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Art of Horticulture students create sod sofa

sod sofa

In an annual fall traditon, students in the Art of Horticulture (PLHRT 2010) constructed a sod sofa at Cornell Botanic Gardens adjacent to the Nevin Center, October 2.

Under the guidance of instructor Emily Detrick and turf specialist Frank Rossi, associate professor and turf specialist in the Horticulture Section of the  they shaped a mix of soil and compost to form comfortable spots to sit, then covered the foundation with rolls of sod.

The sofa needs a few days to firm up, dry out and root.  So if you visit, please observe the signage signalling whether or not it’s ready for you to try out.

You can watch the process in this time lapse video:

Cornell’s new Sustainable Landscapes Trail opens Oct. 5

Cornell Chronicle [2018-10-02]:

Lace up your walking shoes and head to Cornell’s new Sustainable Landscapes Trail, which will open with a ceremony Friday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m., at the newly refurbished Peterson parking lot across from Stocking Hall and the Dairy Bar on Tower Road.

In lieu of a ribbon-cutting, officials will offer a celebratory “downpour” of water on the sustainable, permeable asphalt. Afterward, Nina Bassuk, professor of plant science, will lead a tour of the Sustainable Landscapes Trail.

Students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (PLHORT/LA 4910) plant trees and shrubs in the Peterson Lot bioswale.

Students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (PLHORT/LA 4910) plant trees and shrubs in the Peterson Lot bioswale.

Stretching from the Libe Slope Meadow to the Botanic Gardens’ Native Lawn, the trail features 20 stops that show how design, construction and the management of campus grounds can enhance and promote healthy landscape ecosystems.

The Peterson green parking lot was constructed this summer as a state-of-the-art example of green infrastructure and is the latest project to join the trail. It was designed by landscape architecture students and Cornell staff to demonstrate an alternative to traditional impervious parking lots and the resulting storm water runoff.

As a cause of water pollution, runoff from impervious roads and parking lots collect oil, sediment and other pollutants – and carries this material into waterways.

Green infrastructure practices will turn this parking lot into a natural landscape by capturing rainwater where it falls, filtering out pollutants and reducing large volumes of runoff, said David Cutter, Cornell’s campus landscape architect.

The Peterson lot’s porous pavement allows storm water to drain into a stone reservoir below the lot’s surface, while CU-Structural Soil along the lot’s central bioswale (a landscape element designed to remove pollution) allows the roots of bushes and trees to succeed under paved surfaces.

The parking lot is expected to be certified by both SITES, an initiative of the U.S. Green Building Council to certify sustainable land design and development, and by Parksmart, a rating system for green parking structures.

Other highlights of the trail include Fernow Hall’s rain garden and green roof; a green roof consists of a shallow layer of light-weight soil and plants that filter runoff. Fernow Hall’s rain garden diverts storm water from paved areas and roofs and channels it into the ground using a well-draining soil that helps to prevent polluted water from flowing directly to streams and lakes.

The trail also includes Mann Library’s entrance garden and green roof, the Ag Quad biodetention basins, which control pollution, and the Tower Road bioswale, which filters polluted water runoff with carefully selected plants growing in engineered soil and it provides a habitat for insects and pollinators.

The trail is a living laboratory for open spaces, natural areas and landscapes with unique sustainability features. On the trail, see the Rice Hall bioswale that undergraduate students built by using a technique called “scoop and dump” during a project in the “Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design and Landscape Establishment,” taught by Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge, professor of landscape architecture.

The Sustainable Landscapes Trail was developed by the Land Team of the President’s Sustainability Campus Committee. It fulfills a goal in Cornell’s Climate Action Plan, by demonstrating best practices in sustainable landscape planning, design and management, according to Sarah Brylinsky, Cornell’s sustainability communications manager.

New Plant Sciences majors battle invasive plants

Students in PLSCI 1110 at the entrance to Smith Woods

Students in PLSCI 1110 at the entrance to Smith Woods


The honeysuckle, barberry and multiflora rose in the Henry A. Smith Woods in Trumansburg, N.Y., were quaking in their boots September 6.

