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Fabric Banners by Alice Gant on Display at the Nevin Welcome Center

3 years 9 weeks ago

From now through October, you can visit the Nevin Welcome Center to view a collection of Alice Gant's vibrant quilted banners with detailed scenes of gardens and wildlife. Not only are these whimsical banners fun to look at, each one has a tidbit of wisdom to impart to its audience.

View the Nevin Welcome Center hours.

View more of Alice's artwork here.

New Acquisition Connects Two Plantations Natural Areas

3 years 9 weeks ago

Cornell Plantations is pleased to announce the successful protection of a seven-acre addition to the Caroline Pinnacles Natural Area in the Town of Caroline. The addition increases Plantations’ protected lands within the Bald Hill and Caroline Pinnacles Natural Areas to 265 acres, and of equal importance, provides a long sought connection between these two unique preserves. 

“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), and black oak (Q. velutina). 

Many rare or scarce species found here

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 of vascular 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. 

Upcoming Lecture on Thomas Jefferson's Revolutionary Garden

3 years 10 weeks ago

Thomas Jefferson can be described as a man of many talents: inventor, philosopher, and musician, but Jefferson was also an accomplished horticulturist with a passion for the earth.  Peter Hatch, author, garden historian and Monticello’s director of gardens and grounds emeritus, will be on hand to discuss the lasting legacy of Jefferson and his gardens at Monticello on Wednesday, September 26 at 7:30pm in Call Auditorium in Kennedy Hall on Cornell’s campus. 

Peter Hatch will discuss Jefferson’s legacy in food, wine, and gardening and how it has affected the society that we live in today. Jefferson has provided us with a basis for vegetable cuisine, sustainable horticulture, and his gardens still serve to inspire the visitors to Monticello today. 

After a visit to Monticello in 2009, White House chef Sam Kass declared the gardens there, “…the most beautiful I had ever seen.”  So inspired by them, Kass reserved a special section of the new White House Garden for Jefferson’s favorite vegetables.  In the spring of 2010 Hatch was invited to the White House to help First Lady Michelle Obama, Kass, and school children to plant the redesigned White House kitchen garden.

Mr. Hatch told PBS in an interview, “…that Jefferson's interest in gardening really rose from this truly wide-eyed curiosity about the natural world. Even the site for Monticello was chosen not only for its obvious eminence and its glorious views of the central Virginia countryside, but also for its intimacy, for what Jefferson called, ‘the workhouse of nature’…I think that the landscape for Thomas Jefferson was very much a workhouse. And the gardens at Monticello became this laboratory. It was really through gardening that his experiments bore fruit, that his landscape assumed shape and form and color. And this whole drama of the natural world began to unfold under what was really his personal direction.”

Hatch’s lecture will examine a full sample of Jefferson’s favorite vegetables, from salsify to peas, by discussing both how they were grown and prepared at Monticello. He will also explore their history and place in the horticultural world of early nineteenth-century Virginia. Finally, Mr. Hatch will explore the precedent-setting vegetable garden restoration of the early 1980’s and the compelling Jefferson legacy in food and gardening today.

This third lecture in the Cornell Plantations 2012 Fall Lecture Series will take place on September 26 in Call Alumni Auditorium in Kennedy Hall at 7:30 PM.
Peter Hatch is the author of the new book, A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello.  To learn more about Mr. Hatch please visit

Cornell Plantations Natural Area to be Added to the Old-growth Forest Network

3 years 11 weeks ago

Dr. Joan Maloof, ecologist, author, and founder of the Old-Growth Forest Network will be on hand to induct Plantations’ Fischer Old-Growth Forest into the “Network” on Thursday, September 13.  The induction will take place after Dr. Maloof delivers the second lecture in Plantations’ 2012 Fall Lecture Series on Wednesday, September 12 entitled “Earth’s Beautiful Ancient Forests. Can There be a Happy Ending?"

Cornell Plantations’ Fischer Old-Growth Forest natural area is a majestic, magical, inspirational, preserve with trees over 150 feet tall. This site is a sanctuary in every sense of the word. The best of the few remaining examples of pre-settlement forest in the region, this old-growth forest is notable for the extreme size of many individual trees as well as the diversity of tree species. Almost 30 acres of the 42 acre preserve is old-growth forest. 

