Cornell Botanic Gardens

Bioswale at Cornell Botanic Gardens. Photo courtesy cornellbotanicgardens.org.

The Cornell Botanic Gardens is a beautiful place to visit if you’re in the Ithaca area. With an emphasis on cultivation, conservation, and education, one is able to both enjoy the lengthy walk and exploration the gardens allows as well as get a full sense of the plants and recognize the role they play in the garden. There are many identification tags and sign descriptions, as well as pamphlets at the entrances, that convey information regarding the gardens.

I enjoy the pure exploration of the place, and had the treat of wandering through with two friends this past week. It is a 12-acre sight, with 12 different gardens, so there is plenty of distance to cover. Trails keep you on track and allow you to make your way through at whatever pace you choose. I enjoy walking up to the Kienzle Overlook, where you can catch a breeze while looking out over the gardens. Dwarf conifers surround the area, which provide shade and wind protection, as well as a visual enhancement, for plants.

On the way up to the overlook, you pass by a number or gardens, a lovely pond, and an interesting sculpture garden. The abstract, ten-ton concrete sculptures featured in the garden were produced in the 1960s by undergraduate architecture students. Their original location was in a spot on campus not highly visible, until the botanical gardens were formed, and now they are now a popular destination and stopping point for those visiting. The sculptures are surrounded by a number of trees, which provide a shady spot for those viewing the sculptures.

My friends and I ended our visit by reading under a large wooden awning structure near the pond. With the sound of the wildlife from the pond and the company of friends and our books, it was a relaxing and fulfilling way to spend time. The gardens are an engaging and peaceful visit to make, I look forward to returning soon.


For an in-depth look into Cornell Botanic Gardens, look for the feature article in the upcoming July/August 2017 issue of Life in the Finger Lakes magazine! Buy the print magazine at your local newsstand or download the Life in the Finger Lakes app on your mobile device to learn more!


By Kathleen Malnati