single flower per stem, characterized by the swept-back petals that surround the central cup. ‘Peeping Tom’, one of my favorites, has been aptly described as having bright yellow, long-trumpeted flowers with petals swept back like a mad dog with the wind in his face. The flowers are also long lasting and heavily textured, typically surviving late snowfalls unscathed. ‘Jenny’ is subtler in form and color, opening with slightly reflexed white petals and a small, pale yellow cup that matures

to ivory-white. This selection naturalizes very well, as do most of the cyclamineus daffodils. Since they are smaller than the more robust, larger-leaved trumpet and large-cupped daffodils, their declining, yellowing June foliage is less noticeable and easier to hide. Jonquilla daffodils are not the best bet for the climate in upstate New York, preferring mild winters and dry hot summers, but their rich fragrance makes them worth fussing over. ‘Trevithian’ is an heirloom cultivar that has persisted in the Fragrance bed of the Robison York State Herb Garden at Plantations for over 20 years, where its flat-faced, bright yellow flowers perfume the spring air with a wonderful sweet scent.

Photos: Daffodils, Lynn Purdon Yenkey;Trout lily in the Mundy Wildflower Garden, Paul Schmitt.

under the term “geophyte,” a term being more widely used in catalogs.

Among the vast selection of tulips, the early, short-statured Tulipa kaufmanniana and T. greigii types tend to be weather resistant and more reliably perennial than the more traditionally planted Darwin, Cottage, and Triumph tulips. Both have low-slung, broad leaves often striped with rich purple, and carry their single flowers on strong short stems ranging from six to twelve inches high. ‘Ancilla’ is a soft-toned pink with white interior, a nice kaufmanniana that offers a change from the very bright primary flower colors typical of spring. ‘Red Riding Hood’ is a vibrant deep red greigii that is a great antidote to winter white and gray. Species tulips may lack the graceful, languorous, tall stems of the more familiar hybrids, but their flower forms and colors can provide welcome variety, and their sturdy short stems promise good weather resistance. Another early spring bloomer, T. turkestanica carries multiple fragrant white flowers with narrow petals that open to reveal a soft yellow center. Plant this one in a spot that gets hot and dry during the summer, and it will perennialize nicely.

Gems Worth Looking For Tulips and daffodils rightly dominate the spring bulbscape, but many other lesser-known gems are worth finding a spot for. Starting off the bulb season along with snowdrops is the winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis. Colonies establish well in partial shade where the soil is protected from baking sun during the summer. Once established, these tiny geophytes will form a carpet of yellow buttercup-shaped flowers, each subtended by a green ruff of foliage.

Erythronium americanum, the trout lily

Another spring bulb that enjoys a shaded summer site is Erythronium, the dogtooth violet, so named because of the resemblance of the oddly shaped elongated bulb to a very large dog’s canine tooth. The tiny yellow trout lily, E. americanum, carpets woodlands throughout our area, its delicate nodding flowers held above shiny green leaves marbled with dark purple. ‘Kondo’ and ‘Pagoda’ are two vigorous hybrids reaching about eight inches high, with glossy rosettes of mottled foliage topped by nodding yellow flowers with delicately

recurved petals. A sizable planting of ‘Pagoda’ can be enjoyed in Plantations’ Deans Garden, tucked behind Warren Hall on the Cornell campus, where the plants have naturalized in the protective shade of a fringe tree. A lovely but still infrequently grown spring-flowering geophyte is Cyclamen coum, the counterpart to the fall-blooming C. hederifolium that enlivens Plantations’ groundcover collection in October. The small rounded leaves can be solid dark green or carry spottings of silver, although

the patterns are usually not as exotic or varied as on C. hederifolium. Flowers arrive in a wide range of pinks, from pale rose through bright magenta, and are miniature versions of the florist’s cyclamen, with sharply reflexed petals sweeping back from a three-inch stem. For a sunnier spot that doesn’t become bone dry during the summer, try the lovely checkered lily, Fritillaria meleagris. A long-lived and easy care perennial, this European meadow flower displays nodding pink bells marked in a distinctive pattern of light and dark. A pure white form exists, and a single purchase of bulbs will usually provide a nice mix of pink and white flowered plants. An attractive feature is that its slender grassy foliage fades discreetly away by early summer. There are many other fascinating fritillaries, most tending toward exotic black-purples, greens, yellows, and browns. Some are so small that they are best sited in a rock garden or container. An heirloom now reappearing in bulb catalogs is the exotic F. persica, a robust two-footer producing a tower of blackpurple pendant bells. The tiny F. michailovskyi reaches only eight inches tall and is best planted in a well-drained spot. Each stem is topped by two to three nodding, two-toned bells of yellow and purple with a yellow interior. Crocus and snowdrops pushing through the March snow herald a wondrous season of color, diversity, and fragrance. Plan now to set aside a spring afternoon to stroll through the gardens at Cornell Plantations, and enjoy the scents and sights of flowering bulbs that follow these earliest spring harbingers. n Mary Hirshfeld is director of horticulture at

Cornell Plantations.

Robison York State Herb Garden at Plantations for over 20 years. 18

Verdant Views Summer/Fall 2010

cornellplantations.org

19


Plantations picks: bulbs

XXXXXX: XXXXXXX

A Bevy of Bulbs by Mary Hirshfeld

Early Tulips

Narcissus cyclamineus ‘Foundling’

Narcissus cyclamineus ‘Peeping Tom’

Late summer and early fall are when most gardeners make their selections for next spring’s bulbs, studying the pictures on the front of bulb boxes in stores or poring over catalog descriptions. But remember to also scout gardens in spring, when you can see flowers in the petal. Noting the colors and characteristics of your favorites in April can help you firm up the decisions to make before planting time. For horticultural purposes, the general term “bulb” includes corms and tubers. In more precise botanical terms, a bulb is a modified thickened leaf base with fleshy leaf scales (daffodil). A corm is a thickened stem base that is rounded like a bulb (crocus), while a tuber is a thickened—more elongated than rounded—stem that carries several buds (dahlia). Recently these have all been grouped

