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Conservation top priority at Cornell Plantations.

Cornell Plantations at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., is a place full of plants, beauty, education and a strong commitment to conservation. It consists of an arboretum, botanical gardens and natural areas.

The plantations include nearly 4,000 acres of diverse natural areas including bogs, fens, gorges, glens, meadows and woodlands. These ecologically fragile areas are used for education, research and the enjoyment of visitors. One area that has been preserved is Bull Pasture Ponds, which is comprised of forested wetlands and a canopy of tall, swamp white oak trees. The swamp forest is home to rare plants and animals, and in the spring scarce salamander species come to mate in the swamp.

In conjunction with conservation and natural areas, the plantations offer botanical gardens. The Pounder Heritage Vegetable Garden is a smaller garden that teaches visitors how vegetables have evolved because of new shipping methods, processing and storing techniques. It has been shown that breeding techniques and cultural changes, such as migrations, wars and increased advertising, also change plant selection.

Flower lovers can delight in the Martha Howell Young Decorative Arts Flower Garden. Visitors there are taught about the inspirational power of flowers and plants, and the sunflower, carnation, rose, poppy, peony, iris, lily, chrysanthemum, daisy and " tulip are all featured in the garden. The best time to visit the Decorative Flower Garden is from June to September.

Another flower garden is the American Peony Society Garden. At its best from May to September, the Peony Garden showcases the stunning diversity of the genus Paeonia, with 90 cultivars of peonies. An important stop for gardeners, the garden also includes a display of recently introduced cultivars. These plants are highly sought after because of their low maintenance, drought resistance, large flowers, bright colors and long bloom period.

Needed plants from around the world are planted together in the International Crop and Weed Garden. Bananas, sugar cane, coffee, tea, sorghum, cotton and grasses give visitors an up-close view of crops that are used daily around the world. Weeds that plague farms and home gardens can also be viewed.

Visitors can enjoy the beauty of Cornell Plantations year-round. Each month and season feature a different type of natural beauty. June and July are good months to visit all the collections.

The Herb Garden Groundcover Collection and Pounder Heritage Garden are especially beautiful in August. Scented geraniums are the stars of the herb garden while the Pounder Heritage Garden's collection of tomatoes, eggplant, pole beans and cabbage are a vegetable lover's dream. In the International Crop and Weed Garden, grains, castor beans and cotton are blooming.

Cyclamen, Japanese anemones, asters, Kirengeshoma, tender Mediterranean and Western sages and ornamental grasses can be found in full bloom in September around the plantations' headquarters. During this time the Pounder Heritage Garden also boasts pumpkins and winter squashes.

October is a busy month at the plantations. A panoramic view of the arboretum and woods along Fall Creek is presented from Newman Overlook. The Zucker Shrub Sampler boasts viburnums, winterberries and hawthorns, and kiwis mature near the main building on the grounds.

November, December and January are good months to marvel in the natural structures throughout the gardens. Tree bark offers a variety of textures and colors, as do ornamental grasses. Plants to look for during this time are birches, cherries, parrotia, beech, kousa dogwood and stewartia.

February is a good time to warm up in the solarium at the A.D. White House, where visitors can visit the orchid and tropical foliage display.

When the weather begins to warm in March, witch hazel blossoms can be seen throughout the plantations. Tiny bulbs and early blooming alpine plants begin to emerge among the melting snow in the Rock Garden. American skunk cabbages are visible in the boggy areas of the Wildflower Garden. Lenten roses, pheasant's eye, snowdrops and pasque flowers can be enjoyed on campus and around the headquarters building, the Lewis Education Center. Spring brings a medley of colorful and diverse plants.

In April and May, the Wildflower Garden is alive with trillium, hepaticas, trout lilies and bloodroot. Rhododendrons and peonies begin to bloom around the plantations, while the arboretum is alive with redbud, shadblow, cherries, crabapples, magnolias and viburnum. Japanese primroses are also visible at Treman Woodland Walk.

To learn more about Cornell Plantations, call 1 (607) 255-2400, or visit the Web site at
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Title Annotation:My Favorite Garden
Author:Jansen, Joanne
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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