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For art in the park, visit New York Botanical Garden
I’ve always considered The New York Botanical Garden my garden. As a kid growing up in an apartment in the Bronx just a few blocks away, the park was like a big back yard for me. I played house under the cherry trees and games of hide and seek behind the big rocks. I remember days counting the fish in the ponds outside the Conservatory, and summer nights stretched out on a blanket on Daffodil Hill at free concerts with my parents. Even now, all grown up and living 12 miles north in a house with a yard and daffodils of my own, I still go to The New York Botanical Garden every chance I get. And if you’re in the Big Apple this spring, summer, or fall, it’s a great time for you to visit too. Because this is the year that The New York Botanical Garden is transformed into Monet’s Garden.
Running through October 21, 2012, Monet’s Garden exhibit celebrates the Impressionist master’s passion for planting and the influence it had on his paintings. The centerpiece of the show is in The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the beautiful Victorian-era glass greenhouse in the middle of the park. Step inside and you’ll be transported to Giverny, France, where Claude Monet lived, gardened and painted from 1883 till his death in 1926.
The artist’s gardens at Giverny have been recreated in spectacular detail--from the façade of his vine-covered pink house, to the Grand Allée with its green arches and lush layered flowerbeds, to the Japanese footbridge draped with wisteria. The palette will change with the seasons: Spring pastels (aubretias, delphiniums, bellflowers, foxgloves and irises) give way to summer’s hotter hues (nasturtiums, zinnias, hollyhocks, geraniums and cosmos). Starting in July, water lilies (many of them the same varieties Monet showcased in his ponds and artwork) will float in the Courtyard Pools. The Fall brings deeper, richer tones, as sunflowers, goldenrods, asters, sage and dahlias bloom in the Conservatory beds.
More Monet-themed attractions can be found throughout the rest of the park as well, most notably in the green-domed LuEsther T. Mertz Library, where two rarely seen Monet paintings are on display. You can also see one of his wooden paint palettes (still crusted with oils) and other artifacts from his time at Giverny. Next door in the Ross Gallery, view Seasons of Giverny, a collection of photographs taken by Elizabeth Murray, who tended the gardens there while Monet’s estate was being restored during the 1980s. If you’ve got kids, head to the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, where they can paint masterpieces of their own, inspired by nature’s colors.
Though Monet is the main reason to visit New York Botanical Garden this year, don’t leave without seeing some of its other top spots. My favorites: The Rock Garden; the Thain Family Forest; and the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden.
Getting there from midtown Manhattan takes less than 30 minutes. Just hop a Metro North train from Grand Central Terminal to the Botanical Garden station, and you’re there. I’ll look for you. Even though I still consider New York Botanical Garden my garden, I’m happy to share.