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Celebrate Don Rakow’s 20 Years of Leadership

2 years 9 weeks ago

At the suggestion of many of our members and friends, we are establishing a new fund in Don Rakow’s honor at Cornell Plantations. Charitable gifts,memberships, and endowment income provide 80% of Plantations' operating budget. Your gift will help Plantations continue to create beautiful gardens, preserve irreplaceable natural areas, and offer unique programs about the importance of plants in our lives.



To make a gift in honor of Don, please click here or send a check to Cornell Plantations, Attn: Beth Anderson, 1 Plantations Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850. For more information, contact Beth Anderson or call 607-254-4727.

Click here to read more about Don's accomplishments.

Cornell Plantations Announces Leadership Transition

2 years 10 weeks ago
Cornell Plantations will launch a national search for a new director, following the resignation of Donald Rakow, who will be returning full-time to the Department of Horticulture.

The announcement was made on May 22 by Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

Horticulture professor Chris Wien was named as interim director on June 6.

“Cornell Plantations is one of the most highly regarded public gardens in the nation, with a mission to nurture and grow Cornell’s world-class natural spaces, enhancing the aesthetic, educational and recreational experience enjoyed by campus residents and visitors,” said Boor. “This transition is an opportunity to lead a dynamic portfolio of spaces and programs that serve a diverse audience.”

“Don’s leadership has been a key part of the transformation of Cornell Plantations in the last two decades. I am grateful for his expertise, enthusiasm and partnership,” Boor added. Rakow has been a member of the Cornell faculty since 1987 and joined Cornell Plantations more than 20 years ago. He was the associate director from 1993 through 1995, and was named executive director in 1996. He created and directs the Cornell Graduate Program in Public Garden Leadership, which is one of only two such programs in the nation.

Reflecting on his tenure, Rakow said: “Our growth, even through budget limitations and challenging economic climates, has certainly been among my greatest satisfactions. For so much of this, I credit Plantations’ amazing staff and our incredibly generous donors and advisors.”

Wien will take up the helm as interim Plantations director on July 1. He has previously served as acting director of the Plantations from July 2006 to Jan, 2007. Wien, who received his master’s degree from Cornell in 1967 and his Ph.D in 1971, joined the Department of Vegetable crops as a postdoctoral fellow in 1971, and returned as assistant professor in 1979, after working abroad as a research scientist studying grain legume physiology in Nigeria. He served as chair of the Department of Fruit and Vegetable Science, then the Department of Horticulture, from 1996-2002. His research focus has been the production of cut flowers and herbaceous perennials. He also leads outreach projects encouraging the use of high tunnels among both growers and in school gardens. And he has continued international work in Africa, working with smallholder horticulturists in Zimbabwe, and leading student trips through the Cornell International Institute of Food, Agriculture and Development’s SMART program.

Building on the success of the opening of the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center, Cornell Plantations is now moving forward in the next phase of an ambitious plan to reimagine the Botanical Garden. In the most significant horticultural development since the F. R. Newman Arboretum was created in 1981, the broad expanse of lawn in front of the Nevin Center will be transformed into a beautiful series of new Peony and Perennial Gardens, while the plateau on Comstock Knoll will become a dramatic East Asian Garden. A major initiative to raise almost $7 million for these projects is underway. Goals include $2.7 million for construction and plant material, and $4 million to endow the new horticulturist positions that will be required to maintain the gardens.

Click here to read more about Don Rakow's accomplishments over the past 20 years at Cornell Plantations.

Click here for the CALS news webpage.

Cornell Reunion Weekend 2013 at Cornell Plantations

2 years 11 weeks ago
Cornell Plantations -- the arboretum, botanical garden and natural areas of Cornell University -- welcomes all alumni and their families to Reunion Weekend, June 6-9, 2013.

During Reunion our rhododendrons, irises, and magnolias should be blooming, and you may still find many spring wildflowers in the Mundy Wildflower Garden and natural areas. Take one of our shuttle vans from Barton Hall, West Campus or North Campus, to the Nevin Welcome Center, where you can take a mini-tour, pick up a visitor map and explore on your own, browse the exhibits and gift shop, or just relax and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the gardens and grounds. Our staff is available inside the Welcome Center to answer your questions and help you find your way around.

