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Visit our climate change demonstration garden!

1 year 18 weeks ago
Through a partnership with faculty in Cornell’s Horticulture and Landscape Architecture departments, we recently installed a climate change demonstration garden in the Pounder Vegetable Garden. An unheated greenhouse known as a high tunnel creates a warmer environment allowing students and faculty to study the effects of higher temperatures on the plants growing inside and outside the high tunnel. The garden is also used to help visitors better understand climate change and the impacts it may have on our home gardens. Learn more here in the Cornell Chronicle article, “High tunnels at Plantations to simulate climate change.”

Enjoy the gorges safely this summer

1 year 18 weeks ago

The Campus Gorges are the most spectacular parts of Cornell's natural areas, swimming in them is extremely unsafe and not permitted. Learn more about how you can enjoy Cornell's gorges and where you can access swimming areas in the Chronicle article, "Gorge safety is paramount in Cornell summers."

New addition protects key parcel at Ringwood Ponds Natural Area

1 year 18 weeks ago
We recently acquired a biologically significant 10-acre parcel at the headwaters of Cascadilla Creek, which is now part of the Ringwood Ponds Natural Area. The purchase was made possible through a bargain sale and gift from John Semmler, and with financial support from the Town of Dryden. With this acquisition, Plantations  extended its protection to an area that has been long recognized for supporting locally and regionally important natural resources.
The Ringwood Ponds Natural Area is noted for its complex, rolling glacial topography, with steep slopes, kames, eskers, kettle hole ponds, and forested wetlands. The landscape is dominated by maple-beech forest, with smaller areas of oak-hickory, hemlock, and red maple swamp forest. A large part of the forests have not been logged for over 130 years, and are considered near old-growth.

Plantations’ conservation efforts at Ringwood Ponds began in 1934 with the gift of 114 acres by the Lloyd Library and Museum of Cincinnati, Ohio. Additional donations and acquisitions have now brought the total protected holdings to 230 acres. The new preserve addition was dedicated on May 24, 2014, and will be known as the Andrew Semmler Tract, named in memory of John Semmler’s son.

Andrew Semmler was a young man who enjoyed nature and spent many hours with his father exploring the woodlands around his home. When he passed away in December 2013, John Semmler wanted to honor his son’s memory and love of the outdoors by helping Plantations preserve the natural area.

“I believe that this addition to the Ringwood Ponds Natural Area creates a more well-defined boundary between this unique preserve and one of the privately-owned parcels it borders. More important for me, it permanently recognizes Andrew's love of nature in a way that would have been truly meaningful to him.”

“We are thankful for the generosity of Mr. Semmler, the Town of Dryden, and a number of Ringwood neighbors and Plantations donors, who contributed funds to protect this tract,” stated Todd Bittner, director of Natural Areas at Cornell Plantations. “This addition to our 3,400 acres of natural area holdings will expand the diversity of habitats and unique landscapes available for use as outdoor classrooms for Cornell and other educators. Plantations protects and manages a system of 44 preserves that facilitate world-class research in the natural sciences for hundreds of University students and faculty annually. We are grateful that Mr. Semmler’s gift will not only honor his son, but will benefit researchers and students for generations.”

The Andrew Semmler Tract and Ringwood Ponds Natural Area are approximately 7 miles east of Cornell University and are open to the public. Click here to learn more about this valuable natural area.

Get an update on the repair of the Cascadilla Gorge trail

1 year 18 weeks ago

Cascadilla Gorge Trail is slated to be fully open in time for the students' return in late summer. Read more in the May 29 Ithaca Times article "Cornell Restores Cascadilla Gorge Trail."


Gardener Krissy Boys offers advice on controlling garlic mustard

1 year 18 weeks ago

Krissy Boys spends much of her time removing garlic mustard in the Mundy Wildflower Garden. Learn more about this invasive plant and advice from Krissy in the May 13 Ithaca Times article, "To Pull Or Not To Pull: Research Questions Garlic Mustard Control."

