Road Less Travelled: Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
One thing I revel in these days – much more than the food (yeah, believe it), shopping, wine and the ability to wear short shorts – is the greenery, the simplicity of nature. In the Kootenays (British Columbia, Canada) it was the towering Rockies, bubbling creeks and fresh mountain air that got my heart racing. In New York, it’s the tree-lined avenues of Brooklyn, finely tuned parks of Manhattan and meticulously cared for co-ops that are scattered throughout the five boroughs.
While New York City is still a crowded and somewhat polluted metropolis, it’s nothing compared to the dusty, overpopulated center of Cairo, at least by way of garbage and lack of green space. In NYC there is plenty of green and there are garbage cans on every corner (well, almost every corner). There are fines for dumping, fines for littering and regulations regarding where things can be planted and what can be razed.
Despite being a jungle of the concrete variety, there’s ample green areas in the city. This is particularly true in Brooklyn, which is home to several frequented parks and gardens that help give the borough its friendly-neighbourhood vibe. These are places where one can escape the urban jungle, have impromptu picnics with that special someone, tire out the kids or finish off the latest bestseller you’ve been obsessed with over the last few weeks.
A special green place in Brooklyn is located between the neighbourhoods of Crown Heights, Flatbush, Park Slope and Prospect Heights. The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens is 52-acres of plants, flora and fauna smack in the middle of New York’s most populous borough. Established in 1910, the garden is home to more than 12,000 types of plants and flowers from around the world and also includes over 200 cherry blossom trees, amazing rose gardens with stunning lilacs, lilies and perennials, a Japanese pond garden teeming with ducks, turtles and fish, and an English cottage garden where the plants that grow there have been mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays and poems.
Aside from the various paths, gardens, hills and plant collections, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden also offers community horticulture seminars and youth education programmes that “promote urban greening through education, conservation, and creative partnerships.“
In addition, there’s a great deal of scientific research that goes on at the BBG such as scientists that are taking part in a comprehensive study of the plants that grow in the New York region, or those responsible for the upkeep of a herbarium that houses over 300,000 preserved plant specimens from the metropolitan area, some of them dating back to 1818.
While visiting the gardens may be roughly the same price as going to a movie ($10 for adults and $5 for seniors/students), it is worth the cost. If you’re looking to save pennies check out the gardens on the days of the week and/or times of the year when admission is free. Essentially, there’s no real excuse NOT to stop in and see this urban sanctuary. It’s a beautiful space to clear your head and get away from the hustle and bustle of New York City life.
It’s a place to daydream, to marvel and to let go.
To just breathe.
Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
Hours of Operation (March – October)
Tuesday to Friday: 8:00 – 18:00
Saturday + Sunday: 10:00 – 18:00