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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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."
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."
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."
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.
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.