Mary Hirshfeld, Director of Horticulture, Retires

1 year 21 weeks ago
Cornell Plantations announces the retirement of the organization’s director of horticulture, Mary Hirshfeld. Her decision to retire will bring to a close an amazing career of 36 years of continuous dedication to Cornell Plantations.

Christopher Dunn, the new director of Cornell Plantations, remarked, “Although I have not been at Plantations very long, it is obvious to me, in every new discovery I make in our gardens and arboretum, that Mary’s hands have touched and molded these areas. She has helped Plantations to carry on Liberty Hyde Bailey’s dream of a ‘new type of botanical garden.’ On behalf of myself, our staff, and volunteers we are incredibly grateful to Mary for her 36 years of making Plantations a beautiful and inspirational place.”

During her tenure, Hirshfeld led the horticultural development of the botanical garden and F.R. Newman Arboretum.  With a goal of having a rich and diverse pallet of plants, Hirshfeld helped create noted gardens such as the the Bowers Rhododendron Collection, the Mullestein Family Winter Garden, the Treman Woodland Walk and the Zucker Shrub Collection to name just a few.  Hirshfeld also led the way for Plantations to become a member of the North American Plant Collections Consortium, which is a network of botanical gardens and arboreta to preserve key plant species and to promote high standards of plant collections management for its diverse collection of maples and oaks.  Today, Plantations’ botanical gardens and the arboretum serve as models for exemplary horticulture, featuring 12,000 accessioned plants comprising over 50,000 individual plants, all of which were selected to showcase the value of plants in our lives. 

Reflecting on her career at Plantations, Hirshfeld said "Over the past 36 years I have had the pleasure of watching and helping Cornell Plantations grow into a world-class Public Garden.  I've seen transformation after transformation, and I'm grateful to my dedicated staff that has helped us achieve that world-class recognition. If it were not for them, we wouldn't be where we are today. I'm comfortable in the thought that my team will be able to continue the work that we've started together, and look forward to watching Cornell Plantations grow forward.”

Cornell Plantations will conduct a national search to choose Hirshfeld’s successor in the coming months.

Click here to watch a short interview with Mary on her last day.

Celebrate National Public Gardens Day - TODAY!

1 year 21 weeks ago

Come celebrate National Public Gardens Day at Cornell Plantations, and
discover the region’s premier public garden with tours, sales, art, and
coffee!Come celebrate National Public Gardens Day at Cornell Plantations, and
discover the region’s premier public garden. Enjoy an early morning bird
walk in the Arboretum, a guided “highlights” tour of the botanical
garden, and a tour of our Sustainable Backyard demonstration garden;
stop by the Nevin Welcome Center to browse the art exhibition, take
advantage of the one-day gift shop sale and enjoy a free cup of Gimme!

The gardens and grounds are yours to explore on your own from dawn until
dusk. All activities except the morning bird walk will take place in
the botanical garden and Nevin Welcome Center, on Plantations Road. The
Welcome Center will be open from 9:30 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free;
however, there is a fee for parking at the Welcome Center from 7:00 a.m.
until 5:00 p.m. (first hour is free). 

    Schedule of Activities:

* 8:00 a.m.:  Morning Bird Walk – F.R. Newman Arboretum. (Meet by the Sculpture Garden. Free parking available.)

* 12:00 noon: Botanical Garden Highlights Tour

* 2:00 p.m.: Sustainable Backyard Tour

* 9:30 – 5:00 p.m.:  Art exhibition - “Plant Portraits through the Season,” by Margaret Corbit.

* 9:30 – 5:00 p.m.:  One-day only sale in the Gift Shop: members receive
30% off most items; non-members receive 15%. Free cup of Gimme! coffee.

Spring means salamanders migrating by the thousands

1 year 22 weeks ago
When the weather turns warmer, it is a cue to many salamanders to find ponds or other wetlands to lay their eggs. Many rely on Plantations Natural Areas including Ringwood Ponds, a local hotspot for a rich diversity of amphibians. Read about the challenges these salamanders face during their migration in the Ithaca Times article, "Local Salamanders Run the Gantlet."

