Spring is creeping up slowly here in the Northeast, and while spring in New York City can bring some hot and cold weather, it also brings an excuse to visit some of the city’s most amazing gardens.
Now, lush green gardens and bright blooming flowers might not be the first thing you think about when you plan your trip to New York City in the spring, but beautiful gardens are some of this bustling city’s hidden gems. But, if you don’t know where to look, they can be difficult to find. So grab this handy list of our picks for New York City’s best gardens and start exploring! The best gardens criss-cross the city, so grabbing a multi-day tour bus pass means you can hop on and off to check these gardens, and other attractions, out during your visit!
New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx
There’s nothing hidden about this botanical garden, a delight for tourists and locals alike, but there’s a reason why it’s so popular. This National Historic Landmark (est. 1891) features a museum of living plant collections over its 250-acre garden (the largest in any US city). There are more than a million plants on display and you can enjoy gardens like the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, considered among the world’s most sustainable rose gardens, or any of the 30,000 trees on the property, many more than 200 years old.
6BC Botanical Garden
624 East 6th Street between Avenues B & C, East Village
This casual, relaxing garden is open whenever a member is in the garden. The garden, maintained by volunteer community members, began on a rubble-strewn empty lot in the early 1980s. Today, it includes hundreds of plants and a quiet, peaceful space for the community to enjoy nature.
Garden at St. Luke in the Fields
487 Hudson St, West Village
On more than two-thirds of an acre, the Garden at St. Luke in the Fields features walks, lawns and a fine collection of garden standards, rare hybrids and native American flora. Built facing southwest and with heat-retaining brick walls, the garden features some unique flora and fauna thanks to its warm microclimate. Berries and flowers provide a rest stop for migrating birds and butterflies during spring and fall. The gardens are the private property of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, built in 1821, gbut are open to the public.
Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum
895 Shore Road, Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
The Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum is a great two-for-one in that you can visit beautiful gardens alongside a historic mansion that you can tour. The mansion is set in Pelham Bay, New York City’s largest park. The 19th century country house is situated in a 60-acre New York City Landmark Historic District and is surrounded by a “forever wild” zone. It boasts formal, terraced gardens on six acres, a Children’s Organic Garden and more.
Creative Little Garden
530 E. 6th St., East Village
Ths long, narrow garden (just 24-by-100 feet) has a winding gravel path, rock garden, flagstone patio and many seating areas so it’s a perfect spot to stop and take a rest on a warm spring or summer day. (In fact, the slate patio is shaded by a large willow tree.) The garden opened in 1982 on the site of a tenement building that burned down. Aside from colorful azaleas, tulips, ferns and roses the garden contains a plethora of birdhouses and eight sculptures.
271 East 21st St., between 2nd and 3rd Ave.
New York is full of surprises, not the least of which is the 25-foot waterfall that makes up the centerpiece of this three-level park. Greenacre features honey locust trees, sunny seating areas and even an outdoor cafe. This is the perfect park to stop at on a cool day; its raised terrace is heated.
Ford Foundation Atrium Garden
320 E. 43rd St. at the Ford Foundation for Social Justice
If the weather is cold or rainy, you can still get the tranquility of a garden by heading indoors to the Ford Foundation’s Atrium Garden. It features 39 species of plants, a reflecting pool and a sensory garden with a collection of plant life you can touch and smell.
1 Margaret Corbin Drive in Fort Tryon Park
Heather Garden is a three-acre park nestled in the enormous Fort Tryon Park. The area showcases flowers and plants that are adapted to the unique and varied terrain of Fort Tryon, including 46 American Elms and more than 550 varieties of plants, trees and shrubs. The garden also hosts a number of seasonal events. Leave the garden to explore the entire park, with playgrounds, fitness amenities, eight miles of paved walking and jogging paths and more.
Shakespeare Garden (Central Park)
In Central Park
Get away from Central Parks’ bustle in this quiet, four-acre garden. It features winding paths and seasonal flora that’s particularly vibrant in spring. Nods to Shakespear include rosemary and pansies (Hamlet), thistle (Much Ado About Nothing) and a white mulberry tree said to have grown from a graft of a tree planted by Shakespeare himself in 1602. Spy bronze plaques with Shakespearean quotes to identify each plant species.
There’s lots to see in Central Park, so if you’d like to check out more hidden gems, consider a Central Park walking tour to get the most of it!
First Street Green Garden/First Street Art Park
33 E 1st St., Lower East Side
It’s called a Garden, but the First Street Green Garden is of a different variety. Practice graffiti without getting in trouble: at this park, anyone can paint street art murals on the walls. Murals by talented and often famous street artists are on display all the time, but due to the changing nature of the park, can be painted over at any moment.