Top Navigation


Garden tours for Cornell Graduation

3 years 26 weeks ago

Congratulations Cornell Graduates!

We invite graduates and their families to come to the botanical garden this weekend for tours, photo shoots, and to enjoy the beauty of Cornell in one the most spectacular gardens on campus.

On Saturday, May 26 from 10:00 -12:00, you can take a 15-minute mini-tour and hear from our garden docents who’ll be on hand to answer your questions and help you find your way around.

Tours will launch approximately every 15 minutes between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon. The botanical garden collections include the stunning Bowers Rhododendron Collection, Robison York State Herb Garden, Martha Young Flower Garden, Heasley Rock Garden, Mullestein Winter Garden, Groundcover Collection, and more. You can also visit the award-winning Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center, which houses indoor exhibits, a gift shop, small café, and visitor amenities. Parking is free on weekends at the botanical garden, located on Plantations Road (campus map quad F4).

The botanical garden, arboretum, and our many natural areas are all free and open, year-round, from dawn to dusk.  Our Welcome Center, located in the botanical garden, will be open May 25 and May 26 from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and on May 27 from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.; the Welcome Center will be closed on Monday, May 28.


On Display: Macro Images and Photo Montages by Nancy Ridenour

3 years 28 weeks ago

Visit the Nevin Welcome Center now through May to enjoy Nancy Ridenour's abstractions
from the Sculpture Garden in the Arboretum, flower montages, and macro flower
images, several of which were taken in Plantations' Botanical Garden.

About the artist:

Flowers and gardening have always been central to Nancy Ridenour's life. Her family has been in the landscaping and florist business in the Schenectady, N.Y. region since the late 1800’s, so she grew up with the beauty and smells of flowers. As a biology teacher in Ithaca for thirty-two years, she frequently incorporated these interests into the classroom.

Nancy's background and teaching have had a tremendous impact upon her life and photography. While living and working in Laos, 1965-70, she was first given a bouquet of lotus buds as a gift during pregnancy. Several years ago, she obtained six lotus plants from the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. Those first plants have multiplied to over 500 and now fill the pond behind her home within view from her studio.

The lotus flower, leaves, and pods were the initial focus for Nancy's photography. She takes digital photos and adjusts them to achieve abstract montages. The montages include the lotus, flowers from many gardens and travels, Cornell University buildings and sculptures, various Buddha and Bodhisattva images, and images from travels. Learn more about Nancy and her art at


Full Circle Celebration of Kids Discover the Trail! on May 12th

3 years 29 weeks ago


All community members are invited to join with Ithaca students and their families to visit the eight Discovery Trail sites on Saturday, May 12, between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., for the “Full Circle Celebration” of Kids Discover the Trail! (KDT!).

Because this year’s Ithaca City School District's fifth graders are the first group of students to have completed the full circle of all eight Discovery Trail-based learning experiences during their elementary school years, this open house style event has been planned to celebrate the “full circle”.  Learn more about what each site is doing that day here.

At Cornell Plantations, visitors can learn more about wild ginger at the Nevin Welcome Center and take one home to plant. Learn more here.

A third grade class learning about spring wildflowers in Plantations' Mundy Wildflower Garden.

KDT! is the collaboration of the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI), Ithaca City School District (ICSD) and the Discovery Trail that connects  all ICSD elementary students and teachers with the resources of the trail organizations each year for a program designed to complement their grade level curriculum.

Discovery Trail sites include the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell, the Tompkins County Public Library, the Museum of the Earth, the Sciencenter, Cornell Plantations, The History Center’s Eight Square Schoolhouse, Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, and the Cayuga Nature Center.

Program themes include animals in art, dinosaur science, clean energy, 19th century life, and local bird habitats.

Celebrate National Public Gardens Day on May 11th!

3 years 30 weeks ago

Come celebrate Cornell Plantations, the only public garden in the central New York region. As Cornell’s living museum, Plantations is not only a unique feature of the campus but truly distinguishes Cornell among its peers. 

There will be a weekend of activities at Cornell Plantations to celebrate National Public Gardens Day on Friday, May 11.  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.

