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Cascadilla Gorge Trail closed for winter

43 weeks 6 days ago
The Cascadilla Gorge Trail from Downtown to College Avenue is now closed for winter. The trail is closed due to hazardous conditions from snow, ice, and falling rock that create unsafe conditions. The trail will re-open in the spring when conditions allow.

Although the gorge is closed, you can tour it virtually using Google's Street View feature. Click here for a 360 degree view in front of one of the gorge's waterfalls. To view more points in the gorge, click on the yellow “pegman” in the bottom right corner and drag it to a point on the trail!

Read more about the Google Street View project here.

Tour Plantations' gorges and natural areas with Google Street View

44 weeks 15 hours ago
People are now able to virtually explore many of the Plantations and the Ithaca area's gorges and natural areas with Google's Street View technology. On November 19, Plantations and the City of Ithaca's Geographic Information Systems program announced its partnership with Google to create 360 degree views of these areas, which cannot always be easily accessed. Google staff trained local professionals to hike these areas with 40-pound backpacks with 15 cameras that took images every 2.5 seconds. The images were then sent to a Google satellite. Cornell Plantations staff Zeb Strickland was responsible for capturing images of Fall Creek and Cascadilla Gorges along with Edwards Lake Cliffs Natural Area.

To view these areas in Google Street View, click on the links below:

Beebe Lake from Sackett Bridge

Beebe Lake

Fall Creek Gorge from the trail behind Risley Hall.

Fall Creek Gorge trail from below the pedestrian suspension bridge

Cascadilla Gorge trail

Edward Lake Cliffs Natural Area

To read more about this project, in The Ithacan article, "City of Ithaca reveals new Google Street View of off-street areas."

Gift Shop sale today!

44 weeks 3 days ago
The Garden Gift Shop in the Nevin Welcome Center will be open for a special holiday sale today from 1:00 - 6:00 p.m. (Early bird hours for Plantations members start at 11:30 a.m.). Holiday shoppers will enjoy a 15% discount on most items; Members will receive a 30% discount.

The Shop has many unique offerings such as handcrafted ornaments, locally sourced gift items, high quality gardening books and more! Your purchases directly support Plantations' gardens, natural areas and education programs.
The Shop is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00–4:00, through December 19 for all your holiday shopping needs!

New Garlic Project kicks off in Plantations' vegetable garden

47 weeks 2 days ago
On November 8th, 30 people gathered in the Pounder Vegetable Garden to learn about and plant garlic—the first of many planting events that are part of The Garlic Project. This project was initiated by Donna Levy, Plantations' Environmental Outreach Coordinator, and Gary Fine of the Durland Alternatives Library at Cornell University. Describing the Garlic Project's mission, Gary Fine said, "In the small picture, it spreads garlic around your community. But in the larger picture, it’s about education and empowerment around how easy and satisfying it is to grow food and be more in charge of what you eat."

Learn more about The Garlic Project in the November 3 Tompkins Weekly article, "Cultivating Community Ties through Garlic."

Hear what Carol Bradford, Garden Blogger who lives in Syracuse, has to say about The Garlic Project here.

Watch an interview with creator of "Victis acernis" sculpture

48 weeks 2 days ago

Click here to view a four-minute interview with Jack Elliot, who worked with Cornell students for two-years to clean the roots of a sugar maple, now a work of art used to convey an environmental message.

Lecture: Introduction to Classical Bonsai Art

48 weeks 3 days ago
Join us for the final lecture of our Fall Lecture Series.

Bonsai, the Japanese art of growing miniature trees, has been captivating people for some time. William N. Valavanis, a Bonsai Master, will cover classical bonsai art and its history, philosophy and styles. William Valavanis will show techniques for creating and training bonsai as well as how to maintain them in a healthy environment – all illustrated by striking photos taken during his tours around the world.  A few bonsai specimens will be brought to the program to illustrate fine quality classical bonsai.

Date: Wednesday, November 12
Time: 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Location: Statler Hall Auditorium, Cornell University

This lecture is free and open to the public. Click here for the Fall Lecture Series line-up.

Students get research experience at Plantations' natural areas

49 weeks 3 days ago
Every Friday afternoon, professor Anurag Agrawal takes his Field Ecology class to different Plantations natural areas to learn the principles of ecology through nature observation and hands-on research projects. Get a close-up view of what the students observed in Plantations' Dunlop Meadow in this 5-minute video.