Favorite Daffodils

The fragrant jonquilla daffodil ‘Trevithian’ has been a favorite in the

I always look forward to seeing stands of cyclamineus daffodils pop into flower. More diminutive than more commonly planted trumpet and large cup daffodils, Narcissus cyclamineus top out at about eight inches and carry a single flower per stem, characterized by the swept-back petals that surround the central cup. ‘Peeping Tom’, one of my favorites, has been aptly described as having bright yellow, long-trumpeted flowers with petals swept back like a mad dog with the wind in his face. The flowers are also long lasting and heavily textured, typically surviving late snowfalls unscathed. ‘Jenny’ is subtler in form and color, opening with slightly reflexed white petals and a small, pale yellow cup that matures

to ivory-white. This selection naturalizes very well, as do most of the cyclamineus daffodils. Since they are smaller than the more robust, larger-leaved trumpet and large-cupped daffodils, their declining, yellowing June foliage is less noticeable and easier to hide. Jonquilla daffodils are not the best bet for the climate in upstate New York, preferring mild winters and dry hot summers, but their rich fragrance makes them worth fussing over. ‘Trevithian’ is an heirloom cultivar that has persisted in the Fragrance bed of the Robison York State Herb Garden at Plantations for over 20 years, where its flat-faced, bright yellow flowers perfume the spring air with a wonderful sweet scent.

Photos: Daffodils, Lynn Purdon Yenkey;Trout lily in the Mundy Wildflower Garden, Paul Schmitt.

under the term “geophyte,” a term being more widely used in catalogs.

Among the vast selection of tulips, the early, short-statured Tulipa kaufmanniana and T. greigii types tend to be weather resistant and more reliably perennial than the more traditionally planted Darwin, Cottage, and Triumph tulips. Both have low-slung, broad leaves often striped with rich purple, and carry their single flowers on strong short stems ranging from six to twelve inches high. ‘Ancilla’ is a soft-toned pink with white interior, a nice kaufmanniana that offers a change from the very bright primary flower colors typical of spring. ‘Red Riding Hood’ is a vibrant deep red greigii that is a great antidote to winter white and gray. Species tulips may lack the graceful, languorous, tall stems of the more familiar hybrids, but their flower forms and colors can provide welcome variety, and their sturdy short stems promise good weather resistance. Another early spring bloomer, T. turkestanica carries multiple fragrant white flowers with narrow petals that open to reveal a soft yellow center. Plant this one in a spot that gets hot and dry during the summer, and it will perennialize nicely.

Gems Worth Looking For Tulips and daffodils rightly dominate the spring bulbscape, but many other lesser-known gems are worth finding a spot for. Starting off the bulb season along with snowdrops is the winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis. Colonies establish well in partial shade where the soil is protected from baking sun during the summer. Once established, these tiny geophytes will form a carpet of yellow buttercup-shaped flowers, each subtended by a green ruff of foliage.

Erythronium americanum, the trout lily

Another spring bulb that enjoys a shaded summer site is Erythronium, the dogtooth violet, so named because of the resemblance of the oddly shaped elongated bulb to a very large dog’s canine tooth. The tiny yellow trout lily, E. americanum, carpets woodlands throughout our area, its delicate nodding flowers held above shiny green leaves marbled with dark purple. ‘Kondo’ and ‘Pagoda’ are two vigorous hybrids reaching about eight inches high, with glossy rosettes of mottled foliage topped by nodding yellow flowers with delicately

recurved petals. A sizable planting of ‘Pagoda’ can be enjoyed in Plantations’ Deans Garden, tucked behind Warren Hall on the Cornell campus, where the plants have naturalized in the protective shade of a fringe tree. A lovely but still infrequently grown spring-flowering geophyte is Cyclamen coum, the counterpart to the fall-blooming C. hederifolium that enlivens Plantations’ groundcover collection in October. The small rounded leaves can be solid dark green or carry spottings of silver, although

the patterns are usually not as exotic or varied as on C. hederifolium. Flowers arrive in a wide range of pinks, from pale rose through bright magenta, and are miniature versions of the florist’s cyclamen, with sharply reflexed petals sweeping back from a three-inch stem. For a sunnier spot that doesn’t become bone dry during the summer, try the lovely checkered lily, Fritillaria meleagris. A long-lived and easy care perennial, this European meadow flower displays nodding pink bells marked in a distinctive pattern of light and dark. A pure white form exists, and a single purchase of bulbs will usually provide a nice mix of pink and white flowered plants. An attractive feature is that its slender grassy foliage fades discreetly away by early summer. There are many other fascinating fritillaries, most tending toward exotic black-purples, greens, yellows, and browns. Some are so small that they are best sited in a rock garden or container. An heirloom now reappearing in bulb catalogs is the exotic F. persica, a robust two-footer producing a tower of blackpurple pendant bells. The tiny F. michailovskyi reaches only eight inches tall and is best planted in a well-drained spot. Each stem is topped by two to three nodding, two-toned bells of yellow and purple with a yellow interior. Crocus and snowdrops pushing through the March snow herald a wondrous season of color, diversity, and fragrance. Plan now to set aside a spring afternoon to stroll through the gardens at Cornell Plantations, and enjoy the scents and sights of flowering bulbs that follow these earliest spring harbingers. n Mary Hirshfeld is director of horticulture at

Cornell Plantations.

Robison York State Herb Garden at Plantations for over 20 years. 18

Verdant Views Summer/Fall 2010

cornellplantations.org

19


Looking globally: climate change

Representing the Living World in the Face of Climate Change

It is incumbent on us to constantly be sharing our practices for how to grow gardens more responsibly.

by Lynn Purdon Yenkey

The native plant lawn at Plantations’ Mundy Wildflower Garden requires less water, fertilizer, and fuel to maintain.

Because we represent the living world, expectations are high. Our collections highlight vital habitats and the wonders of nature. We must use them effectively to teach and to foster responsibility. A popular new exhibit at the National Aquarium, Jellies Invasion: Oceans out of Balance.

Plantations Advisory Council chair Bob Ramin ’82 spoke directly to this issue at the 2009 donor luncheon: “We are now beyond wondering if climate change is happening and what caused it. It is real, and humans are the cause.” As executive director of the National Aquarium in Washington, DC, he is uniquely aware of the urgent new responsibility both organizations share with zoos, public 20

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

gardens, and all institutions that exhibit and care for living collections: to help our visitors, donors, and constituents accept that climate change is harming ecosystems, and harness their collective concern for the environment to enact changes that help slow it down. “People who come to see living collections want to learn about the impact of climate change on animals and plants.