Welcome back -- to Cornell Plantations!

A variety of tours and programs are planned for Reunion Weekend. Activities are free and are open to all Reunion attendees, the general public and members of the Ithaca community. See below for more information:

Nevin Welcome Center and Gift Shop open daily from 9:30 to 5:00 p.m. during Reunion Weekend.

Shuttle Service to Cornell Plantations
Shuttles to the Nevin Welcome Center at the botanical garden loop continuously between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with stops at Barton Hall (east side, on Garden Ave), West Campus (by the War Memorial flagpole on West Avenue), and North Campus (Helen Newman Hall, on Cradit Farm Drive). Shuttles will also loop to the F.R. Newman Arboretum on an as-needed basis. (Note: there are no shuttles on Sunday, June 9.)

Click HERE to download the Reunion schedule.

Beebe Lake Natural History Tour
Thursday, June 6; 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.  TOUR IS CANCELLED DUE TO RAIN.

Botanical Garden Highlights Tour
Friday, June 7, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Meet in front of the Nevin Welcome Center. Learn more

Mundy Wildflower Garden Tour
Friday, June 7; 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Meet at the Caldwell Road entrance to the Wildflower Garden. Learn more

Botanical Garden Mini-Tours
Friday and Saturday, June 7 and 8; 1:00 – 4:30 p.m. Tours launch approximately every 20 minutes. Meet in front of the Nevin Welcome Center. Learn more

Upper Cascadilla Gorge Hikes
Friday, June 7, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.; AND Saturday, June 8, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Meet in front of the Schwartz Performing Arts Center, Collegetown. Tour ends at Rhodes Hall, Engineering Quad. Learn more

Spring Plant Sale!
Saturday, June 8; 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Plant Production Facility, 397 Forest Home Drive (across from the Flat Rock area of Fall Creek). Learn more

The Hangovers: Allan Hosie Treman '21 Memorial Concert
Saturday, June 8; 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Jackson Grove, F.R. Newman Arboretum.
NOTE: This is an outdoor event, so please bring sunscreen, sun hat, and umbrella (the concert will be held under a tent). Accessibility for disabled persons is limited. Refreshments provided. Shuttle vans will loop to the Arboretum before and after the concert. Learn more

For more information, please call (607) 255-2400.

First 1% for the Planet Gift to Plantations

2 years 11 weeks ago
We are proud to announce that Cornell Plantations has received the first gift through our partnership in 1% for the Planet, from Harney & Sons Fine Teas Company.

1% for the Planet is an alliance of over 1,300 companies in 43 countries that have made a commitment to give one percent of their revenues to environmental causes.  Last year Cornell Plantations was approved as a non-profit partner in the alliance, making us eligible to receive donations from 1% member companies.

Harney and Sons has been a corporate member of 1% since 2006, when owners Michael and Paul Harney decided that joining the alliance would provide the company with the opportunity to drive positive environmental change in their geographical region. (Their production facility in Upstate New York is minutes from the Appalachian Trail and surrounded by mountains in the Berkshire Range.)


To date, the company has donated over half a million dollars to organizations that are 1% non-profit partners.

Harney and Sons has close ties to Cornell. Founder John Harney ’56 and son Michael ’77 are both graduates of the Hotel School, and Michael’s son is a current student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  “In fact, it was Michael Harney, who recommended that we apply to become a non-profit partner in 1% for the Planet,” says Beth Anderson, Plantations’ development director. “So, we are thrilled that Harney and Sons has given our first 1% gift!”

Tulips are a sight in the Young Flower Garden

2 years 13 weeks ago
You could come the Young Flower Garden each week from now until mid fall and see something new at each visit. This garden is designed to highlight different species of plants in bloom throughout the growing season. With the 70 degree days this week, most of the tulips are in full bloom throughout the garden, in a rainbow of purples, pinks, reds, yellows and whites.



We hope you are able to save an hour or two to make a trip to the garden this weekend!

