Hannah Rosenberg / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Cornell Botanic Gardens attracts visitors, while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

April 29, 2020

Cornell Botanic Gardens and Arboretum Offer ‘A Place of Serenity in Troubled Times’

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Living up to its goal of connecting people to the world of plants, the Cornell Botanic Gardens remains open to visitors with social distancing guidelines in place.

Prof. Christopher Dunn, executive director of Cornell Botanic Gardens, said keeping the facility open is as important now as ever, saying that spending time in nature can improve one’s mental health and physical well being.

“Providing opportunities to be outdoors at Cornell Botanic Gardens is all the more important for our mutual protection while stay-at-home orders are in place,” Dunn said in a press release.

In accordance with state social distancing guidelines, the garden requires that visitors maintain a distance of at least six feet from one another. Additionally, it asks people to remain in small groups, limit interaction with staff, and avoid touching objects or surfaces. The F.R. Newman Arboretum is also closed to vehicular traffic to limit visitors.

Members of the Ithaca community praised the garden’s continued operation, providing a venue for residents to safely spend valuable time outdoors amid quarantine orders.

“I am a cardiac patient and need to walk to stay healthy, as do many elderly in Tompkins County,” said Sandy Buckles, an Ithaca resident. “I walk in the arboretum because of the wide roads and fewer people there.”

Linda Callahan, former executive director of the Cornell Theory Center, said that the arboretum’s plant exhibits, ponds and bird wildlife offers “a place of serenity in troubled times.”

“Everyone is careful to keep their distance, but also everyone has a smile on their face, experiencing, I imagine, what I am,” Callahan said. “Thank you for providing such beauty and allowing me moments free from COVID-19!”

The Botanic Gardens offer self-guided tours through the Pocketsights Tour Guide, a Google-driven app that provides maps with images and information at points of interest along tour routes. Some tour routes still open include Beebe Lake, Mundy Wildflower Garden, and selected gorges.

In an email newsletter, the Cornell Botanic Gardens reminded visitors that it relies on visitors’ cooperation to keep the “living museum” and its diversity of collections undamaged for future guests.