A collaborative project involving Cornell Plantations and Cornell University landscape architecture students is focused on planting for the future while preserving the past. Plantations staff and summer interns from Cornell have been creating plans for new gardens at the historic Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, NY.
Irene Lekstutis, landscape designer at Cornell Plantations and Landscape Architecture students from Cornell University who were interns at Plantations over the summer -- Daisy Chinburg ‘13, Robert Doerflinger ‘13, and Ethan Dropkin ‘13 –– met with Christine Carter of the Harriet Tubman Home several times this summer to discuss developing period appropriate planting plans, as well as creating a long-term master plan for future development of the property. It’s the desire of Ms. Carter and her colleagues to create gardens that Harriet Tubman would have grown during her life in Auburn, NY (1857 - 1913).
“Engaging our summer interns who are majoring in Landscape Architecture in a ‘real –world’ project like this has been very gratifying,” stated Lekstutis. “When Christine contacted Cornell Plantations about helping them improve the aesthetics of the Tubman Home landscape, we were thrilled. We all agreed it would be a great way to enhance the intern experience by providing these students with a project related to their particular field of study.”
It has been a long-time commitment of Cornell Plantations to collaborate with gardens, and historic sites across the country. This project, being so close to campus, makes it easy for these students and Plantations to continue with this collaboration. Plantations’ summer intern program plays an important role at the University, by giving students real world experience. For these students, they just didn’t gain experience from working with the professional staff at Plantations, but they were able to garner experience working with a client. They had to listen to the client’s needs, and had to deliver a plan that was relevant to the client’s budget and wish list.
While outside projects such as these are not typical of the internships at Plantations, Lekstutis saw the opportunity to further enhance the interns’ summer learning experience. Daisy Chinburg ’13 says, "We really lucked out this summer! It’s been great to have the opportunity to learn more about Harriet Tubman, while practicing landscape design skills. And working along side Plantations’ professional landscape designer was a bonus!”
During the course of the project, the interns spent time in Mann Library perusing old nursery catalogues and books on historic gardens to become familiar with herbaceous and woody plants commonly grown in gardens and landscapes of late 19th and early 20th centuries. By the end of summer the interns completed a planting plan for the brick residence on the Tubman site.
This fall Ms. Chinburg and Mr. Dropkin are continuing their involvement in the project through independent studies. Their goal is to develop a contemporary planting design, using period appropriate plants for the house that served as the Tubman Home for the Aged.
Chinburg will carry the project work further by developing a long-term master plan for the site. She says that, “working on this project over the summer helped me to discover my interest in cultural landscapes.” Now, in addition to working with the team on the master plan, she is developing a cultural landscape report under the guidance of associate professor Sherene Baugher, landscape archeologist and preservationist at Cornell University. This report will describe the research and methodology of their investigation into this historic landscape and will serve to inform the development of what will eventually be a long term master plan for bringing the history of the site ‘to life’ for the general public.
“I am so pleased to have been included in this mulch-faceted design project and to get a chance to work on such a talented team with Irene,” stated Eric Dropkin ‘13. “The project provides a variety of unusual learning opportunities as it includes not only a design element but also research of historical landscapes and planting palettes which we undertook on site as well as in the Bailey Hortorium at Mann Library. Both the Harriet Tubman Home and more so the Bailey Hortorium are relatively local resources that I doubt many Cornell students are aware of, however they are immense reservoirs of historical data.”
As part of Dropkin’s independent study this semester he is mainly focused on completing the garden designs. He’s using a period appropriate plant palette we're striving to create gardens which evoke the period and provide multi-season interest for visitors and staff alike.
About Harriet Tubman:
Harriet Tubman (1822-1913) was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War. After escaping from slavery she rescued more than 70 slaves using the Underground Railroad. After the Civil War, she retired to the family home in Auburn, where she cared for her aging parents. She became active in the women's suffrage movement in New York until complications from an illness made it impossible. Near the end of her life, she lived in a home for elderly African Americans that she had helped found years earlier. Today the Harriet Tubman Home stands as part of the indomitable legacy of Harriet Tubman. Ms. Tubman believed that no matter the odds you face, ‘keep going.’ She set goals and objectives that were always obtainable. Even if many around her thought the goals beyond reach, she always knew that they were indeed achievable.
About The Harriet Tubman Home:
The Harriet Tubman Home preserves the legacy of "The Moses of Her People" in the place where she lived and died in freedom. The site is located on 26 acres of land in Auburn, New York, and is owned and operated by the AME Zion Church. It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman.
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.
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.
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 www.monticello.org.
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 www.cornellplantations.org/our-gardens/natural-areas.
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 www.letsmove.gov.
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 cornellplantations.org; and find us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Pinterest @CUintheGarden.
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."
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."
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.
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