Tulipa "Quebec" (top)

Tulipa "Purissima" (above)

Enjoy signs of spring in our Ringwood Ponds natural area

2 years 15 weeks ago
Todd Bittner, Director of Natural Areas at Cornell Plantations visits Ringwood Ponds Natural Area where the sounds of amphibians are filling the air!  Ringwood Ponds is a really special natural area. It's one of the most diverse amphibian habitats in Tompkins County, NY, and is home to over twelve different species. Enjoy this short two-minute video about this unique Cornell Plantations' natural area:


View our 2012 Annual Report

2 years 15 weeks ago

2012 was a busy and productive year at Plantations. Click here to view our five-minute annual report video.

Cornell Plantations receives the SCUP Excellence in Landscape Architecture Award

2 years 15 weeks ago
Cornell Plantations has received The Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Honor Award for Excellence in Landscape Architecture for the parking and storm water management site plan for the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center. The award will be accepted by Minakshi Amundsen, Cornell University Planner at the SCUP annual conference in July 2013.
In concert with the construction of the Nevin Welcome Center, which was opened in 2011, Cornell Plantations also made significant improvements to the surrounding botanical garden. These improvements started with a new parking area and tour- bus drop off zone. The parking area and arrival plaza were partially constructed of Cornell Structural SoilTM, a special substrate design that allows better root penetration to encourage vigorous tree growth.  The filter strip at the parking area is shaded by trees that will become part of our Urban Tree Collection.  Adjacent to the parking area, a new bioswale provides an innovative landscaping approach that precludes the need for conventional underground drainage systems. The bioswale garden includes plants that can withstand dry and wet conditions, all of which filter surface water runoff from the parking lot and surrounding areas.  In addition to its usefulness, the bioswale has fast become one of the most beloved gardens at Cornell Plantations. “We are thrilled that our hard work and conscientious development has been recognized by this prestigious organization,” stated Don Rakow the E. N. Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations.  “Cornell Plantations strives to be a model of bold, sustainable design in all of our projects.”

About The Society for College and University Planning (SCUP):

SCUP was established in 1965 and is a community of senior, higher education leaders and the professionals who support them who are responsible for or are involved in the integration of planning on their campuses. The Society for College and University (SCUP) Excellence Awards Program began in 2000 to provide a high-quality program that acknowledges innovative, collaborative, multidisciplinary, and integrated approaches to planning and design, and share lessons learned. The program supports the Society’s goals by identifying emerging areas of knowledge and trends, recognizing significant contributions to the field of higher education planning, and enriching SCUP’s body of knowledge by including the experience and expertise of planners and designers throughout the world.

Part of the Cascadilla Gorge Trail is now open

2 years 16 weeks ago

The Cascadilla Gorge Trail, between Lynn Street and Stewart Avenue, is now reopened after being closed for the winter.  The trail weathered the winter relatively well, having no major damage upon initial inspection.  Major repair work on upstream sections of the trail will commence in the next week or two, with contractors starting where they left off last year, rebuilding trail sections below the Stewart Avenue bridge. The current plan is to reopen the fully repaired trail by October of this year.


2 years 16 weeks ago
As wildflowers begin to bloom in the Mundy Wildflower Garden, visitors with a mobile phone can experience this garden in a whole new way. During the month of April, Emily Oliver, a graduate student in creative writing at Cornell University will pair several species of plants with poems – just in time for National Poetry Month. Visitors can take a self-guided audio tour of the Mundy Wildflower Garden (located off of Caldwell Road in Ithaca). As visitors explore the garden they will find signs next to many plants with a number, once called they will hear the scientific and common name of each plant, along with a poem read by the poem’s author.

Ms. Oliver spent the last few years traveling the U.S. to record poets reading their poems, creating the “Knox Writers House,” a ‘map of voices’ literary audio archive. She wanted to find an unusual way to make the recordings accessible to the public and approached Cornell Plantations with the idea of a Poetry Walk.

“I’ve been looking for new ways to repurpose these recordings,” stated Ms. Oliver. “I wanted to use these poems to create new ways for people to experience the art of poetry. As I learned about each flower, it just became clear which poem to choose... the detail of the natural description felt akin to an image or phrase in something I’ve recorded.”

April is National Poetry Month and is the time when early-spring wildflowers are prolific in the Mundy Wildflower Garden –  so pairing poems from the audio collection to blooming wildflowers became the perfect match! Ms. Oliver worked closely with Krissy Boys, who oversees the Mundy Wildflower Garden, to match poems to the essence of each spring wildflower.


View this short interivew with Emily Oliver about her project.