When I first saw this story, I expected to click on the link and find an image of a beautiful old castle covered in flowers, like some sort of medieval site-specific installation art. Unfortunately, that was not the case, and the truth of the matter is much sadder than my daydream flight of fancy. Belgrade Fortress, which has stood in Serbia for over 2,000 years is being destroyed by a corrosive compound formed from potassium leaching out of nearby flowerbeds, and residue from coal-fired power plants and car exhaust. ~AR
“I planted some new bulbs (grape hyacinth, scilla, etc.) this October, when it would normally be safe to plant them. However, thanks to the unusually warm weather, some of them are sprouting, particularly the grape hyacinth. Some of my old bulbs, including crocus, daffodils, and irises are also sprouting! Please tell me that they will still bloom this spring! All winter I grin and bear the cold by anticipating the beautiful blooms I will have in the spring. Thanks! ~ Liz”—
What a highly relevant question. Aren’t we all just wondering what’s going to happen to our poor, confused bulbs? Your answer comes from Kristin Schleiter, Acting Director of Outdoor Gardens.
Lots of bulb foliage is pushing its way up at NYBG too. Most of the bulbs we plant for spring bloom are native to cold mountainous regions and therefore they can handle snow and freezing well. As long as it is only the foliage above ground and the flower buds are still tucked below, the bloom will be absolutely fine. The foliage may look a little sad and tattered by spring, but leave it as it is to help give the plant the energy to create another flower for the next spring.
If your buds are currently above the ground, you can provide them a little extra protection with cut evergreen boughs or chopped fall leaves (if you have any left). Even if you can’t give them protection, there is a good chance that they will still be alright.
Well there you have it Liz! We’re all going to be just fine. Couldn’t think of a happier sentiment for the new year! ~AR
Via the Columbus Dispatch comes this really good list of apps for the gardener. One that they haven’t included that we have find quite handy is Evernote. With Evernote we’re able to synchronize plant lists, articles, to-do lists, and more across all of our computers, smartphones, and other handheld devices. Is there an app out there that you just can’t garden without? ~AR
This is an excellent question, Susan. The short answer is no. Whenever I am asked about foraging, my initial response is one of caution. It is always best never to eat anything from the garden or your community unless it is properly identified and you know for certain that it is edible.
That being said, if you are planning a bird-friendly garden there are many good options that both you and the birds can enjoy. Birds are tough competition and a hungry bunch, so plant en masse.
Some popular choices are high bush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum), red and black raspberries (Rubus idaeus and Rubus occidentalis), gooseberries (Ribes grossularia), and alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca).
Some more unusual choices that are generally viewed as ornamentals but are also edible are beach plum (Prunus maritima), serviceberry/juneberry (Amelanchier alnifolia and Amelanchier laevis), American cranberry bush (Viburnum opulus var. americanum (trilobum)), black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), native dogwood (Cornus florida), Cornelian dogwood (Cornus mas), and Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa).
Several words of caution: Just because one species is edible doesn’t mean all species in a genus are edible. For example, with the above list the American cranberry bush is edible but that does not imply that all viburnums are – they are not.
If a plant is edible, make sure that you are aware if any parts are poisonous. For example, wild black cherry (Prunus serotina) has edible fruit but the seeds are poisonous so that you have to pit the fruit before eating. American and European elderberry (Sambucus canadensis and Sambucus nigra) have edible berries that must be cooked before they are used. The berries are slightly toxic when they are unripe and the stems should always be removed.
There is also the taste factor that is not mentioned in the list. You can eat the berries from the native dogwood but they are bitter and the Cornelian dogwood and Kousa dogwood tend to be more popular (although not conventional) tastes. With the serviceberries, Amelanchier alnifolia has sweeter fruit than Amelanchier laevis. Many berries are tart and make good jams – beach plum and American cranberry bush are two examples.
This is just a start. The best advice I can give is to search the Internet and books in the library for information and recipes. Often you will find older books on herbals that will include information and recipes. There are also newer books on edible landscapes. The Internet is always a wonderful resource but I would surf cautiously when you are collecting information on whether or not something is edible and make sure that it comes from a credible source. Poisonous Plants from North Carolina is a reliable cross reference. There is also a surfeit of recipes available on the Web and this will give you some good ideas. Hope you and the birds enjoy your garden. Sonia
Thanks Susan! Best wishes for a healthy, happy, berry-filled New Year. ~ AR
I know that "AR" recently posted something on your behalf (via tumblr) re the use of Latin in the naming of botanical things being on its way out. I DISAGREE with that decision, but, that is for another discussion. What I would like to know is this: I received 3 lemon lime cypress a few wks ago + I cannot find their latin name anywhere! Since there is no place to include an image here, I will post an image of it on nybg's tumblr with a "copy" of this question. Thnx so much for your Q+A "gift"!