Click here to view this 5-minute video.

Liberty Hyde Bailey's Vision - October 29

49 weeks 3 days ago

Join historian Scott Peters this Wednesday evening, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the Statler Auditorium, to celebrate Cornell Plantations' 70th Anniversary.  Dr. Peter's lecture will focus on the prophetic ecological and civic vision of Liberty Hyde Bailey, Plantation's founder. Join Dr. Peters as he unearths wisdom and lessons in Liberty Hyde Bailey's work that can inspire and guide the ways we approach the ecological and civic challenges of our time.


Missed the Cascadilla Gorge opening ceremony? Watch it online.

50 weeks 3 days ago
After five years of repair, the Cascadilla Gorge reopened on September 15. Click hereto view the opening ceremony, which includes comments from Plantations director Christopher Dunn, Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick and more.

This show is part of "Walk in the Park," a series produced by Tony Ingraham of Owl Gorge productions, which features parks in the Finger Lakes and throughout New York. It will be aired this Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10:30 or on Tuesday at 8 p.m. on Ithaca's public access cable channels 13 and 97.3.

Create your own bonsai workshop, November 13

51 weeks 1 day ago
After a short lecture and demonstration of how a bonsai is developed from common nursery stock, master bonsai artist and educator William Valavanis will assist each student increating their own indoor bonsai to take home. Most bonsaiare winter-hardy outdoor species which cannot be cultivated in the home. However tropical species which have been hand selected from Florida growers will be used for this workshop. A few developed bonsai will be used to illustrate the training techniques as well as provide inspiration. Students will select their own plants and will design, prune, wire and pot their own indoor bonsai. Personalized instruction will be provided so each student will develop a beautiful bonsai which can be cultivated indoors. Registration fee includes the tropical pre-bonsai, ceramic container, soil, wire and the use of bonsai tools during the workshop. Pre-registration is required.


Date/time: Thursday, November 13, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Instructor: William Valavanis, Bonsai Master
Cost: $100 ($90 for Cornell students, Plantations members and volunteers)
Location: Nevin Welcome Center

Click here to register.

Gov. Linda Lingle to speak on Clean Energy Initiatives

51 weeks 6 days ago

WHAT: Linda Lingle, former governor of Hawai'i will be on campus to discuss “How an Energy Outlier Can Become a Role Model for Sustainability: A case study of Hawai'i’s Clean Energy Initiative.”  The lecture is sponsored by Cornell Plantations, and co-sponsored by the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University.
WHEN: Thursday, October 23 at 5:00 pm (reception to follow)
WHERE: Warren Hall Auditorium, B45, Cornell University

Gov. Lingle will explain how the Aloha State’s geography, regulatory regime and dire need to end its first-in-the-nation reliance on imported oil coincided with bipartisan political leadership, community enthusiasm for change, and help from the Federal Government to transform itself from the most oil-dependent state in America to a national and international leader and test bed for sustainable, renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.  She will also share her thoughts on how Hawai'i will reach its goal of 70% clean energy by 2030.
“As a former resident of the Aloha State, I’m no stranger to the work that Governor Lingle was able to accomplish during her tenure,” stated Dr. Christopher Dunn, the E. N. Wilds director of Cornell Plantations. “The work she spearheaded in Hawai'i can serve as a primer for the rest of the United States, and it’s my distinct pleasure to bring her to Cornell to share her visionary ideas on environmental stewardship.”

Linda Lingle is a founding member and currently serves on the Governors’ Council at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington DC think tank whose policy initiatives are respected by national leaders of both political parties. She served two terms as Governor of Hawai'i between 2002 and 2010 and prior to that was twice elected Mayor of Maui County. She was Hawai'i’s first woman governor, and the first Republican elected in 40 years.
As Governor, Lingle became intensely focused on energy security and sustainability issues while examining chokepoints that had the potential to wreak havoc on Hawai'i’s economy and way of life.  She currently serves as a member of the U.S. Energy Security Council whose mission is to diminish the inordinate strategic importance of oil, which stems from its virtual monopoly over transportation fuels.
Governor Lingle became Professor Lingle earlier this year when she returned to her alma mater, Cal State Northridge, to teach a seminar in public policy. She will return to Northridge for the 2015 Spring Semester.
Lingle’s lecture is sponsored by Cornell Plantations, and co-sponsored by the David Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University.

