Cornell Botanic Gardens: A Year-Round Destination for Nature Lovers

In winter, the garden and arboretum offer understated joys, providing a moment of rest and the anticipation of renewed vitality. Serendipitously, during a college tour at Cornell University on a dreary, rainy day, the sun emerged just as we ventured through the Winter Garden at the Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Cornell Botanic Gardens in winter.
Central mill, stone, conifers, and evergreens in a Winter Garden at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Cornell Botanic Gardens In Winter

The Cornell Botanical Garden is a stunning destination year-round, and the winter season is no exception. In fact, the gardens take on a unique and magical quality during the colder months.

Nevin Welcome Center

The Nevin Welcome Center is the gateway to the Cornell Botanic Gardens, located at the entrance of the gardens on Caldwell Road in Ithaca, New York. The center serves as a hub of information and resources for visitors to the gardens, providing a warm and welcoming space to start their journey.

Nevin Welcome Center

The center is designed with sustainability in mind, featuring a green roof that helps to regulate indoor temperature and reduce energy consumption. The roof is planted with a variety of low-maintenance plants, which not only add to the building’s aesthetic appeal but also provide a habitat for local wildlife.

Inside the Nevin Welcome Center, visitors are greeted by a spacious and light-filled atrium, which serves as a central gathering space. The atrium features large windows that provide stunning views of the gardens, along with comfortable seating and a fireplace for warmth and ambiance during the colder months.

The center also includes a gift shop, which offers a wide selection of nature-inspired gifts, books, and souvenirs. The shop features items from local artisans and vendors, as well as products that support sustainability and conservation efforts.

Another highlight of the Nevin Welcome Center is the exhibit space, which showcases the rich history and culture of the Cornell Botanic Gardens. The exhibits feature interactive displays and educational materials, highlighting the gardens’ diverse collection of plants, wildlife, and natural areas, as well as the ongoing conservation and research efforts taking place within the gardens.

Cornell Botanical Garden in winter.

Enter the Winter Garden

As snow blankets the grounds, the gardens are transformed into a winter wonderland, with the stark beauty of bare trees and delicate ice formations. The peaceful atmosphere invites visitors to explore the gardens in a more introspective way, taking in the subtle textures and shapes that are often overlooked during other seasons.

Winter Grass at Cornell Botanic Garden

Delight in the interplay of evergreens and grasses.

One of the most striking features of the garden in winter is the Mundy Wildflower Garden, which takes on a stark and minimalist quality as its native wildflowers lie dormant. Instead, visitors can appreciate the beauty of dried grasses, seed heads, and the intricate patterns of frost that adorn the garden’s landscape.

Lenten rose

Savor the delicate beauty of the garden’s earliest blooms – Helleborus Lenten Rose.

The Newman Arboretum, with its impressive collection of trees and shrubs, takes on a new beauty as well. The stark branches and textured bark of trees are on full display, and the Arboretum’s numerous walking trails offer a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Waterfall On Cascadilla Gorge Trail
Waterfall On Cascadilla Gorge Trail

Explore The Botanical Gardens At Cornell University

Cornell Botanic Gardens is a breathtaking oasis located on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York. As one of the most diverse and extensive botanical gardens in the Northeastern United States, it boasts a wealth of natural beauty and cultural significance.

Nestled among rolling hills and scenic landscapes, the gardens are spread out over 4,300 acres of land and are home to a variety of natural areas, including the Mundy Wildflower Garden, which features over 150 species of native wildflowers and other flora. The garden is a popular destination for nature lovers and bird watchers alike.

Another highlight of Cornell Botanic Gardens is the Newman Arboretum, a sprawling 100-acre landscape that showcases over 1,500 species of trees and shrubs from around the world. Visitors can explore a variety of gardens, including the Flower Garden, the Herb Garden, and the Tropical Container Garden, which are all bursting with color and fragrance.

Go See It!

Cornell Botanic Gardens: One Plantations Road, Ithaca, NY 14850 Phone: 607-255-2400

Hours: Grounds are open year-round, from sunrise to sunset. The Welcome Center is open from Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Admission is FREE.

Visit the Cornell Botanic Gardens website for current listings on educational opportunities for visitors of all ages including workshops, family activities, lectures, youth programs, and tours.

Self-Guided Tours are available for Beebe Lake, Fall Creek Gorge, Cascadilla Gorge, Mundy Wildflower Garden, and more.