Giant Flower Towers Over Cornell Botanic Gardens

08/09/2019
Story and  photo by Derek Doeffinger

Head to the Cornell Botanic Gardens in the next week and you’ll not only get to see flowers bursting into top summer form, but you’ll find two new eye-catching, creative displays.

The creative displays greet you the moment you walk in from the parking lot to the main gardens (into your map app, enter Nevin Welcome Center, 124 Comstock Knoll Drive, Ithaca, New York).

The displays are bold and brash. Together they engage you to consider and enjoy opposite approaches to flowers:  the artistic and the scientific. You simply can’t miss the glass and steel sculpture of a double allium. Art in its purest form and twelve feet tall, this graceful sculpture towers over you and the garden beneath it. Emerging from arching six-foot lancet leaves, two giant allium blooms, looking like 1960 sci-fi satellites, top the sculpture. Each shimmers with purple blown-glass florets. The sculpture is both realistic and inspired. Blacksmith artist Jenny Pickford of England created it.

The other side of flower creativity, only a few steps away, reveals the scientific approach. One that may benefit you. It’s a garden—a trial garden. It’s filled with annual flowers being developed and tested by commercial growers. Exceptionally colorful, these are the flowers that might show up in your local nursery in a few years. But until then you’ll have to come here to see the colors that might be in your planting future.

The only thing missing from the Botanic Gardens is a butterfly and hummingbird garden. They could call it the Endangered Migrating Lepidoptera Restoration and Salvation Garden to meet their mission statement. But it would be a good way to educate and encourage the public to proliferate the plants so many traveling butterflies (and other pollinators) need; and get even more people to visit and learn about plants.