Friday, May 2, 2014

April showers bring May flowers to the New York Botanic Garden

Upon returning from an 1888 visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near London,  Columbia University botanist Nathaniel Lord Britton, and his wife, Elizabeth, launched a public campaign to establish a private, non-profit botanical garden in partnership with New York City and State. Britton chose this city-owned property because of the freshwater river in a rock-cut gorge, and 50 acres of old-growth forest, Britton chose this City-owned property as the future home of The New York Botanical Garden in 1895. Calvert Vaux, co-designer of Central Park, laid out the Garden’s first schematic design.

The mission of the NY Botanical Garden with a three-fold mission has been to conduct basic and applied research on the plants of the world with the goal of protecting and preserving them where they live in the wild; to maintain and improve the gardens and collections at the highest horticultural standard; and to use the Garden as a venue for teaching the public about plant biology, horticulture, and the natural world.Tthe institution has amassed over 7,300,000 plant specimens in the research herbarium, now among the four largest in the world and built the world’s most important research library about plant science and horticulture.

Magnolia 'Elizabeth' one the the earliest yellow-flowering
hybrid magnolias
Elegant weeping cherries frame the Haupt Conservatory
Bulbs blooming in a Home Gardening Center diepsly

Recent heavy rains left behind a sea of pink petals 

Daffodils naturalizing across Daffodil Valley
Daffodils beneath  a tulip tree
Looking upstream
from bridge over Bronx River
and downstream
One of the trees remember most fondly from my childhood
home is the flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, with it's
 showy flowers in spring, red-purple leaves in fall, and
glossy red fruits that attract winter songbirds.  Alas with it's
zone 5-9 range and preference for well-drained, acid soil,
it is not planted in our area of Wisconsin.
Cherry trees in bloom
Lilacs lure visitors with their tantalizing scent as they burst into bloom 
Lots of activity in the Rockefeller Rose Garden suggests a highlight of a
return to the garden in the summer season would be the rose collection  

A photo of the rose garden in bloom in a priot year hints at the beauty of this award-winning garden, featuring over 3,500 rose plants and more than 600 varieties. It was  designed in 1916 by the eminent landscape architect (and niece of Edith Wharton) Beatrix Jones Farrand. But it was only in 1988, through a generous gift from David Rockefeller in honor of his wife, Peggy, that the original design was fully realized.

The New York Botanical Garden hosted the Northeastern version of the EarthKind™ trials starting in spring of 2010 to help identify cultivars that combine beauty with proven durability in the landscape. The EarthKind™ philosophy is based on the premise that it is possible to identify beautiful plants that tolerate harsh, low-maintenance environments without agricultural chemicals and with a reduction in irrigation. This cutting edge, environmental effort is the most popular and fastest growing, research-based environmental university program of its kind in the U.S. and directly benefits all sectors of horticulture: growers, retailers, landscapers, and consumers.

Earth-Kind is a special designation given to select rose cultivars by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service through the Earth-Kind landscaping program, based on the results of extensive research and field trials.  It is awarded to roses demonstrating superior pest tolerance, combined with outstanding landscape performance. Earth-Kind roses do well in a variety of soil types, ranging from well-drained acid sands to poorly aerated, highly alkaline clays. Once established, these select cultivars also have excellent heat and drought tolerance.  Earth-Kind roses can be enjoyed with a limited use of fertilizers, pesticides, and water.

Dwarf Shrubs

Small Shrubs

Medium Shrubs

Mannerly Climbers

Vigorous Climbers

Of these, Sea Foam is a long time favorite of mine, but didn't make it through a harsh winter where it was planted subject to high winds off the lake with little consistent snow cover for protection.  Since it performed well when we lived in nearby Green Bay where I'd planted it close to the house along the walkway to the door,  I willl try again if I can locate it locally.

Knockout is a common sight these days, having been promoted heavily by the big box stores.   I favor the Double Pink and Rainbow varieties, though I suspect they are not as hardy as the original Knockout.

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