The reason? New Plant Sciences majors enrolled in Collaboration, Leadership, and Career Skills in the Plant Sciences (PLSCI 1110) spent the afternoon roguing out these invasive species from this treasured remnant of old growth forest.

Every fall, instructors Marvin Pritts and Leah Cook involve the students in a service learning project as a way to give back to the local community. Previous projects included making improvements to the Habitat Trail outside of Trumansburg, planting mums at the Ithaca Children’s Garden, and designing and installing a campus garden.

Bridgen receives innovative teaching award

Mark Bridgen

Mark Bridgen, horticulture professor and director, Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, and Farmingdale State College Assistant Professor Nick Menchyk were named winners of an Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) 2018 Innovative Teaching Award. The awards program encourages new faculty to expand their scholarship of teaching and learning by creating projects with more senior faculty from other institutions.

Bridgen and Menchyk will use the $5,000 award to produce short, educational videos about techniques in plant propagation, and to post them on-line for their students to use.  In recent years, it has been recognized that students are more likely to watch on-line videos as a learning tool rather than read books and articles.  By developing short, educational videos that focus on the procedures and techniques of plant propagation, students will have the opportunity to watch the protocols before attempting the exercises during the laboratory.  The videos will also stimulate more interest in the various plant propagation topics.

Those topics will include bud grafting (both T-buds and chip buds), wedge grafting, cactus top grafting, tomato and cucumber seedling grafts, mist system construction, seed sowing, seed stratification, seed scarification, micropropagation, leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, root cuttings, influence of leaves on rooting, rooting media evaluation on propagation, controlling potato morphogenesis in vitro, and air layering.

Congratulations Class of 2018!

Standing: Steve Reiners (Horticulture Section Chair), Marvin Pritts (Director of Undergraduate Studies for Plant Sciences), Sarah Hetrick '18, Leah Cook (Plant Sciences Major Coordinator), Hauk Boyes '18, and Matthew Siemon '18. Sitting: Sitting: Patricia Chan '18, Benjamin Sword '18, and Cairo Archer '18
Standing: Steve Reiners (Horticulture Section Chair), Marvin Pritts (Director of Undergraduate Studies for Plant Sciences), Sarah Hetrick ’18, Leah Cook (Plant Sciences Major Coordinator), Hauk Boyes ’18, and Matthew Siemon ’18. Sitting: Sitting: Patricia Chan ’18, Benjamin Sword ’18, and Cairo Archer ’18.

Class of ’18 Plants Sciences Majors gathered May 18 for the annual senior luncheon, where they provided feedback on ways to make the program even better.

Horticulture Section Chair Steve Reiners used the occasion to announce this year’s awards and recognitions:

  • Ring Memorial Award: Zeran Lin
  • Ring Memorial Award: Matthew Siemon
  • Melvin B. and Helen K. Hoffman Scholarship: Claire Morrow
  • McNair Scholar: Patrick O’Briant
  • Merrill President Scholar’s Award: Nick Glynos
  • Kenneth Post Award: Benjamin Sword and Myles Collinson
  • American Society for Horticultural Science Student of the Year, Cornell: Hauk Boyes (Agricultural Science major, Horticulture minor)

Congratulations Class of ’18!

Celebration of student botanical art

Samples of the students' work.

Samples of the students’ work, above.

Students in Marcia Eames-Sheavly’s Intensive Study in Botanical Illustration course (PLHRT 3250) displayed their works for the semester at a lunchtime  ‘gallery walk’ in Plant Science Building May 8. Featured artists included Rosemary Glos:

Rosemary Glos

Bailee Hopkins-Hensley:

Myles Collinson:

Aliza Doyle:

Later in the day, there was an opening in B30 Mann Library celebrating the works Viola Yu completed as her capstone project for her Minor in Horticulture with a Focus in the Botanical Arts, including an extensive mural in a nearby corridor. “The goal is to show how beautiful underground and underwater can be, and then to show the diversity of the world and why we should save it,” said the natural resources major. The inspiring artwork celebrates the connections between soil, oceans and the health of the planet.