Our visitors are looking to us to give them guidance on how to change their behaviors,” Ramin says, speaking from his experience at the Aquarium and in reference to findings of a report entitled, America and the Ocean: Public Opinion Research of Awareness, Attitudes and Behaviors Concerning the Ocean, Environment and Climate Change. The study confirms that guardians of living collections are the public’s most trusted source for information on this complex issue and its potential impacts for all life. Though it was released on World Ocean Day in

2009, its implications reach far beyond aquatic environments and aquariums. “Ocean health affects climate change, and climate change affects ocean health, all of which affects people everywhere,” he adds. At the Aquarium, “it’s up to us to make explicit the connection between climate change and ocean health, and to do so in ways that resonate with and galvanize the public, including by providing solutions.” As an educationally based public garden, Plantations faces a similar challenge in relating climate change to gardening and

Photo: Native plant lawn, F. Robert Wesley.

Strolling in the tranquil atmosphere of Plantations’ Treman Woodland Walk, or taking in the arboretum’s magnificent glacier-carved terrain from Newman Overlook, it’s natural to feel soothed and awed by the eternal-seeming beauty. After all, inspiring visitors to protect and preserve natural areas and gardens is at the core of Plantations’ mission. But a serious challenge has emerged with the threat of climate change, one that impels us to go further and ignite changes in the activities that are damaging our land and atmosphere.

Photos: Treman Woodland Walk, Julie Magura; Jellyfish photo courtesy of the National Aquarium.

Treman Woodland Walk

conservation topics that supporters already care about. It’s a challenge compounded by the limited overall public understanding of the human impact on climate change. Two key findings in the report show that Americans’ awareness of and knowledge about the issue is low, especially compared to their concerns about the economy and national security. However, Americans also say they do support protecting the health the environment, and the environmental issue they are most concerned about is climate change. Institutions that preserve and protect living

collections can help fill the knowledge gaps that cloud this critical issue and prevent wider recognition that the effects of climate change are already at hand. But before we can teach, we must act.

Interpreting Action, Inhabiting Change Public gardens, zoos, and aquariums are responding to the public’s need for information by sharing their own holistic working practices with visitors in programs and interpretive exhibits. As Donald A. Rakow, the Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations, stresses, we must “put in place sustainable practices that will have

some positive effect on countering climate change—before we can promote those practices to our audiences.” At Plantations, these include removing invasive or potentially invasive species in the cultivated collections, reflecting efforts over the past several years to limit their encroachment, and lowering fuel consumption by reducing mowing in certain areas and with no-mow lawns. A strong emphasis is placed on the idea central to any sustainable garden, “right plant, right place,” siting plants in conditions that mirror their natural growing conditions so as to require less intervention in the way of water, fertilizer, and pesticides.

Rakow says, “It is incumbent on us to constantly share our practices for how to grow gardens more responsibly,” demonstrating shifts in choice and approach to enhance the art of gardening in ways that don’t harm local habitats and the larger environment. Offering inviting substitutes for unsustainable practices is crucial to sending the message of climate change home with visitors. In the case of invasive plant species, Rakow says, “[we need] to be talking with people about alternatives. ‘Rather than planting that Russian olive, here’s a wonderful silver-leaved Pyrus that one can grow,’ or ‘rather than growing that hybrid tea rose that requires a huge number of fungicidal and insecticidal sprays, here are some species roses grown with relatively little intervention.’” Ramin was impressed with the low- and no-mow lawns at Plantations. “Growing lawns that don’t need to be mowed and showing me there are alternatives” resonated strongly with him. Innovative lawn practices demonstrate, “you don’t have to have this one kind of grass; there are other options that are native and local and attractive-looking,” that also require less water, fertilizer, and fuel to maintain. Many seafood consumers will recognize a correlation in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, which teaches them to find and buy seafood fished sustainably and why choosing other fish endangers them or their habitats. It’s a popular and effective program—tens of millions of consumer pocket guides have been distributed since 1999 and nearly one hundred thousand mobile applications downloaded, showing that people will reduce consumption or seek alternatives—even if changes are slow or require self-denial. cornellplantations.org

21


Looking globally: climate change

Representing the Living World in the Face of Climate Change

It is incumbent on us to constantly be sharing our practices for how to grow gardens more responsibly.

by Lynn Purdon Yenkey

The native plant lawn at Plantations’ Mundy Wildflower Garden requires less water, fertilizer, and fuel to maintain.

Because we represent the living world, expectations are high. Our collections highlight vital habitats and the wonders of nature. We must use them effectively to teach and to foster responsibility. A popular new exhibit at the National Aquarium, Jellies Invasion: Oceans out of Balance.

Plantations Advisory Council chair Bob Ramin ’82 spoke directly to this issue at the 2009 donor luncheon: “We are now beyond wondering if climate change is happening and what caused it. It is real, and humans are the cause.” As executive director of the National Aquarium in Washington, DC, he is uniquely aware of the urgent new responsibility both organizations share with zoos, public 20

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

gardens, and all institutions that exhibit and care for living collections: to help our visitors, donors, and constituents accept that climate change is harming ecosystems, and harness their collective concern for the environment to enact changes that help slow it down. “People who come to see living collections want to learn about the impact of climate change on animals and plants.

Our visitors are looking to us to give them guidance on how to change their behaviors,” Ramin says, speaking from his experience at the Aquarium and in reference to findings of a report entitled, America and the Ocean: Public Opinion Research of Awareness, Attitudes and Behaviors Concerning the Ocean, Environment and Climate Change. The study confirms that guardians of living collections are the public’s most trusted source for information on this complex issue and its potential impacts for all life. Though it was released on World Ocean Day in

2009, its implications reach far beyond aquatic environments and aquariums. “Ocean health affects climate change, and climate change affects ocean health, all of which affects people everywhere,” he adds. At the Aquarium, “it’s up to us to make explicit the connection between climate change and ocean health, and to do so in ways that resonate with and galvanize the public, including by providing solutions.” As an educationally based public garden, Plantations faces a similar challenge in relating climate change to gardening and

Photo: Native plant lawn, F. Robert Wesley.

Strolling in the tranquil atmosphere of Plantations’ Treman Woodland Walk, or taking in the arboretum’s magnificent glacier-carved terrain from Newman Overlook, it’s natural to feel soothed and awed by the eternal-seeming beauty. After all, inspiring visitors to protect and preserve natural areas and gardens is at the core of Plantations’ mission. But a serious challenge has emerged with the threat of climate change, one that impels us to go further and ignite changes in the activities that are damaging our land and atmosphere.

