The New York Botanical Garden is conducting its next Facebook Watch Party, “Journey Through Spring II ” this week. The sequel to NYBG’s popular virtual walk through its spectacular Spring highlights takes place on Thursday, May 21, at 12 p.m. Look for the Facebook Watch Party: “Journey Through Spring II ”
For this event Todd Forrest, Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections narrates the most recent spring footage at the Garden. The video update is gorgeous as Todd chronicles the budding and blossoming throughout NYBG’s spectacular historic landscape from late April through mid-May.
The virtual walk features sweeping panoramic and aerial views across NYBG’s 250 acres and intimate close-ups of its magnificent gardens and collections. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in clusters of white and purple lilacs; lush peonies; late-spring perennials, grasses, and bulbs; and many more seasonal sensations during this Facebook Watch Party.
Todd Forrest is particularly suited to discussing the virtual walk. In his position he is responsible for the Horticulture Division’s programs and activities. He oversees the grounds, 50 gardens and living collections, horticultural exhibitions, and a staff of 80 managers, curators, gardeners, and community horticulturists. Forrest also advises on long-term strategy for the Garden’s 250-acre landscape.
As New York State works to align the economy with opening up safely during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis, NYBG will do the same, always keeping in mind the safety of its patrons who, in the past, didn’t mind the crowds. Today, however, it’s all about stemming the outbreak of COVID-19 which took the US by surprise since the Pandemic Office was defunded and closed down in 2018. In addition to that tragedy, the personnel hired to monitor pandemics from the previous administration were fired. And the reports and informative Pandemic Bible that gave guidance on the steps to take if a pandemic ever broke out in China or Africa was shelved
One can only imagine how different things would be for this nation and globally 1) if the Pandemic Office had not be closed; 2)if the monitoring personnel had been kept on; 3) if the informational pandemic Bible not been disregarded. We would be enjoying the crowds at the Garden and relishing the Kusama: Cosmic Nature exhibit which was to run through the summer and now has been postponed until next year if possible.
New York was left with handling an influx of infected individuals coming from Europe, but it has been doing an excellent job of bending the curve to zero as the rest of the country deals with a rise in COVID-19 positive cases and increase in death rates. Thus, in light of the pandemic, New Yorkers are staying safe and NYBG remains closed. All in-person events, on-site programs and classes, and exhibitions have been suspended. The necessary action complies with public health guidelines issued by federal, state, and local governments and the CDC to support stringent efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and limit the unnecessary deaths exacerbated by a dilatory federal response that continues to this day.
However, we look upward and know we will return having learned important lessons to not repeat this unprecedented global crisis again. Looking to experts and science, the NYBG during this period is having essential staff continue to provide expert care for NYBG’s living collections as they maintain the operations of the Garden’s 250-acre landmark landscape.
Thankfully, though the Garden’s gates may be closed temporarily, the virtual gates provide all access. The Garden invites all globally and those near and far to check in online to the NYBG site to feel refreshed despite the news that COVID-19 rates nationwide are rising and many of the states are reopening without sufficient testing and contact tracing in place to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Fortunately, New York Governor Cuomo is making sure to hit target criteria to open up all aspects of the state but with wisdom and guidance so that New Yorkers will be safe during this challenging time.
Make sure to visit “Journey Through Spring II” to check how the Garden collections are blossoming and burgeoning during this Spring of 2020. The Watch Party is Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 12 p.m. on this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/703724287108198/ The virtual event will also be available on NYBG’s website nybg.org/nybg-at-home/.
Information about NYBG’s other virtual events and additional digital content is at this link.
New York Botanical Garden is helping New Yorkers and global fans enjoy Spring in New York by maintaining social distancing during New York “Pause.” They have been holding online watch parties and have kept their virtual programming alive to involve those sheltering at home with interactive events and online classes that stream via YouTube.
While the Garden’s gates may be closed temporarily, their virtual gates are wide open. The Garden invites its community near and and far to stay connected during this challenging time. Earth Day 50 with NYBG at Home is one way to do that.
New York Botanical Garden is growing bountifully with springtime beauty. We are not able to appreciate it live and in our mortal flesh at this time because of the ferocious virulence and communicability of Covid 19. The Garden is temporarily closed as all non essential services in New York City are doing to practice social responsibility and save lives.
However, the Garden is online and broadcasting via virtual platforms. For the springtime beauty of the magnolias, CLICK HERE.
Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope, The 18th Annual Orchid Show at the NYBG is also presenting a pre-recorded tour given by Marc Hachadourian, head orchid curator and orchid expert at the Garden. The tour features each of the galleries and Jeff Leatham’s vision of the wild colors manifest in a kaleidoscope employing his superb horticultural artistry and brilliant design. For Marc’s virtual tour, CLICK HERE. And for my review of the show with photographs taken in February, CLICK HERE.
Whenever I become nervous or stressed at night, contemplating the news of what is happening in New York City and globally, I do one of two things to calm down since jokes are not seeming to help at this time. I go to Youtube and watch Governor Andrew Cuomo with his brother Chris (pray for Chris, he tested positive for Covid 19) as they kid around and take loving jabs at each other with rapier wit and gentle insults.
Playing back Governor Cuomo’s daily record of the state’s progress to save lives as together we take on the responsibility to extirpate this plague from the planet, I feel emotionally calmer. I swear his father’s spiritual presence is there strengthening him for this incredible challenge to lead the nation as THE go-to governor in the forefront as New York is in the forefront of this virus with the most cases to date. It is Cuomo’s calm, commanding truthfulness as he uplifts the values of love and the sanctity of life that makes a tremendous difference to me as I shelter in place. During this historic time his stolid example and his stories of his family and the interplay with his brother have helped me reaffirm, even relearn the treasure of my own life and the preciousness of friends and family.
Secondly, I take Marc’s tour to witness the beauty of the Garden and orchids which I adore. I reviewed Jeff Leatham’s work on this blog when it opened in February. Then, the orchid placement was different in some of the galleries. In the Desert gallery I am happy to see that the poppies are blooming which they were not earlier in the year. After I watch Marc’s tour I have decompressed. I am ready to fall asleep as the beauty of the orchids, Jeff’s horticultural artistry and Marc’s soothing voice restore me to an inner state of peace.
