Flowering Treasures In The Heart Of Brooklyn

Pink RosesCredit: KathyRM

I’m happy to say that my youngest daughter has caught the plant bug. She’s new to it and she’s happy to inhale all the flower information I can give her. So she took me to her favorite place in New York, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a sprawling piece of land, some 52 acres, and is divided into many gardens, including a big children’s flower picking garden, which was full of kids handing over fistfuls of flowers to their moms and dads who waited patiently beyond the wall.

Mini Treats

In fact, the entire bontanic garden was swarming with children which was wonderful on this sunny day. A little line of them, all holding on to a bright red cord, skipped past us as we made our way into the Steinhardt Conservatory.

Bonsai TreeCredit: KathyRM

Our first stop in the conservatory was the Bonsai Museum which had some impressive specimens in it. My husband would have loved it, being an ardent bonsai fan.  I admire the artistry of bonsai but, personally, I like trees to grow huge so kids can climb them and mothers can call frantically below. My 27 year old is still getting into trouble climbing baobab trees!

Orchids,  Butterflies And Water Lilies

Orchid with ButterflyCredit: KathyRM

We passed through the Orchid Room on our way to the Aquatic Room. There is not very much in flower at this time of year but I was happy to see a butterfly settling on a vibrant clump of ground orchids. I like to see the odd insect inside conservatories, circle of life and all that.There were a couple of beautiful hanging orchids enjoying the humidity in the Aquatic Room, overhanging the pond which was home to the biggest waterlily I’ve ever seen. It’s called a Longwood Hybrid Victoria. I presume it is named after Queen Victoria and it’s surely queen of waterlilies in terms of size. I believe children can sit on the leaves quite safely. 

Victoria WaterlilyCredit: KathyRM

I tried to persuade my child to try but, at 6ft 3in, she was dubious about her chances. A huge bud was just emerging from the water but would not hurry up and open while we waited so we moved on to the desert.

Into The Desert

There’s something weirdly intriguing about desert landscapes. Despite their dryness and the sparseness of plants in a desert, I’m drawn to the cacti and succulents, all determined to survive and even thrive in their harsh conditions. Bright flowers on cacti always thrill me. They remind me of young girls in the desert who wear the brightest clothes imaginable against their sandy landscape.

Jack FruitCredit: KathyRM

Into the Tropical Room with its tri-colored crotons and burgeoning jack fruit, palm trees and lipstick red spiral flags. Creepers twisted their way up the trees and then the heady fragrance of gardenia flowers drew us deep into the undergrowth of the Warm Temperate Room.

On our way out to the cafeteria, we were enchanted to see  a group of pre-schoolers out for the day, dancing from one pool of sunlight to another in the big conservatory foyer under the watchful eye of their teacher. The conservatory is obviously much loved and well used by the Brooklyn residents.

The rains in New York have worked their magic and the botanic garden is a lush green carpet, interwoven with tapestries of huge flower borders, with a healthy mix of vegetables and herbs thrown in. In one such bed a bumble bee worked its way around a pretty blue composite flower with soldier like precision, going from one little bloom to the next, never skipping a beat.

Cone Flowers and BeesCredit: KathyRM

We got caught up in the giant lilies and when we got to the cerise cone flowers we had a competition to see who could take the best photo of the bumble bees that were swarming them. Balloon flowers made a splash with their vivid blue petals and forests of sunflowers reflected the warmth in our walk.

Oriental Treasure

Japanese Garden Brooklyn Botanic GardenCredit: KathyRM

The Japanese Garden in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is wonderful and large. Masses of Koi and turtles race over from across the giant pond when they see you, hoping for a little treat, although there’s a large sign telling you not to do it, obviously ignored. The waterfall is surrounded by cypresses and maple trees and other Japanese plantings and in spring and autumn must be a marvellous show of colors. At this time of year it’s rich in greens.

We saw a rabbit in the waning rose garden, on our way to the Cherry Tree Garden where we lay on the lawn and watched the blue sky through the branches. I’ll have to go back there in spring time to see all the trees in bloom. There are at least a hundred trees there and it must be a glorious sight.

So many areas to walk through and run through, the place is beautifully laid out. We spent the whole day there, walking through the woods, the swamps and the vegetable gardens.

Pot Of Gold

Lotus Flowers Brooklyn Botanic GardenCredit: KathyRM

My favorite sight of the day, though, was just after we left the conservatory and went down to the water lily ponds. That’s where I saw my first Lotus blossoms and they took my breath away. Standing two feet out from their leaves, the flower petals literally glowed. Their enormous seed pods stood behind the flowers like sentries, and the setting they were in reminded me of lines from Samuel Coleridge’s poem, Kubla Khan:

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

Lonely Planet New York City (Travel Guide)
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