The inclusion of Fischer Old-Growth Forest into the network means that this preserve will be kept forever wild, and there will never be any logging.  Dr. Joan Maloof’s website states, “When we look at a forest very little appears to change from year to year, but change is happening slowly. Forests, like humans, can be classified as young, mature or old. Because of past disturbances old forests are the rarest. Sometimes the disturbance has come in the form of a tornado, an insect, or an intense fire; but most often the disturbance has been from logging. As a result only a few percent of the western forests are old-growth, and only a few tenths of a percent of the eastern forests are old-growth. The amount of old-growth forest has declined every year since European settlement on this continent. As a result old-growth forests have important ecological and cultural attributes that are not being fulfilled as they should be. We need a clear vision and a strong resolve to reverse the decline. If we are able to accomplish this we will be the first generation to have done so.” Vegetation, specifically forests, helps sustain human life as we know it. The vital role forests play reflects the importance of preserving these natural areas in order to ensure their future.

In the second installment of the 2012 Fall Lecture Series Dr. Maloof will speak about the condition of our forests today, and share her expertise on how we can help conserve them. Dr. Maloof’s lecture will take place on September 12th at the Statler Hall Auditorium at 7:30 PM.

To learn more about the Fischer Old-Growth Forest natural area, or to learn more about Cornell Plantations’ Natural Areas visit

Let’s Move! With Cornell Plantations RESCHEDULED

3 years 13 weeks ago

Join us as we kick off Cornell Plantations’ Let’s Move! Family Hike on Saturday, September 15 (rescheduled from September 8 due to threat of severe weather) from the Nevin Welcome Center at 2 pm (hikers are welcome anytime between 2 and 5 pm). Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by First Lady, Michelle Obama, dedicated to raising a healthier generation of kids.

Visitors can stop in at the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center, located at 124 Comstock Knoll Rd. in Ithaca, and take a hike through one of Plantations’ best-known natural areas – Beebe Lake.  This one-mile loop is perfect for families, with a gentle path, beautiful flowers and trees and spectacular views of the surrounding Cornell campus. 

Along the way kids can have fun with a letter-boxing activity to search for hidden treasures and enjoy healthy snacks. The first 100 children to come on the hike will receive a free Let’s Move! t-shirt, along with a pedometer.  All participating children will receive free gifts from YumEarth, and Yogurtland Ithaca.

“One of the many things that makes Cornell so special is its landscape.  The gardens, trails, and natural areas cared for by Cornell Plantations are a rich resource for Cornell, our local communities and visitors worldwide.  This Let's Move! family hike at Cornell Plantations aims to bring together the wonderful benefits of nature and physical activity, both of which are tremendously important in our own lives. We believe in Mrs. Obama's initiative to help families find ways to be happy and healthy together, and we think the Let’s Move! family hike at Cornell Plantations provides the perfect opportunity!"stated Dr. Robin Davisson.

In May of last year Mrs. Obama announced the Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens partnership with the American Museum Association and the American Public Garden Association (APGA). The partnership provides opportunities for millions of museum and garden visitors to learn about physical activity and healthy food choices through interactive programs and exhibits across the country, including here at Cornell Plantations, a member of the APGA.

“Plantations is thrilled to take part in the Let’s Move! initiative,” stated Sonja Skelly, director of education at Cornell Plantations.  “Our arboretum, gardens, and natural areas are perfect places where families can come for a walk, a run, and some Vitamin N (for Nature) to increase overall wellness, physical activity – and most importantly to have fun!” 

Let’s Move! combines comprehensive strategies with common sense, and is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years. Giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices and helping kids become more physically active are among a few of the goals of Let’s Move! For more information about Let’s Move! visit

About Cornell Plantations:
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. The Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center is open daily (through September).  For more information call 607-255-2400; visit; and find us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Pinterest @CUintheGarden.

