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Flowering trees in the F. R. Newman Arboretum are bursting with blooms!

4 years 20 weeks ago

If you are able, we encourage you to pay a visit to the F. R. Newman Arboretum. You will not be disappointed. Make sure to stop at Newman Overlook to capture a panoramic view of the dozens of flowering trees dispersed throughout the Arboretum.

This has been a wonderful spring for abundant flowering of trees and shrubs.  But to what degree has the abundant rainfall contributed to this floriferous show?  The answer is really very little.  Spring flowering trees and shrubs bloom from flower buds that were set the previous year.  So it was really the weather conditions last spring and summer that determined the number of floral buds on individual plants.  Another factor is the severity and length of cold this past winter. Although we had some very uncomfortable nights that dipped below zero, we did not have a protracted period of sub-zero temperatures and therefore very few flower buds were winter killed.  Enjoy the show!

Welcome Center Grand Opening Celebration - May 22!

4 years 21 weeks ago



  • Tours of the Rhododendron Collection, 11:30 & 1:30
  • Tours of the Nevin Welcome Center's Green Features, 12:30 & 2:30
  • Live music by Farm Animal 12:00 - 3:00
  • Children's activities
  • Face Painting
  • Exhibits & "Ask a Gardener"
  • Botanical arts demonstration

Come celebrate the new ultra-sustainable Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center located in the beautiful botanical gardens of the Cornell Plantations on Sunday, May 22 from 11 am to 4 pm.  There will be fun for the whole family - lively music, a "green" tour of the building, tours of our gardens, exhibits, refreshments, and fun activities for kids of all ages!  The grand opening celebration is free and open to the public.  The days music will be provided by Farm Animal – fiddle music of the American Southeast.

 “We are thrilled to be able to share this celebration with the Ithaca community,” stated Billy Kepner of Cornell Plantations.  “The completion of the Welcome Center represents 10 years of transformations for Plantations -- we now have a central location to greet our visitors, orient them, and provide them with amenities like they’ve never had before at Plantations.  All within the glass and steel walls of this amazing ultra-sustainable building!”

 The Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center is named for Brian C. Nevin ’50, at the request of the primary benefactor, C. Sherwood “Woody” Southwick Jr.  The Welcome Center was dedicated on October 28, 2010 and was opened to visitors in February of this year. The Nevin Welcome Center is designed to achieve Gold LEED certification, and is also a significant step forward in Plantations’ and Cornell’s commitment to sustainability.

Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, the designers of the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center at the Cornell Plantations, have received a “Design Excellence” award from the Ontario Architects’ Association for their work on the Nevin Welcome Center. This is the second such designation the Plantations’ Nevin Welcome Center has received.  Earlier in the year the architects received an Award of Excellence from Canadian Architect magazine and online journal.

Cornell Plantations is the botanical gardens, arboretum, and natural areas of Cornell University, and is a member of Ithaca’s Discovery Trail partnership. Plantations is open to the public year-round, free of charge, during daylight hours. For more information call 607-255-2400, or visit Find us on Facebook.

Free coffee and gift shop discounts on May 6th, National Public Gardens Day!

4 years 22 weeks ago

Scheduled for May 6th, 2011, the Friday preceding Mother’s Day weekend, National Public Gardens Day is a national day of awareness in which communities nationwide are invited to visit and learn about the important role their public gardens play in promoting environmental stewardship and awareness, plant and water conservation, and education. Now in its third year celebrating America’s public gardens, National Public Gardens Day was created in partnership between the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) and irrigation product and service provider, Rain Bird

In celebration of botanical gardens, arboreta, conservatories, educational gardens and historical landscapes, many of the APGA’s 500 member institutions will mark the day with special events and activities for schools, families and thousands of visitors. Cornell Plantations will be offering free Gimme! Coffee to all of its visitors, along with a 10% discount on all Plantations branded merchandise for non-members and an additional 5% discount for members!
“We are very pleased to participate for the first time in this national celebration of public gardens,” stated Dr. Don Rakow, the E. N. Wilds director of Cornell Plantations.  “In addition to exploring our early-season gardens, we hope that visitors that day will become acquainted with our wonderful new Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center.”