Invasive vines swallow up New York's natural areas

1 year 23 weeks ago

Plantations' staff spend much effort working to curb the spread of invasive species like pale swallow-wort in many of our natural areas. Read morePlantations' staff spend much effort working to curb the spread of invasive species like pale swallow-wort in many of our natural areas. Learn about what is being done about the spread of pale swallowwort in the April 23 Cornell Chronicle article, "invasive vines swallow up New York's natural areas."

Spring is a time to hit the hiking trails

1 year 23 weeks ago
Warmer weather means more people enjoying the outdoors, often on one of the multitude of trails maintained throughout the region. There are many trails in Cornell Plantations' wide range of natural areas to enjoy this spring. Read about how Cornell Plantations, the Finger Lakes Land Trust and the Cayuga Trails Club work to maintain their trails and how you can help in the April 19th Ithaca Times article, "Spring means heavier trail use."

Part of Cascadilla Gorge Trail is Reopened

1 year 25 weeks ago
The Cascadilla Gorge Trail, between Linn Street and Stewart Avenue, is now reopened after being closed for the winter.  The trail weathered the winter relatively well, having only minor railing damage upon initial inspection.  Major repair work on upstream sections of the trail will commence this spring, with contractors starting where they left off last year, rebuilding the large staircase sections below the College Avenue Bridge. The current plan will have the trail fully restored and reopened this summer.

The F. R. Newman Arboretum is now open to vehicles

1 year 26 weeks ago
We're excited to announce that Spring has sprung at Plantations!  The F. R. Newman Arboretum will open to vehicular traffic on Friday, April 4, 2014 at noon heralding the start to Spring.

The F. R. Newman Arboretum is a place for the scientific study and public exhibition of a diversity of trees and shrubs. These plantings, all hardy to our area, help foster Plantations’ scientific, educational, and plant appreciation efforts. Here, visitors can learn about and enjoy native species, as well as species imported from similar climate zones around the world.
The arboretum’s collections—including nut trees, crabapples, oaks, maples, shrubs, and urban trees—comprise a 100-acre pastoral setting. Specialty gardens in the arboretum include the Zucker Shrub Collection and the Treman Woodland Walk. The rolling hills and valleys, or “bowls,” were carved out by Fall Creek following the retreat of the last glacier over 10,000 years ago. The arboretum’s overlooks and benches provide visitors with panoramic views.

The F. R.Newman Arboretum is open daily from dawn until dusk. 

Meet Christopher Dunn (in three minutes and 30 questions!)

1 year 26 weeks ago
Meet Dr. Christopher Dunn, Plantations' new E. N. Wilds Director. April 1st was his first day on the job and we asked him a few questions to give us a better understanding of who he is and his thoughts about Cornell Plantations.

Click here to view a three minute video to get to know him a little better. We hope you enjoy meeting him!

Learn more about Christopher in his April 23 interview with the Ithaca Times, "New Plantations Director:Plants Integrated into Culture."

Exhibit explores Haudenosaunee symbolism of the "Tree of Peace"

1 year 27 weeks ago
On display now through the end of July, visit the exhibit "Ögwe ö:weh Consciousness as Peace," which focuses on the Haudenosaunee symbolism of “The Tree of Peace,” also known as the white pine (Pinus strobus), one of the oldest trees in North America. The exhibit features a beaded tree titled, “Ganradaisgowah-Peace Tree” (shown here) by renowned Cayuga artist Samuel Thomas and a replica of the “Dust or The Ever-growing Tree” wampum, each the embodiment of Haudenosaunee “The Tree of Peace.”

This exhibit is a collaboration with Cornell University's American Indian Program.

Plantations contributes to Cornell's STARS gold rating

1 year 27 weeks ago
In the continuing effort to save energy, enhance environmental operations and increase sustainability research and education, Cornell earned its third consecutive gold STARS rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. STARS – the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System – is a self-reporting tool that colleges and universities can use to measure progress and compare their rankings. Cornell moved up a notch – at 73.34 – to become one of 58 schools earning gold status out of 308 rated schools for 2013.