Student Gorge Steward Program a Success this Summer

3 years 13 weeks ago

Since July, Cornell students patrolled Cascadilla and Fall Creek Gorges as one means to encourage visitors to use the gorges safely. They observed over 3,000 visitors and spoke with many of them.

Read more in the August 27th Cornell Daily Sun Article, "New Steward Program Acts as Cornell's 'Eyes, Ears and Mouth' in Gorges."

Our Fall Lecture Series kicks off August 29

3 years 13 weeks ago

From Thomas Jefferson’s gardens of Monticello; to the plight of the pollinators; to the secrets of ancient forests; there is something for everyone during the 26th Annual Cornell Plantations Fall Lecture Series.

Paul Sawyer, professor of English at Cornell University kicks-off the series on August 29th with “The First Ecologist: John Ruskin and the Futures of Landscape” in Call Alumni Auditorium in Kennedy Hall at 5:30 p.m. on the Cornell University campus.
Sawyer will trace John Ruskin’s dramatic and contradictory career from his exquisitely precise drawings of clouds, rocks, leaves, and sculptured walls and niches, into his storm-driven middle years, when his despair over the deterioration of landscape matched his fierce belief that science, art, and writing were but different routes to the same truth: Nature as the source of the greatest art and the ultimate guarantor of human values.  Ruskin was an art critic, amateur scientist, uptopian socialist, and one of the greatest prose stylists in English-founded modern art criticism during England’s Victorian Era.  

The Cornell Plantations Fall Lecture Series is free, open to the public, and lectures are offered alternating Wednesdays until November 7 (Aug. 29, Sept. 12 & 26, Oct. 10 & 24, and Nov. 7).  The first lecture is followed by a garden party in the botanical garden of Cornell Plantations – adjacent to the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center located at 124 Comstock Knoll Road, in Ithaca.  The first lecture and the September 26 lecture will take place in Call Alumni Auditorium in Kennedy Hall.  All other lectures will take place in Statler Hall Auditorium in Statler Hall on the Cornell University campus.

“The Fall Lecture Series is a great way for us to provide a national, often a global view, of the trends, challenges, and opportunities the natural world affords us,” stated Sonja Skelly, director of education at Cornell Plantations.  “We are excited to bring well-renowned and respected speakers to Ithaca to share their unique perspectives and offer us a chance to learn more and engage in conversation around such fascinating topics."

Read "Plantations Predators" in a recent blog post on "The Essentials"

3 years 14 weeks ago

Cornell Plantations continues to battle invasive insects to protect our native plant populations. Read about what we are doing and what we anticipate invading our area soon in this blog post from Cornell Chronicle's "The Essentials," written by Rebecca Harrison '14.

Orientation Weekend tour schedule at Cornell Plantations

3 years 15 weeks ago

Enjoy free tours this weekend


Botanical Garden Tour, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.   
Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center in the botanical gardens


Botanical Garden Tour from North Campus, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. 
Meet at Appel Commons

Arboretum Tour, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.   
Meet at the Sculpture Garden in the Arboretum

Botanical Garden Tour, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.   
Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center

15-minute mini tours of the Botanic Garden, 2:30, 2:45, 3:00, 3:15  
Meet at the Nevin Welcome Center


Take it outside: Explore campus with our online maps

3 years 15 weeks ago

New to Cornell, or just want to enjoy the outdoors? You can now access trail maps with hikes of varying distances on our website at

In addition to trail maps, this section of our website offers a map locating safe public swimming areas near campus. Click here for swimming information.

New this year!

During the last two weekends of August, Cornell is providing shuttles to and from the swimming area at Robert H. Treman State Park. Click here for more information.

Local glass art and oil paintings on display at the Nevin Welcome Center

3 years 15 weeks ago

From now through September, you can enjoy two art exhibits in the Nevin Welcome Center lobby.

"Landscapes: A Celebration of Color" is a sampling of oil paintings by local artist Patty Porter. All of her paintings are rich in color and texture and include a few landscapes of Cornell Plantations.




"Glass Impressions" is a range of botanically-themed glass art from four local artists featuring flameworked glass by Margaret Neher, stained glass by Buddy Klausner and Linna Dolph, and glass sculpture by Tony Serviente.

