Art Deco aficionados may look to Manhattan and South Beach for the last vestiges of the fabled style, but our home of the Bronx is a little-known goldmine for these architectural classics. We’ve touched on this subject before, of course. Scouting NY just took it one step further with a jaunt through the surviving Art Deco buildings along the Grand Concourse. And if it weren’t for the pun police suspecting me of bad taste already, I’d tell you that I’m so jazzed about this. —MN
“A golf cart full of foxgloves,” sounds like the start to a nursery rhyme. What should be the next line? (at New York Botanical Garden)
We’re mostly moving away from specific plants this week, in terms of what’s beautiful now, in favor of landscapes. Bright, pulsating, incredibly dramatic, gorgeous, stunningly beautiful landscapes, to be specific.
That said, there are a few standout flowers that you should look for, including that peachy peony and her friends, lily of the valley, and ‘Hinomayo,’ one of the most outstanding shrubs on our grounds.
So what about those landscapes? First there’s our new exhibition, Wild Medicine: Healing Plants Around the World, Featuring The Italian Renaissance Garden in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Nearby in the Conservatory Courtyards (also home to The Four Seasons) you’ll find the hardy waterlilies bursting open in these first warm days of spring.
In the Perennial Garden tulips are making way for charming garden plants like bleeding heart and irises. Walk up the path for the charmingly idyllic Rock Garden, then walk around the bend for the wild beauty of the new Native Plant Garden, and then just a little further to the bombastic pinks and reds of the Azalea Garden.
Everywhere you turn there’s a sight to behold and a perfume on the breeze (just watch out for the Davidia). The lilacs are holding strong, the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden is slowly coming along, and the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden looks like a patchwork quilt of greens and earthtones.
Things are definitely settling into a pattern here in terms of what’s beautiful. If you check last week’s report, and even the report from two weeks ago, many of the same gardens are holding strong. What can we say? It’s been an extraordinary spring!
So come visit us in the Bronx! You can plan your visit here. For day-to-day updates on what we’re seeing around grounds, be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter where we post daily updates from our staff and visitors. Also, need help getting around? Our iPhone app can help out there. It’s free and available in the App Store. ~AR
I can’t remember the last time I saw an advertisement for a funeral home in the U.S.—with any luck, few have to dwell on these considerations often. But if the undertaker set were to take a shot at public market competition, I can think of worse memento moris to confront than this “living” skeleton composed entirely of pressed flowers.
The work was commissioned by Nishinohon Tenrei of Japan, a funeral home that, from what I gather, sought to break the monochromatic mold of the average funeral concept. The resulting advertisement is crookedly beautiful, if a little forward. Click through for a few more close-ups. —MN
(Source: Laughing Squid)
-My Nerdy Nerdiness expresses itself :)
As a chemist, this makes me smile!
Huh, kinda interesting in a “I have no idea what this means” sort of way.
I will admit to having looked a few of these up to be sure I was interpreting them correctly. What you see are the chemical formulas of various substances used to mimic plant-based aromas and flavors. Pretty, and pretty neat. ~AR
Recently, a bit of a controversy broke out after a prominent garden writer was seen as taking a too-light tone in talking about the downy mildew epidemic attacking the cheery garden flower. Impatiens, in case you don’t know, are one of the few garden annuals happy to bloom in shade. They are beloved by gardeners for adding color under trees and in shady corners. And apparently in India they are used in massive mass plantings to construct colorful pyramids! Now there’s an idea for real curbside appeal!
As an aside, the bottom photo shows a mass planting of wax begonia, a flower that is frequently recommended as a good alternative for impatiens. ~AR
The findings suggest junk DNA really isn’t needed for healthy plants — and that may also hold for other organisms.
Sometimes junk really is just junk. For years, geneticists have tried to determine whether the vast majority of an organism’s DNA—an assortment of so-called junk DNA that seems to serve no purpose—does indeed serve a purpose. Now, thanks to a study published in the journal Nature analyzing the genome of the carnivorous bladderwort, Utricularia gibba, researchers look set to declare the adage true. Far from playing some crucial and mysterious role in the well-being of the plant, it looks like junk DNA really is just junk.
The mystery remains however as to why some organisms have fairly bloated genomes while others have svelte, relatively junk-free ones. Research is, much like a bladderwort, a living process, so it’s entirely possible that new studies will reverse this one in due time. It’s one of the things that makes science exciting, isn’t it? ~AR
In case we haven’t mentioned it, the Azalea Garden is looking pretty amazing right now!
Truth be told, my stomach for green things had a threshold sitting somewhere below sea level until I was into my early twenties. Shameful, I know. Since then, I’ve been anxious to at least try new vegetation (I didn’t say I’d like it), and fiddleheads—the furled fronds of young ferns—are high on my list.
There are some caveats to harvesting these adolescent springtime delicacies yourself, up to and including potential food poisoning and natural toxins if you don’t know your way around a woodland harvest. But one of our own experts, John Mickel (NYBG senior curator emeritus, fern expert, and secretary of the New York Fern Society for decades) was on hand to put at least one concern to rest in this quick rundown of the latest trend in foraged food.
As always, don’t eat anything wild without knowing what you’re doing. And be sure to have a thorough understanding of your area’s collection laws; if you don’t know the status of what you’re picking, and it’s not your land, best to leave it alone. Click through for the fiddlehead rundown, complete with preparation tips. —MN
That’s the estimate published in a new study in the journal Environmental Pollution. All the more reason for cities to stem the tide of urban tree cover decline that these same researchers from the U.S. Forest Service found in a 2012 study.
Our colleagues in Atlanta have just opened what sounds like a really cool exhibition. Called “Imaginary Worlds: Plants Larger Than Life” it features enormous living sculptures made up of thousands upon thousands of plants. The sculptures include an ogre, a unicorn, and largest of all, the Earth Goddess. The sculptures are created by a company in Montreal, and contain specially made internal irrigation systems to help them last through Atlanta’s punishing summers. ~AR
So the headline on this story is indulging in a wee bit of hyperbole. Valley Fever, an illness caused by the fungus coccidioidomycosis, isn’t quite ravaging the ranks of Major League Baseball yet (only two players have come down with it), but there is always the possibility that one day it can.
Valley Fever is caused when people breathe in the spores of this fungus which thrives in hot, dry areas like the areas in Arizona where many MLB teams have spring training camps. And there’s been a real uptick in cases recently. On the surface it would seem that climate change would be the most obvious reason behind it’s uptick, but some experts think a more likely cause is the Sun Belt’s economic growth. As populations grow and development and building increase, so too does disruption to the ecosystem. ~AR
Flowers and plants have long been used as medicine, a topic we are covering in our newest exhibition, Wild Medicine: Healing Plants From Around the World. But, it looks like plants can sometimes use a little medicine themselves. In fact some enterprising researcher out there has determined that cut flowers can benefit from the same drug—and achieve similar results—as a popular little blue pill for men.
I’d love to know the story behind the origin for this study. If anyone knows, please, let us know! ~AR
Robin Wall Kimmerer, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses (via mossofthewoods)
Tools in the passage of time adopt myriad forms and states of matter. It’s not often you stop and dwell on the bare stone, and yet we’re constantly finding reason to reflect on the Garden’s past. The exposed rock marking the landscape—from the ridges sectioning the Azalea Garden to the monolithic “Split Rock” of the Native Plant Garden—puts each moment of wear on display in scars and striations, recalling the kinetic push of glaciers, rivers, and trees long gone.
Nature is so often an archive of itself. Just stop and look. See how even the smallest of living things, down to the lichens and dripping mosses, share the duties of erosion with the wind and rain. —MN