Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Tulips, orchids, and, of course, cherry trees
If I could find a way to effortlessly transport myself to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden several times a week, I would.
Not only do the walkways lined with lilacs smell sweetly of summers spent in a hammock, many of the bushes appear larger than some studio apartments.
The place is an ode to things that bloom. Azaleas. Tulips. Magnolias. Roses. Even the little snowdrops that help start the show.
But when the objective of the day is not mere flower gazing, but also a search for serenity, it's a little harsh to spend the first hour and a half of the voyage inside some of New York City's finest subway cars. (Really. For those who haven't tried or aren't already immune to the experience, such travel conditions can be a real trial.)
Still, every time I've made the trip out to Brooklyn to see this 52-acre site, I've been richly rewarded. (Note: To those for whom the Prospect Park area already seems like a convenient backyard playground: please, rejoice and enjoy it.)
Winter at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
From late November until late February, weekday visit to the garden are free. Enticed, I braved a visit on a freezing morning this winter, and ended up mostly having the place to myself.
There was not be much to see outdoors, but inside the conservatory, I had the double pleasure of soaking in the warm, humid air as I walked beneath a collection of dangling, vibrant orchids.
In the adjoining room, I admired the bonsai trees, then, heading downstairs, I nearly made the mistake of bypassing a chance to check out a display of desert plants from around the world. See, as a West Coast gal, I assumed I would be a little bored with what I imagined would be an endless parade of saguaro and ocotillo -- the kinds of cacti plastered on every postcard sold in the state of Arizona.
Yet I took my look. I left amazed -- and a little humbled -- after being forced to contemplate the just how varied the plant life on this earth can be.
Spring at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
After late February, once the rest of the garden comes alive, the place becomes much more like a zoo, and free days are limited to Tuesdays.
But what a glorious Tuesday I found to visit. It was late April, and according to a handy cherry blossom tracker on the garden's web site, it turned out to be the absolute height of the pink-and-white show the trees put on each spring.
Neither I, nor my camera, could get enough of it.
Visiting the garden: The important details
As of early July 2009, the garden is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. The conservatory has more limited hours, and the entire garden is closed on Mondays.
For more information
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Official site for Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Lists hours, directions, and information on events and classes.
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden: CherryWatch Blossom Status Map
In cherry season, this map gets frequent tree-by-tree updates, providing visitors with advance warning of when the blossoming will be at its height.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Other gardens in New York City
- Queens Botanical Garden
An earlier hub on my neighborhood garden. It's smaller and less sheltered from surrounding street noise than the garden in Brooklyn. It also lacks any indoor space, which makes the Brooklyn garden much more of a draw in the winter.
- The New York Botanical Garden
This large garden in the Bronx is on my list of places to visit this summer.
Read More About Flowers and Plants by E. A. Wright
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