New gorge safety video

3 years 16 weeks ago

The gorges are integral parts of Ithaca's landscape, and are what make the area so "gorges!" As the caretakers of the Fall Creek and Cascadilla Gorges, Cornell Plantations knows the safety of our visitors is paramount.  Todd Bittner, Director of Plantations natural areas, is featured in a new Cornell student-produced video which showcases the beauty of Cornell's gorges as well as outlines potential dangers. This video will be shown to all incoming students.


To ensure your visit to Cornell's gorges is a safe one, we encourage you to view this video.

Read the buzz about the Ithaca Shakespeare Company's "Romeo and Juliet"

3 years 19 weeks ago

From Ithaca, Rochester and as far away as the Hudson Valley, folks are talking about the Shakespeare performances in the F. R. Newman Arboretum.

Click here to view images of last week's productions of Romeo and Juliet by the Ithaca Shakespeare Company taken for The Journal News in the Lower Hudson Valley.

View our calendar for the schedule of Shakespeare performances this month.

photo by Simon Wheeler


Check out our PEEPS!

3 years 20 weeks ago

Six high school students are spending part of their summer working with
Cornell Plantations staff to gain skills that will cultivate an
environmental ethic for future actions in our new "Plantations Environmental Education Program for Sustainability" or PEEPS.   Read more about this exciting pilot program in the July 12 Cornell Chronicle article, "Pilot program aims to cure 'plant blindness' among high school students."  This program is also featured in the Cornell Chronicle's "Picture Cornell" slideshow for July 12, 2012.

Shakespeare at Plantations: A Decade of Drama

3 years 20 weeks ago

The Ithaca Shakespeare Company (ISC) and Cornell Plantations celebrate 10-years of Shakespeare with two of the Bard’s best known plays performed in Plantations’ F.R. Newman Arboretum. The ISC will be performing Love Hurts: “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Romeo and Juliet” in rotating repertoire beginning July 12 through July 29, 2012.

For ten years, the beauty of Cornell Plantations has provided the perfect setting for the Ithaca Shakespeare Company’s productions.  In this 10th year of partnership, the ISC will transform Plantations’ Jackson Grove into a playhouse that would have made Shakespeare proud and that audiences have enjoyed for a decade.

Collaboration has been key to bringing the ISC’s performances to the stage in Jackson Grove. “One of the main reasons this project has been successful over the past ten years has been the way the Plantations staff has embraced it,” said Stephen Ponton, artistic director of the Ithaca Shakespeare Company. “Plantations Director Don Rakow has been an enthusiastic supporter of the productions from day one, and many other Plantations staff members have helped out in a wide variety of ways over the years, from stringing ropes up in the trees to managing parking at the performances.”

“We welcome the return of the Ithaca Shakespeare Company for a tenth season of performances at Cornell Plantations,” stated Dr. Don Rakow, the E.N. Wilds director of Cornell Plantations. “We feel privileged to have the plays mounted in this beautiful outdoor setting, just as the Bard intended for his works.  Plantations is committed to engaging local audiences in a variety of ways, from tours, to classes, to artistic offerings, all intended to educate, delight and enlighten.”

Mr. Ponton understands that performing outdoor theatre always has its challenges, but working in such a beautiful natural location has a tremendous positive impact on the performances. He says, “it's always a great moment when we first move out to the performance site from our indoor rehearsal space. Being out there under the trees and the sky (and sometimes the rain) immediately makes every scene feel bigger and more energized. The location truly becomes a part of the performance. The actors love it and are really grateful for the chance to share their love of Shakespeare with our audiences in such a magical environment.”

All performances start at 6:00 PM and will take place at Jackson Grove in the F.R. Newman Arboretum. Performances are “pay what you can”, but a $10 donation is suggested. Please bring lawn chairs, blankets, and umbrellas, as performances will continue during rain (the performances will be cancelled if lightening is present).  There is limited reserved seating available for $15.  For more information on advance purchase tickets or to learn more about the ISC please visit:

Free Highlight Tours

3 years 21 weeks ago

Each Saturday and Sunday through the summer, Plantations will offer free highlight tours of the Botanical Garden and the ArboretumBotanical Garden tours take place on Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.; Arboretum tours are held on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.  No need to register, just come on by. 

