Got out of town this weekend with the ladyfriend and hit a few great places. I’ll talk about them one day at a time. Today:
One of the hobbies that I’ve really had a hard time maintaining over the last 10 years as a Brooklynite has been my love of horticulture and botany. I spent a great deal of time in high school and college wandering around northeastern forests, most notably with the mission of locating and identifying all of the species of fern know to exist in the state of New York. Yeah, what can I say, I have always had some unique interests. Nowadays I try to get to every cool greenhouse and botanical garden I can (particularly in the dead, dead weeks of February). I had a great experience this weekend at the Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY.
The Greenhouse at the IES totally blew me away. I’m a fan of places like the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and New York Botanical Garden, but when you go to places like those you get this sort of sterile, touristy greenhouse where rather than focusing on all of the really bizarre and unique forms found in the plant kingdom, you get a lot of crowd pleasers. There’s always a banana tree, for example. Not that there’s anything wrong with bananas, but when you visit a greenhouse that is clearly a long-term labor of love for a hardcore gardener, it has an entirely different feel to it. The collection at the IES greenhouse was amazing. Nowhere else had I seen such a selection of obscure little sundews, butterworts, and pitcher plants. The staghorn ferns were out of control. There were colonies of Platycerium Bifercatum hanging from the ceiling that must have weighed as much as a baby elephant. The kind caretaker of the facility was exceptionally friendly, and even gave me a pup from a Platycerium Superbum, a staghorn that I’ve had no luck finding commercially (though admittedly haven’t tried THAT hard). One of the coolest things was the abundance of odd little frogs, again, something you’d never see at one of those large botanical gardens.
Above is a Platycerium Bifercatum.
Above is a Platycerium Superbum.
Sadly, we were informed that the greenhouse will be closing come June since the grant funding its operations will not be renewed. All of these well-loved plants will be transported to NYBG and BBG to live out the rest of their days there- which is good- it is nice to know they will be going somewhere that they will be enjoyed by the public rather than hidden in the den of some eccentric plant collector. Though I must admit I’d jump at an opportunity to be that lucky, eccentric plant collector. I highly recommend that people visit this place before it closes. Grab up a newspaper, a cup of coffee, and just go sit and read in the greenhouse next weekend. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Just to bring it all back to libraries, albeit breifly… because I always like to do that in this’ere blog: Linnaean taxonomy and binomial nomenclature rule. Catalogers, marvel at the beauty. If you don’t believe me check out the Virtual Herbarium at the New York Botanical Garden.