Also, the Garden is sharing one of its most memorable live performances in a Facebook Watch Party on Wednesday, April 1, beginning at 1 p.m. EDT. Chorus of the Forest, a site-specific work by composer Angélica Negrón, premiered last November in NYBG’s 50-acre Thain Family Forest, the largest remaining tract of old-growth forest in New York City.
Weaving together choral performances, robotic and percussive electronic instruments, and live and recorded forest sounds, this immersive, specially commissioned work was performed along a half-mile of trails. This choral and instrumental experience was created to explore humanity’s relationship with the forest and our connections–and disconnections–with nature.
Negrón, a Puerto Rican-born multi-instrumentalist who was NYBG’s 2019 Composer-in-Residence, will join the Facebook Watch Party for a live chat during the screening to discuss this ambitious project and answer viewers’ questions.
Take a break from the news when you can and enjoy the Watchbook Party by CLICKING ON THE LINK BELOW.
The Medieval 21st century plague of Covid 19 has swept into the United States with insidious tyranny. Sadly, with insufficient testing, the nation doesn’t realize the extent of its invisible spread, just yet.
However, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill Di Blasio are aware of the implications of the tragic events in Italy as that country goes into more weeks of quarantine. Thus, these prescient and dynamic New York leaders with the efforts of our heroes in the medical professions and essential services, are making the invisible visible with massive testing.
New York is to be commended for being in the forefront to scale up the protocols, supplies, research and data to nail down this nefarious, highly communicable virus and siphon off its power so that its replication in New Yorkers is incapacitated, and its ability to kill even the most vulnerable is obviated.
To the left is a photo of The Plague Doctor’s outfit circa 1650 in Edinburgh, UK which I took from a tile I purchased after a tour underneath the streets of Edinburgh, in the Old Town. The tour was amazing. It featured how the denizens of the city lived during the 1700s and revealed how they confronted the terrible plague which wiped out a goodly number of city dwellers. The uncertainty about what was causing the disease (the flea on the rats who lived in close proximity with citizens) led many to escape to safety in the country for fear of contagion. Those who had the means to leave, left. The remaining citizens suffered and died or caught it and recovered, or never caught it at all because they practiced quarantines or had the antibodies to keep the disease at bay.
The Plague Doctor’s outfit was the hazmat suit of the time that protected the wearer. The bird like beak held curative herbs (rosemary, lavender, hyssop, marjoram etc.) that the doctor breathed in, an unwitting prevention which stopped their inhalation of droplets of contagion which would move into their respiratory system and infect them.
Of course, curative plants, herbs like those found in the NYBG Nancy Bryan Luce Herb Garden. were used extensively in teas, tinctures, etc., and in the toolkit of the practitioner of the healing arts. The herbs listed on the page of the Nancy Bryan Luce Herb Garden are examples of prodigiously used herbs which were thought to be helpful in staving off contamination.
In the 21st century we are light years away from such a crisis, and yet our Covid 19 plague has strange reflections of that time in the “sheltering in place,” “hunkering down” and “pausing” that the proactive states in the nation have enacted so that all but essential services and workers must stay inside. In California, New York, Ohio, Illinois and Louisiana, this pertains if individuals are in an age range of 65 and older while all others practice social distancing, social responsibility and self-discipline to self-monitor and not congregate anywhere whether on street corners or in parks. Surely, if other states follow, effectively managing this highly communicable pestilence Covid 19 will happen sooner than later.
During this time until it opens its gates once more, New York Botanical Garden offers hope, beauty, resilience and peace, the immutable themes it displays year-round. In these extraordinary times, these spiritual powers resonate more than ever. The Garden as a place of emotional healing continues to stand as a hallmark that we who live in New York City and New York State and those who visit from around the world, can be nourished soulfully during this gravest of pandemics. Currently, the Garden provides an online beacon of light as it flourishes during glorious spring. The Garden’s virtual offerings are an antidote to calm troubled souls and stressed spirits.
First, their new content page is on NYBG.ORG CLICK HERE. This page provides a way to stay connected to the Botanical Garden through our collections’ digital resources, creative educational programs, and other online offerings. For the home site NYBG At Home CLICK HERE.
As spring unfolds, NYBG at Home will showcase the brightness and color seasonal spectacle. On March 20, the first day of spring, they presented a brief “first day of spring video walk” around NYBG’s grounds. The video can be viewed: CLICK HERE.
Through NYBG at Home, plant lovers can find out about upcoming virtual events such as a Facebook Watch Party video tour of The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope on Wednesday, March 25, at 12 p.m. EDT. The site also provides convenient, one-click links to NYBG’s blogs; the digital collection of NYBG’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library; teacher resources; plant-based, kid-friendly recipes; ways to get involved in virtual research projects; and much more. The Garden hopes it will be a reminder of how the natural world brings joy and a respite from troubles.
We do not know how long we will be monitoring each other, collaborating to keep everyone across the global as safe as possible and as healthy as possible through our social responsibility. It is a domino, butterfly effect. What we do here will impact our neighbors across the Pond, in Europe, in Oceania, in Asia and other places around the world. If we keep ourselves healthy with social distancing, we reveal our care and concern for our brothers and sisters in our human family. One way to keep our souls enriched is through visual online viewing of beauty and peace. Plants are our key. They can be silent representatives of love if you open your souls to them. Keep yourselves safe=healthy and enjoy the Garden. Together, we can get through this as we watch each other’s backs and remain uplifted. #plantlove
The New York Botanical Garden’s Orchid Show is in its 18th glorious year and it is amazing. One reason why is because of this year’s show designer, the imminently creative original Jeff Leatham.
Board members from the NYBG were familiar with Jeff Leatham’s work and thought he would be a great fit for the NYBG orchid show since his floral designs encompass orchids, the loveliest of flowers. When he was contacted, he jumped at the opportunity enthusiastically, visited the Garden in July, solidified his ideas and arrangements were made.
If you have been to Paris, France and stayed at The Four Seasons Hotel Georges V, you will see Jeff’s designs. He is their award-winning artistic director. He also has studios at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center and the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. Jeff Leatham is a renowned lifestyle icon and impeccable floral designer to the stars.
