Jul 02, 2018

Day Trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

By Joanne Colella

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Plenty of wonderful museums make a terrific day trip – but at this lovely time of year, what could be better than strolling through an outdoor museum of living plants? That is what the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is considered, and rightfully so. Founded in 1910, this spectacular 52-acre sanctuary, in the heart of the vibrant urban neighborhood of Prospect Park, is a showcase for more than 12,000 species and cultivars of plants from all around the world, with beautiful displays throughout all four seasons. Garden State residents who happen to have family roots (pun intended!) in Brooklyn, but haven’t stepped into the Botanic Garden in a while, are sure to enjoy visiting this magnificent venue once more.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is renowned for its gorgeous display of cherry blossoms – one of the best in the world outside of Japan – along the Cherry Walk and Cherry Esplanade, boasting more than 200 trees representing more than 40 species that blossom in April and May. At all times of year, the nearby Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden was designed to inspire quiet reflection and tranquility as guests view the pond and walk the curving path of one of the oldest and most visited Japanese-style gardens outside of Japan.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

In May and June, and again in September and October, the stunning Cranford Rose Garden explodes with the colors of both heritage and modern rose varieties. In August and early September, crape myrtles bloom near the expansive Lilac Collection, which flower and release their sweet scent in late spring. From July through September, lotuses and tropical water lilies adorn the pool and fountains of the Lily Pool Terrace.

The unique Shakespeare Garden overflows with more than 80 different flowers, herbs, shrubs, and trees that appear in Shakespeare’s literary works, with each plant marked by a small plaque indicating the act, scene, and line where it was referenced by the Bard. To find other famous references, wander along Celebrity Path, where stepping stones are inscribed with tributes to notable past and present Brooklynites.

There are special treats for young visitors (and their parents or caregivers), with a Discovery Garden that provides hands-on learning opportunities about the world of nature through sight, sound, smell, and touch, as well as a Children’s Garden where, since 1914, kids have been growing vegetables, flowers, and herbs in their own fertile patch of earth.

Another carefully designed spot is the Fragrance Garden, established in 1955 for guests who were visually challenged. The flower beds are raised to make them easily accessible, and visitors are able to smell the fragrances of scented foliage and gently touch the interesting textures.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Inside the glass-enclosed Steinhardt Conservatory are greenhouses filled with aquatic plants, bonsai collections, desert cacti and succulents, winter bulbs, and tropical treasures from the rainforest. Feeling inspired? Be sure to stop in the gift shop on your way out, where you will find not just the usual assortment of memorabilia, but an array of live plants and flowers that you can bring home to plant in your own little paradise.

All of this is merely a sampling of the year-round spectacle for the senses to be discovered in the many “gardens within the Garden,” and day trippers to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden will find that much more than just a tree grows in Brooklyn! Visit bbb.org to see hours (which vary by season), admission fees, tour information, and details for the fresh, delectable dining at the lovely Yellow Magnolia Café and the Yellow Magnolia Canteen.

Located at 990 Washington Ave., the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the perfect oasis in the heart of a busy borough, and whether you have a green thumb or wish that you did, there is a garden of earthly treasures within easy distance of home, ready to grow memories of a picturesque day trip.