Viola Yu with her paintings in Mann Library.
Viola Yu with her paintings in Mann Library.

Plant Sciences Undergraduate Symposium May 11

flyer click for pdf

  • May 11, 2018 – 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.
  • 233 Plant Science Building
  • Sponsored by the School of Integrative Plant Science.
  • All are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.


1:00 to 2:30 p.m. – Student presenters:

  • Grant Thompson (PhD candidate)
  • Zeran Lin
  • James Winans
  • Cairo M. Archer
  • Samantha Hackett
  • Allison Coomber
  • William Dahl
  • Jeffrey Yen

2:30 to 3:00 p.m.  – Student poster session:

  • Braulio Castillo
  • Yuqi Chen
  • Felix Fernandez-Penny
  • Annika Gomez
  • Harris Liou
  • Jonathan Price
  • Alan Zhong

3:00 to 4:30 p.m. – Student presenters:

  • Ben Sword
  • Kellie Damann
  • Patrick O’Briant
  • Kady Maser
  • Natalie Roche
  • Patricia Chan
  • Megan Dodge
  • Matthew A. Siemon

Questions? Contact Leah Cynara Cook

Hortus Forum Spring Bedding Plant Sale May 11-12

Friday, May 11 – 1 to 5 p.m.
Saturday, May 12 – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Livestock Pavilion, 48 Judd Falls Road, Ithaca, N.Y.

View variety list.

Join Hortus Forum for garden and greenhouse tour this weekend

From Mark Bridgen, Professor and Director, Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center:

You are invited to spend this Saturday and Sunday with the Hortus Forum (Cornell’s undergraduate horticulture club) and Pi Alpha Xi (the honor society for plant science) on a weekend bus trip to Long Island and New York City to tour gardens and greenhouse.

All students and staff in CALS, and their friends and family, are invited to participate.

The itinerary includes:

The cost to students for this trip is only $53 per person ($23 of this cost is for an admission ticket to the NYBG). The cost for staff members and non-students is $75.  The registration fee includes 1 night of cabin accommodations, luxury bus transportation, admission to the NYBG, and dinner on Saturday night.

I hope to see you there.

More information:

Horticulture honor society inducts 28 new members

pax key

Phi Alpha Xi key

From Mark Bridgen, Professor and Pi Alpha Xi advisor:

Pi Alpha Xi (PAX), the national honor society for horticulture, inducted  a near-record 28 new members at a March 23, 2018 ceremony held in the H. H. Whetzel Room in the Plant Science Building on the Cornell University campus. Only the best students in the plant sciences are invited to join this national honor society.

Pi Alpha Xi was founded in 1923 at Cornell University and Cornell is the Alpha Chapter. Originally, it was the national honor society for floriculture, landscape horticulture and ornamental horticulture. In recent years it has changed and now honors excellence in all aspects of horticulture.

Since its founding, PAX has grown to 36 chapters at baccalaureate-granting institutions. Its mission is to promote scholarship, fellowship, professional leadership, and the enrichment of human life through plants. PAX was very active at Cornell University for many years, peaking in the 1970s. But the chapter went dormant for several years until its revival in 2013.

PAX inductees and officers with advisors Mark Bridgen (seated left) and Neil Mattson (seated right).

PAX inductees and officers with advisors Mark Bridgen (seated left) and Neil Mattson (seated right).

Graduating PAX seniors received their honor cords.

Graduating PAX seniors received their honor cords.

Also inducted into PAX: Karl NIklas, professor, Plant Biology Section (left) and Ed Cobb, research support specialist in the Plant Biology Section. Also pictured: Bridgen, Horticulture Section chair Steve Reiners, and Mattson.


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