“Having a unique and diverse public garden in our back yards is a luxury,” stated Dr. Sonja Skelly, director of education at Cornell Plantations.  “It’s easy to forget that within a short drive for most residents of Central New York that there is this unique and beautiful spot located in the heart of the Finger Lakes region.  We pride ourselves on being a place of beauty as well as a place for relaxation, contemplation and inspiration for our visitors (plus we don’t EVER charge admission). These are things worth celebrating and we hope many people will join us!”

National Public Gardens Day is always celebrated on the Friday preceding Mother’s Day.  In addition to the events scheduled on May 11, Plantations plans to continue the celebration through Mother’s Day.

Schedule of Events

Friday, May 11
8 am – Morning Bird Walk in the Mundy Wildflower Garden
12 pm – Botanical Garden Highlight Tour
10 am – 4 pm – Free Gimee! Coffee at the Nevin Welcome Center!

Saturday, May 12
10 am – 4 pm – Moms get 10% off in the garden gift shop (in the Nevin Welcome Center)!

Sunday, May 13
Happy Mother’s Day!
10 am – 4 pm – Moms get 15% off in the garden gift shop (in the Nevin Welcome Center)!

Enjoy spring woodland flowers on a morning bird walk on Friday, May 11th.


Now in its fourth year of celebrating America’s public gardens, National Public Gardens Day was created by the American Public Gardens Association (APGA)  in partnership with irrigation product and service provider, Rain Bird.  The 2012 National Public Gardens Day will showcase the contributions of public gardens with special events at the Cornell Plantations in Ithaca, NY along with events at public gardens around North America.

How are our gardeners preparing for spring?

3 years 33 weeks ago


Today, herb gardener Pam Shade was cutting back lavender and shared her tips and techniques in a one-minute video. Click here to view.

This week only: View Olivia Judson's lecture "Glad to Have Evolved"

3 years 33 weeks ago


Did you miss Olivia Judson's stirring lecture, Glad to Have Evolved, this past October? If so, or even if you just want to re-watch it you can do so now for ONE WEEK ONLY – beginning tomorrow (April 5-April 12)!

Olivia Judson is The New York Times best selling author of Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice To All Creation. She is a renowned evolutionary biologist, award winning science journalist, past columnist for The New York TimesNature, and The Economist, a contributor to PBS’ Nova and is based at Imperial College in London.

Photo by Chris Kitchen

Living beings profoundly shape our planet—bacteria precipitate clouds and alter the magnetic fields of rocks. Organisms also shape each other to drive evolutionary change: the bee shapes the flower, the cheetah shapes the gazelle. In this wide-ranging lecture, Olivia Judson considers the implications of evolution for understanding Earth and ourselves, celebrating humans as part of nature’s pageant.

Read more about her work at

Olivia Judson's lecture was the Elizabeth E. Rowley Lecture, part of Cornell Plantations' Fall Lecture Series; the lecture was co-sponsored by the Boyce Thompson Institute.

F. R. Newman Arboretum Open to Vehicles

3 years 33 weeks ago

Cornell Plantations'  F. R. Newman Arboretum is now open to vehicles.

From our flowering tree collection to early-blooming flowers along the Treman Woodland Walk, the arboretum is an ideal place to watch spring unfold.

Celebrate National Public Gardens Day on May 11th at Cornell Plantations

3 years 33 weeks ago

Come celebrate National Public Gardens Day at Cornell Plantations, and discover Ithaca’s very own public garden.

We invite you to come any time from dawn to dusk to explore our gardens, arboretum and natural areas, or participate in any of the activities that day including,

  • a Morning Bird Walk: 8:00 a.m. Learn more here.
  • a Botanical Garden Highlights Tour: 12:00 noon. Learn more here.
  • an Art exhibition in the Nevin Welcome Center: "Macro Images and Photo Montages", by Nancy Ridenour from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Free Gimme! Coffee in the Welcome Center from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Cornell commits more funding to make gorges safer

3 years 34 weeks ago

Cornell continues to show its commitment to keeping Cornell's gorges maintained and safe. So far, $1.2 million has been spent on repairing trails and other infrastructure in Cascadilla Gorge and Cornell has committed additional funds to do the same in Fall Creek Gorge.