If you asked him as a teenager what he wanted to do with his life, he would have said he wanted to be a model. Interestingly, his career has morphed into something more profound, but it includes a form of modeling as well because Jeff often photographed with his unique designs.
At twenty-four Jeff began his career with the Four Seasons starting with flower petals. It was then he knew he had found his raison d’etre with floral design. He has been with them ever since exploring his passion for design and flowers.. His one-of-a-kind displays move in the realm of the dazzling spectacular that integrates with whatever the setting is. His creations include sculptures and these and his floral displays manifest the symbolic, bold and dramatic use of color and shape, yet embody an elegant simplicity.
Jeff Leatham’s designs are completely original and stand out as such. Individuals who want to hire him to feature a design for their wedding that is like “so-and-sos,” Jeff, with a smile on his face will gently tell the individual that they should hire that designer. He will evolve a creation that is particular. Indeed, his signature, one-of-a-kind designs are his brand and people have come to know right away whether a floral design is a Jeff Leatham or not.
Jeff has produced his incredible floral exhibits in Paris for almost two decades and is so enamored by the French that in 2014 he was knighted with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor for artists and those who make vital contributions to French culture. Jeff has appeared on television featuring his creations. His clients include Cher, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, Oprah Winfrey, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many others. They appreciate the specialness of his designs.
For the 18th annual Orchid Show, Jeff Leatham decided upon the theme of the kaleidoscope. He commented that he receives inspiration from kaleidoscopes because they represent infinity. The patterns and colors shift, never repeating themselves in variations that are starkly unique and particular; and they go on forever, the mutable immutable.
After the decision that the tent that had been up for The Holiday Train Show® would be taken down not to house the orchid exhibition, Karen Daubmann (Associate Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Engagement) mentioned in a brief chat with me that the staff and those involved with The Orchid Show like Senior Curator of Orchids, Marc Hachadourian were satisfied that this year’s orchid extravaganza with Jeff as lead designer, would encompass the entire conservatory.
Jeff worked the kaleidoscope theme beautifully, interweaving different colors staged with complementary hues in every gallery of the conservatory, save the Palms of the World Gallery. And the tunnel joining the two segments of the conservatory is the culmination of all the hues displayed in a fun and whimsical light show.
As you walk in the designated entrance that begins the exhibit, you will see the original, unique sculpture that Jeff created in his studio at the Four Seasons Hotel Georges V in Paris. Marc Hachadourian discussed with me that Jeff used his own orchid supplier from Europe for this gobsmacking living exhibit that shimmers with light and eye-popping purples, blues, pinks, fuchsias, complementary hybrid orchids with speckled white, purplish-black color combinations, whites and matching color derivative coordinates of Vanda orchids. These astounding Vandas are companioned with the popular and longer lasting phalaenopsis. The effect is visually breathtaking.
This first show gallery emphasizes the most myriad variety of Vanda orchids, that I’ve seen. They are happily perched up high so that they may flow down from a mammoth, laddered, rectangular trellis suspended from the show gallery ceiling. They are the perfect orchid for this structure because of their amazingly long roots and tendrils that soak up the moisture from the surrounding environment and require a flow of air around them. The effect with the Vandas sparking the color and the long roots hanging from the four-rung metal structure depending from above with the reflecting sculpture below offers a contrast. Vibrant colors are paired with their pale whitish roots that appear ethereal and lacy. It’s almost as if a garment fabricator sewed lines of lace to flow down from each mounted orchid. It’s a brilliant way to show the Vandas.
The sculpture is an orchid fountain mirror that reflects white light, the combined color of all the colors of the rainbow. It is the centerpiece in the round, underneath the metal ladder structure of striking orchid hues and flowing, lacy, filament roots. It is an intriguing and unique concept which gives the orchid sculpture a refracting power similar to a lustrous diamond. Jeff designed this for the Garden. And with the resplendent colors of the Vandas and coordinating phalaenopsis draped on the various rungs with accompanying greenery of the phalaenopsis leaves, you are left gazing with wonder at this stunning and memorable piece of living theater.
Present in this remarkable array of beauty are the Garden plants, ficus trees, shrubs, ferns that normally make their home at the Garden. Added are the bromeliades which Jeff has used as a representative of their own powerfully sculpted forms that are rich and lush in nature.
And on one of the plantings is the Vanda sunanda orchid named after Jeff Leatham by Ansu Vanda, an orchid nursery in the Netherlands in 2017. By naming this orchid after Jeff, the nursery hoped to celebrate and honor his indelible work that has enhanced floral design globally.
Orchids in this genus of the orchid family are available in every color of the rainbow. Jeff noted for us the almost black purple that speckles this Vanda named for him.
Jeff commented that he has a passion working for orchids because each seems to have its own unique and distinct personality that you want to feature and highlight. The orchid family is the largest family of plants in the world. There are 30,000 orchids in the wild. Growers in their ingenuity have hybridized over 100,000 orchids. They remain perhaps the most popular flower because of their exotic beauty, their tongue and face that entice moths and other insects to pollinate them. Orchids grow in every continent in the world except Antarctica. With global warming and the record warm temperatures in parts of the continent, this may change.
As you move through the conservatory, you will note Jeff’s interesting use of color. Next to the orchid sculpture gallery you move into “grasslands.” There you will note the displays of slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum) and Cymbidiums in bursts of yellow and white and a few slipper orchid hybrids tucked in with brownish faces.
There is an abundance of greenery looking indeed like tall grass as the cymbidiums flourish with their waxy large blooms and spiky leaves.
The next gallery is the desert terrain devoted to the Garden’s permanent display of desert plants. Jeff has an appreciation for the colors of the cacti and succulents and exotic desert flora in these two galleries.
He has placed coordinating cobalt blue bamboo poles to draw the eye-line upward. For the first time, I looked up at the tops of the magnificent cacti that I had never appreciated before. Normally, I would have raced through this area without the appreciation of the immense variety that the Garden has in its desert display.
