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A new way to tour the F. R. Newman Arboretum

1 year 51 weeks ago
Cornell Plantations has recently completed its yearlong process of enhancements to our visitor services in the F. R. Newman Arboretum with the installation of a self-guided audio-visual tour. In addition to this self-guided tour, Cornell Plantations has installed new interpretive and way-finding signs throughout to help visitors better orient themselves and to learn more about these unique collections. These enhancements were made possible by a $20K grant from the Stanley Smith Horticulture Trust received in January 2012.

These enhancements help Plantations to better tell our story to the tens of thousands of visitors who enter our gates every year. From learning about the striped maple (Acer pennsylvanicum) a small tree with distinct vertical white stripes on its bark, which is also called moosewood, the namesake of a nearby famous restaurant; to learning that the much loved Sculpture Garden was not intended to survive past the year it was constructed in 1962, visitors will now have a much fuller and richer understanding of the amazing collections that can be found in the rolling hills of the F. R. Newman Arboretum. 

Since the completion of the Arboretum in 1981, Plantations has had limited visitor information in the arboretum to explain to visitors the importance of the plant collections found there. This grant allowed for expanded services that include new signs and mobile phone audio-visual tours to communicate the significance of the key plant collections within the 150-acre arboretum, and reveal how researchers from Cornell and around the world use these collections for scientific study.

“The aim of all interpretation in the arboretum is to emphasize the significance of plant diversity, and how plants strongly affect human well-being,” stated Sarah Fiorello, interpretation coordinator at Cornell Plantations.  “Before these interpretive upgrades in the arboretum, many visitors viewed the space as a beautifully manicured park, not as an arboretum -- with significant plant collections that are used for educational and research purposes.  It’s our hope that these visitor enhancements will help bring a fuller awareness to our visitors.”

The collections located in the F.R. Newman Arboretum include nut trees, crabapples, oaks, maples, shrubs, and urban trees.  There are also specialty gardens found in the arboretum that include the Zucker Shrub Collection and the Treman Woodland Walk.

To listen to the audio tour, visit our F.R. Newman Arboretum page and browse the collection list.  Once a collection is selected, click on the audio icon to listen to the short audio clip.

About Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust:
The Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust was created in 1970 by May Smith, in honor of her late husband. The Trust supports education and research in ornamental horticulture, primarily in North and South America. Grants up to $20,000 are typically made to botanical gardens, arboreta, and universities.

Cornell Plantations is...

2 years 2 days ago

Cornell Plantations is many things to many people. What does Cornell
Plantations mean to Cornell faculty, staff and students and Ithaca
community members? Click here to view a 3-1/2 minute video to find out.

Get an update on our efforts to control invasive plants and pests

2 years 2 days ago

In the July 22 Cornell Chronicle article, “Plantations seeks to control invasive plants and pests,”  natural areas director Todd Bittner paints of picture of what it takes to curb the spread of the invasive insect hemlock woolly adelgid, and countless invasive plants that threaten the health of over 3,400 acres of Plantations natural areas.

Read more here.

Plantations interim director's pineapple lily research could boost the New York nursery industry

2 years 2 days ago
Chris Wien, Cornell Plantations interim director, is a professor of horticulture who experiments with cut flowers to determine which varieties hold the most promise for the state’s $6.3 billion nursery industry. He believes he’s found a winner in the pineapple lily (Eucomis). Read more about his research in the July 25 Cornell Chronicle article, "Pineapple lily could help N. Y. nursery industry bloom."

Chris Wien will serve as interim director of Cornell Plantations while the university searches for a replacement for Don Rakow, who announced his resignation on May 22. Read more here.

View gardener Josh Whitney's appearance on the Syracuse morning show "Bridge Street."

2 years 2 weeks ago
Staff gardener Josh Whitney appeared on WSYR's weekly morning show "Bridge Street." He provided "The Plant 411" and offered tips on summer plant care. Click here to watch this four minute interview.

"Botanical Mandalas" on display in the Nevin Welcome Center

2 years 3 weeks ago
Daniel McPheeters' "Botanical Mandalas" are on display during July and August. For the past few years Daniel has taken photographs of flowers and foliage and used the computer to turn them into  “Botanical Mandalas” using a technique called “digital collage” to combine images.

Learn more about Daniel's images at

Plantations Road Closed at Judd Falls Road until August 15

2 years 3 weeks ago

Plantations Road at Judd Falls Road will be closed from July 8th - August 15th.  Cornell Plantations' botanical garden and Nevin Welcome Center REMAIN OPEN and can be accessed from Plantations Road at Forest Home Drive.  For information or questions, please call 607-255-2400.

Click on image to enlarge.

Flood watch

2 years 4 weeks ago

Flash flood watch: With the rain we've received and the potential for more showers, thunderstorms and torrential rainfall, all members of the community are reminded that gorges and trails may be dangerous during storms. Remember to stay on trails or within designated areas, swimming is prohibited, and do not walk on closed trails or other restricted areas marked by fences, gates and railings. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move. Please check the Special Conditions page for further updates.

Plantations Welcomes Chris Wien as Interim Director

2 years 5 weeks ago
Horticulture professor Chris Wien will serve as interim director of Cornell Plantations while the university searches for a replacement for Don Rakow, who announced his resignation on May 22. Wien, who started July 1, previously served as acting director of the Plantations from July 2006 to January 2007. Wien 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.

Rakow, who joined Cornell Plantations more than 20 years ago, will return full time to the Department of Horticulture. 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.”

“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,” said Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The Plantations has established a new fund in his honor.

Get an update on the Cascadilla Gorge trail repairs

2 years 5 weeks ago

Most of the Cascadilla Gorge trail between downtown Ithaca and Collegetown has been closed since 2009 for extensive repairs, but reopening is expected this fall. For a complete update on this project, read the June 20 Ithaca Journal article, "Cascadilla trail's ends to be reunited," or listen to this June 21 radio interivew with Cornell Plantations Natural Areas director Todd Bittner on 1160AM ESPN ithaca.