April 23, 2010
at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Believe it or not I actually come from a long line of successful horticulturalists. My Uncle Michael is a Landscape Designer who has worked for some of (Florida's) South Beach's most famous hotels, such as the Fontainebleau. My mother has created and maintained a huge and ever growing garden which included at one time a very large vegetable and herb garden. My father is more of a gardener and weed puller--out of compulsion--but he still enjoys the activity. When we were younger my mother used to drag my sisters and I to the Staten Island Horticulture Club where I watched my sister Nicole do very well at the competitions and place first a number of times, while I struggled and maybe got a 3rd place ribbon, once--it was for my boot shaped arrangement of some purpley leafy thing. I want to like to garden, I do. I can see myself with the gloves and a huge floppy hat digging up a new crop of hydrangeas or something else with a fantastic latin name. But then reality hits and I find myself outside, with dirt under my nails and bugs crawling out of the ground. I hate bugs. All bugs. Nope, not even butterflies. I am also highly allergic to most flowers--especially the stinky ones. After I gave birth to my son I was taken to the post partum room I was to share. I smelled the fragrance of the white lilies my roommate's very thoughtful husband spent a fortune for. I started itching, and immediately got a headache that lasted for hours. I had to ask her to get them the hell out of the room. I couldn't take it. I felt terrible, but I was going to throw up. She was great about it, I doubt I would have been that gracious.
Alas, I have the black thumb in the family, so it surprising that I find myself drawn to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. There is something so pleasant and Regency-era England about walking through rows of greenery and shaded paths. The Garden is comprised of many smaller, themed gardens including a Children's Garden which was started in 1914. Children 2-17 can plant their own flowers and vegetables with the help of garden volunteers. My son's favorite is the waterfall at the back of the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden. There, the turtles lay one upon the other, basking in the sun as artists set up their easels to sketch the beauty that is surrounding the large pond. It is completely peaceful and calming. And not once in the whole time you are in the park do you feel as if you are in midtown Brooklyn-not even when you hear the train go by.
This month BBG is celebrating "Hanami" which is the Japanese tradition of enjoying each moment of the cherry blossom season. This celebration will end with a two day Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom festival on May 1st and 2nd. (go to www.bbg.org to check out the times and event listings). The picture listed is of a Cherry Blossom in the Japanese garden, but there is also a breathtaking area called "Cherry Walk" that has rows and rows of these magical trees.
The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is located in Prospect Park and is near the Brooklyn Museum and the Prospect Park Zoo. There is parking, for a fee and children under 12 are free. Adults are $8. Unfortunately there is no picnicking in the park, but they do have a well stocked cafe and if you are traveling with kids, a few sneaky bites are not going to get you kicked out. There is so much to take in at the Garden that is so worth a mini road-trip.
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