Moving downward to the other part of the conservatory, Jeff Leatham painted the backdrop of the room that leads to the tunnel grey. He coordinated gorgeous pink and red lined hybrid phalaenopsis with unusual succulents for another amazing effect.
The grey background makes the colors of the plants pop. And in the display cases he did the same, drawing the eye inward to note the contrast using grey bamboo poles in a simplistic design invoking minimalism. Leatham uses Spanish Moss to tie in the concept of the design of lace filaments that depend downward and recall the Vandas flowing roots in the main show exhibit with the orchid fountain.
I love how every segment of the show in each of the galleries picks up design ideas in the previous galleries and threads them through the show in shape, color, pattern, materials to present a unified conceptualization.
In the Rainfroest Gallery, gorgeous green moss covering the rocks, the splashes of orchid color most naturally represent how orchids grow in the wild. Again the pinks and yellows from the previous galleries are represented. The orchids selected for their sizes and shapes are different from those that have gone before. Along the winding path is a celebration of less popular orchids that are harder to grow as if they might be found tucked away in a secluded forest’s mossy plot. These include a variety of Paphiopedilum and delicate snow drop orchids and others.
As the trail winds into a break, Jeff once again employed his sense of color to effect beauty. He had a structure painted a cherry color that threaded through the pinks and fuchsias of the phalaenopsis of the main gallery orchid fountain display.
Included in the show is the gallery where the most rare species of orchids are kept in a glass case. A number of these orchids may eventually be extinct since their habitats have been destroyed by development, deforestation and blatant disregard and inattention to the importance of conservation. The Garden is a world leader in plant research and conservation, using traditional and cutting-edge tools to discover, understand, and preserve Earth’s vast botanical diversity. They have saved orchids sent to them recovered from illegal orchid poachers.
I was sorry to see that The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaledoscope was coming to an end with the last two galleries. Jeff named the gallery with the fountain and hanging vines, Sunrise/Sunshine because of the bursting orange and yellows and whites. The fountain is still in the center, but it has been covered over by moss with a potted fern as the crown of glory.
This gallery and the last one are every bit as amazing as the former galleries. Jeff stated that he wanted “every gallery to be a different color experience as visitors move through them.” And that this experience would be reminiscent of “looking into a kaleidoscope.” We all have seen kaleidoscopes as children.
And with technology advancements, the designs are more elaborate than ever. Jeff stated that members and visitors to the Garden have seen the interiors of the Conservatory. But he wanted their experience to be different. “I want them to look through them (the galleries) like never before.” And in the last gallery, all the hues that Jeff displayed throughout the show are represented and the threads of designs are repeated. It’s like you’re looking through that kaleidoscope. However, it’s a living breathing wonderland of what reflects the infinite in color, texture, scent and myriad patterns. Just grand.
There are many events that pair up with the 18th Annual Orchid Show featuring the work of one-of-a-kind floral artist Jeff Leatham that you will not want to miss. The show runs from February 15 through April 19, 2020. For specific programming go to the NYBG website by CLICKING HERE.
Each winter tourists, visitors and New York City children of all ages look forward to the Holiday Train Show®, now in its 28th year. Because the dome on the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is being refurbished, members wondered whether the NYBG would be having a train show. The Garden’s forward thrust of #plantlove ensures that the seasonal events of the Garden continue with prodigious care and ingenuity. The Holiday Train Show® presented at the Garden with Applied Imagination’s efforts and over 175 creations is one of the Garden’s traditions which would never be cast aside. Too many hearts would be broken.
This year the Holiday Train Show® offers a unique experience with 360 degree views in what looks to be a larger space. The theme showcases Central Park, the most well known and storied park in the nation, featured in films and plays because of its easy access and gorgeous fountains, spacious acreage and unique structures. The show has been characterized as an “immersive indoor winter wonderland” and is adjacent to the Conservatory. The structure created specifically to house The Holiday Train Show® is climate controlled. You will find it on the conservatory lawn and it is superb.
The history of Central Park featured in Ken Burns documentary on New York City replete with Robert Moses’ attempted interventions and fights with Joe Papp and his “upper west side moms” and fans who are credited with saving the sanctity of the Park’s area around Tavern-on-the Green is fascinating. Designed in 1858 by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the Park is a sanctuary in the middle of Manhattan’s grid design and is truly a wonder. It offers a seasonal respite and refuge from the traffic and hurly burly of car horns, sirens and the humming, gyrating energy of Manhattan. Central Park is home to extensive wildlife species, birds and woodland creatures and even has sheltered foxes and coyotes visiting from the Bronx as they hunt for an easy meal.
One of the most popular favorites of the NYBG, the Holiday Train Show® is a cool place to go to celebrate the festivities of the season with friends, family and partners. Children, plant aficionados and collectors adore the trains. There are more than 25 G-scale model trains and trolleys which careen, chug, buzz and fly along almost 1/2 mile of track. They unceremoniously zip past model structures from all five boroughs of New York City, the Hudson River Valley and other historic locations in New York State, for example Tarrytown. What I always find gobsmacking are the incredible models, the gorgeous designs fashioned by the natural plant materials which are employed as unique architectural features.
For example shelf fungus, acorns, twigs, leaves, pistachio shells, barley seeds and pepper flakes are employed to construct the models. Can you divine how the Applied Imagination team whose workshop is located in Kentucky created the Macy’s Building? What was the wood? What are the windows made of on the elaborate Jewish Museum? I really get off on the ingenuity of the creators and artists to look at a banana gourd and imagine that it would be perfect as an elephant trunk. There is the model of the Elephantine Hotel in the Coney Island exhibit and that is one of the plants that Applied Imagination artists used to configure the smashing model. The hotel burned down, but Applied Imagination celebrated the hotel with this enchanting and detailed model. Don’t forget to look for it!
This year’s Central Park theme segues beautifully with the Garden which is the perfect backdrop as you look at the models and your gaze flows outdoors to the evergreens and rolling landscape of the Garden’s conifer section. As new structures that Applied Imagination included as counterparts to their real Central Park buildings, you will note Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Terrace, the Dairy, the Naumburg Bandshell and more.