Art Exhibit "Changing Vistas: Arboretum Landscapes in Pastels" by Carol Abitabilo Ast on display in the Nevin Welcome Center during May and June

4 years 22 weeks ago

Carol Ast's paintings have been appreciated for the feelings of peace and serenity they convey. Her reverence for the natural world is evident in her realistic portrayals of the scenes around her, whose location she often identifies to enable people to see it through “her” eyes, and to provide future generations with a view into the past. A number of paintings in this display are landscapes of Cornell Plantations including the painting below titled, "Midnight Fire Dogwoods Along Grossman Pond."

She has exhibited in exhibitions of the Pastel Society of the West Coast and the Pastel Society of New Mexico, and in galleries in Maine and New York. Recently her paintings were included in the group show Works from O'Keeffe's Backyard at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico. In August, 2010, Ast had a solo show (The Sky's the Limit) in Ithaca, New York, at the State of the Art Gallery. Currently one of her pastel paintings has been accepted into the 7th Northeast National Pastel Exhibition at Old Forge, NY, which will open later this month.   

Please visit her website at for more information and an extensive view of her works, including the August solo show.

Architects behind the Plantations’ Welcome Center receives a ‘Design Excellence’ award from the Ontario Architects’ Association

4 years 26 weeks ago

Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, the designers of the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center, will receive a “Design Excellence” award from the Ontario Architects’ Association in May for their work on this dynamic new building. This is the second such designation the Plantations’ Nevin Welcome Center has received.  Earlier in the year the architects received an Award of Excellence from Canadian Architect magazine and online journal.
Fifteen new buildings in Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Orillia, Montréal, Kitchener, Vancouver, and Ithaca (New York) have been recognized as leading examples of architecture by receiving ‘Design Excellence’ awards. There were 150 submissions and the Jury unanimously agreed on the consistent high level of quality in the 2011 winning projects.

(Architect Jon Neuert speaking at the October, 2010 dedication of the Nevin Welcome Center)

The Nevin Welcome Center is named for Brian C. Nevin ’50, at the request of the primary benefactor, C. Sherwood “Woody” Southwick Jr. A grand opening celebration for the Ithaca community will be held May 22, 2011 from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM.  There will be fun for the whole family - lively music, a "green" tour of the building, tours of our gardens, exhibits, refreshments, and fun activities for kids!

Student art exhibit "Expending Turf" on display at the Nevin Welcome Center during April

4 years 27 weeks ago

During the spring semester of 2010, fifteen students in the Print Media Special Topics class “Turfs: Invasive Species as Art” at Cornell University, taught by Gregory Page, assistant professor of art, visited several Cornell Plantations Natural Areas to study the impacts and natural history of invasive species. The work resulting from that trip is on display at the Nevin Welcome Center during the Month of April.

The students initially produced drawings of various specimens during the visit, and then produced three portfolios of traditional lithographs printed from stones in a limited edition of twenty impressions.

“We’re very excited to be able to showcase student artwork in the gallery space here at the Nevin Welcome Center,” stated Diane Miske, visitor services coordinator at the Cornell Plantations.  “It’s our goal to focus on exhibitions that relate to our mission and serve our community, and that’s exactly what “Expending Turf” does!”

Concurrently, “Motifs from My Backyard” by Gregory Page will be on display in the Ten-Eyck room of the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center.

There will be an opening reception for these exhibitions at the welcome center on Friday, April 8th from 7:00 to 9:00 pm   The reception is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served.  The reception will include a screening of “Motifs from My Back Yard” a film by Gregory Page Collaborating with videographer Lindsey Glover, which focuses on Page's use of horticultural forms as motifs featuring the gardens and lithographic techniques. 