Good morning, and thank you for your many tiered question.
First of all, I am AR aka Ann Rafalko, Director of Online Content at The New York Botanical Garden. Recently we also hired Matthew Newman as a Web Content Specialist. To try and give you, our readers, more of an idea of who is producing our content, we have begun adding our initials to some posts. You can learn all about the NYBG Tumblr on our about page.
To your second point: I was worried when I was writing that post that some people might misunderstand it. I was worried that people might think that the consortium of scientists—which includes Garden VP of Science James Miller—have done away with Latin names. This is incorrect. What they have done away with is the requirement that new plant species be described in Latin, and published in a paper-based journal. In an effort to name the world’s plants before they disappear due to climate-based or development-based changes to their environments, these scientists have streamlined the process. Personally, as someone with a background in science, I think this is pretty rad. I apologize for not having made these points clearer.
To your third point: I have never heard of a Lemon Lime Cypress. We’ll pass the photograph along to one of our tree experts to see if they know anything about them.
Finally, I can sense your frustration with Tumblr’s “Ask” feature not containing an option to upload a photograph. Since we did not create Tumblr, just use this amazing platform to engage with a huge universe of plant-loving people all over the world, I cannot fix this, but I sure can send them a note.
Thanks so much for your great questions! I’ll see what I can dig-up about your lovely tree (photo below, since in answering, we can post photographs).
“The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is one of the most memorable things I’ve EVER done in New York, and I plan on making it a yearly tradition.”—The jealousy-inducingly well-traveled Annie Fitzsimmonsvisited the Train Show recently, and … we think she liked it. Thanks for visiting Annie, and for taking the time to include us on your awesome blog, Hotel Belle!
“I have a healthy asparagus fern I left out for too many cold nights, and it’s going from bright green to dull … Is there any hope, or did the frost do it in? ~ Jeanne”—
Thank you for your question. Your answer comes from Marc Hachadourian, Manager of the Nolen Greenhouses.
I don’t think that the plant is going to die – Asparagus Ferns are very tough plants and can take quite a bit of cold. What might happen is that the plant will drop many of it’s leaves (get a dustpan and broom – it could get messy) before starting to grow again. If the stems die back the plant can and will eventually resprout from the roots looking much better in a couple of months.
Best of luck, and here’s to a happy, healthy, plant-filled new year! ~AR
“I’ll ask the obvious amaryllis question. What is the - blooming - secret to getting amaryllis to bloom?? Did the same thing to three bulbs from last year. One is flowering, second is tall but no bloom yet. Third is a little green lollypop. ~ Rosemary”—
Are all three amaryllis bulbs the same cultivar? Our best guess is that, much like people, each bulb is an individual and may require a different maturation period. Give them time and each one should come into flower eventually.
In addition, here are the instructions from our Gardner for Public Education, Sonia Uyterhoeven: Amaryllis do not require a chilling period. Plant them with at least one third of the bulb above the surface and leave one inch between the bulb and the edge of the container. Water your amaryllis in well when planted, but then keep the soil on the drier side until you see the flower stalk emerging. Once the flower stalk appears, start watering on a more regular basis. Amaryllis need a well-lit, warm place to grow until the buds begin to open. Then it can be moved to a cooler shadier location where the blooms will last longer. After the bulb finishes blooming, cut the flower stock close to the base. Grow the plant in a sunny location and add houseplant fertilizer regularly. Stop watering and feeding in August, and allow the plant to dry out completely. It generally will need an eight week resting period. In late September, cut back foliage and re-pot the bulb in fresh potting soil. Place in a sunny location and water sparingly until growth begins again.
It’s a nice slow week here at the Garden, so we figured it was an ideal time to open the help line. Do you have a burning gardening question? Need to know how to care for a new plant you got as a holiday gift? Always wondered about how we take care of our millions of plants? Go ahead … Ask! It might take us a little research, but we’ll get back to you.
This story by Eugene Chan features the Holiday Train Show, but it is by no means about the Train Show. It is rather about the how giving of yourself to others who may not be as fortunate as you is one of life’s great joys. A wonderful sentiment to keep in mind at this time of year. Thank you for sharing Eugene! ~AR
So many of us start our green thumbs the same way: hit the local garden center, mull around in front of the seed stand, pick out packets of the most eye-catching flowers or edibles, then rush home and plant with abandon! …And so seldom does this method pan out.