These four buildings have an interesting history. Belvedere Castle (Belvedere in Italian means beautiful view) was built as a Victorian “folly.” Located on the then highest natural elevation in the park, it offered a lovely view. That was then. Ironically, the view is different now. Victorian folly refers to a fantasy structure that provides a great backdrop and views, but without a functional purpose. The turreted castle includes Gothic, Romanesque, Chinese, Moorish and Egyptian motifs and the model represents these beautifully.
Bethesda Terrace opens on Central Park Lake in its heart. The Angel of the Waters (1873) sits at the top of Bethesda Fountain. Emma Stebbins, designer of the fountain, was the first woman to receive a public art commission and she referenced the Biblical symbolism of the angel stirring the waters for those who needed healing. After the angel left, the waters had healing properties and all the lame and blind who had the faith the waters would heal them jumped in. Emma Stebbins likened the Croton water system as the healing waters that brought unpolluted water to the city in 1842.
The Dairy an oft overlooked model in the Holiday Train Show® exhibit has been enlarged and given an uplift. Built in 1870 the Dairy was purposed as where children could get a glass of fresh milk, not easily accessible in 19th century Manhattan.
The Naumburg Bandshell is the only neoclassical structure in Central Park. It is made of concrete was finished in 1923. The model in the Holiday Train Show is constructed of plant parts. And it is lovely to imagine that Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington once played there along with Benny Goodman and Victor Herbert.
The Central Park theme this year has been uniquely featured in the train show which is like a large miniature woodland of various shades of greenery and iconic New York models beautifully recast as if one could live in them. The melding of the indoor and the outdoor green of the Garden is refreshing and fitting.
There is so much to see and appreciate with each of the building models painstakingly recreated. I am always awestruck and find myself visiting the show (I am also a member) not only during the days when I can get up close and see how the natural plant materials are employed, but I also go in the evenings during Bar Car Nights. For me in the evenings the show becomes a fantastical mystery with shadows and shades with gentle background music and the murmur of adults sitting, strolling and talking in whispers romantically or just laughing at a shared joke.
You can go with friends or take a date. There is the Bronx Night Market Holiday Pop-up with great bites to eat. There are fire pits and festive performers, acrobats and contortionists and dueling pianos in the Pine Tree Cafe. And there are DJs curated by Uptown Vinyl Supreme to dance your energy into the happiness of the season. It’s the most fun and reasonable theater in New York City This year Bar Car Nights are on select Fridays and Saturdays exclusively for adults 21 and over and take place between 7-10:30 pm. Check it out and put it on your calendar, but don’t wait until the last minute or you will be out of luck. The dates are November 23, 29, & 30; December 7, 14, 20, 21, 27, & 28, 2019; January 3, 4, 11, & 18, 2020.
The Holiday Train Show® hours are from November 23, 2019-January 26, 2020. The Garden is open Tuesday-Sunday, and Monday, December 15, 23, 30, and January 20, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The extended hours are 10 a.m. -7 p.m., December 26 and 29. The Garden is closed all day on November 28 (Thanksgiving) and December 25 (Christmas); it closes at 3 p.m. on December 13 and 24 (Christmas Eve).
During the Train Show, there are ADULT EDUCATION HOLIDAY WORKSHOPS. These look like fun. A few examples are creating “Winter Wonderland Wreaths,” and workshops where one may create decorations from fresh, fragrant, conifer branches and wreaths from magnolia leaves. A real boon offered is a workshop to create a botanical building, a replica with natural materials in the style of The Holiday Train Show®. There are workshops for “Floral Arrangements” and creating “Tabletop Holiday Topiaries” as well. All of these materials and their creation add to the enjoyment of this season which initiates winter.
Finally, during the Train Show, festivities include the following events: The Evergreen Express, the Sounds of the Season Performances, Holiday Tree & Menorah Lighting Ceremony, The Poetry of Trains with Billy Collins and Young Poets, the Holiday Favorites Film Festival and more. For all the programming and events during The 28th Holiday Train Show® CLICK ON THE NYBG WEBSITE.
The New York Botanical Garden is perhaps the most exotic and forward-thinking, theatrical living museum of plants and one of the most magnificent green spaces in all of New York City rivaled only by Central Park. In presenting their largest botanical exhibition ever from June 8 -September 29, 2019, the New York Botanical Garden has achieved a seamless meld with a globally renowned, award-winning Brazilian modernist artist, Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994).
For this wonderful exhibit, members get to go free on Friday, Member’s Day. See links below to the symposium on Friday.
The influential Brazilian modernist, landscape architect, plant explorer and cultural giant, is deserving of a celebration of his prodigious design work which features examples of the lush gardens he created throughout Brazil and the world. His unique and innovative modernist perspective gave birth to thousands of landscapes and private gardens, including the famous curving mosaic walkways at Copacabana Beach in Rio.The exhibition exemplifies every aspect of his artistry with a curated gallery of his eye-poppying paintings, drawings and textiles.
The amazing Burle Marx was a maverick in highlighting the importance of environmental preservation and particularly exotic plant species some found only in Amazonia a good part of which is in Brazil. In the NYBG horticultural tribute to Marx, the exhibition team pulled in experts like Raymond Jungles (FASLA) his protégé who personally knew Marx and worked with him, and those like Edward J. Sullivan, Ph.D., the Helen Gould Shepard Professor of Art History and Deputy Director, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, who has studied Marx extensively and who continues to write about him.
Jungles used his expertise and personal experience working with Marx to design the exotic tropical feel and immense grandeur of the installations revealed in three stages of the exhibition. The first is the Modernist Garden with striking, patterned paths that lead through extensive curvilinear planting beds to an open plaza with a reflecting pool backdropped by a wall. This wall design is inspired by a Burle Marx installation in the Banco Safra headquarters in São Paulo. The entire vibrant black, white and grey walkway and colorful, sweeping plantings are framed by spectacular palm trees that tower to their natural heights, many contributed by Jungles’ own personal collection.
The Explorer’s Garden in the conservatory showcase (not the Palms of the World Gallery whose dome is being refurbished) features the tropical rain forest plants among Burle Marx’s favorites as a bone fide “plant nerde.” These include those he adored, particular exotics which he constantly used in his installations to inform Brazilians about the natural world’s smackdown of diversity in their home country. With this he was constantly building up Brazilian’s sense of home pride.
