Nothing makes us happier in spring than taking in the beautiful blooms the season brings. While many may think of New York City as a concrete jungle, we're actually spoiled by a wealth of public gardens filled with glorious foliage. Here's what's on tap at a few of our favorite springtime destinations in all five boroughs.
Spanning 250 acres in the heart of the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden is the largest urban botanic garden in the country. Now through April 28, flower lovers will be flocking to NYBG for its 17th Annual Orchid Show. This year's theme pays tribute to Singapore, where the orchid is the national flower. Created in conjunction with Singapore's best gardens, the exhibit features thousands of blooms in towering displays and breathtaking archways. The spring season also brings an array of children's programs to the park, including the Budding Botanists series a hands-on exploration of the 12-acre Children's Garden, now through June 7.
Perched at the northeastern edge of Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a 52-acre wonderland of blooms and greenery. A coveted destination for New Yorkers of all ages, the stunning cherry blossoms of spring are a major attraction here. So much so, that the park publishes an up-to-the-minute Cherrywatch Map indicating the blooming status for trees throughout the park. On Tuesday through Sunday afternoons, now through October, visitors can also enjoy the Seasonal Highlights Tour. This free, garden-wide guided walk is the perfect way to visit the best blooms at their peak.
Like many venues in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the Queens Botanical Garden finds its roots, so to speak, in a World's Fair. The garden evolved from a five-acre "Gardens on Parade" exhibit in 1939. Today, springtime visitors can enjoy an array of blooming trees and plants, including magnolia, dogwood, hyacinth, and of course, cherries. Don't miss the park's annual Arbor Fest on April 28. The following weekend, May 4-5, the garden officially welcomes its daffodils and tulips with tours, galleries and workshops.
Just across the water from Bayonne, New Jersey, lies a lovely amalgamation of history, architecture, performing arts and natural splendor — all situated on what was once a 19th-century rest home for sailors. At Snug Harbor, flower fans will find 14 distinctive botanical gardens plus a 2-acre urban farm, wetlands and lawns. Enjoy magnolias, cherry blossoms and jasmine in the classical New York Chinese Scholar's Garden, based on Ming Dynasty designs, or take in roses, Tuscan topiaries and English inspiration in one of the other signature gardens at this Staten Island gem.
Stroll through the gorgeous Vanderbilt Gate along Fifth Avenue and find yourself in one of Manhattan's most peaceful locations. The Conservatory Garden — an official park quiet zone — is six acres of tall blooming trees, hedges and flowers surrounding two fountains and a lovely wisteria pergola. With its special beauty, this unique city oasis frequently draws rows of painters dedicated to capturing its glory on canvas.
Another unique garden within a park, the three-acre Heather Garden at Upper Manhattan's Ft. Tryon Park is renown for its exceptional collection of heather and heath which reaches its peak beauty in spring and early summer. While you're there, don't miss the rest of the 67-acre park's hundreds of varieties of flowering plants and trees — including daffodils, tulips, irises, dogwoods and cherry trees — all surrounded by breathtaking views of the Hudson River and Palisades.