The best gardens in NYC

Take in the full splendor of spring's blooms at the city's prettiest botanic gardens and conservatories.

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  • Photograph: Kate Blumm/Courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Garden

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden

  • Photograph: Kate Blumm

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Judith D. Zuk Magnolia Plaza

  • Photograph: Marni Horwitz/Courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Garden

  • Photograph: Courtesy Central Park Conservancy

    Central Park Conservatory Garden

    Central Park Conservatory Garden

  • Photograph: Courtesy Central Park Conservancy

    Central Park Conservatory Garden

    Central Park Conservatory Garden

  • Photograph: Courtesy Central Park Conservancy

    Central Park Conservatory Garden

    Central Park Conservatory Garden

  • Photograph: Ivo M. Vermeulen

    New York Botanical Garden, "The Orchid Show: On Broadway"

    New York Botanical Garden, "The Orchid Show: On Broadway"

  • Photograph: Ivo M. Vermeulen

    New York Botanical Garden, "The Orchid Show: On Broadway"

    New York Botanical Garden, "The Orchid Show: On Broadway"

  • Photograph: Mick Hales

    New York Botanical Garden, Perennial Garden

    New York Botanical Garden, Perennial Garden

  • Photograph: Joseph DeSciose

    New York Botanical Garden, Rock Garden

    New York Botanical Garden, Rock Garden

  • Photograph: Jeff Goldberg/Esto

    Queens Botanical Garden

    Queens Botanical Garden

  • Photograph: Dan Willner

    Virginia bluebell at Wave Hill

    Virginia bluebell at Wave Hill

  • Photograph: Dan Willner

    Iris at Wave Hill

    Iris at Wave Hill

  • Photograph: Dan Willner

    Wisteria sinensis at Wave Hill

    Wisteria sinensis at Wave Hill

  • Photograph: Noah Fecks

    Photographs: Noah Fecks

  • Photograph: Noah Fecks

    Fort Tryon Park Heather Garden

Photograph: Kate Blumm/Courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden

Bosque Garden and Gardens of Remembrance at the Battery

  • Critics choice
  • Free

What it is: The park at Manhattan’s southernmost tip is home to two gardens: The six-year-old Bosque, which covers four acres and features 140 London plane trees, and the Gardens of Remembrance, where you can see more than 100 different types of perennials.
What you’ll see:
Virginia bluebells and a variety of tulips begin blooming in April; in May, look for Oriental poppies, vibrant Tassel grape hyacinth, and peonies.
What’s coming up:
Battery Bosque tour for NYC Wildflower Week (nycwildflowerweek.org), May 14 8–9am.

  1. State St, (at Battery Pl )
More info

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

What it is: This 52-acre garden is home to the climate-controlled Steinhardt Conservatory (which houses plant life from three different temperate zones), as well as gardens devoted to fragrances and plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. If you want some fauna to go with your flora, check out the ducks in the picturesque Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden.
What you’ll see: The garden celebrates Japanese cherry blossoms during “Hanami” (through Apr 29), with more than 200 trees blossoming along the garden’s Cherry Walk, Cherry Esplanade and the Japanese-Hill-and-Pond Garden throughout the month of April. The 17,000-square-foot Herb Garden underwent a makeover at the beginning of 2010, with added fruits, useful plants and floras from across the globe.
What’s coming up:
“Hanami: Celebrating the Cherry Blossom-Viewing Season”: Apr 1–29. Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival: Apr 28–29 11am–6pm; $15, seniors and students $10.

  1. 900 Washington Ave, (at Crown St)
More info

Central Park, Conservatory Garden

  • Critics choice
  • Free

What it is: On a beautiful day, it’s hard to top a stroll through the 74-year-old Conservatory Garden, a trio of French-, Italian- and English-style plots.
What you’ll see:
 Stop by the statue dedicated to author Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of the classic novel The Secret Garden, which is surrounded by magnolia and Japanese lilac trees.
What’s coming up:
Conservatory Garden tours (Sat 11am; free; through Oct).