The funds for this exhibition and DVD were provided by the Dean’s Professional Development Funds in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning

Take part in the hemlock woolly adelgid monitoring workshop

4 years 30 weeks ago

Cornell Plantations and the Department of Natural Resources are organizing a workshop aimed at training volunteers to identify and report new hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) infestations.  This newly arrived invasive insect pest threatens eastern hemlock trees and the biodiversity they support, causing a cascade of environmental changes for some amphibians, fish, invertebrates, and plants in response to the increased light and warmer temperatures.  Hemlock woolly adelgids were first reported in the central Finger Lakes region in mid-2008, but now inhabit at least 25 local sites.  Early detection of new sites is a high priority, and local conservation groups are organizing volunteer surveys as a critical first step in managing this devastating invasive species. 

The workshops will feature a presentation by Mark Whitmore on the adelgid’s biology and the threat it poses to local hemlock forests. Participants will visit Beebe Lake to observe hemlock woolly adelgids first-hand and gain experience in detection, monitoring, and reporting protocols. 

Participants will also have the opportunity to volunteer in the “Adopt-a-Hemlock” program to conduct surveys and report new infestations in local hemlock forests. Photo by Mark Whitmore.

The workshop will be held on Saturday, March 19th from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. at Plantations’ new Nevin Welcome Center in the Botanical Garden, located at One Plantations Road on the Cornell campus.

Pre-registration is not required.  Visit here for more information on hemlock woolly adelgid or to report new occurrences.

Art exhibit "In a Favorable Light" on display at the Nevin Welcome Center now through the end of March

4 years 33 weeks ago

"In a Favorable Light" is a display of 11 color photographs by F. Robert Wesley.

Robert Wesley is staff botanist at Cornell Plantations, working principally in the Natural Areas Program, and an instructor in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell. He has a deep, lifelong interest in field photography, particularly of natural, history subjects. This group of images represents some of his recent work, and is entirely digital. Many are flowers.

This art exhibition is the first in a series of exhibitions by local artists, to be shown in the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center in the Botanical Garden.

Cornell Plantations director co-authored first textbook on public gardens

4 years 33 weeks ago

Donald A. Rakow, the E.N. Wilds director of Cornell Plantations, and Sharon A. Lee, consultant and former deputy director of the American Public Gardens Association, have co-authored Public Garden Management, the first textbook to be published that covers the establishment and operation of public gardens.

According to Rakow, “We undertook this project to address the pressing need for a fundamental text on all aspects and functions of the many types of public gardens, including botanical gardens, arboreta, display gardens, historic landscapes, zoos, and conservatories.”

Long recognized as museums with living collections of plants, public gardens today are on the front lines of conservation efforts with educational and research programs focused on promoting a better understanding of the value of plants in maintaining a sustainable environment.

Public Garden Management is a comprehensive reference book that covers every aspect of public gardens including their design, facilities, administration, educational programming, outreach, and research operations from inception to maturity. It also delves into the history and significance of these unique institutions, with their living collections, beautiful landscapes, and mix of public programming and research initiatives.

The book is actually three books in one:  a textbook for undergraduates majoring in horticulture, a guidebook for those visionaries who want to establish a new public garden, and an operations manual for staff at existing public gardens.  The authors and their collaborators kept the book practically focused through a careful mix of overarching concepts, examples of how those concepts are demonstrated in the experiences of actual public gardens, and sources that can expand upon those concepts.

Published by John Wiley & Sons, co-published by the American Public Gardens Association, and sponsored by Longwood Gardens, Inc., the textbook is a significant step for the public garden world. As Rakow notes,  “We collaborated with 36 subject matter experts to gather into a single text the collective wisdom in our field. We are excited that the public garden profession finally has its own textbook.”

Nevin Welcome Center now open!

4 years 34 weeks ago

When you visit Cornell Plantations,  make your fist stop the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center! Say hello to our visitor services staff, plan your visit with the help of our interpretive exhibits, and browse our new merchandise in our gift shop, which includes our new logo on a variety of apparel. In the coming weeks, we will be serving coffee, tea, and light fare. See you at the Welcome Center!