Photos: Treman Woodland Walk, Julie Magura; Jellyfish photo courtesy of the National Aquarium.

Treman Woodland Walk

conservation topics that supporters already care about. It’s a challenge compounded by the limited overall public understanding of the human impact on climate change. Two key findings in the report show that Americans’ awareness of and knowledge about the issue is low, especially compared to their concerns about the economy and national security. However, Americans also say they do support protecting the health the environment, and the environmental issue they are most concerned about is climate change. Institutions that preserve and protect living

collections can help fill the knowledge gaps that cloud this critical issue and prevent wider recognition that the effects of climate change are already at hand. But before we can teach, we must act.

Interpreting Action, Inhabiting Change Public gardens, zoos, and aquariums are responding to the public’s need for information by sharing their own holistic working practices with visitors in programs and interpretive exhibits. As Donald A. Rakow, the Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations, stresses, we must “put in place sustainable practices that will have

some positive effect on countering climate change—before we can promote those practices to our audiences.” At Plantations, these include removing invasive or potentially invasive species in the cultivated collections, reflecting efforts over the past several years to limit their encroachment, and lowering fuel consumption by reducing mowing in certain areas and with no-mow lawns. A strong emphasis is placed on the idea central to any sustainable garden, “right plant, right place,” siting plants in conditions that mirror their natural growing conditions so as to require less intervention in the way of water, fertilizer, and pesticides.

Rakow says, “It is incumbent on us to constantly share our practices for how to grow gardens more responsibly,” demonstrating shifts in choice and approach to enhance the art of gardening in ways that don’t harm local habitats and the larger environment. Offering inviting substitutes for unsustainable practices is crucial to sending the message of climate change home with visitors. In the case of invasive plant species, Rakow says, “[we need] to be talking with people about alternatives. ‘Rather than planting that Russian olive, here’s a wonderful silver-leaved Pyrus that one can grow,’ or ‘rather than growing that hybrid tea rose that requires a huge number of fungicidal and insecticidal sprays, here are some species roses grown with relatively little intervention.’” Ramin was impressed with the low- and no-mow lawns at Plantations. “Growing lawns that don’t need to be mowed and showing me there are alternatives” resonated strongly with him. Innovative lawn practices demonstrate, “you don’t have to have this one kind of grass; there are other options that are native and local and attractive-looking,” that also require less water, fertilizer, and fuel to maintain. Many seafood consumers will recognize a correlation in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, which teaches them to find and buy seafood fished sustainably and why choosing other fish endangers them or their habitats. It’s a popular and effective program—tens of millions of consumer pocket guides have been distributed since 1999 and nearly one hundred thousand mobile applications downloaded, showing that people will reduce consumption or seek alternatives—even if changes are slow or require self-denial. cornellplantations.org

21


Motivating Individuals to Act A key finding Ramin shared from the report shows that Americans believe their individual actions can have a positive effect on protecting the environment. Though people may be ready to act, many are not sure what to do, and look to the living museums they trust for solutions to environmental problems. Still, they say they aren’t yet finding ready answers, so it’s up to the managers of each collection to provide motivating messages and actions unique to their missions and expertise. Sometimes, motivation uses paradoxical methods. Ramin describes a popular new exhibit at the National Aquarium that lures visitors in with the otherworldly beauty of jellyfish, but is also “completely focused on human impact on aquatic habitats, and what our visitors can do to help mitigate their impact.” Titled Jellies Invasion: Oceans out of Balance, it teaches how jellies thrive in the changing balance of ocean ecosystems, multiplying in polluted dead zones that no longer support their predators. That people are having a lot of fun at exhibits like Jellies Invasion while also absorbing critical environmental messages echoes reported evidence that indicates being more action-oriented will improve the standing of living collections in the public eye, rather than erode it.

Ramin adds a warning: “If living collections don’t address this public need, others—who may not be as conservation-minded—will fill the gaps.” He sees Plantations’ new Nevin Welcome Center becoming the nexus for sharing practices that promote sustainability and environmental responsibility, where visitors will experience the beautiful possibilities of gardening with conservation at heart. The building itself will be a learning tool, designed to qualify for Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its use of sustainable materials and energyefficient operations. In Ramin’s view, the welcome center will be “a supreme opportunity to grab people as they contemplate their journey through Plantations and give them some things to look for and themes to think about as they explore the gardens and natural areas.” From its site integrated into Comstock Knoll to its green roof, solar collectors, and native plantings, the center will embody the message of environmental stewardship at Plantations.

Mobilizing the Motivated Plantations’ programs cater to a diverse visitor population: school children, scientists, garden club members, and many more. However, Ramin cites report findings that show certain of these audiences are more likely to act on tactics designed to counter climate change, and will influence others as well—and living collections can be significantly more efficient and effective in reaching them.

Offering inviting substitutes for unsustainable practices is crucial to sending the message of climate change home with visitors. 22

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

One notable audience is made up of people who will increase their individual efforts and participate in collective advocacy and lobbying efforts with policy-makers. Plantations saw this recently when citizens confronted the State of New York when legislators sought to cut back operating support for zoos, aquariums, and botanic gardens. Young people aged 12–17 emerge in the report as a key audience for living collections, since they are shown to know and care more about climate change, be more willing to act than adults, and can influence the opinions of their parents, who tend to view their children as better informed on conservation issues.

Opportunities to inspire and teach a variety of audiences occur year-round at Plantations. Top of page, botanist Robert Wesley works with a student intern. Above, landscape designer Irene Lekstutis leads a tour for community members during Ithaca’s Light in Winter festival. At right, a third-grade student in the Wildflower Explorations program gets up close to study spring ephemerals in the Mundy Wildflower Garden.

Photos: Robert Wesley with intern, Phil Syphrit; Light in Winter tour, University Photography; (Right page) Wildflower Explorations, Lynn Purdon Yenkey.

“Yes, you may pay a little more for sustainably harvested seafood, or it may be harder to find,” Ramin admits, “but as a motivated public, we are willing to do that.”

Young people are a key audience for living collections. They are shown to know and care more about climate change than adults, and influence the opinions of their parents.