Read more in the March 30 Cornell Chronicle article, "Cornell is spending $1.56 million to make gorges safer."

Students in a writing class draw inspiration from a trail in Fall Creek Gorge.

Plantations gardener Glenn Bucien is giving lecture, “Heirloom Vegetables: Past, Present and the Future” on March 29

3 years 34 weeks ago

Glenn Bucien is giving the first presentation in Geneva Historical Society’s 2012 Spring Lecture series, “Heirloom Vegetables: Past, Present and the Future” at 7:30 p.m. March 29 at the museum, 543 S. Main St. in Geneva.

Today, most seed production has shifted to large companies which invest heavily in producing seeds with specific genetic traits like disease and insect resistance. Bucien will talk about this shift to industrial agriculture and concerns about its sustainability, and share ideas for all gardeners to participate in the saving of seed.

Glenn Bucien is the caretaker of the Pounder Heritage Vegetable Garden in Plantations' Botanical Garden.

Read more in the online Finger Lakes Times article, "Heritage gardener to talk about heirloom vegetables" on March 23.

Plantations director Don Rakow speaks on the importance of public gardens at New York City's 92nd Street Y

3 years 35 weeks ago

According to research, by 2050, one-third of all known plant species could be lost. Public gardens address this threat to biodiversity. This is one of many reasons why public gardens are important, Don Rakow illustrated in his lecture, "Why Do We Need Green Spaces?" on March 14th.

Read more about Don Rakow's lecture in the March 20 Cornell Chronicle Online article, "Public Gardens help feed hungry, preserve biodiversity."

Don Rakow standing outside the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Photo by David Gipson.

Landscape paintings by Nari Mistry on display at the Nevin Welcome Center

3 years 35 weeks ago

Stop by the Welcome Center to see Nari Mistry's "Lanscape Paintings: Scenes of Ithaca in Bold Colors." They are landscapes in watercolors and acrylics in a continuing series and depict the beautiful scenes around the Ithaca area and the many local waterfalls. There are a few scenes from Cornell Plantations as well, including Beebe Lake and a view from the F. R. Newman Arboretum.

Nari's art will be on display through April.

Nari tries to use expressive bold colors to represent the subjects that inspire him. "Even a scene of winter ice and snow can contain a touch of warm color in a few spots," says the artist.

Nari retired in 2003 after 39 years as a physicist at Cornell, to catch up on painting and music missed in those busy years. His work can be seen at

Now open: Newman Arboretum and Cascadilla Gorge Trail!

3 years 36 weeks ago

Cornell Plantations'  F. R. Newman Arboretum will be reopened to vehicles this Friday, March 16th. Last year, the arboretum was open on April 1st, so spring appears to have arrived ahead of schedule this year!

The Cascadilla Gorge Trail from Linn Street in Downtown Ithaca, to the Stewart Avenue bridge is now open. Repairs continue on the section from the Stewart Avenue bridge to Collegetown and that section remains closed.

From our flowering tree collection to early-blooming flowers along the Treman Woodland Walk, the arboretum is an ideal place to watch spring unfold.

Take time to check out the gate (now open) that was installed last fall at the start of the gorge trail downtown.

Alumna's gift helps support Plantations' summer internships

3 years 39 weeks ago

Marcia Stofman Morton '61 recently decided to leave a $1 million bequest to Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Part of this gift will endow summer internships at Cornell Plantations.

Read more in the  Cornell Chronicle online article Feb. 20th.

Purchase a Plantations membership online

3 years 41 weeks ago

Did you know you can purchase or renew a Plantations membership for yourself or as a gift from our website?

As an added bonus, you will receive a complimentary subscription to Better Homes and Gardens with any membership purchase between now and the end of this year.

Click here to join.

Click here to learn about our member benefits.


Help protect our natural resources: Join the Natural Areas Academy!

3 years 41 weeks ago

Do you love spending time in the forests, meadows and other natural areas of the Finger Lakes region?  Do you care about preserving the integrity of the natural world and do you want to share this love with others?  If so, consider joining Plantations’ Natural Areas Academy. 

The year-long Natural Areas Academy (NAA) consists of dozens of expert-led workshops, field trips, and directed stewardship opportunities designed to provide participants with the knowledge, tools, and skills needed to support efforts in preserving our treasured natural resources.