As the caretaker of much of Cornell’s natural landscapes, efforts by Cornell Plantations staff contribute to this rating in several ways.

Native Plants: The STARS rating systems recognizes universities for making efforts to use native plants in landscaped areas. There has been a long-standing practice of prioritizing and using native plants in campus landscaping, both in the maintained grounds as well as in the campus natural and cultivated landscapes that are used for teaching, research and conservation. At Cornell Plantations, a bioswale garden was constructed in 2010 to filter rainwater using native plants. Additionally, Plantations Natural Areas program dedicates much effort to restoring Cornell’s natural areas by removing invasive plant species and re-establishing native plants. These efforts and many others are guided by Cornell Plantations’ invasive species plant policy.

Management of natural landscapes: The STARS metrics recognizes institutions that have programs in place to protect and/or create wildlife habitat on institution-owned land. Cornell Plantations manages and protects two gorges, 70,425 feet of streams and riparian habitats, mature and successional forests, marsh, wet meadow, and old field habitats, as well as our Botanic Garden and F.R. Newman Arboretum. These areas, which comprise 32% of the campus, are actively protected and managed to support the educational mission of the University. Management activities include monitoring, habitat establishment, natural areas restoration, naturalization, invasive species control, and deer over-population management.

Integrated Pest Management: Cornell was recognized for carrying out the practice of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), an approach to controlling insects, weeds and plant diseased to maintain the health of living landscapes plants while minimizing the use of chemical pesticides. Cornell Plantations’ botanical garden and F. R. Newman Arboretum make up a large part of the campus’ cultivated landscape and staff follow an established IPM procedure to control pests which include naturalized landscape design that emphasizes a diversity of species, careful site selection and preparation, use of hearty, disease- and pest-resistant varieties, proper frequencies of watering, pruning, and mowing, mulching and introduction of naturally occurring organisms to control pests.

Read more about Cornell's STARS rating in the March 13 Cornell Chronicle article, “For a greening Cornell, three is a gold STARS charm."

To learn more about Cornell Plantations Natural Areas program, click here.

Ögwe ö:weh Consciousness as Peace

1 year 28 weeks ago
We invite you to join us for Ögwe ö:weh Consciousness as Peace, a symposium and exhibit opening this Friday, March 21 from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Nevin Welcome Center.

The symposium and exhibition will focus on the Haudenosaunee symbolism of “The Tree of Peace,” also known as the white pine or Pinus strobus, one of the oldest trees in North America. The white pine is the only five-needled tree in New York State, and has been used by generations of Haudenosaunee storytellers to depict the "bundling" of five nations together under one law.






The program is a collaborative effort by Cornell University’s American Indian Program and Cornell Plantations:

  • 3:00 - 4:00 p.m: Staff from the American Indian Program and Cornell Plantations will discuss the new exhibit featuring, a beaded tree titled, “Ganradaisgowah-Peace Tree” by renowned Cayuga artist, Samuel Thomas and a replica of the “Dust or The Ever-growing Tree” wampum, each the embodiment of Haudenosaunee “The Tree of Peace.”
  • 4:00 - 6:00 p.m: Tom Porter (Sakokwenionkwas “The One Who Wins”), an expert in Haudenosaunee history and culture and  Mohawk elder, will host a dialogue with faculty in Cornell’s American Indian Program about “The Tree of Peace”.
  • Coffee, juice and light refreshments will be served.

The exhibit, Ögwe ö:weh Consciousness as Peace, will be on display from March 21 through July 2014. For more information about the exhibition and symposium, view our calendar or contact the American Indian Program website or call 607-255-6587.

"Painting the Plantations Through Students' Eyes" on display

1 year 30 weeks ago
Visit the Nevin Welcome Center during March and April to view watercolor paintings of trees and landscapes created by students of Camille Doucet in classes at Cornell Plantations.

Calling all high school students!