Current Welcome Center hours are Tuesday- Saturday, 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Cornell Plantations expands protection of unique ecosystem

4 years 37 weeks ago

 Conserving the Natural Areas of the Caroline Pinnacles

Cornell Plantations is pleased to announce the successful protection of a ten-acre addition to the Caroline Pinnacles Natural Area in the Town of Caroline. The addition, which was acquired through a land trade and donation, increases Plantations’ protected lands within the Bald Hill and Caroline Pinnacles Natural Areas to 254 acres. 

“Our interest in protecting the Caroline Pinnacles originates from the educational value it possesses and the significance of its unique natural features,” stated Todd Bittner, director of the Cornell Plantations Natural Areas program.  “For the past 150 years, naturalists, botanists and Cornell students have explored the steeply sloping hillsides to study the area’s unique environments.”

Caroline Pinnacles derives its name from one of the region’s most dramatic examples of a valley slope over-steepened by glaciers, which gouged at the valley-side as they moved back and forth through the White Church Valley over the millennia. 

The west-southwest-facing aspect found there promotes harsh,dry growing conditions.  Near the pinnacle’s top, rock outcrops are present, and the stature of the oak forests is dwarfed by exposure.  The resulting open forests are dominated by chestnut oak (Quercus montana), red oak (Q. rubra), andblack oak (Q. velutina).  Of particular significance is the presence of two plant species, hair grass (Deschampsia flexuosa) and lyrate rock-cress (Arabidopsis lyrata), which have their only known occurrence in the Cayuga Lake basin here.  At least 18 locally rare or scarce species ofvascular plants and vertebrates, including mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), pitch pine (Pinus rigida), and coal skink (Eumeces anthracinus), are also found in this unusual dry, warm, rocky habitat. 

View map of Caroline Pinnacles.

Get directions to Caroline Pinnacles.

The mission of the Cornell Plantations Natural Areas Program is to preserve and maintain natural areas in the Central Finger Lakes region, in order to foster natural heritage conservation, research and educational efforts.


Photo-humor workshop with Flash Rosenberg at Plantations during the Light in Winter Festival

4 years 39 weeks ago

Calling anyone who has taken a picture, had their picture taken, or ever seen a picture! New York City's acclaimed cartoonist/photographer/performer Flash Rosenberg will share her secret strategies for capturing the funny things we see each day and transforming them into a heightened form of wit. Bring paper and pencil (or whatever electronic note-making system you prefer).

When: Sunday, Jan 23, 2011 from 10am to 12noon

Where: Nevin Welcome Center in the Botanical Gardens

Cost: $15. Tickets can be purchased online via the Light In Winter Festival website (

Cornell Natural Area part of successful research on the control of the harmful insect hemlock woolly adelgid

4 years 39 weeks ago

The United States Forest Service recently released the article, "Glimmer of hope for northeast hemlocks," documenting how research on the release of a predatory beetle, Laricobius nigrinus, has a good chance of helping to control the spread of the invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Eastern hemlock trees infested with the hemlock wooly adelgid often die, and since many plants and animals rely on the habitat created by eastern hemlock, it is critical to protect hemlock populations.

The Edwards Lake Cliffs Natural Area at Cornell Plantations is one site where this research has taken place.

Read more about Cornell Plantations efforts to control the spread of the hemlock woolly adelgid.

Parking at the Botanical Garden

4 years 39 weeks ago

Beginning January 3, 2011, the new parking area at the Nevin Welcome Center (in the Botanical Garden) is now a “Pay and Display” metered lot.  The lot will be monitored from 7:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. on Monday through Friday.  Parking is available for up to three hours at  $1.50 per hour, and the meter will accept both cash and credit/debit cards.  Parking at the Nevin Center is free after 5:00 and on weekends, and there is always free parking in the F. R. Newman Arboretum and at the entrance to the Wildflower Garden

Nevin Welcome Center architects receive Award of Excellence for the building's design

4 years 42 weeks ago


 December 17th, 2010: Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, the designers of the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center, is one of six recipients of the 2010 Awards of Excellence from Canadian Architect magazine and online journal for their work on the Nevin Welcome Center.

