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What makes New York such a great city? With its soaring skyscrapers, art meccas, diverse foodie outlets and let’s not forget shopping, cocktails and Broadway – there’s much to keep you busy. It’s a city for wandering through contrasting neighbourhoods and the dense metropolis. Splintering the urban drama, New York aficionados will find breakout spaces of green a soothing tonic to the thrall of city life.
Let us introduce you to the New York Botanical Garden, or the NYBG as it’s affectionately known, a whopping 250 acres, landscaped with one million living plants. Located in the Bronx, this living museum is designed to top up your green-spiration while giving you an educational dose of nature. It’s the perfect antidote to the city and one we’d highly recommend on your next trip to New York.
Like many of NY’s tourist counterparts, the New York Botanical garden is impressive on a big scale. There are greenhouses aplenty – stunning conservatories that showcase exotic ecosystems from afar, a library that houses the one of largest collections of botany-related text in the world and a plant research centre (International Plant Science Center) that could well be the biggest on the planet. Quite justifiably, it was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1967.
The pillars of its foundation stay true today, with the garden opening its doors to children of deserving communities to help inspire the next generation, and the Plant Science Center becoming a cutting edge pioneer in the preservation of the world’s botanical diversity.
Highlights also include the Peggy Rockefeller’s Rose Garden, with over 650 varieties of rose. Between the months of May and October, when the roses come into bloom, the scent is somewhat intoxicating, alongside the continual hum of bees taking advantage of the natural spectacle. The old-growth forest, which you pass through along Native American hunting trails, is thousands of years old, and was one of the reasons this site in the Bronx was chosen to be a botanic garden.
The garden’s history dates back to 1891, when illustrious botanists Nathaniel Lord Britton and his wife Elizabeth came back from a visit to England full of the beauty of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew. They were determined to create something similar in New York – sensing the importance of allowing New Yorkers access to green spaces, where they could understand more about botany and in turn aid research into research and conservation.
Elizabeth Gertrude Knight Britton (1857-1934) was a bryologist and educator, and one of the founding leaders of The New York Botanical Garden. Elizabeth Knight graduated from the Normal School (now Hunter College) in 1875 and taught there as a critic teacher (1875-82) and Tutor in Natural Science (1882-85). She married Nathaniel Lord Britton on August 27, 1885. Their parallel botanical careers lasted until their deaths within months of each other in 1934. Both are intrinsically associated with the creation of The New York Botanical Garden, and Elizabeth Britton became one of the foremost authorities in bryology of her time.
Nathaniel Lord Britton (1857-1934) was a botanist, taxonomist, and first Director-in-Chief of the New York Botanical Garden, Dr.Britton, as Professor of Geology & Botany at Columbia University, curated its herbarium and botanical library.
Depending on the season you might see artwork presented in nature – like Yayoi Kusama and her Cosmic Nature series, or enjoy a Christmas light show around the gardens. Whatever you come here for, you’ll always leave richer in the sights and sounds of nature, right in the heart of New York City.