Looking globally: climate change

Ramin sees expanding traditional thinking about youth audiences and mobilizing them to take meaningful action as a top priority for living collections. “If we can engage some of these family influencers… they’re the ones that are helping shape the family choices. We need to really target that age group and we need to target households where English is not the primary language. These are areas we are missing now, and we need to do better at hitting them because they’re going to change the thinking for the whole family.” Rakow agrees, especially given the low percentage of public acceptance of climate change: “I find it extremely discouraging that national polls show that 35 percent or fewer of Americans believe that global climate change is real.* That says to me that we have an enormous challenge ahead of us. And I think that we do need to reach out first and foremost to young people, starting with as young an age as we can, because they are less set in their ways, more impressionable, and they will be the opinion makers of the future.” “Our youth education program has a very strong emphasis on caring about our local environment,” he continues, “and one big component of that is the Wildflower Explorations program we conduct for every third-grader in the Ithaca City School District and now are extending to other local schools. That’s 400-plus young people who will have an up close and personal experience with our native spring ephemerals. And we certainly would like to believe that is going to influence how they feel about and how they care for the environment around them.” Raising awareness of Cornell students as to why they should be involved with and care deeply about plants and the natural

*Fewer Americans See Solid Evidence of Global Warming” (October 2009), The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. people-press.org/report/556/global-warming.

world, is another concern for Rakow. “Our challenge is how to get a larger percentage of the Cornell student body to eke out a bit of their time that could be devoted to Plantations and learning about plants and the natural world.” He acknowledges the academic pressures students face, and shares that if a student’s sole experiences are jogging through the arboretum or a lunchtime break in the herb garden, “that would be fine with me. It means that student has connected with nature and appreciates the very valuable role of the natural world.”

Creating Conversations Just as the Seafood Watch program helps both consumers and businesses make choices that are better for ocean health, Plantations owns the responsibility for educating a variety of audiences about responsible gardening. Cornell Cooperative Extension works actively with the green industry, and Plantations regularly provides information for horticultural extension agents to share with members of the trade. When Cornell hosts annual field days for the nursery and landscape industries, Plantations offers tours and updates on recommended plants. Still, Rakow says, “We need to do more to let the green industry know which are responsible plants to be growing in particular areas and which are not.” Indeed, one of the most startling report findings Ramin relates is that for-profit corporations are out-communicating living museums and other conservation organizations about ocean and environmental issues by a wide margin. Most of this communication is occurring on the Internet, which the report shows is the public’s preferred way to cornellplantations.org

23


Motivating Individuals to Act A key finding Ramin shared from the report shows that Americans believe their individual actions can have a positive effect on protecting the environment. Though people may be ready to act, many are not sure what to do, and look to the living museums they trust for solutions to environmental problems. Still, they say they aren’t yet finding ready answers, so it’s up to the managers of each collection to provide motivating messages and actions unique to their missions and expertise. Sometimes, motivation uses paradoxical methods. Ramin describes a popular new exhibit at the National Aquarium that lures visitors in with the otherworldly beauty of jellyfish, but is also “completely focused on human impact on aquatic habitats, and what our visitors can do to help mitigate their impact.” Titled Jellies Invasion: Oceans out of Balance, it teaches how jellies thrive in the changing balance of ocean ecosystems, multiplying in polluted dead zones that no longer support their predators. That people are having a lot of fun at exhibits like Jellies Invasion while also absorbing critical environmental messages echoes reported evidence that indicates being more action-oriented will improve the standing of living collections in the public eye, rather than erode it.

Ramin adds a warning: “If living collections don’t address this public need, others—who may not be as conservation-minded—will fill the gaps.” He sees Plantations’ new Nevin Welcome Center becoming the nexus for sharing practices that promote sustainability and environmental responsibility, where visitors will experience the beautiful possibilities of gardening with conservation at heart. The building itself will be a learning tool, designed to qualify for Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its use of sustainable materials and energyefficient operations. In Ramin’s view, the welcome center will be “a supreme opportunity to grab people as they contemplate their journey through Plantations and give them some things to look for and themes to think about as they explore the gardens and natural areas.” From its site integrated into Comstock Knoll to its green roof, solar collectors, and native plantings, the center will embody the message of environmental stewardship at Plantations.

Mobilizing the Motivated Plantations’ programs cater to a diverse visitor population: school children, scientists, garden club members, and many more. However, Ramin cites report findings that show certain of these audiences are more likely to act on tactics designed to counter climate change, and will influence others as well—and living collections can be significantly more efficient and effective in reaching them.

Offering inviting substitutes for unsustainable practices is crucial to sending the message of climate change home with visitors. 22

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

One notable audience is made up of people who will increase their individual efforts and participate in collective advocacy and lobbying efforts with policy-makers. Plantations saw this recently when citizens confronted the State of New York when legislators sought to cut back operating support for zoos, aquariums, and botanic gardens. Young people aged 12–17 emerge in the report as a key audience for living collections, since they are shown to know and care more about climate change, be more willing to act than adults, and can influence the opinions of their parents, who tend to view their children as better informed on conservation issues.

Opportunities to inspire and teach a variety of audiences occur year-round at Plantations. Top of page, botanist Robert Wesley works with a student intern. Above, landscape designer Irene Lekstutis leads a tour for community members during Ithaca’s Light in Winter festival. At right, a third-grade student in the Wildflower Explorations program gets up close to study spring ephemerals in the Mundy Wildflower Garden.

Photos: Robert Wesley with intern, Phil Syphrit; Light in Winter tour, University Photography; (Right page) Wildflower Explorations, Lynn Purdon Yenkey.

“Yes, you may pay a little more for sustainably harvested seafood, or it may be harder to find,” Ramin admits, “but as a motivated public, we are willing to do that.”

Young people are a key audience for living collections. They are shown to know and care more about climate change than adults, and influence the opinions of their parents.