The Water Garden evinces Burle Marx’s use of plants from a wide variety of tropical regions in his Brazilian designs and throughout the world. The reflecting pool is the natural habitat of temperate water lilies which are blooming in the variety of pastel colors. And it will include the more exotic water lilies that only basque in warm waters of Florida and the equatorial regions; these are of darker purple hues, etc.
Burle Marx’s Art and Garden Lifestyle Philosophy are extensively covered through film, and exhibits of his paintings, drawings, textiles and more all inspired by Brazilian culture. You will find this extensive exhibit in the Art Gallery and on the fourth floor of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library. This section of the exhibit reflects his work from the final 30 years of his career from 1964 to his death in 1994) and shows not only his evolution as a person but also as a titan who beautifully integrated all the finest of the cultural and wholistic elements of an individual rooted in every aspect of his country’s well being. In this section you will see the apotheosis of Burle Marx, the print maker, ecologist, naturalist, artist and musician as well as innovator whose modernist landscape architecture whose designs of parks and gardens lifted Brazil’s reputation and culture as an important contributor on the international scene.
Engaging public programming showcases the sights and sounds of Brazil and its lively contributions to music and dance evoking Rio de Janeiro, the “Cidade Maravilhosa” (“Wonderful City”) that Roberto Burle Marx called home and inspired his life and work. Expect to experience the dances, music, foods of Brazil at the NYBG for the length of the exhibition which runs from June 8 through September 29, 2019.
Details about the exhibition’s diverse and engaging schedule of public programming for all ages is available here:
Information about the Brazilian Modern Interactive Mobile Guide, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is available here:
New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458 United States
Among its great treasures at the New York Botanical Garden, is The Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden. The rose garden has around 700 different roses and over 4000 plants.
Some of them are historical and others are hybrids that have been created and named and as in the case of the white rose called “The Divine Miss M” (named for Bette Middler) or “Purple Rain,” named in celebration of rock singer-songwriter, actor, record producer, Prince, his titular film and record album. Indeed, all of the roses planted have a fascinating story about its genesis or its development.
When I visited for Rose Weekend, which was this Saturday and Sunday, I lucked out. Stephen Scanniello who is the curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden and world renowned author and expert on roses was present checking the roses for black spot (a fungal disease rampant in hot, humid weather that causes defoliation) and other issues. He graciously filled in for a guide who had to leave and he shared some of his vast knowledge about roses and specifically the ones at The Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden. He took us on a tour of a few of the unique plants that are found in the garden which you must look for when you come to visit.
For those unfamiliar with the superlative Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, Stephen did mention a bit of its history which I will briefly summarize in this article and which you can find more information about HERE.
Before the rose garden settled at this present site, there were three other iterations. Two rose gardens were by the conservatory. One was there in 1907 and the other garden was opened in 1972 in front of the Conservatory and opposite the Perennial Gardens. Both didn’t last and the rose garden location that initially was selected in 1916 was returned to by 1986, 70 years later. Why this particular spot for the roses?
That was the location that renowned landscape designer Beatrix Farrand chose when founder of the NYBG Nathaniel Lord Britton asked her to design a new, larger, world class, rose garden. Farrand had built up her reputation by studying privately with Sprague Sargent, director of Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. To get design ideas she visited the great gardens of Europe. At the time Nathaniel Lord Britton spoke to her about a rose garden for the NYBG, Farrand had already designed the White House Garden in Washington, D.C. and many others.
Farrand chose the site where the garden stands today, a low lying “valley” near the barns of the old Lorillard estate where people believe that a rose garden pre-existed on the site, though there are no records to verify this. In 1918, Farrand’s rose garden opened. Her original design was influenced by the well known rose garden Roseraie du Val-de-Marne (or Roseraie de L’Haÿ) in L’Haÿ les Roses, France. The offset triangular-shaped formal garden she intended to establish included iron fencing framing the garden and enclosing the roses within, as well as a central gazebo.
However, the iron fencing and gazebo could not be included because of a lack of money. Nevertheless, John R. Brinley and John S. Holbrook designed the classic stone stairway leading from the top of the hill to the rose garden. In the later decades additional renovations were made until 1960 when to consolidate the formal gardens in one area, it was decided that the rose garden should be moved near the conservatory. By 1972 this third rose garden iteration was designed and planted in front of the conservatory. The other rose garden across from the Lorillard barns was abandoned.
Never say never again! Beatrix Ferrand’s garden design arose like a phoenix from the ashes of the old rose garden when in 1985, NYBG Board member Beth Straus saw the original Farrand design plans. Inspired, Straus convinced David Rockefeller to donate one million dollars to complete Farrand’s vision with the gazebo and the fencing and restore the rose garden to the location she selected for it. In 1988, after an irrigation system was put in, the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden opened to the public in honor of David’s wife, Peggy, a horticulturist and conservationist.
Stephen Scanniello mentioned some important facts about the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden and its collection. First, the location is a difficult one because it’s in a depression with higher elevations all around. As a result, there isn’t the greatest air circulation which roses require. Also, there is the moisture and humidity and heat that can cause fungal diseases. Since the NYBG is decreasing its chemical spraying, they are pumping up the condition and quality of the soil so that the rose bushes will be healthier and won’t be susceptible to insects and diseases. They are also putting in plants that are disease resistant and require no spraying because they are not liable to be taken down by black spot and other problems. Nevertheless, Stephen monitors each of the plants carefully and if plants have too many demerits against them, for example, foliage issues, beginnings of fungal issues, then the plant has to be pulled and another one put in.
Some highlights Stephen pointed out concerns the types of roses grown in the garden. Many are hybrid tea roses that have a lovely scent and have been created for the pleasure of the celebrities after which they are named. Stephen Scanniello showed us the beauty of The Divine Miss M, the “decadent bloom” that is named for the fabulous American singer, songwriter, actress, comedian and film producer who is still going strong at 73-years-old, Bette Midler.
It is a creamy white large-flower hybrid tea rose which has a scent of myrrh and lime. The new rose, “The Divine Miss M” has been described as whipped cream with overtones of antique white with a slight golden hue.” The rose celebrates not only Bette Midler’s life’s work and advocacy, but is in honor of the 40th anniversary of her 1979 breakout film, The Rose.