Thank you for helping us reach our $10,000 goal!

1 year 9 hours ago
Thanks to 78 generous donors, the crowdfunding project started by our 2014 summer interns successfully raised $10,000!! These funds will support two student internships at Cornell Plantations next summer.
Our 2014 summer interns were an amazing and dynamic group with diverse backgrounds and a range of career goals and interests.  Every year, our staff appreciate the opportunity to get to know and work with these talented students.  We gain new perspectives and knowledge from the interns, just as they benefit from the hands-on work experience with us!
We are deeply grateful to our interns, their families and friends, and the many Plantations supporters who gave money to ensure that we can continue to offer this unique learning and work experience for more Cornell students. The crowdfunding project is now finished, but you can still support the Plantations Internship Program by making a gift at

The Landscape Architecture Foundation publishes comprehensive study of Cornell Plantations’ bioswale garden

1 year 2 days ago
The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) has published a comprehensive case study of the bioswale garden at Cornell Plantations. This is the first Cornell University site chosen for the LAF’s case study program, and was selected because the LAF believes the site shows the potential for a demonstration of substantial landscape benefits. The study was conducted by Michele Palmer, of dba Templeton Landscape Architecture & Planning located in Cooperstown, NY, in 2014.

The bioswale was installed as part of the Nevin Welcome Center building project in 2010. The project, which includes a green roof, and several other sustainable features, received LEED Gold from the U.S. Building Council. The bioswale was designed to slow and clean storm water runoff from the parking lot while providing an attractive garden landscape, which is more ecologically-minded than a traditional storm drain system. The garden is used as a teaching landscape to showcase the benefits and functions of a bioswale garden.

The landscape surrounding the Nevin Welcome Center serves as a pedestrian-friendly gateway to the adjacent 25-acre botanical garden and features a lush horticultural display with interpretive signage that articulates some of the ecosystem services provided by the bioswale, filter practices, and green roof.

Some of the bioswale's performance benefits found by Palmer are:
    •    Eliminates an estimated 78,000 gallons of runoff per year, reducing annual stormwater runoff from the site by 31%.
    •    Increases biodiversity. The bioswale contains over 50 plant species, giving it a Reciprocal Simpson Index of 11.5, which is 26.3 times higher than that of a turfgrass seed mix typically used for dry swales.
    •    Provides recreational and educational opportunities for an estimated 50,000 visitors per year based on 2013 counts. 68% of 71 survey respondents achieved the bioswale learning objectives, answering 7 out of 9 questions correctly.

    •    Helps galvanize visitor interest and support for green infrastructure. 92% of the 71 survey participants said they were interested in seeing green infrastructure in their communities, and 52% report that they are likely to install smaller scale practices in their home landscape.

“We are honored to be selected for this case study program,” stated Dr. Christopher Dunn, the E. N. Wilds director of Cornell Plantations. “The bioswale garden has quickly become one of the premier gardens of its kind, inspiring other botanic gardens to create similar landscapes, as well as inspiring visitors to create similar gardens in their communities and in their own backyards.”

The bioswale garden was designed by Tobias Wolf of Wolf Lighthall Landscape Architecture and Planning, along with Mary Hirshfeld, retired director of horticulture for Cornell Plantations and Irene Lekstutis, landscape designer at Cornell Plantations.

To see the full results of the LAF study please visit:

Gourd art workshop: Make a braided rim gourd on October 18

1 year 2 days ago
Join us for a new botanical art class focusing on gourd art and the technique of braided leather rims.  In this class you will learn to create the braided rim, which adds an elegant finishing touch to many types of gourd art. Using real leather lacing on a prepared gourd bowl, you will leave with a beautiful finished gourd. Class fee includes gourd, leather and all other materials. Pre-registration required.

Date/time: Saturday, October 18; 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Cost: $60 ($55 Plantations volunteers, members and Cornell students)
Instructor:Terry Noxel, president of the New York State Gourd Society
Location: Plantations Nevin Welcome Center

Click here to register.

This is the first of three gourd workshops offered at Cornell Plantations this fall.

