New York Botanical Garden Debut Exhibition ‘…things come to thrive…in the shedding…in the molting,’ Artist Ebony G. Patterson
New York Botanical Garden and visual artist Ebony G. Patterson have been collaborating for a year or more about Patterson’s new site-specific work which is a maverick first for the Garden. Entitled …things come to thrive…in the shedding…in the molting… Patterson focuses her unique vision in an exhibition of tensions, using living and preserved plant collections as its material and inspiration. In her examination of gardens as a metaphoric site of birth and the journey to the molting, shedding and death to be reborn again, her expression has found new meaning and is, as all artists hope, an important trigger to enhance revelation and the appreciation of our place in history on this planet in our expression and love of gardens.
Her approach specifically relates to how the visible/invisible (sub rosa), desirable/undesirable are manifested in how past and present inhabitants attempt to exert control over the natural world via the design and selection of plants for gardens.
Patterson’s site-specific exhibition of sculptural and horticultural installations represents a few firsts. She is the first visual artist to embed with the New York Botanical Garden for an immersive residency. Working directly with the Garden’s grounds and collections she created an original conceptual arrangement that includes sculptures, installations and interventions with living plants to bring a message of impact that is highlighted in the Palms of the World Gallery, the staging rotunda and the walkway gallery between those two showcase galleries in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Her visual artistry is also displayed outside the Conservatory in the lawn landscape as well in the Mertz Library Building on the 6th floor. The exhibition is on view Saturday, May 27 through Sunday, September 17, 2023.
The concept that life is cyclical and mirrors that “eternal” process is present throughout Patterson’s exceptional presentation. Living beauty doesn’t last. However, the regenerative process is what remains. Ultimately, it is that regenerative process that is beautiful and sacred. In order for the beauty of the butterfly to emerge, the ugly caterpillar must first go through its necessary transformative steps, some of them painful, after which it eventually emerges with its wings for its first flight. Likewise, wildlife, living plants and human beings go through processes of “molting,” “shedding” and “decay” in order to revive, regenerate, heal and eventually die, to then transition in another consciousness. Even what appears to be “the end,” is not a full finality, but can be cause for celebration of new life or supplying elements that create and sustain life.
Patterson positions the loveliness of a selection of plants against sculptures which remind us that when they decay, there is the clean up crew that comes along to make way for the regeneration and rebirth. Thus, sculptures of black vultures (400 in all in four different positions) populate the landscape. A usual symbol of death and dying, certainly macabre, Patterson’s use of them, especially in the Palms of the World Gallery, the walkway and the showcase rotunda is a stark metaphor. If they are the ugliness and fearful example of nature and ultimately the planet’s world garden which is not “perfection,” they are a necessary element of purification because decay if left untended creates disease. The clean-up crew of vultures, insects, etc., takes care of the bodies that are decaying, picking their bones clean. Thus, they receive nourishment and the earth’s soil, etc., receives the nourishment from what the vulture’s don’t consume, i.e. bones leach out their phosphorous and other elements after weathering.
In Patterson’s attempt to realize new symbolism of the processes of life, death and regeneration with the backdrop of gardens, she also includes the impact this has had on her Jamaican roots which historically go back to slavery and colonialism with the Triangular Trade-sugar, molasses, rum, slaves. Historically, only the wealthy were able to create gardens. The poor and working class didn’t own swaths of land; rather they were the workers and the slaves on the land and in the gardens, until slavery was abolished and its remnants finally extirpated. Colonialism was white privilege from Europe, brought to the United States. The ending of colonialism and its representation in the ordered gardens of wealth took place during the twentieth century. Remnants of colonialism have been decaying ever since, as individuals acknowledge its horrific and miserable past (the invisible) while having created some of the most lasting and historic structures and dualistic civilization (the visible).
These notions are represented in the showcase rotunda where the white, glass, male feet are protruding upside down in pots of floral plantings. What lies underneath is the entire body that is being consumed by the insects and bacteria in the soil. On the surface are what the body pushes up, the flowering multiple-hued beauty of the plantings in circular pots. Thus, symbolized is the shedding of white colonialism and the power structures that once “lived” and “flourished,” but now are in a state of decay. On another level community gardens are taking over and the wealthy in the UK (which prospered from slavery and ruled in the 1700s) can no longer afford to maintain the gardens without a “free” worker force. Instead, many of the colonizers and wealthy estates have been donated to trusts and museums and paid workers are creating gardens. This is a form of regeneration.
According to Patterson, “The opportunity to work directly within the New York Botanical Garden, using its collections and landscape as inspiration, provided the opportunity to bring many elements of my practice together.” She continued, “I’ve long worked with the idea of gardens, but this direct intervention allowed us to begin to literally peel back the landscape to look, not only at the plans on the surface, but also explore what lies beneath, and the generative life cycles that sustain the entire ecosystem.”
She particularly focused on the “Plants and animals that clean, regenerate, and consume as an act of care. These are necessary for the survival of the entire ecosystem. This reality of the garden is often not highlighted and celebrated, an experience that is paralleled in many areas of society and a tension at the heart of my practice overall.”
