Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens in bloom

One would think our previous day in New York City would be hard to beat, but somehow we managed! Mikus and I were in Brooklyn visiting my sister (his godmother) and her husband, fully immersed in NYC sightseeing and dining experiences. Did I put enough emphasis on the dining aspect? Our first order of business Sunday morning was breakfast, and so we headed to Bagel Schmagel for some authentic NY bagels. My cream cheese/lox/onion everything bagel put The Park’s lunch from the previous day to shame, and since Mikus wasn’t a fan of the plain bagel we got for him (I think he wanted an everything bagel too!) I snacked on that throughout the day – now that is how bagels are supposed to taste.

Then it was off to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, along with the rest of Brooklyn. There was the same sense of “first nice day in NYC” urgency that we had felt the previous day in Central Park and on the High Line, but luckily the Gardens provided some additional acreage to spread the crowds out.
An ash dump in the late 1800s, the NY State Legislation reserved close to 40 acres for a botanic garden in 1897. It was 1910 when the garden was founded, and one hundred years later the gardens are 52 acres and receive 900,000 visitors annually.

The cherries were not in full bloom just yet, although there was plenty of color to satisfy us. There are over 200 species and varieties of cherry in the Cherry Esplanade and Cherry Walk, the first of which were a gift from the Japanese government after WWI. The different varieties bloom at different times, and visitors can track the viewing at Cherry Watch on the Gardens website.

We drifted through Bluebell Wood, marveling at the soft green hues of the budding trees and the lush carpet of not-yet blooming bluebells. It was somewhere on that side of the Gardens that we found the newly opened work of art resembling a giant bird’s nest. The textures of all the wooden materials and final product were remarkable, and the sensation of being in the nest was not just “for the birds.”

A stop in the Fragrance Garden revealed special activities for children taking place. Mikus planted several paper white bulbs (and by planted I mean he dug in the dirt long enough to get himself and mom dirty, after which mom planted the bulb), and we admired the plants which visitors are encouraged to touch and smell.

Magnolia Plaza was also in bloom, the beaux arts Administration Building rising behind the colorful trees. The Annual Border, Perennial Border and Lily Pool Terrace are just adjacent to the magnolias, and the sights and smells brought me back to the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands that we were lucky enough to visit last year during the peak of tulip season.

After we finally caught up to Andrejs’ sister and her two fantastic girls we ventured into the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, the first of its kind in an American public garden. Constructed in 1914-15, it is considered the greatest work of landscape architect Takeo Shiota, who had emigrated to the US from Japan only 7 years previous from a small fishing village 40 miles from Tokyo. The gardens were overly crowded, and after completing a circuit with the strollers we escaped out to the Cherry Esplanade.

The rose garden and the lilacs had not yet started to bloom, so bypassing those we opted to enter the Native Flora Garden. With many micro-ecosystems including meadow, kettle pond, bog, pine barrens, deciduous woodland and stream, the Native Flora Garden has a good overview of the plants native to the region, which is known for its natural diversity.

We ended our tour back in the Osborne Garden, a semi-formal garden with wisteria-draped pergolas, walkways along green grass and planted beds with a beautiful fountain at the end. The semicircle of “whispering benches” surrounding the fountain supposedly have remarkable acoustic properties; if you sit at one end you can allegedly clearly hear the whispers of someone sitting on the opposite side. As far as I know it works great, only we tested it out with mildly louder voices than intended…

I was sad to leave the gardens, but my stomach was growling and this meant another fun dining experience!


  1. You completely sucked me in with that photo of the bagel.... yum! They're not the same here in Australia, the bagel has been absolutely perfected in the US. The gardens look beautiful - love all the pics of spring blossom and bulbs especially. xx

  2. I just saw in the other blog post about Keukenhof Garden, and now about your gorges day! I am such a luck girl tonight- read about so much nice experience, flowers and happy people! :) Nice, nice, nice your day in the Botanic Garden!!!!!:)

  3. That blossom is like an airborne cloud of pink and white stunningly beautiful! Am wondering what you subsequently found to eat....with bagels like that I'd be tempted to eat them for breakfast lunch and tea! Rx

  4. The bagel looks amazing! But to get a (completely different) amazing bagel, you should come to Montreal...

    :) Kaiva

  5. OMG that bagel! Looks like you had a great trip!

  6. Wow - reading this on our way home from long travels makes me very excited to get back to the city! What an awesome recount of our adventures :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...