1 year 31 weeks ago
Plantations’ Environmental Education Program for Sustainability (PEEPS) –  an outdoor, hands-on apprenticeship for teens focusing on plants, environmental appreciation and education –  is seeking applicants. Who should apply? High school students interested in learning about plants, the natural environment, and sustainable practices in fun and engaging ways!

The program runs outside of the school schedule during the spring, summer, and fall. Students receive a monetary reward after they complete the program in the fall and are encouraged to return each year to build new skills that come with each progressive tier. Students currently in 8th-10th grade are eligible to apply.

“This is a great opportunity for area students who are interested in the natural world and in sustainability to get hands-on experience,” stated Donna Levy, teen program coordinator at Cornell Plantations. “Since the inception of this program we have seen students cultivate their passions for being green, make serious commitments to making their planet a better place, and really starting in their own backyards. As a life long educator, it’s really an awesome thing to see.”

Teens in the program create a “Sustainable Backyard” garden, which is on display in the Botanical Garden at Cornell Plantations.  They participate in weekly interpretive hikes and field trips, community projects, mentoring and leadership opportunities, and discussions around environmental topics. High School students come in regular contact with Cornell students, faculty, and staff and are exposed to many Cornell resources for an extraordinary experience.

Since the number of students accepted is limited, it is important for interested students to submit applications by the deadline of March 7, 2014.

The application window for PEEPS (Plantations Environmental Education Program for Sustainability) is now open and we will be accepting online applications until March 7, 2014.

Click here to learn more and to apply.

Cornell Plantations receives grant to expand interpretation in the Botanical Garden

1 year 33 weeks ago
What makes a winter garden beautiful? How did rhododendrons and azaleas from China make their way into Cornell’s backyard?  Why is a north-facing slope ideal for growing conifers? Besides love, what did the rose symbolize in ancient mythologies?  Answers to these questions and other fascinating stories can now be told by Cornell Plantations thanks to the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust which granted Plantations $20,000 to develop interpretive signs and books for our Botanical Garden. Over the course of the next year, we will be adding six new interpretive signs around the Botanical Garden, and six new interpretive booklets in Plantations’ Young Flower Garden.

The proposed project will allow for the installation of an introductory panel in almost all garden areas within the botanical garden and to develop interpretive books for one garden.  The purpose of the introductory signs is to introduce visitors to the main idea behind the creation of each garden, orient them to what they can explore, and share fascinating stories behind the plants found in each garden.  The interpretive booklets being developed showcase flowers found in the Young Flower Garden and how they have been depicted in art and literature throughout the world and the cultural importance of the plants.  Additionally, the new booklets are ADA compliant and weather resistant.

“Having a sign at the entrance of each garden is a way to ‘greet’ visitors and share with them what is unique about the garden and what they can experience in the garden.” says Sarah Fiorello, interpretation coordinator for Cornell Plantations.  “These funds will help Cornell Plantations complete the final set of interpretive priorities from our 2009 Interpretive Master Plan and we are thrilled that Stanley Smith granted us this award.”  

The gardens located in the Botanical Garden which are slated for interpretive upgrades are Conifer Slope, the Mullestein Family Winter Garden, Comstock Knoll, and the Young Flower Garden.

The Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust was created in 1970 by May Smith, in honor of her late husband. The Trust supports education and research in ornamental horticulture, primarily in North and South America. Grants up to $20,000 are typically made to botanical gardens, arboreta, and universities.

New Director Named for Cornell Plantations

1 year 34 weeks ago
We are excited to share the news that Christopher P. Dunn, Ph.D. will become the next Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations. 

“Plantations is an integral part of Cornell, serving as both the largest laboratory and richest classroom on campus, while furnishing the university with a unique botanical character unlike that of other institutions of higher learning,” said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in her announcement. “I am confident that Christopher’s depth of experience and passion will foster new opportunities for Plantations to enhance its conservation mission while continuing to promote the enrichment and well-being of the entire Cornell community.”

Click here to read the February 5 Cornell Chronicle article, "Plantations appoints botanist from Hawaii as director."