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Purchase a Plantations membership online

3 years 35 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 35 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 37 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 40 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 40 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 42 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.

F.R. Newman Arboretum Closed to Vehicular Traffic

3 years 42 weeks ago

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.

25% off entire gift shop purchase for Cornell students and employees!

3 years 44 weeks ago

From now through December 21st, all Cornell students and employees will receive a 25% discount* off all purchases in our garden gift shop.

The gift shop in the Nevin Welcome Center has many unique and interesting gifts for everyone – from hand crafted gourd lamps and natural ornaments, to poinsettias and holiday arrangements from our own greenhouse!

Our poinsettias have unique colors and shapes that you’re not likely to find elsewhere and have been grown in the greenhouse under the watchful eye of Missy Bidwell, greenhouse manager here at Plantations!  

Gift Shop Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m, CLOSED Sunday and Monday. The Gift Shop and Nevin Welcome Center will be closed from December 22nd - January 2nd.

Looking for the perfect gift?  Consider a gift membership to Cornell Plantations. Stop in the gift shop to learn more!

*Discount not valid on Cornell Sheep Blankets or art work (prints, ceramics,  and hand crafted wood bowls).

Skorton Endorses Recommendations for Gorge Safety

3 years 44 weeks ago

Following the accidental gorge deaths of three students this summer, President David Skorton endorsed a report on Thursday from the Gorge Safety Steering Committee calling for new infrastructure, increased educational outreach and a student patrol group to improve safety in the gorges.

Click here to read more of this Cornell Daily Sun article written on Friday, December 2nd.

Cornell Plantations Partners with New York City's 92nd Street Y for Lecture Series

3 years 47 weeks ago

Cornell Plantations has partnered with the 92nd Street Y in New York City for its “Changing Earth” lecture series.  This unique series of seven lectures will take place monthly from November 2011 to May 2012, and is part of the Y’s First Class Science adult education program.

The year-long series kicks off on November 16th and features diverse topics and speakers from Cornell University and other organizations.

Dr. Nina Bassuk, professor in Cornell’s Department of Horticulture, delivers the first Plantations-themed lecture of the series on December 7 at 7:00 p.m., “Why Do We Need Trees?”  She is co-author with Peter Trowbridge of Trees in the Urban Landscape, and leads the Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell.

Dr. Don Rakow, the E.N. Wilds director of Cornell Plantations will give the second Plantations-themed lecture on March 14, “Why do we need green spaces? The importance of public gardens and parks in our communities.” Beyond fulfilling our need for a connection to nature, he'll talk about how the roles of parks and public gardens are changing dramatically in this era of increasing environmental crises.  

“Cornell Plantations is excited to partner with the 92nd St. Y to sponsor these lectures,” stated Dr. Rakow.  “In the crowded, fast-paced cities of today, we have a greater need than ever for the beauty and ecological services provided by street trees, parks, and public gardens.  In these lectures to be provided by Prof. Nina L. Bassuk and myself, participants will learn about ongoing research and outreach efforts to extend the lives of urban trees, as well as the many ways in which public gardens enrich our lives.”

Also speaking as part of the “Changing Earth” series is, Dr. Jonathon Lunine, the David C. Duncan professor of astronomy at Cornell University.  Lunine will speak on April 18, 2012 on the possibility of life forms on other planets.

For more information and a complete listing of speakers click here.

On Display: "A Closer Look," plant photography by Susan Larkin

3 years 49 weeks ago

Local photographer, Susan Larkin’s fascination with plants is brought to life in her display “A Closer Look,” a collection of black and white photographs, which reveal the often unnoticed shapes and textures of plants up close. Every detail of each plant is in clear focus, resulting from the combination of multiple exposures of the same subject—each taken with a different focal point. The images are then combined by a process called focus stacking and the finished photographs are all monochrome images.

All photographs in this exhibit are of plants that are found around Cornell.

“A Closer Look” is now on display through December at the Nevin Welcome Center including “Worm Plant” (Spathicarpa sagittifolia) shown here.

Update: Cascadilla Gorge Trail repair

3 years 49 weeks ago

Cascadilla Gorge is scheduled to open next June. Here is what is happening now to keep that date on track:

New gate at the “lower” gorge entrance: A custom-made iron gate was installed at the gorge entrance at the Treman Triangle off of Linn Street. It will allow us to close the trail each winter when trail conditions are unsafe.  Designed by local artisan Durand VanDoren, the 1200 pound gate was inspired by the gorge’s cascading falls, and oak leaves and acorns found on an historic Cascadilla Glen Trail plaque.

New staircase under the Stewart Avenue bridge: The staircase leading to the iconic stone bridge that crosses the creek will soon follow a new, safer path. The staircase was designed to fit into the gorge landscape, provide a more direct view of the adjacent waterfall, and move visitors farther from an overhanging, unsafe gorge wall. A dam (shown above) was built with sandbags and concrete blocks and a water pump was used to keep the water level low to build the new stairs.

Stabilizing the 150-year-old retaining wall near historic Eddy Gate: This 60 foot tall structure was constructed to stabilize and retain the gorge wall after stone was quarried from the gorge to construct Cascadilla Hall.