Betsy Crispell, a recent graduate of the Natural Areas Academy says, “I knew I wanted to participate! I have always loved the plants, animals, and wild places around me, and it seemed that this would be a great way to learn more of these things. And it was!” 

With their newly gained expertise, the Natural Areas Academy participants will also help to mentor the next generation of scientists, teachers, environmental stewards, and leaders, thereby fulfilling a vital role in the long-term preservation of our natural heritage, our world, and ultimately, our place in it.

Program Requirements

Participants in the NAA are expected to work towards the program’s goals over the course of a year.  After the completion of at least eight of the workshops and field trips, plus 40 hours of participation in directed stewardship activities, academy members will receive their Natural Areas Mentor certification and may continue to participate in the NAA as a mentor for no cost. Participation in the NAA requires a non-refundable $150 application fee. 

The first NAA workshop will be a mandatory orientation on Saturday, March 3, from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Learn more on our Natural Areas Academy page.

USDA Unveils New Plant Hardiness Zone Map

3 years 43 weeks ago


This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released an updated version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

This tool, jointly developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Servicesand Oregon State University's PRISM Climate Group, provides greater accuracy and detail than the 1990 version. It is now available online at The new Internet-friendly map offers a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based interactive format.

To read the full press release on the new Plant Hardiness Zone Map, click here.

Don Rakow, the E.N. Wilds director of Cornell Plantations, stated:

"Cornell Plantations appreciates that this new USDA Hardiness Zone Map is based on a more detailed and in-depth body of data than was available in the past.  While some locations in our area have been reclassified from Zone 5B (minimum temps. of -15 -  -10F°) to 6A (minimum temps. of -10 - -5°F), these changes are not necessarily due to global climate change.  Any gardeners interested in experimenting with Zone 6A-rated plants should use the interactive portion of this map to determine the hardiness ratings for their area, and should take advantage of microclimates, such as are found in protected courtyards or alongside south facing walls,”

On Display: Nature Photography by Chris Kitchen

3 years 46 weeks ago

Chris Kitchen's display of photographs in the lobby of the Nevin Welcome Center is a colorful expression of the nature here in Ithaca- a refreshing splash of color and life this time of year!

Chris’ move from the Washington, D.C. area to Ithaca in 2004 reawakened his passion for nature photography. He feels especially connected to Cornell Plantations which, no matter the time of year, he can find something interesting to photograph.

This month, Chris will be leading two outdoor photography workshops at Plantations. Depending on the type of camera you have, you can sign up for the Saturday, Jan. 14 workshop, “Using Your Digital SLR Camera” or the Saturday, Jan. 21 workshop, “Using your Digital Point-and-Shoot Camera.” Each session is $24.

View our calendar.

Now is the time to visit the Mullestein Winter Garden!

3 years 46 weeks ago

This time of year, we are used to our natural surroundings becoming a bit more muted, but that's not true in the Mullestein Winter Garden - winter has the opposite effect!

Step into this garden to find:

  • bright orange and red fruits of many cultivars of winterberry,
  • yellow, red and dayglo green branches of shrubby dogwoods and willows
  • reddish-brown curly bark of scarlet curls willow, and
  • countless hues of blues and greens of numerous evergreens.

We challenge you to find every color of the rainbow.

Arboretum and Cascadilla Gorge Trail closed for winter

3 years 48 weeks ago


F. R. Newman Arboretum closed to vehicular traffic

The F.R. Newman Arboretum is now closed to vehicular traffic until April 2012. Parking in front of the arboretum gates is illegal. Visitors may park in the Wildflower Garden parking lot, located just west of the Caldwell Road/Forest Home Drive intersection, or in the parking area just north of the Forest Home Drive entrance into the arboretum.

Cascadilla Gorge Trail closed for winter

Please take notice that the Cascadilla Gorge Trail from Linn Street in downtown Ithaca to College Avenue is closed for the winter season. The secion of the trail from Linn Street to the Stewart Avenue bridge will reopen when all snow and ice have cleared in spring. The remaining section from the Stewart Avenue bridge to College Avenue will reopen when gorge trail repairs are complete in 2012.