Jennifer Bernstein, CEO and The William C. Steere Sr. President of The New York Botanical Garden, stated the following about the installations. “Ebony G. Patterson’s exhibition at the Garden marks an exciting moment for us as an institution, as we were able to provide a platform for one of the most compelling artists of our time to explore the complex symbolism of gardens and the fractured human relationship with nature. She added, “Patterson’s work will entice, disarm, and provoke visitors, and we look forward to the dialogue and conversations that will unfold.”
After perusing the hundreds of glittering vultures featured among blood-red, woumd-like ruptures (symbolic of the bloodshed of the enslaved) that interrupt an expanse of light purple foxgloves, lime-green zinnias, coleus and other blooms, you will enter the rotunda showcase gallery. Look up. You will see a cast-glass-and-hydrostone white peacock which focuses the installation from the rotunda to the Palms of the World Gallery. Symbolically, Patterson conceived of the peacock looking backward on its trailing tail, imaginatively unfolding an immersive garden of plants with variegated foliage. These include caladium, hypoestes, red begonias and impatiens.
Everpresent are the vultures cleansing and purifying the decay. In memorium to extinct species, there are ghostly cast-glass plants which Patterson researched in NYBG’s William and Lynda Steere Herbarium. These plants are plant placeholders, made one-of-a-kind. The species they symbolize are plants which were once alive, and now are unable to regenerate. All living things are sacred and if codified, will never truly be extinct, but will be photographed or illustrated as a reminder of the impermanence and sanctity of living structures.
Continuing the imaginary unfolding tail of the peacock, we enter the Palms of the World Gallery where there is a foliage wall reflecting in the pool. One sees various plantings including ipomeas, silver-inch plants and love-lies-bleeding. Again there is the symbolism of blood and lives sacrificed for wealth as a subtext and hidden meaning of gardens. Underneath the surface of the loveliness-there is brutality and ugliness. Indeed, nature in its feeding and living can be predatory, as well as gorgeous, a major theme of Patterson’s installation.
The secrets of decay are the subtext, always a contrast to the lush colorful and luxurious face of greenery and rainbow colors. But these plants, too, will wither and their bodies will be used as nutrients for bacteria to enrich the soil which can then burgeon with new growth when there time has arrived. Interestingly, Patterson has included the male glass figure, legs protruding out from the wall into the symbolic “blood pool.” This white glass sculpture halved by the plant wall is perhaps metaphoric of nature’s resilience against human control of gardens. It also may symbolize colonialism’s demise as the regrowth and power of nature always maintains control because of the process of birth, living, dying, decay and regeneration.
In the Mertz Library Building on the 6th floor one may see Patterson’s latest works on paper. Look closely, you will see those helpmates of plants, pollinators, and cleaners of decay, flies and spiders and cockroaches. The patterned entanglements are dense and complex. If you look closely snakes, plants, insects, human figures, butterflies can be teased out of the paper mesh which represents a vast and massive ecosystem curiously interdependent and synergistic. Her works trigger one’s thoughts and suggest subtext and hidden, symbolic meanings and associations. Patterson nudges one to look deeper at organization in nature which is more vastly unknown as discoveries currently happen. With humility researchers have discovered the vast communication system of trees, not only in their root systems, but in the ambient atmosphere. Patterson suggests the inter-connectedness of all things and the circular process which cycles.
The mixed media paper collages from the 2022 series studies for a vocabulary of loss combine highly-textured, torn, and reconstituted botanical illustrations and photographs of lilies, bird-of-paradise, carnivorous pitcher plants, mushrooms, stylized vines, scorpions and highly patterned human arms. These series of works are suggestive of funerary wreaths. There is renewal in loss and beauty in the process which is continuously revolving.
Additionally, there is Patterson’s fascinating installation “Fester.” The rotunda space has wallpaper of repeating patterns to suggest a nighttime garden and a central installation. On one side is a wall, the other side is surprising.Viewed in the round, the reverse side of the wall represents the freshly wounded earth with a cascade of over 1,000 red lace gloves, their root-like fingers revealing cast-glass thistles and cast-metal monstera leaves. Perhaps represented in the mass of blood red hands-a sacrifice of slavery and labor, there are black hands reaching out. And on the other side are the textiles, tapestries of rapturous hues hanging from the wall, partially concealing gold-leafed skeletal forms. The associations are rife. From picking cotton to making textiles, the labor is intensive. When it was free, colonizers and slave-holders made a ton of money, perhaps so much money, their spines turned to gold. Patterson’s work is so rich and imaginative, it stimulates a riot of symbolic concepts.
I also was intrigued to find Patterson’s work loaded with irony. I found myself laughing at the sharp contrasts and striking symbols. Her unique vision is refreshing and macabre and joyful and humorous and reflective of the cycles of living species.
Who is Ebony G. Patterson? The artist received her BFA in painting from Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica (2004), and an MFA in printmaking and drawing from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis (2006). She has taught at the University of Virginia and Edna Manley College School of Visual and Performing Arts and has served as Associate Professor in Painting and Mixed Media at the University of Kentucky. Her work is in the collections of institutions including 21c Museum and Foundation, Louisville, Kentucky; Lost Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California: Nasher Museum, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina to name a few. She is also exhibited in the Whitney Museum of American Art. Co-Artistic Director, along with curator Miranda Lash, Prospect.6 New Orleans,will open in Fall 2024.