Awards of Excellence are given each year to architects and architectural graduates for buildings in the design stage. One of only two Canadian award programs devoted exclusively to architecture, the Awards of Excellence have recognized significant building projects in Canada or by Canadian architects on an annual basis since 1968.

“We are delighted that Canadian Architect magazine has chosen to recognize the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center with this prestigious award,” states the E. N. Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations, Donald A. Rakow. “The building brilliantly blends indoor spaces with views to the gardens outdoors, resulting in a harmonious, immersive experience for the visitor.”

Awards are given for architectural design excellence. Jurors considered response to the program, site, geographical and social context, and evaluated physical organization, structure, materials and environmental features.

The Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center was dedicated on October 28, 2010 and will be open to visitors in late January 2011. A grand opening celebration for the Ithaca community will be held May 22, 2011. Designed to achieve Gold LEED certification, the Nevin Welcome Center is also a significant step forward in Plantations’ and Cornell’s commitment to sustainability.


Click here to read the online article published by Canadian Architect.

Cascadilla Gorge Trail closed for the winter

4 years 42 weeks ago


December 13th, 2010: Please take notice that the Cascadilla Gorge Trail from Linn Street
downtown to College Avenue is closed for the winter season. This section of the gorge trail will remain closed until all snow and ice have cleared in spring.

Listen to radio show "In the Garden" with Andre Viette which aired from Cornell Plantations.

4 years 47 weeks ago

On Saturday November 6th, the radio show "In The Garden" with Andre Viette aired from Cornell Plantations. Andre hosted this weekly call-in show from the Lewis Building in the Botanical Gardens and interviewed Plantations staff Irene Lekstutis (Landscape Designer), Todd Bittner (Director of Natural Areas), and Sonja Skelly (Director of Education). 

Click here to download a copy of the show (as a podcast). Please note, there is a different file for each hour. The subject for Saturday's files should read: ANDRE BROADCASTS FROM CORNELL UNIVERSITY.

Partial section of the lower Cascadilla Gorge Trail reopened!

4 years 48 weeks ago

On October 18th, Cornell Plantations completed repairs to the lower section of the gorge trail between Linn Street and Stewart Avenue, and has reopened it to the public.  The partially open trail is accessible from the renovated entrance at Treman Triangle in downtown Ithaca.  The section of trail between Stewart Avenue and College Avenue remains closed and under construction in order to address safety hazards on and around the gorge trail identified in a 2008 trail assessment. Through funding provided by Cornell University, work continues to restore and open this section. A project completion date has not been set. During construction, visitors are reminded that portions of the trail are extremely dangerous, and are strongly urged to observe the "Posted Trail Closed" signs.

Cornell Plantations dedicates new ultra green welcome center

4 years 49 weeks ago

With its light-filled atrium and lobby surrounded by walls of windows and skylights, the Cornell Plantations' Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center was dedicated Oct. 28, culminating a decade of building and renovation projects at the Plantations.

Read more of this Cornell Chronicle online article on October 29, 2010.

Judd Falls Road closure may affect your route to Cornell Plantations from September 22nd through October 1st

5 years 2 weeks ago
If you are planning to visit Wednesday September 22 through Friday October 1st, please be aware that Judd Falls Road between Forest Home Drive and Tower Road will be closed during construction working hours from during from 7 am to 5 pm.

Alternate Route: In leiu of accessing Plantations Road to the Botanical Garden via Judd Falls Road, we suggest accessing Plantations Road from Caldwell Road, just east of Judd Falls Road, or from Forest Home Drive, at the west end of Plantations Road.

Detour signs will be posted to assist with traffic around the road closure.