Native plant garden at Princeton University.

Public and county parks, school gardens and municipalities, landscape architects and backyard gardeners are all reaping the benefits of planting native

By Ilene Dube

From language and literature to the culinary arts, influences from around the world add flavor to our lives. But when it comes to the plant kingdom, specimens from afar can wreak havoc on the ecosystem.

Exotics, sometimes called non-native invasive species (although that term can take on a negative connotation), often outcompete native plants — plants that grew in the Americas before colonization. They can take over resources, proffering the wrong kind of food for the native wildlife.

The case for native plants can be summed up in the words of environmental farmer Jake Fiennes (brother of actor Ralph Fiennes), who was recently profiled in The New Yorker: “How do we feed the nine billion?” he asks. “Through functioning ecosystems…cultivate as much on the land — fungi for the soil, grasses for the pollinators, weeds for the insects, insects for the birds…”

Happily for the planet, landscape architects and horticulturists are increasingly populating public parks and spaces with native plants. Even New York’s Fresh Kills Park, built on the site of a former garbage dump, is being planted with natives.

Mercer County Park Commission

Betsey Stockton Garden

With Betsey Stockton Garden, Princeton University has chosen to make a bold statement in support of native plants right alongside its main gates. The public pocket park was planted in September 2018, and its willowy grasses and flowering plants dancing in the winds are just coming into their prime.

Princeton University Landscape Architect Devin Livi refers to the space as a “naturalized garden.” It actually serves as a green roof for a 1971 underground addition to Princeton’s Firestone Library, according to Dan Casey of the University Architects office. Three feet of undulating soil covers the library roof, with Louise Nevelson’s sculpture Atmosphere and Environment X a centerpiece. That title is fitting for the public space as well, with Adirondack chairs that welcome visitors to sit and contemplate. At this mid-winter writing, the dried stems gave structure to the garden, allowing a visitor to experience the seasons — something a mown lawn would not do.

The garden was named for Betsey Stockton (1798-1865) as part of a campus initiative to recognize and honor a more inclusive set of people who make up the University’s history. Sources suggest that Betsey Stockton was born into slavery in the Princeton household of Robert Stockton. While a young child, she was taken from her mother and placed in the Philadelphia household of Robert Stockton’s daughter Elizabeth and her husband, the Rev. Ashbel Green, a University president in the early 1800s.

After her emancipation, Betsey Stockton became the first African American and first unmarried female missionary to Hawaii. She was also a prominent and respected educator in Philadelphia and Princeton, as well as a founder of the First Presbyterian Church of Colour of Princeton, now known as Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

Once upon a time I asked the owner of a second-hand bookstore, who sold vegetables from his garden there, how he disposed of the moldering throwaways on his back porch, this being years before books could be recycled. “Fertilizer,” said he. “Mulch for the veggies.” Glimpsing some trashed volumes of Shakespeare in the pile, I imagined eating tomatoes and cucumbers grown in Bardic book mulch, organic ingredients for a literary salad to serve on the side with shepherd’s pie.

The connection came to mind when I saw Roy Strong’s The Quest for Shakespeare’s Garden (Thames and Hudson $19.95) among the new books on flowers and plants previewed here. I also found the flavor of the idea in Publishers Weekly’s observation that Sir Roy, a museum curator, writer, broadcaster, and landscape designer, “spills stories as if seated by a fireplace after a banquet” in prose that “layers fine, formal English over the crisp, juicy histories that he’s expertly researched.” more

By Taylor Smith

Food allergies, intolerances, and even sensitivities in children seem to be ubiquitous in 2020.

Whether it’s a life-threatening allergy to peanuts or a less-critical sensitivity towards eggs that inevitably ends in a stomachache, modern-day parents need to be more informed than ever when it comes to recipes, nutrition, ingredient lists, environmental influences, and medical options.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (, the symptoms of an allergic reaction include stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy, runny nose, itching in ears/roof of mouth, watery eyes, hives, rash, asthma symptoms, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. A life-threatening allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, which can result in difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, fainting, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death. Anaphylaxis can occur within seconds of exposure or 1-2 hours later. Young children with severe food allergies may not be able to accurately describe what they’re experiencing and may instead show signs of turning blue; swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat; and dizziness. Parents should immediately call 911 for emergency medical help. Both the child and caregivers need to have an epinephrine (adrenaline) auto-injector with them at all times for such emergencies.

Food allergies occur when a child’s immune system reacts to certain proteins found in food ( In most cases, reactions can be caused by even a small amount of a particular food, residue from that food (i.e. exposure), or a form of cross-contact (such as when a gluten-free product is prepared in the same pots and pans as food that does contain gluten). These factors can make it particularly difficult for families who want to keep their child safe, but also want to vacation, dine out, and send their child to summer camp. The experience of suffering a life-threatening food reaction can be traumatizing, especially for young children and teens. That is why it is recommended that parents, teachers, friends, and families are informed as to the best treatment options.

By contrast, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (, a food intolerance is not an immune response and is generally much less severe than a food allergy. Symptoms of food intolerance often include nausea, stomach pain, gas, cramps, bloating, diarrhea, skin redness/appearing flushed, runny nose, and/or indigestion. Clearly, if your child or teen experiences negative physical symptoms as a result of consuming dairy, elimination, at least for a period of time, is often a good course of action. more

Interview by Laurie Pellichero

RAI is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. What is the history of the company, and its mission?
RAI, formerly known as Radiology Affiliates of Central New Jersey, is one of the largest and most reputable medical diagnostic imaging centers in the region. Our physicians are board certified with subspecialties in neuroradiology, musculoskeletal, pediatrics, and women’s diagnostic imaging.