A few years ago, there was the celebration of the “Julie Andrews” a large flower hybrid tea rose that is a deep pink.
Along with the Julie Andrews, Stephen Scanniello pointed out that the “Julie Andrews” rose is planted near the rose named “Violet’s Pride,” a rose named for the character Violet Crawley played by Maggie Smith in the show Downtown Abbey. Two dames are planted near one another in the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden; reportedly Julie Andrews thought that was delightful.
Another fascinating story Stephen Scanniello told us is about the rose you will find by the entrance, facing the gazebo, on your left. It is the green rose. Yes a green rose. Through a mutation of a regular looking pink rose called “Old Blush,” (a derivative of a species called Rosa chinensis) which originated in China and was brought to Europe and the U.S. in the 1790s, a green rose was formed in the 1900s. People propagated it by grafting or cutting off pieces of stems and re-planting them to produce new plants. The green rose was formed when it never went through the normal genetic switches causing the male and female reproductive parts in the right order in the parent plant. The green rose’s development gets “stuck” at the sepal-making step and it is the sepals that form the “petals” of the green rose.
The mythology surrounding the green rose is that Quakers-abolitionists during the beginnings of the movement and after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed and into the period up to the Emancipation Proclamation, Quakers planted the green rose in their front yards as a signal that they were a part of the Underground Railroad network and were a “safe house” that would offer protection and the way to continue on to Canada for runaway slaves. This is a difficult fact to verify. However, in Baltimore there was a Quaker family that claimed that this story was true.
Stephen Scanniello told us that the roses are late this year because of the damp and colder spring weather. At this point the roses are at 65% until they peak so you still have perhaps a week or so depending on the weather. However, even if the roses are not at their peak, you should visit to see the celebrity roses. Another tip we heard about is the rose scents come out toward the evening, and the roses with the greatest scents are on the fencing at the back of the garden where the climbing roses are on trellises.
At the opening of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden in 1988, Carl Totemeier, NYBG Vice President of Horticulture related the mission statement that has made the most sense for the rose garden when he said, “This [garden] will never be finished. We will always be striving to develop a collection with the best of old and new roses that are both attractive and well adapted to the site.” To see the best that the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden has to offer this season, go when the roses are at or near their peak and then follow the roses throughout the summer until they stop blooming and are cut back in late September. But even the remnant of the rose garden’s structure and setting in October is amazing. The NYBG lists the time for the roses from April – October.
To see the events happening at the NYBG and the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden daily as well as to follow the rose tracker, CLICK HERE.
The Garden in the evenings is like a magical mystery tour. Whether you go into the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory or travel the lit paths through the Garden or sample the delights at food trucks, the Bronx Night Market or food booths, there is always something to see and do during every season. Specifically the evening displays during which you may buy alcoholic drinks and must have proof of ID, for the 21 and older crowds are incredible fun with friends.
During the Holiday Train Show and Winter Season, there are The Bar Car Nights. This year they take place from 7-10:30 p.m. In the month of December the dates are 22, 28, 29. And in January, the Bar Car Nights are on the 5th and 12th.
The Bar Car Nights events which are a feature of the Winter Season have expanded to include more activities. I went last night which was perfect. The rain stopped and it was actually warm, a blip in the weather. The individual doing the ice sculptures commented that the ice was melting more quickly. Last year when I went with friends it was below freezing, 10 degrees in the New York City area which was experiencing a very cold December. Yesterday, it was in the 50s.Weather weirding and Climate Change. Oh, I forgot…that doesn’t exist “nationally.”. But in New York, the entire state governance is consonant with the California, whose leadership has come out in support for the Paris Climate Accord.
Regardless of the weather, the show goes on. Last night, there was a large turn out and the crowds were thrilled with the offerings of the Holiday Train Show, the the musical activities in the Pine Tree Cafe and more. The food booths gave up heavenly aromas of fried chicken, barbecue, tacos and Vegan dishes. The booths were packed when I left around 9:00 pm, though the party was just getting started. And the bar section and fire pit was enjoyable, even though folks didn’t necessarily need to warm their hands in the freezing cold.
The evenings in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory are mystical realism. I love the sounds of the trains, the shimmering lights, the jazz and pop music in the background and especially the lights coming from the interiors of the New York botanical replicas. All of seems mysterious and the whispering of the foliage in the evening and its aroma and aura is special for a plant enthusiast like me.
Whether you enjoy chatting with friends sauntering through landscape with a wine or other beverage in your hand, or really dig the intricacies of the replicas, it’s a fun time. Last night there was a mixture of couples and friends groups. It seemed that the entire Bronx community was out and about. The Garden is a huge focal point of the Bronx and indeed, parents, children, educators, all community groups in the area make use of the Garden’s programs. Some of the couples last night were young and they came with oodles of friends. Older couples I’ve seen mostly on Member Day. However, last night, the age range was considerable. The draw is a night to get away from kids and hang with friends, be entertained with some cool music with a few drinks in hand and seeing the beauties of the season.
What’s not to love? Some of the pictures of the splendid Holiday Train Show are above, and the activities are below. Others I’ve posted elsewhere on my Social Media pages. Enjoy.
The 27th Holiday Train Show will be at the NYBG until January 21st. It is open Tuesday – Sunday and Monday, December 24 (3 p.m.) and January 21, 10 a.m. -6 p.m. The Garden will be closed on December 25 (Christmas). Extended hours, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays until January 19, Friday Decmber 26-January 1. For all programming go to the website. And above all become a member to enjoy the NYBG year round. For tickets to The Holiday Train Show and BAR CAR NIGHTS, this evening, go to their website.
Regardless of how busy I am, I always attend the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, NY. One of the most well attended of their shows along with their Orchid Show and special summer exhibits, The Holiday Train Show holds lustrous wonders. And whenever possible before the start of the show, I enjoy speaking with Applied Imagination personnel. For they have conceptualized, designed and created the innovations for the NYBG Holiday Train Show since its inception.
