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Central Park, Conservatory Garden
Photograph: Shutterstock Central Park Conservatory Garden

The most gorgeous gardens in NYC

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

By Will Gleason, Collier Sutter and Time Out contributors
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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, 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

Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Attractions Parks and gardens Prospect Park

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.

74. Commune with nature in Battery Park
74. Commune with nature in Battery Park
Photograph: Lauren Foy

2. Bosque Garden and Gardens of Remembrance at the Battery

Attractions Parks and gardens Financial District

The park at Manhattan’s southernmost tip is home to two gardens: The Bosque, which covers four acres and features more than 100 London plane trees, and the Gardens of Remembrance, where you can see more than 100 different types of perennials. Virginia bluebells and a variety of tulips begin blooming in April; in May, look for Oriental poppies, vibrant Tassel grape hyacinth, and peonies.

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Central Park, Conservatory Garden
Central Park, Conservatory Garden
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. Central Park, Conservatory 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. 

Photograph: Courtesy New York Botanical Garden

4. New York Botanical Garden

Attractions Parks and gardens The Bronx

Experience the incredible early-fall 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. As of September 22, Enid A. Haypt Conservatory will also be reopened with lush tropical rain forests, cactus, and other aquatic florals.

As of now, the NYBG is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am–6 pm.

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Queens Botanical Garden
Queens Botanical Garden
Photograph: Courtesy Queens Botanical Garden, Anne Tan-Detchkov

5. Queens Botanical Garden

Attractions Parks and gardens Flushing

This 39-acre serene space in the middle of Queens evolved from a 5-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. 

garden
garden
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Snug Harbor Cultural Center

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.

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Fort Tryon Park Heather Garden
Fort Tryon Park Heather Garden
Photograph: Noah Fecks

7. Fort Tryon Park Heather Garden

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.

8. 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.

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9. 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.

Wave HillLawn
Wave HillLawn
Photograph: Mick Hales

10. Wave Hill

Attractions Parks and gardens The Bronx

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. 

For this fall, they are open from 10am to 5:30pm from Wednesday through Sunday, with free admission all day on Thursdays.

Secret gardens in NYC

Greenacre Park
Greenacre Park
Photograph: Courtesy Sasaki

1. Greenacre Park

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Shanna Forlano

2. Lotus Garden

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.

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4. Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

Museums History The Bronx

You'll feel like you're miles away from the city as this carefully preserved 19th century manor house in the Bronx. In addition to touring the inside of the historic home, you can also walk around the beautifully landscaped grounds

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Elizabeth Street Garden
Elizabeth Street Garden
Photograph: Courtesy John Benscoter

5. Elizabeth Street Garden

This romantic garden in Little Italy is open to the public, and features an array of marble and cast sculptures throughout the space. You may want to check this one out sooner rather than later, however, as it's currently being considered as a possible site for new affordable housing.

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