For programming and tickets to this thought provoking exhibition, go to the NYBG website
‘Around the Table: Stories of the Foods We Love’ New York Botanical Garden’s Major Exhibition Through September 11, 2022
When we think back to our grandparents’ and parents’ cuisine, what comes to mind? Whatever generation we are, the foods we were served as children on holidays or perhaps daily indicate the family heritage. And once we discuss heritage foods, inevitably there are similarities and differences among cultures, though they might be as wide-ranging as Europe to India.
The New York Botanical Garden’s latest exhibition Around the Table” Stories of the Foods We Love, is all about our culture heritage and the heritage of others by examining the cuisine. And no matter how one views the cuisine, at its most basic foundation we find plants.
For those unfamiliar with farms and growing seasons, seeds and techniques to produce the most healthful, successful gardens of fresh fruits and vegetables, this exhibition is for you. Also, for those who come from a background whose cultural heritage was steeped in orchards and vegetable gardens as mine was, the exhibit is a chance to reconnect with and add to knowledge already in one’s mental and emotional bank account.
The plantings found throughout the 250 acres reveal the art and science of food traditions, many dating back to millennia and the beginning of the growth of civilizations throughout the world. Though the plants have been developed through experience by people culturally and historically, many of the plants from ancient cultures have also been modified scientifically to what they are today. Much of the history of cuisine relates to migration and travel. As people moved throughout the world, they brought their cultural understanding of plants with them to retain and perfect their food traditions.
Importantly, the NYBG exhibit acknowledges the cultural heritages of food cuisine and highlights the aspect of travel and migration that brought plant species to the Americas and species that were in the Americas to European in cross cultural migration.
Found in various plantings in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory which separate into three installations, we note the diverse and wide variety of living edible plants that are used in cuisines from Asia to South America, from Africa to Europe.
When one looks carefully, one finds the plants that are the basis of staples we cannot do without, like coffee, chocolate, sugar, flour and plants that nourish the animals that provide the meat we eat, for example the plants that produce the grains and corn fed to cattle, pigs, chickens and sheep.
The displays of edible plants include hundreds of varieties including peppers, squash, cabbage, beans, grains, corn, banana, sugarcane, taro, breadfruit, fruit (tomatoes) and more.
In the Conservatory’s Seasonal Exhibition Galleries is the assortment of edible herbaceous plants and fruit-bearing trees growing in containers, entwined in overhead trellises and creating green walls for compact urban spaces.
The Conservatory Courtyards present fig, citrus, olive and apple trees and reveal plants suited to tropical regions like rice, taro, mango, banana, manioc and breadfruit.
Look for the pearl millet, the nightshade section (tomatoes, peppers, and the herbs associated with them like basil). There is also a spirit garden indicating many of the plants used to create beer, wine, rum, liquors and the cork associated with the preservation of spirits and wines.
One of the more interesting installations is on The Conservatory Lawn. It has been transformed into a field of dwarf sorghum and barley. These traditional grains align with our climate and allow us to view the sowing, nurturing, harvesting and replanting over mini seasons. If you visit in early June and stop back at the end, you will be amazed at the growth of the height of the plants.
Interspersed among these plantings you will find picnic tables beautifully decorated by local artists that add a colorful effect amidst the field of green.
The Garden selected 30 artists living or working in the Bronx and they designed the tables that highlighted food themes from “Around the Table.”
These artistic works can be found outside and inside the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building as well as throughout the grounds.
If you examine the table tops you will note edible plants that embody their own cultural heritage and significance and inspire the sharing of personal stories of foods traditionally served at holidays and celebrations.
It is through foods, most especially we are more open to understanding cultures different from our own.
In another section of the extensive exhibition, make sure to visit the African American Garden at the Edible Academy. The installation is entitled African American Garden: Remembrance & Resilience. It is curated by Dr. Jessica B. Harris, America’s leading scholar on the foods of the African Diaspora.
When you move along the walkways to look at the beds planted, you will be fascinated to connect with the plants that highlight African American culture and foods, gardening histories and tidbits about early Americana. The African American Garden features the contribution of essential plants to our collective history.
Dr. Harris worked with historians, heritage seed collectors, and NYBG’s Edible Academy staff to lay out a sequence of eight garden beds arranged in a semi-circle. These represent a celebration of African American food, plantings, and ongoing contributions to our country’s plant and food culture.
The experience includes an orientation center, shaded seating and a Hibiscus Drink Station. Stop by the drink station to cool yourself off with a taste of Roselle, sweetened or unsweetened.
With it saunter along the Poetry Walk curated by Cave Canem Foundation.
The Cave Canem Foundation is the premier home for Black poetry that is committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets.
Finally, visit the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building Art Gallery to see the works of contemporary Colombian-American artist Lina Puerta in her exhibit on the first floor. It is entitled Lina Puerta: Accumulated Wisdom.
The artist highlights and gives voice to the invisible farm workers who labor in the fields for low pay and long hours. Throughout the country they are the voiceless abused by corporate owners who have exploited their labor. Without their labor where would populations be? Read Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook, an expose of agribusiness in Florida and how slave labor keeps the tasteless tomatoes coming to market.
Puerta’s mixed-media sculptures, installations, collages, handmade paper paintings, and wall hangings are strikingly beautiful. They speak of farm workers and reveal the relationship between nature, the human-made and ancestral knowledge related to plants.
The materials she uses range from textiles and handmade paper to found, personal, and recycled objects.