Looking globally: climate change

Ramin sees expanding traditional thinking about youth audiences and mobilizing them to take meaningful action as a top priority for living collections. “If we can engage some of these family influencers… they’re the ones that are helping shape the family choices. We need to really target that age group and we need to target households where English is not the primary language. These are areas we are missing now, and we need to do better at hitting them because they’re going to change the thinking for the whole family.” Rakow agrees, especially given the low percentage of public acceptance of climate change: “I find it extremely discouraging that national polls show that 35 percent or fewer of Americans believe that global climate change is real.* That says to me that we have an enormous challenge ahead of us. And I think that we do need to reach out first and foremost to young people, starting with as young an age as we can, because they are less set in their ways, more impressionable, and they will be the opinion makers of the future.” “Our youth education program has a very strong emphasis on caring about our local environment,” he continues, “and one big component of that is the Wildflower Explorations program we conduct for every third-grader in the Ithaca City School District and now are extending to other local schools. That’s 400-plus young people who will have an up close and personal experience with our native spring ephemerals. And we certainly would like to believe that is going to influence how they feel about and how they care for the environment around them.” Raising awareness of Cornell students as to why they should be involved with and care deeply about plants and the natural

*Fewer Americans See Solid Evidence of Global Warming” (October 2009), The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. people-press.org/report/556/global-warming.

world, is another concern for Rakow. “Our challenge is how to get a larger percentage of the Cornell student body to eke out a bit of their time that could be devoted to Plantations and learning about plants and the natural world.” He acknowledges the academic pressures students face, and shares that if a student’s sole experiences are jogging through the arboretum or a lunchtime break in the herb garden, “that would be fine with me. It means that student has connected with nature and appreciates the very valuable role of the natural world.”

Creating Conversations Just as the Seafood Watch program helps both consumers and businesses make choices that are better for ocean health, Plantations owns the responsibility for educating a variety of audiences about responsible gardening. Cornell Cooperative Extension works actively with the green industry, and Plantations regularly provides information for horticultural extension agents to share with members of the trade. When Cornell hosts annual field days for the nursery and landscape industries, Plantations offers tours and updates on recommended plants. Still, Rakow says, “We need to do more to let the green industry know which are responsible plants to be growing in particular areas and which are not.” Indeed, one of the most startling report findings Ramin relates is that for-profit corporations are out-communicating living museums and other conservation organizations about ocean and environmental issues by a wide margin. Most of this communication is occurring on the Internet, which the report shows is the public’s preferred way to cornellplantations.org

23


Looking globally: climate change

BOOK REVIEW

Zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums should work better with each other, using their collective influence to affect audience attitudes about global climate change.

24

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Plantations partners with Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology to host wildflower and bird walks.

among visitors, staff, and volunteers might still be the most effective way to instigate positive changes for the environment.

Sharing the Load For supporters of organizations that care for and interpret the living world, the ocean report is a rallying call, and Ramin’s statistics on endangered plants heighten the alarm at Plantations: “With more than a quarter of the world’s 250,000 plant species at risk of extinction over the next 20 years or so, we cannot rest on the fact

that perhaps 75,000 species of plants are already in cultivation—most of them only in botanical gardens or arboreta.” In response, Ramin says, “The need is to actively engage the public through our exhibits and programs and through the Internet—give them, in particular the tweens and our visitors who do not speak English as a primary language, the tools to change behaviors and work to combat climate change. Because we represent the living world, expectations are high, but we must effectively use our collections to teach

and to foster responsibility as they highlight habitats and the wonder of nature.” Don Rakow highlights the critical work of connecting Plantations’ visitors to habitat issues existing far beyond the garden gate: “It’s really important as we are reaching out to audiences, in particular the student audience, that we help them make the leap from admiring a beautiful garden to being concerned about and eventually engaged in the entire environment: terrestrial, the aquatic, and the air…. We need to be

Photo: American goldfinch, Paul Scmitt.

get information about such issues, younger people especially. The stewards of living collections must learn from the online efforts of corporations, which are driving their web sites to become ever more effective through visitor analytics and targeted, fine-tuned messages. The web’s chief benefit is that it is a means to keep visitors informed over time and transcend any single query. “Online is the way to have a continued relationship,” says Ramin, “and that’s what we’re seeking, that it’s not just a one-time visit with Plantations or the Aquarium.” Both use a complex approach to building relationships with supporters, employing the web, print materials, onsite interpretation, and information shared in tours, classes, and workshops. Old-fashioned personal interaction and conversation

Photos: American globeflower, Paul Schmitt; Bird walk in F. R. Newman Arboretum, University Photography.

Plantations’ Natural Areas program is working to conserve the American globeflower (Trollius laxus), a native at-risk species, found in two of its preserves.

constantly working on raising individuals’ awareness of all components of the natural world.” Both directors see the need for living museums to work better with each other, using their collective influence to affect audience attitudes about global climate change, regardless of specialty. As Ramin says, “It is the living part of it that people relate to when they think about how the climate is affecting their personal lives. How is it affecting the plants and animals that are all around us? I think we can do a better job and need to seek common themes that we can promote at our organizations.” Synergies like this are at work at Cornell, where Plantations and the Lab of Ornithology are sharing audiences and crosspollinating environmental messages. This spring, they partnered to offer guided walks in each other’s backyards: wildflower walks in Sapsucker Woods, and bird walks in the F. R. Newman Arboretum, working to broaden views and make the web of life more visible for passionate birders, gardeners, and botany hobbyists. In considering how to create connections among diverse living museums that will make Americans care enough to take action against climate change, Ramin offers, “the commonalities are the implications of our actions. Climate change is a big concept, but our impact on the environment is even bigger. Awareness is not high yet, but we’d still like to see conservation-oriented organizations be more efficient and effective in our targeting. It’s not easy, but we can do better by creating a sense of urgency. These habitats won’t be around forever.” n Lynn Purdon Yenkey is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer in Ithaca, New York.

Become a Bird Gardener: Native Plants for Native Birds by Lynn Purdon Yenkey

A new book published by the Cayuga Bird Club presents perennials, grasses, vines, shrubs, and trees to help gardeners make backyard environments native birds will thrive in. Native Plants for Native Birds: A Guide to Planting for Birds In and Around Ithaca New York, written by Joel Baines, with photos by David Ruppert, began as a series of articles and images they contributed over several years for the club newsletter. New plants were added for the book, which covers 50 plant species. Each one is presented in a vivid portrait describing the plant’s habit, preferred growing conditions, resistance to deer, and use to birds. Stories of bird-plant sightings at spots around Plantations and Cornell bring home the experience of being among them, and are a good guide to previewing plants before purchasing. The excellent color photographs show plants in detail and in their favored environments, often being enjoyed by birds, butterflies, and bees. “It’s a very readable book,” offers Betty Rowley, a longtime member of the Cayuga Bird Club, and an active volunteer for both the Lab of Ornithology and Cornell Plantations. “It’s a wonderful book for the beginner who is interested in putting in plants for birds,” as well as for experienced gardeners who may be ready to change their home landscapes. In his forward, Steve Kress, author of The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds: Creating Natural Habitats for Properties Large and Small, provides important ecological reasons for creating a bird-friendly garden:

“Nearly one-third of North America’s bird species are in serious decline for many reasons, but the primary reason is habitat loss….Natives invariably offer a greater diversity of fruit, shelter, nesting structures, nest building materials, and singing perches than exotics. Most natives also support a higher diversity of insects—a critical source of protein for raising chicks.” Rowley, who is keenly interested in planting for butterflies, relates the tension of enabling the natural food chain—a joyful sighting of Baltimore orioles, quickly followed by the realization that they had eaten American painted lady butterfly larvae off the native host she planted just for them. It was a loss, but a realistic part of the native plant strategy. The book includes an index, glossary, and resources, and costs $18.95. Proceeds enable new Cayuga Bird Club educational and habitat enhancement projects. It is available at Wild Birds Unlimited at the Lab of Ornithology and in local bookstores. To learn more about the Cayuga Bird Club, visit www.birds.cornell.edu/cayugabirdclub.

cornellplantations.org

25


Looking globally: climate change

BOOK REVIEW

Zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums should work better with each other, using their collective influence to affect audience attitudes about global climate change.

24

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Plantations partners with Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology to host wildflower and bird walks.

among visitors, staff, and volunteers might still be the most effective way to instigate positive changes for the environment.

Sharing the Load For supporters of organizations that care for and interpret the living world, the ocean report is a rallying call, and Ramin’s statistics on endangered plants heighten the alarm at Plantations: “With more than a quarter of the world’s 250,000 plant species at risk of extinction over the next 20 years or so, we cannot rest on the fact

that perhaps 75,000 species of plants are already in cultivation—most of them only in botanical gardens or arboreta.” In response, Ramin says, “The need is to actively engage the public through our exhibits and programs and through the Internet—give them, in particular the tweens and our visitors who do not speak English as a primary language, the tools to change behaviors and work to combat climate change. Because we represent the living world, expectations are high, but we must effectively use our collections to teach

and to foster responsibility as they highlight habitats and the wonder of nature.” Don Rakow highlights the critical work of connecting Plantations’ visitors to habitat issues existing far beyond the garden gate: “It’s really important as we are reaching out to audiences, in particular the student audience, that we help them make the leap from admiring a beautiful garden to being concerned about and eventually engaged in the entire environment: terrestrial, the aquatic, and the air…. We need to be

Photo: American goldfinch, Paul Scmitt.

get information about such issues, younger people especially. The stewards of living collections must learn from the online efforts of corporations, which are driving their web sites to become ever more effective through visitor analytics and targeted, fine-tuned messages. The web’s chief benefit is that it is a means to keep visitors informed over time and transcend any single query. “Online is the way to have a continued relationship,” says Ramin, “and that’s what we’re seeking, that it’s not just a one-time visit with Plantations or the Aquarium.” Both use a complex approach to building relationships with supporters, employing the web, print materials, onsite interpretation, and information shared in tours, classes, and workshops. Old-fashioned personal interaction and conversation

Photos: American globeflower, Paul Schmitt; Bird walk in F. R. Newman Arboretum, University Photography.

Plantations’ Natural Areas program is working to conserve the American globeflower (Trollius laxus), a native at-risk species, found in two of its preserves.

constantly working on raising individuals’ awareness of all components of the natural world.” Both directors see the need for living museums to work better with each other, using their collective influence to affect audience attitudes about global climate change, regardless of specialty. As Ramin says, “It is the living part of it that people relate to when they think about how the climate is affecting their personal lives. How is it affecting the plants and animals that are all around us? I think we can do a better job and need to seek common themes that we can promote at our organizations.” Synergies like this are at work at Cornell, where Plantations and the Lab of Ornithology are sharing audiences and crosspollinating environmental messages. This spring, they partnered to offer guided walks in each other’s backyards: wildflower walks in Sapsucker Woods, and bird walks in the F. R. Newman Arboretum, working to broaden views and make the web of life more visible for passionate birders, gardeners, and botany hobbyists. In considering how to create connections among diverse living museums that will make Americans care enough to take action against climate change, Ramin offers, “the commonalities are the implications of our actions. Climate change is a big concept, but our impact on the environment is even bigger. Awareness is not high yet, but we’d still like to see conservation-oriented organizations be more efficient and effective in our targeting. It’s not easy, but we can do better by creating a sense of urgency. These habitats won’t be around forever.” n Lynn Purdon Yenkey is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer in Ithaca, New York.

Become a Bird Gardener: Native Plants for Native Birds by Lynn Purdon Yenkey

A new book published by the Cayuga Bird Club presents perennials, grasses, vines, shrubs, and trees to help gardeners make backyard environments native birds will thrive in. Native Plants for Native Birds: A Guide to Planting for Birds In and Around Ithaca New York, written by Joel Baines, with photos by David Ruppert, began as a series of articles and images they contributed over several years for the club newsletter. New plants were added for the book, which covers 50 plant species. Each one is presented in a vivid portrait describing the plant’s habit, preferred growing conditions, resistance to deer, and use to birds. Stories of bird-plant sightings at spots around Plantations and Cornell bring home the experience of being among them, and are a good guide to previewing plants before purchasing. The excellent color photographs show plants in detail and in their favored environments, often being enjoyed by birds, butterflies, and bees. “It’s a very readable book,” offers Betty Rowley, a longtime member of the Cayuga Bird Club, and an active volunteer for both the Lab of Ornithology and Cornell Plantations. “It’s a wonderful book for the beginner who is interested in putting in plants for birds,” as well as for experienced gardeners who may be ready to change their home landscapes. In his forward, Steve Kress, author of The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds: Creating Natural Habitats for Properties Large and Small, provides important ecological reasons for creating a bird-friendly garden:

“Nearly one-third of North America’s bird species are in serious decline for many reasons, but the primary reason is habitat loss….Natives invariably offer a greater diversity of fruit, shelter, nesting structures, nest building materials, and singing perches than exotics. Most natives also support a higher diversity of insects—a critical source of protein for raising chicks.” Rowley, who is keenly interested in planting for butterflies, relates the tension of enabling the natural food chain—a joyful sighting of Baltimore orioles, quickly followed by the realization that they had eaten American painted lady butterfly larvae off the native host she planted just for them. It was a loss, but a realistic part of the native plant strategy. The book includes an index, glossary, and resources, and costs $18.95. Proceeds enable new Cayuga Bird Club educational and habitat enhancement projects. It is available at Wild Birds Unlimited at the Lab of Ornithology and in local bookstores. To learn more about the Cayuga Bird Club, visit www.birds.cornell.edu/cayugabirdclub.

cornellplantations.org

25


PLANTATIONS WISH LIST

The greatest thing in life is the point of view. It determines the current of our lives.