Completing this gorge restoration project is one part of several recommendations to increase gorge safety approved by Cornell President David Skorton. Read about the additional recommendations in the December 4th Ithaca Journal article, "Cornell committee proposes safety steps for gorge."


The New York Times Best Selling Author Olivia Judson to speak at Cornell University

4 years 2 weeks ago

WHAT:           “Glad to have Evolved

WHEN:           Wednesday, October 5 at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:         Statler Hall Auditorium

ITHACA, N.Y. – The New York Times best selling author of Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice To All Creation, Olivia Judson, is set to speak on Wednesday, October 5 at 7:30 pm as part of Cornell Plantations 25th Annual Fall Lecture Series. Judson is a renowned evolutionary biologist, award winning science journalist, past columnist for The New York Times, Nature, and The Economist, a contributor to PBS’ Nova and is based at Imperial College in London.
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.
“We are thrilled to have Olivia Judson as part of this series,” stated Sonja Skelly, director of education at Cornell Plantations.  “Dr. Judson’s lecture promises to be provocative and one that will change the way people think about the planet and themselves.” Plantations has partnered with the Boyce Thompson Institute to bring Dr. Judson to Ithaca.
Olivia Judson is an evolutionary biologist and writer based at Imperial College, London. Her award-winning book, Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex, has been translated into more than 15 languages and was made into a TV show of which she was the host. She has contributed to The New York Times, Natural History, The Guardian, The Economist, and PBS’ Nova and is at work on her next book. Read more about her work at and the New York Times.
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. Find us on Facebook.

Nevin Welcome Center closed today

4 years 4 weeks ago

Due to unexpected maintenance, the Nevin Welcome Center will be closed today, September 15th. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Quilted wall hangings by Alice Hunt on display at the Nevin Welcome Center

4 years 4 weeks ago

Alice Hunt has been sewing for over 50 years. It is one way she expresses her love of flowers. The combination of her love of sewing and her love of flowers shines through in her display of quilts in the Nevin Welcome Center lobby. It is a menagerie of vibrant colors and fine handwork you don't want to miss.

"A Tribute to Flora," a collection of quilted wall hangings, is on display through the end of October.

Dan Hinkley's lecture STILL ON for TONIGHT!

4 years 5 weeks ago

Dan Hinkley's Lecture "The World Condensed: A Global Pursuit and Passion for Plants" is still on for 7:30 p.m. in the Statler Auditorium!

For more information, please click here.

Fall Lecture Series starts TONIGHT!

4 years 7 weeks ago

The Fall Lecture Series is kicked off with a lecture and garden party on August 24, 2011
Cornell Plantations announces its line-up for their 25th Annual Fall Lecture Series, which begins on August 24, 2011, and will run every other Wednesday until November 2. The first lecture will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Call Alumni Auditorium in Kennedy Hall and will be followed by a garden party in the botanical gardens of Cornell Plantations.  All remaining lectures will take place in Statler Hall Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

The lecture series will feature Cornell professor Molly Hite and photographer David McDonald, renowned plantsman and explorer Dan Hinkley, historian David Stradling, The New York Times bestselling author Olivia Judson, master tea blender and Cornell University alumnus Michael Harney, and author and influential garden blogger Michele Owens.  The Fall Lecture Series is free and open to the public, and is also offered as a one-credit class to Cornell Students (HORT 4800).

Cornell University professor of English Molly Hite and photographer David McDonald kick off the lecture series on August 24 at 5:30 with the William H. and Jane Torrence Harder Lecture entitled Literature, Life, Gardens: The Influence of Vita Sackville-West.  



Art Exhibit "Flowering Moments" on display at the Nevin Welcome Center this month

4 years 10 weeks ago

"Flowering Moments" is a display of beautiful botanical watercolors by Paula DiSanto Bensadoun.

Paula states, "The joys of admiring nature’s work are tempered by the time it takes to look long and carefully at the intricacy and beauty of blossoms whose duration is often very brief. The life of a flower is always changing and the challenge lies in capturing the moments that leave us with good memories. I have tried to portray those moments."

Come experience these flowering moments for yourselves during Welcome Center hours in August!

Gorge Safety

4 years 14 weeks ago

The gorges of Cornell distinguish the campus’ natural beauty, but the dangers inherent within them means that visitors need to RESPECT the gorges.  We ask that all visitors be aware of the danger, hazards, and the power of nature in the gorges.  Please respect these natural areas, follow all posted signs, and take all precautions possible to protect yourself – failure to do so could cost you your life.
To learn more about how you can be safe while visiting the gorges, please go here.

To learn about alternate safe swimming locations, please go here

Shakespeare in the Arboretum!

4 years 16 weeks ago

This year, you can enjoy two Shakespeare performances in the F. R. Newman Arboretum.

One of Shakespeare's greatest romantic comedies, "As You Like It," will be performed on July 7, 9, 15, 21, and 23.

Returning to the Arboretum stage, the popular "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will be performed on July 8, 10, 14, 16, 22 and 24.

All performances will take place from 6:00 -8:30 p.m. in the Jackson Grove in the F. R. Newman Arboretum. View our calendar for more details.

The Ithaca Shakespeare Company is busily building the stage for their performances!