This exhibit has an abundance of activities for adults, family and children alike. There are artist-designed table tours, food demonstrations, themed weekend celebrations to name a few.
Look out for A Seat at the Table on Saturday, June 18, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Two thrilling sessions will explore how Black farming informs American history and culture in New York City and across the country. Natalie Baszile, author of We Are Each Other’s Harvest, joins Dr. Jessica B. Harris, food historian and scholar, for the discussion at Ross Hall, “Celebrating the African American Farmer.” In “Stories from the Farm,” moderated by NYBG Trustee Karen Washington (farmer, urban gardener, food advocate, activist) will lead a multigenerational panel discussion devoted to stories of Black farmers from many perspectives urban and rural, North and South.
For complete programming on this incredible exhibition, Around the Table: Stories of the Foods We Love, to to the NYBG website by clicking HERE.
‘Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope’: Orchid Show 2022, New York Botanical Garden’s Spectacular Horticultural Theater
Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope Runs February 26 – May 1, 2022
Lifestyle icon and floral designer to the stars (Oprah Winfrey, Cher, Dolly Parton, etc.), has returned for an encore presentation to the New York Botanical Garden after the show which he created in 2020 had to be curtailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic safety procedures and quarantine throughout the nation. But Leathem has reimagined the imagery of Kaleidoscope and once again the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and its various galleries are shimmering in a pageantry of color-rich orchids of every shape, size and variety. If you love orchids, this is a show to see for its gorgeous delights.
Lifestyle icon and floral designer to the stars (Oprah Winfrey, Cher, etc.), has returned for an encore presentation to the New York Botanical Garden after the show which he created in 2020 had to be curtailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic safety procedures and quarantine throughout the nation. But Leathem has reimagined the imagery of Kaleidoscope and once again the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and its various galleries are shimmering in a pageantry of color-rich orchids of every shape, size and variety.
Jeff Leatham said, “I am thrilled to bring Kaleidoscope back to the New York Botanical Garden in 2022. Much like when you look into a Kaleidoscope, the view is never the same.”
Kaleidoscopic, with rich, multi-various hues, orchids compose the largest family of plants in the world. They number from 28,000-30,000 natural species and from 150,000 hybrids. Botanists and horticulturalists are constantly coming up with new derivations inspired to craft hybrids. And these they sometimes name them for individuals and celebrities. Jeff Leatham has a hybrid Vanda named after him and Awkwafina (comedic rapper and award winning actress) has her own orchid named after her zaniness. These orchids were featured in previous orchid shows at NYBG in 2019 and 2020.
Orchids were assembled from the finest growers in the world in January and early February as the NYBG beds were graded and prepared for the 2022 Orchid Show. Leatham worked with horticulturalists from NYBG and Marc Hachadourian, the Senior Curator of Orchids who advised what orchids would last longest for various displays and what could be replaced to keep the displays looking fresh until May 1st when the show closes. The plantings and design took two weeks.
Jeff Leatham’s work is a meld of his love for flowers and his passion for design. His displays are dramatic, vibrant and memorable. He integrates his arrangements seamlessly with his settings. Jeff has produced striking displays in Paris for two decades. In 2014 he was knighted with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor for artists and others who have made a significant contribution to French culture.
On select Fridays and Saturdays in March and April, adults 21 and over can experience the exhibition at night with music, cash bars and food available for purchase ORCHID EVENINGS WILL TAKE PLACE: MARCH 26, APRIL 2, 9, 16, 22, AND 23, 2022; 7-10 p.m.
At NYBG Shop, Orchid Show visitors can purchase Jeff Leatham’s publications: Flowers by Jeff Leatham, Flowers by Design, and Jeff Leatham: Visionary Floral Art and Design. These are best-selling design books globally.
For more information about the 19th Annual Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope visit https://www.nybg.org/event/the-orchid-show/
‘Lotus,’ by Carole Di Tosti, Photos by Gwen Greenthal
In my newly released book of sonnets Light Shifts, there are five featured sections. In ‘God in Nature,’ there are two sonnets about Lotuses, one opening the section, the other closing it. I considered adding pictures, then realized that unless they could be duplicated via Kindle digital (they don’t show well) that the photos would be misrepresented. Photographer Gwen Greenthal’s photos are too lovely to be distorted. When Amazon moves to hard cover and upgrades the technology to include exact facsimiles of photos, I will consider it. To check out Light Shifts, go to my books page: https://caroleditostibooks.com/
The fragrance fragile, hints of frankincense.
The buds so creamy, shaded tapering pinks.
The petals seek the sun in recompense.
From watery darkness muddy roots did drink.
Enfolded in the torpid dank and slime
With faith that soon its glorious day will come,
It waits in dormancy then slowly climbs,
In skyward grace to bask in citrine sun.
How many of your kind just stayed below,
Devoid of spark to seek the spiritual light?
How many not ignited by God’s flow
Of love, instead did die in wilted blight?
A miracle each risen Lotus bloom,
A wealth of glorious life born in the gloom.
