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Central Park, Conservatory Garden
Photograph: ShutterstockCentral Park Conservatory Garden

The most gorgeous gardens in NYC

Take in the full splendor of blooming flowers at the most enchanting gardens in NYC

Will Gleason
Collier Sutter
Written by
Will Gleason
&
Collier Sutter
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New York is often seen as a concrete jungle, but there are small pockets where greenery not only thrives, but provides a welcome respite from the hectic pace of urban life—that is, if you know where to look. Next time you want to take a minute to stop and smell the roses (or the tulips), check out NYC parks like Central Park or visit New York's various conservatories (like the one at the New York Botanical Garden). We've also included lesser-known, secret gardens in NYC that provide rare moments of solitude in a city packed with eight million people. Note that most of the stunning botanical gardens are requiring pre-reserved tickets at this time, so check their websites before heading out.

Where to see pretty flowers in NYC

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Prospect Park
  • price 1 of 4

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. Find a moment of peace in the zen Japanese Garden, see the rock garden or smell those fragrant flowers in the fragrance garden.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Central Park

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. 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. 

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • The Bronx
  • price 2 of 4

Experience the incredible spring and summer gardens and collections across the 250-acres near the Bronx River. You can weave your way through a winding path to the Native Plant Garden’s promenade and meadow with dahlias, austere and windflowers. Their Perennial Garden is also open and full of both flowers and foliage. Currently, you can head to the insitution to see the blockbuster exhibition KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Flushing
  • price 1 of 4

This 39-acre serene space in the middle of Queens evolved from a five-acre “Gardens on Parade” exhibit from the 1939-1940 World's Fair. The two blue atlas cedars that flank the gate at the garden's Main Street entrance today were taken from that original exhibit. Today, visitors can check out a variety of horticultural sights, including a Fragrance Walk, Cleansing Biotope and Wetland and Woodland Garden. 

Queens Botanical Garden is operating with limited hours from Tuesday to Sunday from 8am to 6pm.; free hours are available Wednesday from 3 to 6pm and Sunday from 9 to 11am. 

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Staten Island

The Staten Island Botanical Garden is just one element of this institution, which also includes a performance space and an art gallery. 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.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Washington Heights

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. Summer is always the best time to go: The plots become a genteel wilderness, riotous with musk roses, foxglove, hydrangeas and irises.

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Narrows Botanical Garden
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Bay Ridge

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. 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.

91st Street Garden
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Upper West Side

For 35 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.) 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.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • The Bronx
  • price 1 of 4

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. April is a wonderful month here. Magnolias bloom in white, pink and yellow until late May, and bright blue sheets of glory-of-the-snow carpet the sloping woodland. 

Secret gardens in NYC

One of hidden treasures of midtown, this "vest-pocket" park measures a mere 60 feet by 120 feet. However, in that small space it's able to incorporate not only places to sit, but heat lamps, an outdoor cafe, shady trees and an impressive, 25-foot waterfall. If you find yourself in the neighborhood this summer, and you're looking for a lunch spot, this is your best bet.

A community garden on the Upper West Side, the Lotus Garden is actually located 20 feet above West 97th Street on the roof of a parking garage. The beautiful space, maintained by 28 gardeners and other volunteers, hosts many events throughout the year and is open to the general public on Sundays from 1–4pm.

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