Summer Fun Fridays: Inside Cornell Botanic Gardens
ITHACA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Where bustling bees get to work in the morning dew, pollinators help French Lavender plants and birds sing as loudly as they can, the Cornell Botanic Gardens provide something for the nature enthusiast in everyone.
The Cornell Botanic Gardens oversees three areas that make up one-third of Cornell University’s Ithaca, New York campus: cultivated gardens, an arboretum and natural areas. With the addition of other off-campus natural areas, the Cornell Botanic Gardens comprise a total of 3,700 acres, introducing visitors to different cultures through plants of the world.
“It's very rewarding when people from different cultures come here and they see a plant that is meaningful to them,” said Shannon Dortch, Associate Director for Communications and Marketing at Cornell Botanic Gardens. “They'll often talk to one of the employees here, the horticulturist in the garden, about the plant and what it means to them.”
Cornell Botanic Gardens has a fleet of horticulturalists and gardeners each assigned to take care of a different aspect of the facility. That includes the Herb, Winter and Flower Gardens that visitors can view. Emily Norsen takes care of the Winter Garden, planting and tending to plants that thrive in the snow and cold.
“[I] select new plants for plantings, as well as all the typical gardening tasks that you think of: weeding, watering, pruning,” she said. “[I also do] some educational programming...giving tours and workshops and that sort of thing.”
The Cornell Botanic Gardens’ main mission is to help visitors appreciate the plants and cultures they sustain through cultivation, conservation and education. Amid the 10,364 plants on the campus, Norsen explained there is a real science of sustainability behind each of the choices the gardeners make.
“Planting native plants is a very simple and effective way to create a sustainable garden,” said Norsen. “Things that are native to this particular area oftentimes don't require as much maintenance, so they're really well adapted to the soil and the climate conditions here. They can survive our harsh winters, and they don't tend to need as much amendments. They also help support some of our native pollinators and bird species.”
As Dortch puts it, the gardens are at their prettiest and most luscious during the July and August months.
“People should come because they can simply take a walk on these beautiful paths and enjoy the flowers, the blooms [and] the herbs,” said Dortch. “It also is very worthwhile to enjoy and explore some of the natural areas, to take some walks and some hikes."
That’s exactly what Bill and Nancy Campbell experienced after driving multiple hours from Hamilton, Canada to check off a bucket-list item.
“The way it’s laid out is lovely,” said Bill. “[It is] a good variety. It’s stunning, it really is...and it's not only the plants, but there's [also] such a wide variety of insects, butterflies, moths [and] flying insects [like] the bees [and] the wasps...but it's all part of Horticultural gardens.”
With its diverse ecosystems, there is a lot of flower power and vibrant views to soak in at the Cornell Botanic Gardens. They are open every day from sunrise to sunset.
For more information on the Cornell Botanic Gardens, click here.