Lotuses are represented in the literature of most cultures in the world. Their beauty and transience (two-day blooms) retain philosophical symbolism associated with purity, fertility, compassion, transformation, and spiritual enlightenment. Its scientific name is Nelumbo nucifera. It is referred to as Sacred lotus and Indian lotus. Sacred lotus has long been used as a food source and ingredient for traditional herbal remedies. Plant parts contain neuroprotective agents that interact with specific targets to inhibit Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show Tickets on Sale February 3, 2022
The 19th NYBG Orchid Show is burgeoning into a hopeful springtime event two years after the 2020 Orchid Show was halted due to COVID-19. The popular exhibition will be on view from February 26 through May 1, 2022, and I am excited to announce that it is reopening with Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope. The extraordinary exhibit by lifestyle icon and floral designer to the stars will be a reimagining of his glorious, bold, vibrant creations with dazzling, new twists as a celebration of renewal and persistence.
Leatham’s creative genius will transform each gallery of the exhibition in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory into a different color experience. Imagine you are immersed in the heart of a botanical kaleidoscope. And if you venture through the galleries at different times during the day from the morning light to the afternoon sun which casts a uniquely different glow on the orchids and foliage, indeed the colors are ever changing, the hues shadowed and dusky as the sun sets. All of the variables of light and shade and the great selection of stunning orchids and their hues are Jeff Leatham’s palette.
Working with horticulturists from NYBG, including Senior Curator of Orchids Marc Hachadourian, Leatham
selects orchids from NYBG collections as well as from some of the finest growers in the world. Keeping the kaleidoscope theme in mind, Leatham’ orchid towers of orange, yellow and green, the undulating fields of white and overhead plumes of purple combined with artistic embellishments will dazzle visitors as they saunter on walkways of beauty arranged as horticultural pageantry.
Amazing and unique orchids, one of the largest species of plants in the world, are always represented at the NYBG Orchid Show and this year is no exception. For those more scientifically minded, they may note orchids of seemingly every conceivable shape and provenance, iconic hybrids as well as rare specimens under glass. The configurations and arrangements all are designed by the artistry of the affable and renowned Leatham whose shows are one-of-a-kind amazements. This year’s Orchid Show may have the same name as the 2020 Orchid Show, but Leatham’s exhibit promises to be evocatively different. That is who Jeff Leatham is and movement, grace and forward thinking creations are his brand.
On select Fridays and Saturdays in March and April, adults 21 and over can experience the exhibition
at night with music, cash bars, and food available for purchase. Magical Orchid Evenings will take place on March 26, April 2, 9, 16, 22, and 23, 2022; 7–10 p.m.
Tickets will be available at https://www.nybg.org/visit/admission/
At the New York Botanical Garden Shop, visitors of the Orchid Show have the opportunity to select from thousands of top-quality orchids that are available for purchase. Some of these include exotic, hard-to-find specimens for connoisseurs to elegant yet easy-to-grow varieties for beginners, along with orchid products and books.
Jeff Leatham is the award-winning artistic director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris. He has studios at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center. Also, he has a studio at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.
His work combines his love for flowers and his passion for design. Using shape, color, and simplicity, his creations are dramatic, bold, unforgettable statements that are always an integral part of the setting. His clients include Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, Cher, Oprah Winfrey and others. His publications—Flowers by Jeff Leatham, Flowers by Design, and Jeff Leatham: Visionary Floral Art and Design are best-selling design books worldwide
For more information about The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope, visit http://www.nybg.org/event/the-orchid-show/
New York Botanical Garden’s GLOW and The Holiday Train Show® Are Not to be Missed
The winter season is in full swing with the NYBG’s 30th Year Milestone Celebration of The Holiday Train Show® (Saturday, November 20, 2021 – Sunday, January 23, 2022 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
The beautiful exhibit which features over 1 mile of train track and a 360 degree surround space in an added gallery is a favorite of New Yorkers. This year’s show features new additions to its collection which now number over 191 miniature structures of New York City and New York State landmarks.
Once again as part of the Train Show on a new combination ticket is the expanded light exhibit GLOW. As the sun sets and the moon rises on select dates, family and friends can wander through the Garden’s festively illuminated landscape and enjoy the 1.5 mile color-and-light extravaganza that begins at 5 pm and ends at 10 p.m.
Tickets are available for the following dates: Thursday, December 23, Sunday, December 26 – Thursday, December 30. In January, these dates are available: Saturday, January 1, January 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22.
When you buy your combination ticket for NYBG GLOW and the Holiday Train Show® expect to be dazzled on two fronts. Indoors, you will enjoy the shimmering lights that ethereally pierce through the foliage of lovely plantings and New York replicas of Applied Imagination’s architectural structures perfectly arranged so that a variety of old model trains, trolleys, whimsical streetcars can speed by the miniature iconic New York landmarks.
And along the outer garden pathways, you will be entranced by the beauty of the striking colors projected against the landscape of trees, bushes and buildings forming colorful patterns of light against the shadows. I went on a moonlit night and the effect was spectacular.
For The Holiday Train Show® look for the new additions celebrating the 30th year of the exhibit.
Showcased are the replicas of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building, the Lillian Goldman Fountain of Life, and the John J. Hoffee Tulip Tree Allee, collectively designated a New York City Landmark in 2009. The Allee that leads up to the LuEsther T. Mertz Library is comprised of four rows of distinguished native trees that were planted beginning in 1903 and have grown to a great height.
When I spoke to NYBG staff and Laura Busse Dolan, the CEO of Applied Imagination, she mentioned that the Tulip Tree Allee replica in front of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building are live topiary myrtle trees very ingeniously sculpted to scale.
