You might not expect a city like New York to be home to breathtaking botanical gardens and serene, nature-filled hideaways, but there are gorgeous gardens hidden throughout the city for New Yorkers to enjoy some peaceful respite. As Spring warms up, gardens in all five boroughs are beginning to bloom, so I’ve compiled a list of the best ones to visit. Tucked away among NYC’s high-rises and busy streets, these gardens are a great way to seek some peace, quiet, and beautiful nature this Spring:
Church of St. Luke in the Fields Gardens
487 Hudson Street, Greenwich Village
Hours: 8am – Dusk ( Mon – Sat); 8am – 5pm (Sun)
Admission: Free (but donations are welcome)
The Church of St. Luke in the Fields sits on its own two-acre city block in Greenwich Village, and is home to a collection of native American flora including rare hybrids and garden standards. The gardens’ berries and flowers attract migrating birds and butterflies in the spring and fall – over 100 species of birds and 24 types of moths and butterflies have been observed here. The Rectory Garden contains the oldest planted area on the property, a rose garden dating back to 1842.
Creative Little Garden
530 East 6th Street, East Village
Hours: 11am – 6pm (hours extend during the summer)
Admission: Free ($20 memberships available for those who wish to support the garden)
This community garden was started in 1978 and has since been designated a National Wildlife Federation Habitat. The Garden’s berries, birdbaths, bushes, and trees provide food and shelter for young wildlife, and the waterfall and benches provide a refreshing spot for humans (and their leashed pets) to recharge as well.
Bosque Gardens/Garden of Remembrance
Located on Manhattan’s southernmost tip, and largely ignored by those heading to nearby attractions like the Statue of Liberty, the Bosque Gardens and the Garden of Remembrance start blooming with tulips and Virginia bluebells every April, with poppies, peonies, and Tassel grape hyacinth following in May. With 53,000 square feet of gardens and 34,000 perennial plants, the Bosque feels like an untamed, lush sanctuary.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden
1000 Washington Ave, Prospect Heights
Hours: 8am – 6pm (Tues – Fri); 10am – 6pm (Sat & Sun)
Admission: $12 adults/$6 seniors and students
Over two dozen cherry trees line the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden’s winding paths, artificial hills, and contoured pond. Cherry blossom season makes you forget you’re in the middle of a city and makes you feel instead as though you’re among Japan’s mountainous landscape. You can also enjoy Japanese irises, wisteria, and azaleas along with Japanese maples, white pines and bald cypress trees.
Narrows Botanical Garden
Bay Ridge Avenue & 72nd Street, Bay Ridge
This 4.5 acre plot of land manages to pack in a wide variety of flora including weeping willows, linden trees, roses, and water lilies (which begin blooming in May). The Fragrant Pathway is lined with lilacs, lilies, and jasmine to satisfy the senses, and the Butterfly Garden is planted with milkweed to attract migrating monarchs. Visitors are invited to meditate in the Zen rock garden, and the Moon Garden contains white and silver flowers to reflect moonlight. The Narrows Botanical Garden was transformed via a community effort in 1995 and is a source of pride for Bay Ridge residents. While it’s a little out-of-the-way, it’s certainly worth a visit.
Queens Botanical Garden
43-50 Main Street, Flushing
Hours: 8am – 6pm (Tues – Sun, April – October)
Admission: $4 adults/$3 seniors/$2 students
The Queens Botanical Garden carries the tagline, “where people, plants, and cultures meet.” With plenty of educational programming and a month-by-month breakdown of what’s in bloom, the QBG satisfies curious minds while providing an oasis for relaxation. The Backyard Gardens present small-scale solutions which can be replicated in Queens backyards, and the Circle Garden features plants significant to Korean culture. There are 28 gardens in total to explore, and the Queens Botanical Garden’s somewhat-removed location ensures you’ll have a quiet and peaceful time.
New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden
Hours: 10am – 4pm (as of April 1)
Admission: $5 adults/$4 seniors and students
Based on the Ming Dynasty Gardens of 1368-1644, the New York Scholar’s garden contains a bamboo forest path, waterfalls, a Koi pond, and rocky landscaped features. As one of two authentic Chinese scholar’s gardens in the United States, the New York garden is home to many multi-cultural events throughout the year while serving as a peaceful escape from city stress year-round.
Bartow-Pell Historic Mansion and Garden
895 Shore Road, Pelham Bay Park
Hours: 8:30am – Dusk
Built between 1836 and 1842, the Bartow-Pell Mansion is one of the last remaining country estates on Pelham Bay. The Terrace Garden was designed in 1914 to reflect British landscape tradition with grassy terraces, a central garden pool, and walkways extending in four directions from the pool and fountain. The Mary Ludington Herb Garden has been maintained since 1939, and both the herb garden and terrace garden are largely uninhabited if you go early in the day. Wild turkeys, rabbits, butterflies, and birds frequent the Bartow-Pell grounds, and make it hard to believe you’re still technically within New York City limits.
The Gardens at Wave Hill
West 249th Street and Independence Avenue, Riverdale
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm (Tues – Sun)
Admission: $8 adults/$4 seniors and students/$2 children
Though Wave Hill is owned by the city now, the gardens are kept much as they were when it was a private estate. Enjoy views of the New Jersey Palisades and the Hudson River among wildflowers and various species of trees including dawn redwoods red oaks, sugar maples, and giant sequoias. Wave Hill’s flowering trees bloom in the spring and early summer, but they provide spectacular foliage in the fall as well.
There are dozens more gardens throughout NYC, but these are some of the less-frequented and most stunning examples. Take some time to enjoy the diverse flora (and the fauna they attract) within the city this Spring.