New online botanical illustration course: Working with watercolor

lily watercolor [If you read my ‘full disclosure’ statement in the right column, you’ll note that I work in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University. And Marcia is an old friend as well as a coworker.]

Botanical Illustration II: Working with watercolor is a new online course to be taught starting January 25 by Marcia Eames-Sheavly Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.

This is the second online botanical illustration course developed by Eames-Sheavly, a Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow. It joins Botanical Illustration I: Basic Drawing Techniques in the growing stable of distance learning courses offered by the Department of Horticulture, which also includes online courses in organic gardening and plant propagation.

Both of the six-week botanical illustration courses will be offered this winter. Cost is $500 and enrollment is limited to 20 students.

“The new watercolor course is designed to encourage your discovery of plants as the subject of art and to express your interest in the plant world by introducing color to your botanical illustration repertoire,” says Eames-Sheavly.

The majority of her previous participants were new to online courses, she adds. But most quickly got the hang of sharing ideas with fellow participants in the forum and interacting with the instructor. “It’s common for students to be nervous about taking an online course at first. But they’re well-supported and feeling confident by the end.”

For more information, visit the Department of Horticulture’s Distance Learning site.

The New York Beginning Farmer Project also offers Beginning Farmer 101 online courses. The next one, Markets and Profits: Making Money Selling What You Grow, starts Jan. 8.

Poinsettia sale Dec. 7 & 8

If you’re in the Ithaca area and looking for some choice poinsettias for yourself or for gifts, check out the annual poinsettia sale by Cornell’s student horticulture club, Hortus Forum.

December 7 & 8
7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
KPL Greenhouse #9

6” pots: $12; $10 pre-order
10” pots: $25; $20 pre-order

Pre-orders are being taken now. Contact Mason Newark at to place your pre-order now.

Here’s live view of the poinsettias via the Dept. of Horticulture greenhouse cam.

Proceeds support Hortus Forum’s activities, such as field trips to visit greenhouses and other learning opportunities.

You can see more pictures of this year’s crop in a post I made a week or so ago.

Hortus Forum poinsettias

Pickle your paperwhites

pickled paperwhites experimentIt’s that time of year. If you’re tired of paperwhites flopping over, you can use a dilute mix of hard liquor or rubbing alcohol to keep them a third to a half shorter without reducing the number or size of the blooms.

This technique made the big time in Leslie Land’s January 12, 2006 Gardening Q&A column in the New York Times:

Start your bulbs in plain water. When roots have formed and the green shoot is 1 to 2 inches long, pour off the water and replace with a solution of 4 to 6 percent alcohol. If you are using 80 proof liquor (40 percent alcohol), that works out to one part gin (or the like) to 7 parts water.

Rubbing alcohol (either 70 or 100 percent isopropyl alcohol) can be substituted; just remember to dilute it more. Keep the beer and wine for yourself; their sugars damage plants.

This advice is based on a Cornell undergrad research project carried by Erin Finan (’05) under the supervision of Bill Miller, our flower bulb expert in the Department of Horticulture. You can read more about the technique on the Department’s blog.

I should have some news about a new twist on this technique in the near future.

Something other than gardening

Since Susan at GardenRant plugged me as an off-topic garden blogger, I figured I’d better make an off-topic post. My neighbor Lynn is pining for Wilco, so maybe I should do a Monday Music post. One of the better versions of Handshake Drugs:

Actually, Ellis Hollow has pretty much deteriorated into a garden photo blog. I usually let the pictures do the talking, as it’s way harder to bullshit with images. Explore the categories, please, if you’re looking for politics or other topics. They’re just fewer and farther between these days.

Oh, and I could use a few Farmville neighbors, if any of you are playing.