The Mertz Library is the most important botanical and horticultural library in the world. It houses more than 11 million archival items spanning 10 centuries. In a style reminiscent of a Roman Baroque palace and capped with a green copper dome, architect Robert Gibson designed the striking building in 1901.
The Applied Imagination miniature is constructed with natural materials; the facade is made of horse chestnut bark, representing the structure’s stone blocks. Accented by mahogany pods, cinnamon pods and black walnuts (donated by a patron of NYBG) the replica is a beauty in its own right, worthy of the 900 to 1000 hours for its fabrication.
A part of the display, The Goldman Fountain of Life is the dramatic composition of mythical figures in front of the Library. American Renaissance sculptor Charles E. Tefft designed the fountain in 1905. It was restored in 2005, 100 years later. Like the real fountain, the replica mirrors the Beaux-Arts sculptures including charging seahorses, a lively nymph and a startled mermaid and merman. These figures are covered in tobacco leaves with grape vine tendrils for their hair. Incredibly, the fountain’s basin is created from large shelf fungus.
Some interesting facts about the structures featured in this year’s exhibit that you may not know are as follows. The Lillian and Amy Goldman Stone Mill, one of my favorite NYBG buildings dates around 1840 and can be rented out for weddings and other catered affairs. It was designated a New York City Landmark in 1966 and a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Applied Imagination’s team used tobacco leaves, cork, alder seeds, grape vine tendrils, and Brazilian and turkey tail fungi to the replica.
The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory features prominently on the other side of the display with the LuEsther Mertz Library Building. The Conservatory which is also a New York City Landmark is considered one of the most superb glasshouses of its time. Lord & Burnham Company completed its construction in 1902. Comprised of 11 interconnected galleries that feature different habitats and plant specimens from around the world, the conservatory also features seasonal galleries, presenting annual floral displays and special exhibitions highlighting world renowned artists. The replica finished in 2014 was constructed of birch bark, cinnamon bark curls, wheat husks and acorn caps. The cupola rests on a ring of large pine cone scales and is topped by a mahogany seedpod and lotus seedpod. If you take the time to look closely, you will recognize these plant parts and gain a new appreciation of the genius Applied Imagination manifests in is miniature structures.
The NYBG The Holiday Train Show® has included the seven bridges around the New York City area. Model trains and trolleys trundle along the tracks along the train trestles. the tallest replica is The Brooklyn Bridge that comes in at 16 feet. Even Hell’s Gate Bridge is included.
Downtown Wall Street area is one of the favored exhibits that New Yorkers enjoy seeing as the recognize the iconic buildings which include the Woolworth Building, the ferry building, the Oculus and One World Trade Center. The Staten Island Ferry and Statue of Liberty replicas are recognizable globally.
NYBG’s 30th Year Milestone Celebration of The Holiday Train Show® on a combination ticket with GLOW runs from (Thursday December 23, 2021 – Sunday, January 23, 2022 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.) For tickets and times (and by now, you should purchase a membership, you know you always wanted to) go to their website by CLICKING HERE.
New York Holiday Train Show, NYBG’s 30th Year Milestone Celebration
The parking lot was jam packed on Member Day, November 19th, as long standing and new members of New York Botanical Garden came to see the amazing architectural wonders ingeniously constructed from a variety of plant parts that are the showpiece along with the fun trains that comprise one of the most enjoyable exhibits at the Garden. The Holiday Train Show® (Saturday, November 20, 2021 – Sunday, January 23, 2022 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.) a favorite of New Yorkers, features new additions to its collection which now numbers over 190 structures.
After the trials of COVID, the shut down and restricted access of the last year, the Garden ushers in the 30th year for the train exhibit whose landmark building collection is designed by Applied Imagination’s team and then situated throughout the Haupt Conservatory and galleries in collaboration with the NYBG staff over a two week period.
In celebration of the NYBG Holiday Train Show’s 30th year, the creative team at Applied Imagination re-created one of the central aspects of the Garden: the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building with the Lillian Goldman Fountain of Life, and the John J. Hoffee Tulip Tree Allee. These buildings and attendant features were declared a New York City Landmark in 2009. The care and effort taken to manifest these structures took thousands of hours of work. Take a moment to appreciate the designs and materials used to create the display. Especially appreciate the myrtle topiaries that simulate the Tulip Tree Allee.
The Holiday Train Show® may be appreciated on many levels. From the vantage point of a child’s, one delights as more than 25 model trains of various gauges careen, zip and plow along the miles of track laid down between the brilliant foliage and flowers and plantings graded to maximize happiness. For adults, there is always the astute appreciation of the craftsmanship and design of the New York landmarks.
Whether in daylight or evening twilight, there is magic in being swept away into a miniaturized world of perfection created with loving artistry and passion that spills out into the hearts of the visitors of the exhibit who return many times during the season bringing friends, grandchildren and sweethearts. The holidays wouldn’t seem complete without the Garden’s Holiday Train Show® accompanied by a wealth of activities for children and adults during the Winter season.
