New York Botanical Garden

2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458, USA

With more than 250 acres of grounds, the New York Botanical Garden manages to fit a number of different landscapes and experiences into its garden walls. The garden was established in 1891, the inspiration of Nathaniel Lord Britton and his wife, Elizabeth, who returned from a trip to England determined that New York should have its own equivalent to London‘s Kew Gardens. They found backing among New York society and created one of the country’s leading research institutions that also happens to be an ideal place to commune with nature right in the city. The rose garden designed by Beatrix Farrand is a highlight, while an abundance of azaleas reaches their peak in May. In all there are some 20 different gardens, including one dedicated to native plants, a rock garden, and a wetlands trail. The conservatory, constructed in 1902, is the largest in the country and includes 11 different climatic zones. When the last of the fall foliage has fallen from the trees, the conservatory hosts the popular annual Holiday Train Show (from the end of November to mid-January).

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Get into the holiday a jungle in New York

If you want to get into the holiday mood, see the annual Holiday Train Show at The New York Botanical Gardens which has become an annual tradition for lots of families. In the middle of luscious plants and trees, model trains run through New York landmarks, all made of natural materials like leaves, steams, pine cones and bark. It’s a festive world inside a green tropical setting in New York City. I only recently discovered this unique place after having grown up in NYC. Everybody goes to see the tree at Rockefeller Center or the store windows on Fifth Avenue. But the Holiday Train Show is unique and fun. You really admire the craftsmanship that goes into each building and bridge that are created as part of the scenery (and all done by hand!). And it’s indoors so even if it’s full-on winter and freezing outside, you can stroll and admire the show in the warmth of the atrium. There is a timed-ticket system which helps visitors flow through the show and cafes throughout the Botanical Gardens for a hot chocolate break. It doesn’t get any merrier than this and even a Scrooge can’t resist smiling at the toy trains that are running through a mini-New York.

Broadway Orchids

The New York Botanical Garden had an exhibit where designers had taken tens of thousands of orchids and arranged them into replicas of broadway stages throughout the city. These were as beautiful and vibrant as the cherry blossoms outside. The best part of the visit was in the cafe where we met a lovely 90+ year old lady who was there with her friend of 40 years. They met on a train in Europe and have been traveling together ever since.

Dale Chihuly Exhibit Opens at the New York Botanical Garden

On an overcast day--the sort when you’d rather curl up with a good book and a cup of Earl Gray tea by a fireplace rather than be outdoors-- I made my way to the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) to preview the new Dale Chihuly exhibit that opens its doors to the public on Earth Day, April 22nd 2017. This is first major garden exhibition in New York in more than ten years by the beloved Seattle-based artist: some of his pieces were shown in the desert landscape at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona in 2013; his last appearance at the NYBG was during the summer of 2006. The present exhibit will run from April 22 through October 29th, 2017. More than 20 new installations have set the botanical gardens ablaze with their color, depth, and sheer glass-blowing poetry. If you take the Metro North from Grand Central and enter the botanical gardens, you’ll encounter the Sapphire Star, a frosty kaleidoscope blossom of blue and white glass icicles that have over 700 of the artist’s signature spires. You sigh as you marvel at this glass bloom, but you move on because there are many more colorful creations to see. More than six trucks packed with fragile-friendly boxes of Chihuly’s work were transported from his studio in Tacoma, Washington to the botanical gardens, and carefully assembled by several artists and craftsmen over the period of a few weeks. What is new to the installation are three works called the Koda Studies, which spruce up the Native Plant Garden. These were created using sheets of stained glass and provide a distinct colorful foil between the glass and the surrounding environment. Koda Study #1 and #2 are in the Native Plant Garden, a 3.5 acre plant Utopia studded with over 100,000 native trees, shrubs, ferns and grasses. Some of the most beautiful pieces are outdoors: the Red Reeds on Logs is situated just past the entrance of NYBG. These 100 shining glass ruby red spokes that were originally blown by the Nuutäjarvi Glass Factory in Nuutäjarvi, Finland because of the excellent clarity of glass there, and they dance like blades of fire in the sun. Treasures abound inside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory including the graceful, ballet-like Blue Herons which look like glass versions of a Degas painting. Three beautiful chandeliers (Cypress Green, Mineral Blue and Peridot Green) gracefully halo you as you as you walk inside. In the Conservatory Courtyard, there is a dramatic neon sculpture called Tumbleweed, essentially a colorful conglomerate of spokes and wire-like glass, that the artist pioneered during his early work in the late 1960’s. Visitors will also see Chihuly’s early works which will be in display in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library building: there is a glass series and works on paper, and some of his most delicate and ethereal pieces, like the paper-thin Fire Orange Baskets which were graceful forms first developed in 1977 evoke Northwest Native American baskets. Here, the effects of gravity were harnessed to create asymmetrical works that border on the nebulous, straddling the divide between real and intangible. OTHER PROGRAMMING There will be a Chihuly Nights at the Garden series that take place after sunset when the place has its own dramatic energy, from 6:30 – 10:30 p.m. on select dates. A new book about the artist will be on sale at the NYBG bookstore. For those who love music, a summer concert series called Jazz & Chihuly takes place on Fridays on June 16th, July 14th and August 18th. But it is not all about Chihuly at the New York Botanical Garden, which has an impressive calendar of events each year. Other events include a “Daffodil Celebration and Wine Weekend” on April 29th and 30th, from 12-5 p.m. There will also be an antique garden furniture fair preview party and collectors’ plant sale on May 4th at 5:30 p.m. And perhaps the pièce de résistance for the summer include an evening of world-class opera on May 18th with Glimmerglass Festival, and a Rose Garden Weekend from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 3rd and 4th. Families will also especially love the ability to visit the Bronx Zoo, located very close to the NYBG.

New York's Inspiring Botanical Garden

Karen Daubmann, who curates and directs all exhibitions at the The New York Botanical Garden, shares some of the destinations around the world that have inspired her personally and professionally.

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Lilacs in Full Bloom

The Bronx may have a bad reputation, but this borough also offers several attractions that offer a reprieve from the bustle of the city. One such attraction is the New York Botanical Garden, which has a beautiful lilac grove that is currently in full bloom. All shades of lilac (+ white) are on display, and the intoxicating smell of the flowers reaffirms spring’s late arrival this year. Of course, there are many other flowers on view, but the lilacs are particularly special because it is hard to find so many lilac trees in one place in the city. It’s a treat not to be missed.

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