A National Historic Landmark, the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden was founded in 1891 and today is one of America’s foremost public gardens. The setting is spectacular — a natural terrain of rock outcroppings, a river with cascading waterfalls, hills, ponds, wetlands, and more. This is all on the outskirts of a hustle-bustle city. Highlights of the Botanical Garden include the 27 specialty gardens, an exceptional orchid collection, and 40 acres of uncut forest, which is pretty much as close as New York gets to its virgin state before the arrival of Europeans!
Considered one of the leading botany centers of the world, this garden is one of the best reasons to make a trip to the Bronx. Built around the dramatic gorge of the Bronx River, the Garden offers lush indoor and outdoor gardens, acres of natural forest, as well as classes, concerts, and special exhibits. You’ll be astounded at the captivating fragrance of the Rose Garden’s 2,700 plants (of more than 250 varieties). Moreover, see intricate orchids that look like they came from a science fiction book! On the other hand, simply relax in the quiet of the forest or the calm of the Conservatory; or take a jaunt through the Children’s Adventure Garden.
The Haupt Conservatory, with stunning series of Victorian glass pavilions that recall London’s old Crystal Palace, protects a rich collection of tropical, subtropical, and desert plants as well as seasonal flowers. Natural exhibits are improved by year-round educational programs, musical events, bird-watching excursions, lectures, special family programs, and many more activities. There are so many ways to see the garden including tram, golf cart, self-walking tour or docent tour.
1. Holiday Train Show
The annual Holiday Train Show (late Nov-early Jan) features railway trains and trolleys winding their way through more than 100 replicas of historic New York buildings and attractions — such as the Statue of Liberty, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Garden’s own Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. They’re all made from plant parts and other natural materials!
2. Children’s Adventure Garden
This is a whopping 12-acre, indoor-outdoor museum with a boulder maze, giant animal topiaries, and a plant discovery center! So much fun for the kids, there is also opportunity for them to learn with storytime and educational programs in the Children’s Garden.
3. Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
This 1902 Victorian-style Conservatory houses re-creations of steamy tropical rain forests and bone-dry African and North American deserts as well as exhibitions, such as the annual Holiday Train Show and the Orchid Show. At any time of year, you can see an ever-changing landscape of flowers and foliage. The Conservatory is also home to A World of Plants, a permanent exhibition that takes you on an eco-tour around the world and across the ages. Through 11 distinct habitats, A World of Plants tells the story of Earth’s beautiful and indispensable plant life, plus offers a glimpse of the valuable work of the Garden’s scientists. The Conservatory also hosts the Garden’s seasonal flower shows and exhibitions, including The Orchid Show and Holiday Train Show.
4. Flowering Cherries Collection
In Japan, the blooming of the cherry trees is met with great celebration and contemplation of their fleeting glory. Here at the Garden, the delicate pink and white blossoms of more than 200 flowering cherries (many which are more than 60 years old) beckon you to take a joyful and peaceful April stroll. Not to be missed is the venerable Daybreak cherry–a voluminous tree with wide-spreading branches and blushing petals–near the Visitor Center reflecting pool. Scattered throughout the Ross Conifer Arboretum are countless other beautiful specimens: some weeping, some upright, with single and double flowers. Moreover, be sure to visit Cherry Valley near the Rose Garden, where you can truly surround yourself with these exalted flowering trees.
5. Water Lilies and Lotus Garden
People have long appreciated the beauty and resilience of aquatic plants. The sacred lotus symbolizes eternal life in Buddhism. They’re so sacred and worshipped that preserved petals of specimens have been found in 3,000-year-old Egyptian tombs.These plants of myth and legend bring their magic to the Conservatory courtyard pools. Water Lilies and Lotus in brilliant yellow, pink, purple, and even blue float serenely next to waving grasses and reeds. Dominating the tropical pool is the Victoria amazonica, the world’s largest waterlily, which has leaves that span an amazing seven feet!!
6. Conifer Arboretum
Set on rolling lawns and amid spectacular exposed rock, the historic Conifer Arboretum features towering pines, elegant spruces, and mountain firs. These irreplaceable trees surround the Conservatory. Truly spectacular after a snowfall, and when the interspersed cherry trees add bursts of pink in the spring, it’s a place where you begin to learn about the differences of the world’s trees. This majestic collection will make you think of the alpine forests of the American west, the shores of Japan, and the forests of Alaska.
7. The Forest
Enter the 50-acre native Forest and discover the largest remaining expanse of the majestic woodland that once covered New York City. With rustic paths that wind beneath magnificent American trees—some more than 200 years old—and past the Bronx River and its rushing waterfall, the Forest is magical when the mayflowers and trout lilies open in spring, when its cool shade provides relief from the summer heat, during fall’s kaleidoscope of orange, red, and yellow, and after a winter’s snowfall. A haven for bird watchers and nature lovers, the Forest offers a welcome respite from city life.
8. The Orchid Collection
Throughout the year, you can see these seductive stars in the tropical plant collections–orchids from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Americas–in changing displays in the Conservatory and the Orchid Terrarium in the Library Building. Some are no bigger than your thumbnail, while others are the size of your hand. Some mimic butterflies, while others resemble a slipper. And some simply can’t be described. Marvel at rare orchids growing as they would in nature in the rain forest galleries.
9. The Peonies Collection
Who can resist the voluptuous blossoms of these classic charmers? They begin their show here in early May, when the Dolores DeFina Hope Tree Peony Collection near the Rose Garden unveils large flowers with enchanting names like ‘Lotus That Shines in the Sun’ and ‘Phoenix White.’ Next in line are species peonies in the Rock Garden, delicate and cup-shaped in shades of white and yellow. Then in mid-May, along Perennial Garden Way, more than 60 herbaceous peonies reach their peak. Ranging in form from single to double, with satiny petals in white, pink, and red, they offer up aromas of rose, lemon, honey, or musk.
10. The Magnolias Collection
Venture to the Garden and see the velvety silver buds of magnolias beginning to open. First come the Star Magnolias near the Library Building, their fragrant flowers arrayed on dark, bare branches. Near the Visitor Center you’ll find a perfect old Kobus Magnolia, whose white blossoms perch on branches that sweep the ground. Then surround yourself with spectacular Saucer Magnolias along Magnolia Way. In this grove of mature specimens, you’ll see graceful, intertwined branches topped with luscious white and silver-pink flowers. Other showy blossoms are hued in deep pink or brushed with light purples. Fresh and fragrant, this collection is one startling sight!
New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard New York, NY 10458
(718) 817-8700 ?