For children, there’s the “Evergreen Express” in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden (November 20, 2021–January 23, 2022). Make sure to dress warmly as you climb onto a kid-sized play train and move through additional activities at the mini-train table having fun with the wooden train cars. Along the way of your adventures which might including hiking through the landscape, stop at the outdoor musical instrument station for family jam sessions on marimbas, amadindas and drums. For self-guided explorations with your kids be aware of the times: daily (10 am-5 pm) Guided activities (click here) run on weekdays (1:30-2:30 p.m.) Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays (10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.) The Everett Children’s Adventure Gardens is included in all ticket types.
Exclusive benefits for Members of the NYBG are always welcome and prized. For members entrance to The Holiday Train Show® is free and the parking lot becomes swamped so you may have to park at the Fordham University parking lot across the street. Also, make your reservations online to schedule the days you want to visit so you aren’t closed out. The next Member Day is Friday, January 7, 2022 when you can take advantage of exclusive benefits, including free parking, 20% off at the NYBG Shop, 15% discount at all dining venues, and up to 4 half-price tickets for guests. For more Member benefits, CLICK HERE. If you aren’t already a Member of the Garden, sign up online today.
Throughout the show there are additional features to make your visit enjoyable and memorable. The Uptown Brass will be presenting festive selections of classical and popular holiday favorites. These professional musicians have been featured in venues throughout New York City. They will be performing for your pleasure on November 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, & 28; December 5, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, & 30th at the Leon Levy Visitor Center (1, 2, & 3 p.m.) For more information about The Uptown Brass CLICK HERE.
In the Garden’s Sounds of the Season, listen to solo performers roll out the red carpet and rouse your spirits on weekends through December 26th in the Conservatory Entry Tent from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. beginning with Louis Apollon (November 19 & December 4). Louis Apollon is a Brooklyn-based jazz-folk singer-songwriter. Other musicians include the Bronx-based DJ Collective and Community Organization Uptown Vinyl Supreme (November 27, 28, December 5, 11, & 12) and Darren Solomon (December 4) the Clio and Cannes Gold Lion award-winning composer, producer, bassist and keyboard player. For more on the musicians and additional performers CLICK HERE.
Another favorite, Holiday Classes are back where you will learn how to fill your home with the warm scents, tastes, and textures of the season. Interesting offerings include styling magnolia leaf wreaths and making decadent fruit preserves. For more information on other class offerings CLICK HERE.
As a part of the festivities during the Winter Season, celebrate the waning of sunlight with the brightening of NYBG’s GLOW, an enchanting outdoor color and light experience (November 24, 26, 27; December 2, 3, 4, 9, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30; January 1, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22 from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.). GLOW’s pageantry lights up NYBG’s iconic landscape and historic buildings turning them to whimsical beauty after the sun sets. This otherworldly illumination has been expanded to an additional 1.5 -miles of spectacular.
If is possible to see both The Holiday Train Show® and GLOW at a reduced price and savings. CLICK HERE. You will feel welcome with all of the activities offered. Talented performers dressed up in holiday costumes, stilt-walkers and other artists will stop for your selfies and family photos. And returning is the deft ice sculptor, always fun to watch as chips of ice are narrowed into figures and shapes. Taste local cuisine from the Bronx Night Market and enjoy a cocktail, beer, wine, and more from one of the festive. seasonal bars. For additional information and ticketing CLICK HERE.
Look for my future posts with specific details about the wondrous architectural collection created by Applied Imagination from natural materials i.e. twigs, leaves, seeds from trees and fruits, pods, gourds, acorns, bark, fungi, pine cone scales, nut shells, nuts and more. I absolutely love The Holiday Train Show and GLOW to usher in winter and waning sunlight as we move to the darkness of the shortest day of the year. Knowing I can venture to the Garden to lift my spirits with family and friends makes the light deprivation in our northern clime seem worth it. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS AND PROGRAMS.
New York Botanical Garden: Intimate ORCHID Spotlight Replaces Annual Exhibit
As a result of the pandemic, the New York Botanical Garden has changed its approach regarding its annual orchid exhibition. In keeping with safety and security for New Yorkers, Garden members and guests, the annual Orchid Show will return in 2022. As a replacement, the Garden is focusing on a personal and close-up view of orchids without the fanfare, showiness and crowds.
This year unusual orchids and other plants from NYBG’s permanent collections will be displayed in select galleries of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory on February 20–April 4, 2021.
Continuing with reduced indoor capacity, The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) is forgoing its traditional orchid exhibition presenting a limited Spotlight on Orchids and other permanent plant collections in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. A visit to select galleries of the Conservatory will reveal displays of orchids in brilliant white and striking colors set against the foliage of aroids, ferns, and bromeliads. The plantings highlight how the orchids might be found in nature as they blend seamlessly with their surroundings.
The approach brings attention to orchids in their habitats and emphasizes investigation of orchids as one of the largest of plant families in their their variety with differences in their shape, size and color to attract pollinators. Orchids thrive on every continent except Antarctica and can be found even the desert gallery of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.
As visitors walk through the various galleries, they will be able to view and explore unique orchids from NYBG’s renowned collections from around the world. The Garden is known for its rare orchids. Don’t forget to take a long, lingering look at the glass case between the galleries where many of the Garden’s rare and small orchids enjoy their special, controlled environment. Also, check out the artful floral creations. These are fashioned by Botanical Garden horticulturists. The creations combine expressive orchids from the popular Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) to lady slippers (Paphiopedilum) with rocks, tree trunks, vines, and other found materials.
NYBG looks forward to the return of its annual Orchid Show in 2022.
