New York City has a population of 8.4 million people. Even taking into account the 5% that fled the city, the students who haven’t returned, the summer Long Island crowd, and the lack of tourists, it’s still a lot of people. Being cognizant of social distance doesn’t mean it is a given. However, we have found New York City gardens are the perfect place to enjoy both beauty and space.
New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden National Historic Landmark is 250 acres of garden and (what feels like) countryside despite being centrally located in the Bronx. Rolling hills, native forests, and the Bronx River are just some of the features of this garden.
In terms of flowers, lilacs, roses, daffodils, and azaleas are the stars – which bloom at different times throughout the year. This summer, the highlights to see include the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, the Goldman Stone Mill and Bronx River, and the Conservatory courtyard and water lilies.
Wandering around this oasis is not just good for mental health, but is also very informative. There are signposts and markers indicating species and history. Even without a tour, you’ll walk away with a new appreciation for this historic garden.
To note: Reservations are required in order to visit the NYBG. Although all indoor establishments are closed, there is still an overwhelming amount to see so wear comfortable shoes!
Visitors must wear masks and practice social distancing. They are hand sanitizer stations throughout the Garden, as well as Pine Tree Café pop-ups for grab and go service. The Hudson Garden Grill Terrace serves wine and beer for a more leisurely break.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is more manageable and can be explored within two hours. BBG has nicely paved paths, but the best parts are the expansive green spaces and wide-open esplanades where you are encouraged to sit. Bring a blanket, some waters, and a book, and take time to enjoy a lazy afternoon under the trees.
To note: Reservations are required to visit the BBG. Indoor spaces, education centers, the Conservatory and ponds, and cafe are closed to the public. Water bottles are permitted. Guests are encouraged to walk in certain directions and masks are required.
The Conservatory Garden is one of the most overlooked attractions of Central Park. This formal garden is broken down into three smaller gardens with distinct styles: English, French, and Italian. The striking Burnett Fountain and Untermyer Fountain are playful and reminiscent of the Rococo Art period.
This is also a designated quiet zone allowing for a true sense of serenity, and not to mention safety! You can find the entrance at 105th Street and Fifth Avenue.
Nearby to the Conservatory, the smaller Butterfly Garden has bright blooms that attract over 50 species of butterflies. Finally, Shakespeare’s Garden is located on the west side and is the home of English plants and flowers inspired by the words of Shakespeare. The revealing plaques, beautiful bridges, and view of Belvedere Castle will have you reciting sonnets in no time.
Wave Hill should be an excursion for all New Yorkers! Located in the Bronx, Wave Hill was originally the site of a country home built in 1843. In 1960 the estate was gifted to the city for the advancement of art and nature. Visitors can explore the 28 acres that include the Herb & Dry Gardens, Wild Gardens, and the Abrons Woodlands.
These landscapes sit on a ridge that overlooks the Hudson and Palisades. Though the gardens are beautiful and well-maintained, it’s the Pergola view that looks straight out of a storybook.
To note: Reservations are necessary to visit Wave Hill. A face mask is required to enter and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Though there are usually some fantastic events held at the estate, all programming is being held virtually. There is also no parking or shuttle bus, so plan your travel route accordingly!
Hudson River Park
On the Southern end, the Tribeca Native Boardwalk is a surprising path through perennial plants and trees with an outstanding view of the Freedom Tower. Across from Pier 45, the West Village Apple Garden is a tucked-away little trove with a “Big Apple” centerpiece. Further North, the Chelsea Entry Garden is a bright and welcoming haven that leads to the water and Chelsea Piers.
Each section was designed by different architects and gardeners so there’s always more to explore in this New York City garden. It’s so picturesque that you will forget the highway is just on the other side!
Some community gardens are truly exquisite. Walking the streets is the best way to discover these hidden gems. St. Luke in the Fields is one example. This small oasis is located in the West Village. Visitors are welcome to sit on the benches placed in private corners. There are one-way arrows for walking and a 30-minute max stay is suggested.
Head Outside New York Gal!
There’s no better time to get some fresh air! Grab some sunscreen and bug spray and head for the gardens.