With Upstate New York’s practices of organic farming and growing, Cornell Plantations fits right into the spirit of local cultivation that is so prevalent in our area. As an integral part of Cornell University, the Plantations not only make Cornell one of the most beautiful Universities in the country, but it also promotes the preservation of, and education in, native species and habitats. Open year-round from dawn to dusk, this free-to-all attraction is a perfect destination for outdoor- and plant-lovers of all types!
When you visit for the first time, you initial stop might be to the Nevum Welcome Center “green” building in the center of the gardens. Here you will find a reception desk, restrooms, a gift shop and cafe, and information about the Plantations themselves in interpretive exhibits. Programs and educational opportunities may be held in the upstairs meeting and conference rooms. The Nevin Welcome Center is open from 10am to 5pm from Tuesday through Sunday (closed on Mondays).
The Plantations came about thanks to Cornell University’s agriculture program. Building on the belief that the area’s unique geology and geography provided an opportunity to preserve the area’s natural beauty and plant-life, lands were developed into what is the beautiful land attraction of today. Besides the Welcome Center, the actual Plantations land is made up of a 35-acre Botanical garden and an astounding 100 acres of the F.R. Newman Arboretum which combined include over 50,000 species!
In 1862, Ezra Cornell donated his large farm overlooking Ithaca to the Cornell University. Then College President, Andrew Dickson White, believed that the land should be made into a botanical garden with a goal of having a vastly extensive plant collection. These lands to the northeast of Cornell University have grown to become 35 acres of “living museum” plant-life. Sixteen themed gardens (with more planned for the future) feature flowers, herbs, vegetables, grasses, and various plants of a wide variety of species.
With its humble beginnings taking root in 1875, a small arboretum was built for Sage College when women were first allowed to attend Cornell, and the seeds were sown. On the east side of University grounds, what was once a working farm and location for the University’s herd of Black Angus cattle, a governmental project was taken on by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to grade the land, build roads and stone walls, and plant trees on the old farm between 1935 and 1941. This land would later be purchased by the University. Fast-forward to 1981, when CU alumni Floyd R. Newman generously donated enough money for the development of the Arboretum itself, building on both the small arboretum and the previous CCC project. Today the Arboretum features 23 collections and features covering 100 acres.
Interested in finding out if the gardens include a favorite plant or tree? The Plantations website feature a search capability to let you do just that! Not only can you find out if the plant exists on the grounds, but you can see the actual location so that you can find it yourself when you visit! You can also find locations of the various memorials on the property.
Again, remember that the grounds are open from dawn to dusk, and there is NO CHARGE to visit! Cornell Plantations is located just 13 miles from the Inn at Gothic Eves, making it a perfect activity destination to enjoy during your bed and breakfast getaway!