The Spotlight on Orchids runs from Saturday, February 20, through Sunday, April 4, 2021; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets for Spotlight on Orchids is open to all visitors with the purchase of an advance, timed Garden Pass + Conservatory ticket, which includes access to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and outdoor gardens and collections. Click on http://nybg.org/visit for more information or tickets.
KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature at New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden is presenting its expansive 2021 exhibition, KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature. The internationally celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is being featured for the Spring season since the exhibit was postponed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The exhibition includes four experiences that will debut at the Garden which is the exclusive venue for KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature. The exhibition will be installed across NYBG’s landscape, in and around the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, and in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building. Timed, limited-capacity tickets for the landmark presentation go on sale to the public March 16, 2021, at https://www.nybg.org/event/kusama/
KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature
KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature Members-Only Benefits
- Exclusive Member ticket Pre-Sale, March 11-15
- Complimentary exhibition and Garden admission – visit again and again, for free!
- Exclusive Members-Only Preview Day, April 9
- At the Patron Level, enjoy the best of the exhibition with a dedicated Patron pre-sale beginning March 9, complimentary Infinity Mirrored Room tickets when interior access begins, and special viewing opportunities.
Experience Yayoi Kusama’s profound connection with nature
Contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is one of the most popular artists in the world, drawing millions to experience her immersive installations.
Exclusively at NYBG, Kusama reveals her lifelong fascination with the natural world, beginning with her childhood spent in the greenhouses and fields of her family’s seed nursery. Her artistic concepts of obliteration, infinity, and eternity are inspired by her intimate engagement with the colors, patterns, and life cycles of plants and flowers.
Explore Kusama’s eternal love for plants
Spectacular installations feature Kusama’s multifaceted art, including monumental floral sculptures that transform NYBG’s 250-acre landmark landscape.
Across the grounds, discover installations that include the artist’s legendary Narcissus Garden (1966/2021) in the Native Plant Garden. Nearby, marvel at Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees (2002/2021), where soaring trees are adorned in vibrant red with white polka dots. The horticultural spectacle across the landscape changes throughout the seasons, with tulips and irises in spring, dahlias and sweetpeas in summer, and pumpkins and chrysanthemums in fall.
In and around the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Kusama’s work comes to life through a seasonal progression of violas, salvias, zinnias, chrysanthemums, and other colorful annuals, while her plant-inspired, polka-dotted sculptures are nestled among meadow grasses, bellflowers, and water lilies, including Hymn of Life—Tulips (2007) in the Conservatory Courtyard Hardy Pool. Her mesmerizing Pumpkins Screaming About Love Beyond Infinity (2017) is on view in the Visitor Center gallery.
In the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building, explore paintings, biomorphic collages, sculpture, and works on paper inspired by Kusama’s deep knowledge of nature, and in the adjacent Ross Gallery, enjoy Walking Piece (ca. 1966), a multiscreen digital projection of a performance work from the artist’s collection.
See new monumental and immersive works
New monumental sculptures Dancing Pumpkin (2020) and I Want to Fly to the Universe (2020) make their debut in the NYBG landscape. They join the artist’s first-ever obliteration greenhouse, Flower Obsession (2017/2021).
Patron pre-sale begins March 9, 10 a.m. ET
Member and Corporate Member pre-sale begins March 11, 10 a.m. ET
Public tickets on sale: March 16, 10 a.m. ET
FOR TICKETS GO TO THE FOLLOWING LINK
New York Botanical Garden Glow
As an outdoor color and light show in the evenings, New York Botanical Garden has been presenting Glow. Sauntering along the paths of the Garden with the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory as the focal point, the shades of color illuminate the pine trees and create an otherworldly aura throughout. The beauty of Glow is that it is outdoors and there is no crowding with lots of room to spread out in safety.
Washes of brilliant colors, thousands of dazzling, energy-efficient LED lights, and picture-perfect installations fill the Visitor Center Reflecting Pool and magically energize surrounding gardens and collections. As part of the experience, visitors can also enjoy artistic ice sculptures; music; roving dancers, including a Hip Hop Nutcracker NYBG remix; and more outdoor fun. To warm up and add satisfaction to your appreciation of GLOW, you can have a hot chocolate or latte at the Pine Tree Cafe with other treats and sandwiches, pizza and Paninis.
In accordance with New York State and City requirements for cultural institutions and safety protocols that include limited ticketing capacity and social distancing, timed-entry tickets for NYBG GLOW must be purchased in advance.The new, limited timed-entry ticketing system staggers visitors’ arrivals, promotes social distancing, and mitigates the risk of crowding in high-traffic areas.
More information about NYBG’s enhanced safety protocols, including a “Know Before You Go” video, is available here.
Dates left to get tickets: Friday, January 8; Saturday, January 9; Friday, January 15; and Saturday, January 16, 2021. Glow takes place during the hours: 5–10 p.m.
Timed-entry tickets for NYBG GLOW must be purchased in advance. General admission is $30 for adults and $18 for children two to 12. Children under two are admitted free. Admission for Garden Members is $20 for adults and $10 for children two to 12. Visit nybg.org for details and to purchase tickets.
NYBG Glow ends on Saturday, 16 January. You still have time to visit this gorgeous winter celebration at the Garden. Don’t miss it.