Now in its 27th year the show’s expansion continues. Indeed, more trains have been added. Also, the materials used to perk up the displays appear fresh and more vibrantly colorful than ever.
The introductory film, referencing Applied Imagination Studio workshops in Alexandra, Kentucky, discloses a behind the scenes look. From Alexandria, the miniature botanical sculptures rise from their humble plant-part beginnings.
In addition to showing the workshops at Applied Imagination Studio, staff and the team of the NYBG (for example Karen Daubmann, Todd Forrest) and for Applied Imagination (Leslie Salka and Laura Busse Dolan) explain which replicas are their favorites. Indeed, each year Applied Imagination adds excitement and grandeur to their New York collection. This year the newest replicas shine in the reflecting pool of the Palms of the World Gallery.
The best way to see The Holiday Train Show is to visit a few times. One time, visit with family. Especially bring children who will adore the variety of trains from trolleys, to passenger liners, to freights, locomotives and diesels. And come on Member Day. Then you will receive a 20% discount in the Garden Shop to spend on gifts.
Also, meander through the conservatory taking your time, if there aren’t crowds. Appreciate the intricate detail of each replica. Compare the plant parts to architectural structures, like roofs, cornices, columns, bricks, slate, stone and more. Try to identify what plants are used. Look for the moss, the leaves, the shelf fungus and the gourds. Look for the seed pods and acorns.
On the New York Public Library, the lions faces are carved from pods. Look for the berries used for color on Poe Cottage. You will perhaps take in only 1/100 of the detail present. And then you will probably forget it by the time you visit the show next year. Why? The various replicas will be arranged in completely different displays. And there will be new innovations and new replicas with their maverick conceptualizations. If there is one thing about the Museum quality spectacles with the NYBG exhibits, they are always unique with tremendous variety. It is almost impossible to keep track unless you have photos or maps of the display changes each year.
Applied Imagination craftspersons design the replicas to miniature scale and they, like engineers attempt to get the proportions correct. That takes consummate drafting skills. Constructing with precision, they follow archived historic photographs. What most amazes me is their assiduous attention to biological forms, for example how a banana shaped gourd might follow the shape of an elephant tusk. Or how the breadth of shelf fungus would simulated a roof. Truly, through years of experience, they have mastered the art of replica-making and have brought us to the edge of heaven by using plants which you would never imagine could entertain and delight in the way they use them.
Only when I move slowly do I appreciate the botanical replicas of buildings that once sat in high esteem during New York’s Gilded Age. These buildings so expensive to maintain, owners demolished (Senator William Andrews Clark House). This made way for modern apartment buildings to house the growing uban population.
In the case of The Samuel J. Tilden House (The National Arts Club), The Morris-Jumel Mansion and The Felix M. Warburg House (The Jewish Museum), un-affordable grand mansions became museums, funded by non profit organizations. By profoundly, carefully viewing the structures in the Holiday Train Show, you take a stroll back into the history of New York. And what an amazing and precious stroll this is, for it inspires your imagination to reflect about the past. And this reflection grounds you front and center in the present.
Applied Imagination and the NYBG team collaborate for months beforehand. After they agree on the innovations and drawings and their placement in the conservatory, then begins the next phase. They construct the replicas from botanicals (sticks, fungus, moss, leaves, gourds, bark, acorns, nut shells, pepper flakes, etc.). Some of these plant parts come from around the fields of Alexandria, Kentucky. Other bits and pieces (various gourd parts, etc.), come from suppliers.
After the construction Applied Imagination ships the replicas to the NYBG. Then additional fun begins. Within the span of two weeks, volunteers and staff set the stored and new models in beautiful plantings. Indeed, the arrangements accommodate permanent conservatory trees, etc. And a variety of completely new floral plantings (orchids, violets, bromeliads, cyclamen, Christmas Cactus, lilies, etc.), and various ferns, bamboo, ivy, pothos, dracena, Norfolk Island Pines and other shrubs and greenery volunteers and staff position to complement the 25 gauge model trains sweeping down 1/2 miles of railroad track.
Quaintly, the trains peek out from low hanging branches and water displays. Then they emerge and whip around the tracks like racers. In the 3000 foot expansion a myriad number and type of trains fly above on trestles and bridges.
Locomotives, freights, trolleys and passenger liners whoosh around The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory replica. And they bustle through replicas that include Grand Central Station and historic Pennsylvania Station (demolished 1964). What a fantasy wonderland! It is an unparalleled treasure for New Yorkers, Manhattanites and tourists who come to the city for the holidays.
As the piece de resistance this year, the Holiday Train Show presents the birthplace of New York City, Lower Manhattan as its star attraction. Of course the central feature is One World Trade Center. Branches form the sides of the building and the emphasis is on freedom and a resurrection from the destruction in 2001. Also in the Palms of the World Gallery and Reflecting Pool, you will find the replica of the Beaux-Arts Battery Maritime Building. Gliding in stasis on the pool surface are two vintage ferry boat replicas (Bronx and Manhattan).
Other buildings include the Battery Park Control House, the 60-story Woolworth Building, the Terminal Warehouse (1890), and the crown jewel replica, One World Trade Center. One World Trade remains the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the sixth-tallest building in the world. Additionally, the unique Oculus replica is placed at the foot of One World Trade Center. The Oculus that opened in 2016 connects 11 lines of NYC’s subways, New Jersey’s PATH rail system and the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal.
For specific programming, go to the New York Botanical Garden website. To sum up look for Bar Car Nights on select Fridays and Saturdays (December 15, 21, 22, 28, 29; January 5, 12). Warm up around the fire pits in the Leon Levy Visitor Center. Indeed, for the artist in you, watch live ice-sculpting demonstrations. Or sing along with dueling pianos in the Pine Tree Cafe and listen to roving a cappella groups.
Finally, enjoy former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins for a special poetry reading. Collins will select 12 winning poems by students submitted to the Kid’s Poetry Contest. The poems will be displayed at NYBG during the Holiday Train Show. And the student authors will share their work during this special reading on Sunday, December 16, at 2 p.m. For more information about how to enter the Kids’ Poetry Contest visit http://www.nybg.org/poets
The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show 2018 ends on 21 January.