Gourd basket workshop: November 15; 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Gourd ornament workshop: December 3; 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Lecture on transforming your backyard into a wildlife haven

1 year 2 days ago
This is the story of an artist's love affair with a piece of land, and the birds, animals, and plants that inhabit it. Simple habitat enhancements can take a back yard from bland to bustling with wildlife. In this talk, artist/writer Julie Zickefoose shows how she and her husband have transformed their abandoned farm into a wildlife sanctuary and observatory—a perfect personal habitat.


Date/time: Wednesday, October 15; 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Cost: Free; no-registration is required.
Location: Statler Hall Auditorium

This lecture is in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Cayuga Bird Club.

Julie will give her talk, The Bluebird Effect, at the Cayuga Bird Club Meeting at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on Monday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m. Learn more here.

Help Protect our Natural Heritage: Join the Natural Areas Academy

1 year 1 week 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. 

Natural Areas Academy is offered twice annually—fall and spring. Each season will focus on specific conservation strategies and a specific restoration project within our natural areas. The management practices learned and re-enforced through hands-on workshops and directed stewardships are
transferable to restoration and land management at multiple scales. Enrollment in the fall program is $90/nonmembers and $75/members and students.

Fall 2014 workshops include creating a rain garden, invasive species control, native seed collection, site preparation and native plant identification. Click here for a full schedule.

The first NAA workshop will be a mandatory orientation, and will be held on Thursday, October 2 at 6:00 p.m.

To learn more or to enroll online, clik here

Rain Garden workshop starts October 2

1 year 2 weeks ago
How can you help our streams and beautify your home landscape at the same time?  You can create a rain garden: a shallow, vegetated depression that collects, absorbs, cools, and filters storm water runoff before it reaches our waters.  In this two-part class, you will first learn about the basic principles and science of rain gardens, then participate in the creation of an actual rain garden at Cornell Plantations. Designed with native plants that require little maintenance, rain gardens are an inexpensive, relatively simple way to do our part in keeping our waters clean while simultaneously adding value and beauty to our yards. Pre-registration is required.

Dates/times: Thursday, October 2; 6:30-8:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 2; 1-5 p.m.
Cost: $60
Instructor: Nikki Cerra, Natural Areas Manager
Location: Nevin Welcome Center

Click here for more information and to register.

Hike the Cayuga Trail this Sunday to Celebrate 50 Years!

1 year 2 weeks ago
The Cayuga Trails Club proposed the Cayuga Trail in 1964 as a special project to offer visitors and Ithacans an introduction to the many beautiful and interesting areas that are within easy walking distance of Ithaca. The Cayuga Trail follows Fall Creek for 8-1/2 miles past hemlock- lined gorges, waterfalls, and through Cornell Plantations' botanical garden, arboretum and natural areas.

On Sunday, September 28, the Cayuga Trails Club will offer two guided hikes to celebrate the trail's 50th anniversary. An 8-1/2-mile hike begins at 9:00 a.m. and a 4-1/2-mile hike begins at 12:15.

Click here for more information and to register for these hikes.

Much of the Cayuga Trail also runs through Plantations Fall Creek and Monkey Run Natural Areas. Click below to view trail maps of these areas:

Fall Creek Valley (North) Natural Area
Monkey Run Natural Area

Upcoming Lecture: Founding Gardeners with historian Andrea Wulf

1 year 2 weeks ago
For George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison gardening, agriculture, and botany were elemental passions. Join award-winning historian Andrea Wulf for a beautifully illustrated talk looking at the lives of the founding fathers and how their attitude to plants, gardens, and agriculture shaped the American nation.


Date/time: Wednesday, October 1; 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Location: Statler Hall Auditorium, Cornell University
Cost: free

Click here for the full 2014 Lecture Series lineup.

Family Fun at Judy's Day! September 21 RAIN OR SHINE!

1 year 2 weeks ago

Today’s the day!!! Come shop at our all fruit market, explore Appleville, visit the Weird and Wacky Fruit Museum, travel to the tropics, dance to the Caribbean Fruit Band, find your way through our apple maze and much much more!!  Don’t let a little rain stop you from coming out to the BEST FAMILY FUN EVENT OF THE YEAR!!!

GO BANANAS exploring the fun and fascinating world of fruits at our Judy's Day Family Festival on Sunday, September 21 from 1 to 5 p.m. Free parking is located at Cornell's B-lot off Route 366. A shuttle bus to the arboretum will be provided. Handicapped parking is located in the arboretum. For more information, click here.