A Landscape Designer's Visit To The Brooklyn Botanic Garden

by Ben Bowen

My Visit To The Brooklyn Botanic Garden (With Pictures!)

A couple of weeks ago I visited unusually warm (thanks El Nino!) New York City. The trip wasn't about sight seeing, but I did have two free Saturdays. The first Saturday I went to the High Line park (pictures here). The second Saturday I checked out Brooklyn's Botanic Garden.

My initial impression: it's an old garden (history, with great pictures, here.) This was both positive and negative. The old greenhouse/conservatory buildings were fantastic. Some of the mature trees were beautiful- they have amazing weeping hemlock and Crape Myrtle specimens, for example.

The Japanese 'Hill and Pond' garden, on the other hand, felt a little run down. Some of that was the time of year, I am sure. But the level of care the garden receives is not up to par with the Portland Japanese Garden. It's a shame too- the garden has a great structure.

The highlight was the Bonsai Museum and the three "Pavilion" gardens. These were all housed in the conservatory building. The Warm Temperate Pavilion was beautiful, even without a bloom in sight. But the real appeal was it's scent, or rather, it's scents.

This little garden is full of fragrant shrubs, trees, and perennials. With almost every step the mix of fragrance would change. We found ourselves plunging our heads into plants, trying to figure out what note came from where. I can't say I have ever been in a garden quite like it!

Is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden a must-see in NYC? If you are staying Park Slope it would be a shame to miss it. And if you are a plant lover it should definitely go on your list. But even if you never visit, you can at least enjoy my pictures:

Bonus points if you can find the blue heron!

Not a perfect pano... but you get the picture.

Not a perfect pano... but you get the picture.

The garden's side entrance.

The garden's side entrance.

Looking down into the "Pavilion' garden area.

Looking down into the "Pavilion' garden area.

Saw this near the garden. I guess it was getting some fresh air...

Saw this near the garden. I guess it was getting some fresh air...

hill-pond-garden-pano
japanese-garden-pano

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