We started at St. Francis Hospital in Trenton, where we provided the first CT scan in the region. Providing services at St. Mary’s Hospital in Langhorne, Pa., and RWJ Hamilton enabled RAI to be at the forefront of the advanced imaging technology we have today.

We opened our first outpatient office on West State Street in Trenton in 1975, and then moved into Hamilton on Kuser Road, where we became a trusted fixture in the community. In 2002, we opened our Lawrenceville location. Windsor Radiology opened its doors in 2005.

In July 2017, the board of directors of Radiology Affiliates Imaging (RAI) and Radiological Consultants Inc. merged their professional practices. In June of last year, we formed a practice partnership with Radiology Partners, the largest physician-led and physician-owned radiology practice in the United States, to better serve our patients and doctors with the absolute latest in technology and services.

RAI is dedicated to providing superior, integrated management and radiology imaging support services to the medical practices that we serve for the purpose of providing optimal patient care. We place quality and value first in all that we do.

What medical services does your practice provide to the community?
RAI has more than 55 radiologists who trained at the nation’s top institutions. We integrate the newest technology, trends, and professional guidelines with the trusted care and service our patients have relied on for the last 50 years. Our practice serves three convenient offices in Lawrenceville, Hamilton, and East Windsor that provide diagnostic and screening services, including MRI, Low Dose CT, Digital X-Ray, 3D Mammography, Dexa, and Ultrasound. RAI also provides radiology services for 11 hospitals that are located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, and other outpatient imaging centers. In addition to our dedication to patient care, we are also very active members of our local community, supporting local schools, churches, and many organizations. more

For newlyweds Caroline Cleaves and Sean Wilentz, there is a lot of common ground

By Wendy Greenberg | Photography by Andrew Wilkinson

She is more or less locally-focused these days, working to expand the arts throughout the Princeton community. He has been involved in national political debates and campaigns and is widely known for his writings on U.S. history, from the American Revolution through the 20th century.

But like a Venn diagram with overlapping circles, their lives merge on Edgehill Street, where Caroline Cleaves, director of development at the Arts Council of Princeton, and Sean Wilentz, who holds the title of George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University, have forged a new life together.

On a rainy day, with the fireplace warming the living room of the 1925 house, surrounded by art, books, and a few musical instruments played by Cleaves’ two children, Sam, a sophomore in high school, and Ava, a middle schooler, they talked about their uncommon lives and common ground.

Wilentz and Cleaves, who were introduced by a mutual friend, have in common a passion for Princeton. Cleaves had lived with her children in Great Britain, in Warwickshire, near Stratford-upon-Avon. “Think lots of sheep, a vicar, and horses passing up and down our narrow village street all day,” she said.  more

Join the Princeton Theological Seminary Office of Continuing Education on April 2 from noon to 12:50 p.m. ET for a digital panel conversation with Seminary faculty on the COVID-19 crisis. Panelists include Eric Barreto, Sonia Waters, Heath Carter, and Brian Rainey. The panel will be hosted on Zoom.  more

Simonson Farms, a longstanding local family farm, offers weekly boxes of fresh vegetables and fruits for drive-up pick up in Plainsboro. During this time of social distancing, the farm community wants to help people get fresh produce without hassle, right on the farm.  more

One 84-year-old Italian grandmother has taken matters into her own hands now that Italy has gone into lockdown. Nonna Nerina usually runs pasta-making workshops in the countryside around an hour north of Rome, but due to the current isolation measures, she had to cancel all her upcoming classes. However, thanks to her granddaughter Chiara, Nerina has made her classes available online to anyone at

Hosted by Anna Borges, a mental health journalist formerly at Buzzfeed, senior editor at Self Magazine, and author of The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care, We Are YA can help keep teens company in these days of social distancing. more

Photo Credit:

Hit the road with a brand new bike equipped for all of life’s adventures. 


Mo Willems invites you into his studio every day for his LUNCH DOODLES! Learners worldwide can draw, doodle, and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually once a day for the next few weeks. Grab some paper and pencils, pens or crayons and join Mo to explore ways of writing and making together. If you post your art to social media be sure to hashtag it with #MoLunchDoodles. more

Stories entertain. They teach. They keep young minds active, alert, and engaged. 

For as long as schools nationwide are closed, Audible is open. That’s the intention of Bob Carrigan, Audible’s CEO. The company is the largest audiobook listening platform in the country and the fastest-growing private employer in Newark. Monthly membership fees usually cost $14.95, which gives users access to an unprecedented library of more than 525,000 titles.  more

Image Source: Metropolitan Opera

During this difficult time, the Metropolitan Opera hopes to brighten the lives of audiences around the world even while their stage is dark. Each day, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day. The schedule will include complete performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring all of opera’s greatest singers. more

By Taylor Smith 

Now that families are relegated to their homes and must prepare many of their meals, celebrity chefs and popular food bloggers are sharing their favorite recipes on social media. These appetizing treats will help warm you heart and soul and will most likely keep your kids, teens, and extended family members happy.  more

Together we run. Together we can make a difference.

HiTOPS Princeton Half Marathon is moving forward with its October 25, 2020 scheduled race event. Organizers note that they will continue to follow safety recommendations associated with the COVID-19 virus, and all race participants will have the opportunity to defer to 2021 if they so choose. more

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, has released a guideto answer frequently asked questions regarding the intersection between coronavirus (COVID-19), and people affected by mental illness, their caregivers, and loved ones. more

Image Source: Yoga Vida

Simple yoga practice is a great way to begin or take a break during the day. These online services are particularly useful now, as social distancing requires normally active people to forgo their favorite fitness studios and gyms. more

Image Source: Kailey Marie Designs 

Banish winter blues with fresh flowers, airy hues, and rabbit shapes. 


Irish or not, sometimes you just can’t help but join in on the green fun come St. Patrick’s Day.