Gorge stewards help visitors enjoy Ithaca's natural wonders

3 years 21 weeks ago

Ithaca, as we know, is gorges. A visit to one of these natural wonders is almost essential for every student and visitor to Cornell. But just like crossing the street, there are safe and unsafe ways to go about it. To help visitors enjoy the gorges safely, the university will deploy a team of gorge stewards, starting July 2.

Read more here.

The Fall Creek and Cascadilla Gorges are part of Cornell Plantations' natural areas.

Plantations partners with BTI to educate youth on plants used to produce sustainable goods

3 years 22 weeks ago

The consumption of one-use disposable goods made from non-biodegradable
materials like plastic has led to an array of waste management and
pollution problems. Researchers from the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) will be providing fun, hand-on demonstrations to students in Plantations' new teen program, Plantations Environmental Education Program for Sustainability (PEEPS) about these new plant-based materials.

Read more in the BTI news article, Plants to Bioproducts: BTI, Cornell Plantations and the Ithaca Sciencenter.


3 years 25 weeks ago



9:00 am – 4:00 pm Shuttle Service to the Botanical Garden

  • Shuttles to the Nevin Welcome Center at the botanical garden run from the west side of Barton Hall (across from Statler Hall), between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

10:00 am – 4:00 pm  Information Table and “Ask a Gardener”

  • Under the pergola, in the Botanical Garden. Friday and Saturday.

10:00 am – 12:00 pm  Botanical Garden Mini-Tours

  • 15 minutes each, starting at 10:00, 10:20, 10:40, 11:00, 11:20, & 11:40; Meet at the courtyard in front of the Nevin Welcome Center

11:00 am Mundy Wildflower Garden Tour

  • Meet at the Caldwell Road entrance to the Wildflower Garden.

2:00 pm  Upper Cascadilla Gorge Hike

  • Meet in front of the Schwartz Performing Arts Center, Collegetown. Tour ends at Rhodes Hall, engineering Quad.

2:00 – 3:00 pm  Botanical Garden Mini-Tours

  • 15 minutes each, starting at 2:00, 2:20 and 2:40,Meet at the courtyard in front of the Nevin Welcome Center

3:00 - 4:00 pm  Cornell Plantations History Tour

  • Meet at the courtyard in front of the Nevin Welcome Center


9:00 am – 4:00 pm  Plant Sale!

  • Plant Production Facility, 397 Forest Home Drive (in the Arboretum across from Flat Rock)

9:00 am – 4:00 pm  Shuttle Service to the Botanical Garden

  • Shuttles to the Nevin Welcome Center at the botanical garden run from the west side of Barton Hall (across from Statler Hall), between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

10:00 am – 4:00 pm  Information Table and “Ask a Gardener”

  • Under the pergola, in the Botanical Garden. Friday and Saturday.

10:00 - 11:00 am  Botanical Garden Tour

  • Meet at the courtyard in front of the Nevin Welcome Center

11:00 am – 2:30 pm  Botanical Garden Mini-Tours

  • 15 minutes each, starting at 11:00, 11:20, 11:40, 12:00 12:20, 12:40, 1:00, 1:20, 1:40, 2:00 and 2:20. Meet at the courtyard in front of the Nevin Welcome Center

2:30 – 3:30 pm  “The Hangovers” - Allan Hosie Treman '21 Memorial Concert

  • Jackson Grove, F.R. Newman Arboretum.  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.  Buses depart from Barton Hall west entrance at 2:00 pm and return at 4:00 pm.


New signs in Fall Creek gorge encourage safe use

3 years 26 weeks ago

As the weather continues to get warmer, staff at Cornell Plantations and the University are working together to add and improve signage that encourages safe use of the gorge. Along trails in Fall Creek Gorge you will now see updated safety signs, and soon there will be orientation signs at trailheads.

Read more in the May 24 Cornell Chronicle article, "New signs spell out regulations for safe gorge use."