Andrea Bellamy with Edible Vancouver puts together a few useful pointers for those looking to take their home gardening projects to the next level (or at least a level where you can safely say you have a “garden” and not an agricultural sob story). With a little planning and maybe a gardening journal, you’ll be well on your way to actually eating what you planted.
Can’t make it to New York City for our Holiday Train Show this year? Funny enough, it’s really true what they say—great minds do think alike.
As our new friends at Far Out Flora have shown us (their blog is one of our recent favorites), those on the west coast can stop by San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers for a peak at a very different train show! Click through the story link up above for some great photos of a decidedly Californian landscape in miniature, and a rundown of the event from FOF’s ever-smiling Matti.
Talking about a much-admired magnolia grove at the Botanical Garden that was hard-hit by the snowstorm, Forrest said, “You told yourself to enjoy it while it lasted because you know trees don’t live forever. But then boom, it’s changed, and you know it will be decades before it is what it was again.”
Cool post about the Coney Island buildings and street cars featured in the Holiday Train Showfrom the blog Amusing the Zillions (tagline: A former carny kid casts an insider’s eye on the amusement business, Coney Island, and fun places in between).
“As soon as we enter the Garden and walk in a ways, it’s always such an odd feeling to be alone with my family. No strangers. No sidewalks. No buildings. I notice the difference so clearly, and it feels wonderful!”—Sharon, the San Francisco-transplant and mom behind the lovely blog NYC Taught Me returned to the Garden with her family recently, and wrote another beautiful post about their visit. We’re happy to provide you with a quite place to enjoy nature Sharon! Thanks for visiting.
My attention was drawn to this article by an off-hand reference to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory's appearance in the “Yorkville Nutcracker,” a version of the beloved holiday ballet set in 19th century New York City. But it is Marina Harss’ engaging and lucid writing on the various forms of choreography and their relationship to Tchaikovsky’s score that kept me reading. ~AR
Plants, like people, need names. People are named by their parents. Plants are named by their discoverers. Naming a child is fairly easy. Naming a plant is fairly difficult, but will become less so in 2012.
In 2012, new rules will go into effect that will expedite the process of naming newly discovered plants—many of which are extremely threatened—by making their description published on a website just as valid as if it had been published in a printed journal. In addition, scientists will no longer be required to write a scientifically valid description of the plant in Latin.
"These are fundamental changes that are going to facilitate the ability to name and describe new species," said James S. Miller, Ph.D., Dean and Vice President for Science at The New York Botanical Garden, who is the lead author of a summary of the new rules in the online journal PhytoKeys. "Eliminating the Latin requirement and moving to electronic publication will really expedite and simplify the process of describing the diversity that’s out there." ~AR
New Yorkers aren’t the only ones taking advantage of rooftops and balconies! This Urban Gardens article shows that urban agriculture is springing up around the world as lifelong farmers and ambitious amateurs bring a greener touch to city life.
Rumors abound that the lovely poinsettia—that most quintessential of holiday decorations—is packing a dark and deadly secret. But how dastardly is the potted beauty found sitting on hardware store shelves?
“The Bronx has one of the city’s great Christmas traditions, the Holiday Train Show, with a quarter-mile toy train track passing NY icons like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Yankee Stadium and St Patrick’s Cathedral.”—The Washington Post names the Holiday Train Show one of the holiday season’s “don’ts”, but in a “do” way. Thanks WaPo!
Scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, The New York Botanical Garden, and New York University have created the largest genome-based tree of life for seed plants to date.
"This study resolves the long-standing problem of producing an unequivocal evolutionary tree of the seed plants," said Dennis Stevenson, vice president for laboratory research at The New York Botanical Garden. "We can then use this information to determine when and where important adaptations occur and how they relate to plant diversification. We also can examine the evolution of such features as drought tolerance, disease resistance, or crop yields that sustain human life through improved agriculture."
Interested in taking the Metro-North to the Holiday Train Show this year? Don’t forget about the weekend CityTicket! A CityTicket, only $3.75 one-way, is the best way to travel on Saturday and Sunday if you’re looking to take a ride up to the Bronx. It’s fast, simple and will have you at the Garden before you can say Enid A. Haupt Conservatory three times fast!
We’re not sure if this would be as stylish if you were to use a stack of red plastic party cups, but beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, right? UrbanGardens explains how one Turkish design firm took recycling to the next level.