Help make a wish come true! Earn while they learn.

—Liberty Hyde Bailey

Support a Cornell student and Plantations by funding a student employee position in our education, horticulture, or natural areas program for the 2010–11 academic year. $2,500.

What to do at Plantations? Fund the design and installation of a seasonal exhibit in the lobby of the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center. Four feature exhibits each year will highlight a specific horticultural collection, garden, or natural area, or a special project currently under way at Plantations. $2,500.

Save the hemlocks. A highly destructive insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid has been discovered in hemlock trees around Beebe Lake, in the Cascadilla Gorge, and at the Fischer Old Growth Forest (named in memory of Dick Fischer, Cornell’s beloved professor of environmental education). Combat this invasive pest by supporting pesticide treatments before these hemlocks, some 250–350 years old, go the way of the beautiful elm trees that once graced the Cornell campus. $2,500 to protect the trees in Cascadilla Gorge; $5,000 for the Fischer Forest; or $8,000 for Beebe Lake.

Greener wheels. A new, fuel-efficient four-wheel drive utility vehicle will help gardeners transport tools, mulch, and plant material on pathways in the gardens and arboretum. $10,000.

Install three dog valet stations so that dog walkers in the Botanical Garden and Newman Arboretum can easily bag and dispose of pet waste. $500 each.

Where am I? Guide students and visitors in exploring the Plantations Path—nine interconnected walking trails that highlight Cornell’s natural landscape and history. The Plantations Path signs installed in the 1990s are now weathered, and information must be updated. Support the design and fabrication of one or more path signs for $2,000 each. To make a wish come true, or for more information about any of these gift opportunities, contact Beth Anderson, director of development, at 607-254-4727 or e-mail eaf3@cornell.edu. 26

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Photo: Martha Howell Young Flower Garden, Julie Magura.

Scoop it and dump it!

cornellplantations.org

27


PLANTATIONS WISH LIST

The greatest thing in life is the point of view. It determines the current of our lives.

Help make a wish come true! Earn while they learn.

—Liberty Hyde Bailey

Support a Cornell student and Plantations by funding a student employee position in our education, horticulture, or natural areas program for the 2010–11 academic year. $2,500.

What to do at Plantations? Fund the design and installation of a seasonal exhibit in the lobby of the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center. Four feature exhibits each year will highlight a specific horticultural collection, garden, or natural area, or a special project currently under way at Plantations. $2,500.

Save the hemlocks. A highly destructive insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid has been discovered in hemlock trees around Beebe Lake, in the Cascadilla Gorge, and at the Fischer Old Growth Forest (named in memory of Dick Fischer, Cornell’s beloved professor of environmental education). Combat this invasive pest by supporting pesticide treatments before these hemlocks, some 250–350 years old, go the way of the beautiful elm trees that once graced the Cornell campus. $2,500 to protect the trees in Cascadilla Gorge; $5,000 for the Fischer Forest; or $8,000 for Beebe Lake.

Greener wheels. A new, fuel-efficient four-wheel drive utility vehicle will help gardeners transport tools, mulch, and plant material on pathways in the gardens and arboretum. $10,000.

Install three dog valet stations so that dog walkers in the Botanical Garden and Newman Arboretum can easily bag and dispose of pet waste. $500 each.

Where am I? Guide students and visitors in exploring the Plantations Path—nine interconnected walking trails that highlight Cornell’s natural landscape and history. The Plantations Path signs installed in the 1990s are now weathered, and information must be updated. Support the design and fabrication of one or more path signs for $2,000 each. To make a wish come true, or for more information about any of these gift opportunities, contact Beth Anderson, director of development, at 607-254-4727 or e-mail eaf3@cornell.edu. 26

verdant views Summer/Fall 2010

Photo: Martha Howell Young Flower Garden, Julie Magura.

Scoop it and dump it!

cornellplantations.org

27


Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Cornell University

One Plantations Road Ithaca, NY 14850-2799 Address service requested

Upcoming Events

at Cornell Plantations

Fall Adult Education Programs

Join us for any one of these engaging and diverse programs this fall. September 18

Plant Health Care for the Home Landscape with plant health care coordinator Donna Levy

Cornell Plantations Fall Lecture Series September 1

October 27

William H. and Jane Torrence Harder Lecture

William J. Hamilton Lecture

Harry Shaw, Professor of English, Cornell University

Peter Del Tredici, Senior Research Scientist, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

Is Nature Natural? A View From Britain Garden party following lecture.

September 25

Home Grown Garlic with gardener and garlic grower Glenn Bucien September 9 – 11

The Joy of Botanical Illustration with local artist Camille Doucet

October 19

Honeybees in the Garden with volunteer educator Liz Kyle

October 2 Forest Farming Open House at the MacDaniels Nut Grove Botanical illustration, Mynica pensylvanica ‘Bayberry’, by Betty E. Rowley.

For more information, call 607-255-2400 or e-mail Kevin Moss, community outreach coordinator, at km274@cornell.edu.

Visit cornellplantations.org for more details about our events.

September 15 Elizabeth E. Rowley Lecture

Designing with Flora of the American East

Wild Urban Plants

November 10 Class of 1945 Lecture

Spirit of John Muir, American Naturalist Lee Stetson, actor, interpreter, educator

Carolyn Summers, author

September 29 Audrey O’Connor Lecture

Wicked Plants–The Deliciously Dark Side of the Plant Kingdom Amy Stewart, author

October 13

Earthworms in the Forest: Blessing or Curse? Tim Fahey, Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Natural Resources, Cornell University First lecture, Warren Hall B45, Cornell University, 5:30 p.m. All other lectures, Statler Hall Auditorium, Cornell University, 7:30 p.m.


Verdant Views Issue 1