Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Brooklyn Botanics

After six days at sea, we docked in New York and I was ready for a 'fix' of horticulture! Philip went off to the Apple store (he's a computer geek not a fruit man!) and I headed down the subway to Brooklyn Botanic garden.  This is a 52 acre garden originally established in 1910 and growing over 10,000 different types of plant. As I explored the garden, I soon found lots to grab my attention. The garden contains an extensive collection of plants arranged by family but arranged in informal island beds and attractive groups rather than in the traditional and totally boring order beds. At the time of my visit, there were numerous Lagerstroemia in bloom. It amazes me that with New York's severe winter temperatures, plants such as this thrive.

Canna Pretoria welcoming me to the garden

The tallest Amaranthus 'Foxtail' ever!
Albizzia 'Chocolate' - seems OK but I found it disappointing in the UK

The Discovery Garden

Lagerstroemeria - no idea of the cultivar
Bark on Lagerstroemeria - wonderful

Silphium perfoliatum - good tall perennial
Hidden away between the conifers and the bluebell wood is a fine sub-tropical border filled with all the usual large leaved exotica, just the stuff to make the heart beat a bit faster! In the morning sunshine the contrasts of foliage absolutely glowed.

Subtropical border - love the contrast between bananas and grasses

Dark foliage just comes alive in sunshine

Dracaena - I'd never have thought to put this outside (I'm told this is now Cordyline fruticosa)

Black leaved Colocasia and grasses

Pennisetum - is it P. aloppecuroides? Common but lovely!

Musa 'Zebrina' and Pennisteum setaceum 'Rubrum'

Iresine and Setaria palmifolia

Tradescantia spathacea 'Sitara's Gold'

Nearby the herb garden is an interesting mix of herbs, edibles and flowers with some great planting combinations and a fair few unusual plants. The sweet corn was 14ft high and the pumpkins were threatening to invade the adjacent rock garden.

Herb garden from the raised viewing platform
Herb garden
Fig makes a good architectural container plant

Just love these sunflowers

Manihot esculenta Variegata - a favourite I've blogged about before!

Great contrast to the lush planting

The tender plants are housed in three modern glasshouses, known as the Steinhardt Conservatory. Sadly the traditional Palm House seems to have been relegated to conferences and weddings but I guess like so many similar institutions, finance is a major issue. Still I would prefer to see it full of palms rather than bridal parties.

The tropical House

Bulnesia arborea - creosote bush

Victoria amazonica

Outside the palm house is a wide terrace surrounding three formal ponds holding an extensive collection of water lilies, including tender species and some Lotus.Lots of colour and some beautiful blooms. One day I'm going to fall in trying to photograph water lilies!

The lily ponds and Palm House

Beautiful lotus and seedpods

I just love the foliage as well as the blue flowers
Nymphaea 'Peach glow' - sadly most of the labels had fallen off

Backing the terrace is another fine sub-tropical border that started my pulse started racing again! Jam packed with wonderful coloured foliage and exotic blooms. reminds me of how many wonderful plants there are available for summer borders.

More exotics - Ricinus taller than mine left back in the UK.
Amaranthus tricolor

Hibiscus acetosella - it may have another name?

Hibiscus coccinius - possibly 'Texas Star'
Canna 'Pretoria' and sunshine again!

Variegated Musa - sadly it had partly rotted off so the plant was laying on the soil

Xanthosoma - love the foliage

Last time I visited this garden, probably ten years ago, the Japanese garden was closed for refurbishment so I was pleased to be able to explore this extensive but quiet contemplative garden.It is meant to inspire tranquility with each curve in the path revealing a new view of idealized nature.

Japanese garden

Tea House

More of the garden - guess it all has meanings

Pinus thunbergiana

Time had gone! I missed the Fragrance Garden and the Shakespeare collection, both inaccessible due to irrigation. The cherry trees were well past their spring splendour, the rock garden looked a bit dried up, the rose garden was rather barren of colour and the lilacs taking their summer rest, all reminding me that this is a garden to revisit at other seasons. Rushing back to the hotel, I arrived first, relieved that I was not keeping Philip waiting for lunch. An hour later I discovered that I had misunderstood the arrangement and he was already drinking a quiet pint of Guinness in the bar next door. Never mind - I soon caught up!


  1. Wow, what a stunning botanical garden, loads of plant goodies and great planting combinations as well. The water feature was a nice break from all of it though, love the stone that they used. I thoroughly enjoyed going through your photos this morning :)

  2. Beautiful! I have put it on my "must see" list for when I revisit New York.

  3. Hi your dracaena looks like cordyline fruiticosa (Hawaiian ti)?

  4. Scott - AddictedtopalmsSeptember 8, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    wow I love the Victoria amazonica! The way they lip up is so cool, just want to jump from pad to pad! lol

    The Amaranthus tricolor has such fiery foliage. Love it!

  5. Agree - must admit I'm a sucker for bold foliage of any kind!