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Gallery: Annual flower trials at Bluegrass Lane

composite of best flowers from 2009 trialsUpdate [2/4/2010]: Follow annual flower research at Bluegrass Lane on Facebook.

Images, ratings and other data from the 2009 annual flower trials at Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Center are now available online.

The 2009 trials tested nearly 200 cultivars of recently released or not-yet-available annual flower and foliage plants. Researchers and staff photographed and rated each cultivar through the growing season on flowering impact, foliage, uniformity and overall landscape value.

The cream of the crop — best overall, best in category and honorable mentions — are featured on the site’s Recognition page.

Seven companies helped sponsor the 2009 trials:

Garden-Based Learning Program weighs in on school garden controversy

The Atlantic columnist and gadfly Caitlin Flanagan created quite a stir with her column Cultivating Failure: How school gardens are cheating our most vulnerable students, published in the magazine’s January/February issue.

Flanagan’s main point is that California’s innovative and extensive school garden program not only doesn’t help improve students’ test scores, but might be particularly detrimental the system’s marginally performing students.

While there may not be research showing direct correlations between the California gardening program and standardized test scores, there is, according to Cornell’s Garden-Based Learning Program, “…a significant body of research to support garden-based learning, some of which points to increased academic achievement, in addition to the myriad other benefits, from improved nutrition to enhanced environmental awareness.”

Read the Program’s full response on the Garden-Based Learning blog.

Visit the Cornell Garden-Based Learning Program website to read about studies documenting the benefits of garden-based learning.

Plant Sciences student-to-student course information session

Featuring free pizza!

Thursday, January 28, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Plant Sciences student lounge and adjacent Room 151 Plant Science.

  • Find out about courses you may not know about and want to take.
  • Learn from other students what the course descriptions really mean.
  • Ask all sorts of course-related questions of your peers.
  • Kick off the semester with pizza, friends and great info you can use.

Chad Miller on ‘The Traveling Tulip’

Traveling Tulip

Join Horticulture graduate student Chad Miller for a lecture on the detailed history of the tulip, from its origin in Asia, to modern cultivation, to a bouquet on your table.

The Traveling Tulip
January 24, 2010 – 12:00PM to 1:00PM
This event is part of the Light in Winter festival.
Mann Library, Room 102
Open to Public, Alumni, Students, Faculty, and Staff.

Project promotes reduced tillage on vegetable farms

Researchers and staff in the Department of Horticulture and Cornell Cooperative Extension educators are helping farmers across New York to tap the benefits of reduced tillage systems, including:

  • Labor savings.
  • Lower fuel costs.
  • Less erosion and improved soil health.
  • Greater planting flexibility early in the season.

With new funding from the New York Farm Viability Institute and a Specialty Crop Grant from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the project will provide growers with information, technical assistance and equipment cost-share funds to test reduced tillage on their farms.

“We are seeking growers of all scales, producing conventional or organic vegetables – either direct-seeded or transplanted crops,” says Betsy Leonard, a technician in the Department of Horticulture. “Ideally, we’d like to work with growers who can compare deep zone tillage next to conventional tillage in the same field and on the same crop. We will also assist with economic analysis to quantify cash savings of these systems.”

Locating equipment to test reduced tillage has been a barrier for many growers. To help, the project team is working closely with equipment dealers who can rent equipment for testing.

Planned reduced tillage educational events for growers include:

  • Reduced Tillage and Soil Health Sessions at the Empire Fruit and Vegetable Expo on Jan 27.
  • Planning the Transition to Reduced Tillage Systems: Equipment, Fertility and Weed Control, a video conference offered at four locations around the state on Feb. 11.
  • Planter Clinics at three locations in February to help vegetable growers make their planters work optimally in reduced tillage systems.

Contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension educator, Anu Rangarajan ( or Betsy Leonard ( in Cornell University’s Department of Horticulture if you are interested in participating in the project or have questions regarding reduced tillage.

For more information including videos, fact sheets stories from other growers who have transitioned to reduced tillage and more events as they are scheduled, visit the team’s Reduced Tillage Vegetables website.

New organic guides for grapes, apples

Fruit growers considering the organic market have two new online resources to help them:

The guides provide suggestions on everything from variety- and site-selection to soil health and nutrient management. The bulk of each provides recommendations for how to manage insects, diseases, weeds and other pests using organic practices.

Funding for the guides was provided by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and is part of a series of organic production guides produced by the New York State IPM Program.

Organic grape guide cover

Tim Weigle and Juliet Carroll of the NYS IPM Program served as coordinating editors for the grape guide, which included other contributors from Cornell and Penn State Universities. “We were also fortunate to have four organic grape growers from across New York State who provided their expertise in creating this publication,” notes Weigle.

Organic apple guide cover

Gregory Peck and Ian Merwin in Cornell’s Department of Horticulture were the primary authors and coordinating editors for the apple guide, which also included contributors from other Cornell units.

Organic guides for beans, carrots, cole crops, cucumbers and squash, peas and spinach are available at the NYS IPM site:

Small Farms Program seeks Extension Associate

Via Violet Stone, Cornell Small Farms Program:

The Cornell Small Farms Program is seeking an Extension Associate to join our staff.

To view the position description online, visit Then, click on: External Applicants > Faculty and Non-Faculty Instruction,
Research & Extension Positions > Job Number 11761-Extension Associate

Interviews will begin late January.

Growth chambers get a green makeover

From a January 6 Cornell Chronicle article:

Cornell’s oldest and least energy-efficient environmental growth chambers — some dating back to the 1950s — that are used for research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) will soon get an extensive makeover that are expected to save $156,000 annually in electricity costs and reduce annual carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by an estimated 721 tons, thanks to a timely grant from the New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Read the whole article.

‘Tangerine Tango’ to jazz up gardens

Alstroemeria 'Tangerine Tango'

Alstroemeria 'Tangerine Tango'

From a January 6 Cornell Chronicle article:

“Creating a fruit salad for the eyes, Cornell has developed — and patented — a new ornamental flower.

Alstroemeria ‘Tangerine Tango’ is a new, winter-hardy Inca lily with vivid orange petals, intense lemon-yellow highlights, little flecks of brown and a hint of lime tint. The plants begin to flower in June and shoot new stems for months until the first freeze of fall.

“When cut, these flowers will last two weeks in a vase.

“Developed by Mark Bridgen, Cornell professor of horticulture and director of the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Riverhead, N.Y., the hybrid is the second ornamental plant patented by the Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization. The first was ‘Mauve Majesty’ — another Inca lily — two years ago.”

‘Tangerine Tango’ is hardy to Zone 5 and available through nurseries and mail order companies including White Flower Farm, Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, McClure and Zimmerman Bulbs, and Roots and Rhizomes.

Read the whole article.

Westbrook tapped as technology fellow

Jessica Westbrook (Ph.D. ’09) is serving as one of 10 science and technology fellows for the California State Legislature, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News Top minds tapped in aid of legislation:

In the first-of-its kind statewide program, the California Council on Science and Technology is teaming up with universities and several foundations to provide the services of Ph.D. scientists and engineers to committees and lawmakers.

The fellowships are intended to provide California policy makers with unbiased scientific and technical advice on issues before the state Senate and Assembly, said Lora Lee Martin, the director of the fellowship program. Foundations are funding the $7 million worth of fellowships.

Jessica will be lending her talents to the Natural Resources Committee.

Read the whole article.

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