Thursday, August 25, 2011

New York Lives!

Every time I tell people that my dream is to design in New York City, the reply is ALWAYS "what? There is no GREEN in NYC." I can see why they say that. I mean, "concrete jungle where dreams are made of"...right? Wrong! Well, at least partly wrong. Let's first point out the obvious - the heart and center of NYC is 843 ACRES (not square feet people, acres) of greenery. Did you know central park is 6% of Manhattans total area? That means that the most expensive real estate in the country is dedicated to greenery! Well at least we've got something right.
Ok, so we have Central Park, but what about the rest of New York City? What else is there to work with? This is when I tell people that they need to open their eyes. There are plants everywhere we turn! Whether it's residents making the most of their roof, front porch or even windowsill, or groups of individuals creating living, breathing areas to escape the craziness of the city, there is a co-existing garden in our concrete jungle. I'll take you through some of what I found in my recent trip to New York.

I took a ferry from Bridgeport the Port Jefferson in Long Island to start my trip. I was enthralled by the little boat town on the north shore. It is so charming! I loved walking around this charming area. I found a perfect garden store filled with books and wonderful antiques. I was thrilled to chat with a fellow gardener. Later my friends came to eat dinner with me and we got to watch fireworks. It was a perfect start to my vacation.

I was also told that there will be a Charles Dickens festival in December. I can't wait to go!!

Port Jefferson is a wonderful place to escape the city and enjoy time with friends and family. But now it's time to move into the city. What does NYC have in its backyard?

There are so many things to showcase in this beautiful park that I'm afraid it would take an entire blog to do it justice. Therefore I am including the link to the park here. What I love most about the High Line is that it is the best of both worlds. They have created an enchanting take on the city. It isn't an escape from the hustle and bustle, nor is it the bright lights of Time Square. Instead High Line Park uses greenery to increase your appreciation of the city. Since it is above street level, the skyline is framed in such a way you can't get from the Empire State Building or a helicopter ride. It is a truly remarkable city experience. Take a look and see what I mean. 


What a beautiful day to walk around the park. But I still had more places to go!

I love people watching. Whether they are contemplating art, relaxing in a beautiful garden, or even people watching themselves. And that is one reason why I love going to museums. I mean, think about it what is really going through people's heads as they look at art. "Wow, this sculpture really used light and form to bring out the emotion in this chipmunk..." or "why the heck did someone decide to create a sculpture of a chipmunk?"or even "I think someone left their half eaten hamburger on that pedestal... oh wait, I think that's a chipmunk..." Ok, I jest, but the truth is I love museums because I appreciate the way they encourage people to expand their creativity and minds. Which is also why I particularly love the gardens that accompany most of the museums. I can't think of a more perfect place to contemplate art than when you are surrounded by it. The garden at the MoMA has a modern design (of course) and created a very welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. It's fun to see how gardens can reflect their surroundings.

Now here is a little treat! You can actually find these in many areas around the city. I don't know what they are officially called, but I called this one a garden alley because that is precisely logical :) I stumbled upon this after leaving the MoMA and desperately needed to feed my hanger (hunger+anger=hanger. I more commonly say "hangry" but you get the picture). This little treasure was right next to Le Pain Quotidien on 53rd St and 5th. I claim this a perfect lunch eatery for a couple of reasons. 1. There was a waterfall to stimulate the sound of nature 2. The walls were covered with vines so one is surrounded by greenery, and 3. When looking up all one sees is the tree canopy! In every way one is surrounded by nature - in the "concrete jungle." It was incredibly peaceful and I actually enjoyed sharing my lunch with 60 strangers. 

Lucky me! I saved the best for last. Wave Hill Gardens is a gorgeous public garden and cultural center up in the Bronx. Forget the Bronx Botanical garden! As wonderful and vast as it is, the botanical garden is usually overpopulated and overpriced. Plus, I feel so overwhelmed going in there. I would need to dedicate three days just to walk through it! Wave Hill Gardens is perfect because it isn't as well known so you can really get some much needed one on one nature time. I was also able to walk through most of the developed areas of the gardens. I felt like there was a perfect mixture of enough exploration without feeling overwhelmed. And for the last hour or so I was there, I just sat in a chair that overlooked a view of the hills and wrote in my journal. I was completely content. My flower brain was satisfied while my exhausted body and mind took a nice long rest. And a must see of Wave Hill is their wonderful little art gallery. Just check out the art I found at the bottom of this post. Incredible!

The one on the right is a close-up of the one on the left. Amazing, right!? I guess it is thousands of words and phrases from religious books. The artist cut each and every letter out and pasted it into this pattern. Absolutely incredible. 

Well my friends, that's it for this tour around NYC. Let me know when you're in town and I will take you wherever you want to go! Whether I've been there or not. There is always more to be discovered in this bursting city. And as for me, I am determined to continue the search to find the hidden living spots in our so called concrete jungle. 


  1. Wow. So beautiful. That art work is cRAzy! And the pictures above it look just like the Cluff Bldg greenhouses! *sigh*

    Did you find out about some of these places while you were serving there? like the MOMA and such?

  2. Oh and I love those skinny trees in front of the waterfall. So cool. Any idea what they are?

  3. I know, it almost makes me want to go back! Did you know they are tearing down the Cluff this year? *double sigh*

    I found out about all of these great places through friends and through just plain exploring NYC on my own. I was never really allowed to go into Manhattan during my mission since it was out of my area. Hence the reason I needed to come back ;)

    And the skinny trees I believe are a sort of locust. That's what the leaves looked like anyway. And those are really the only trees that would grow that tall so quickly in such an urban environment. But if I find out for sure in the next little while I will let you know for sure!