  1. Fifth Ave, (at 105th St)
More info

Fort Tryon Park Heather Garden

  • Free

What it is: Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and reinvigorated by public garden designer Lynden Miller (whose green-fingerprints are all over New York's prettiest parks), Fort Tryon Park sits 250 feet above the Hudson River and boasts more than four landscaped acres that look as if they were transplanted from an English country estate, with sloping lawns and drooping elms. The garden features more than three dozen varieties of heaths and heathers, some of which bloom even in winter, their needlelike leaves turning copper or chocolate.
What you’ll see:
Summer is always the best time to go: The plots become a genteel wilderness, riotous with musk roses, foxglove, hydrangeas and irises.
What’s coming up:
Garden Walking Tours: first Sunday of every month 1–2:30pm; free. Fort Tryon Beautification Days: Apr 22, May 20, June 24, July 21, Aug 19, Sept 23, Oct 28 10am–2pm; free.

  1. Margaret Corbin Circle, (Fort Washington Ave at Cabrini Blvd)
More info

Narrows Botanical Garden

  • Free

What it is: This small expanse manages to pack plenty of flora into its 4.5 acres. You’ll find a wide array of flowers and plants here, including sections devoted entirely to weeping willows, roses and linden trees.
What you’ll see: Water lilies begin blooming in the Lily Pond in May, while the 450-foot-long Fragrant Pathway is filled with lilacs, lilies and jasmine, providing further sensory treats for both your nose and your eyes.
What’s coming up:
Spring Plant Sale and Art Show, Apr 30 10am–3pm.

  1. Shore Rd, (between Bay Ridge Ave and 72nd St)
More info

New York Botanical Garden

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

What it is: Among the diverse specimens found in this urban Eden are banana trees, moth orchids, the largest collection of New World palms indoors and a 50-acre tract of pristine forest.
What you’ll see:
The garden celebrates the tenth anniversary of its annual exotic-flower showcase with “The Orchid Show: Patrick Blanc's Vertical Gardens." French artist Patrick Blanc, along with garden staff, built living floral walls in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.
What’s coming up:
Orchid Evenings: Mar 24, 31, Apr 7, 14, 20, 21 6:30–9pm; $30, members $20.

  1. Bronx River Pkwy, (at Fordham Rd)
More info

91st Street Garden

  • Free

What it is: For 30 years, a volunteer collective called the Garden People has carefully curated the block-long 91st Street Garden, one of the most colorful corner of Riverside Park. (It’s also one of the park’s more famous locations, having made a cameo in the romantic climax of the 1998 film You’ve Got Mail.)
What you’ll see:
Hundreds of varieties of plants line the asphalt walkway, including rose of Sharon trees and giant hibiscus flowers. During the summer, keep an eye out for monarch and swallowtail butterflies, which are drawn to the aromatic bushes.
What’s coming up:
It's My Park Day: May 19 10am–2pm.

  1. Riverside Park, (enter at Riverside Drive and 91st St)
More info

Snug Harbor Cultural Center

  • Price band: 1/4

What it is: The Staten Island Botanical Garden is just one element of this institution, which also includes a performance space and an art gallery.
What you’ll see:
Stroll through the Tuscan Garden, modeled after the Villa Gamberia in Florence, before moving on to the Zen-like New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, which has undulating pathways, abstract rock formations, and ponds filled with rainbow-hued carp and koi.
What’s coming up:
Harbor and Bloom: May 5 10am–5pm, May 6 noon–5pm.

  1. 1000 Richmond Terr, (between Snug Harbor Rd and Tysen St)
More info

Wave Hill

  • Price band: 1/4

What it is: Once a private estate, the 28-acre garden and cultural center includes an elegant 19th-century mansion, abundant wildflowers and shady pergolas, all welcoming your Sunday idleness. Gardens overlook the river and the Palisades, and vistas stretch to the George Washington Bridge.
What you’ll see:
“April is a wonderful month here,” says director of horticulture Scott Canning. “The gardens have color, but the trees haven’t leafed out, so the views are clear.” Magnolias bloom in white, pink and yellow until late May, and bright blue sheets of glory-of-the-snow carpet the sloping woodland.
What’s coming up: Garden and Conservatory walk: Sun at 2pm, Tue at 11am; Earth Day Garden Walk: Apr 22 at 2pm.

  1. W 249th St, (at Independence Ave)
More info

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