City Pulse

By Katie Calautti

I possess the uncanny ability to doom all pre-meditated social outings with my habitual bad timing – which is why I was wholly unsurprised to wake up and find that Mother Nature had opted to schedule mutinous thunderstorms (complete with downpours that could strip the paint off an SUV) on the very same day that I was to visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for the first time.

Because I am a trooper (and, let’s face it, a tad partial to the riotously impractical), I trudged forth – wellie-clad, wielding a giant golf umbrella, plastic-encased map of the grounds in-hand.

One short subway ride and $8 entrance feel later, I felt like a lost extra in the latest Jane Austen film adaptation. Sauntering along an outer path, I marveled at the bucolic, rolling hills, lush greenery and – gasp – smells and sounds, not of rotting garbage can contents and honking taxi horns, but nature! The rain – which turned out to be less-than-obtrusive for moi, but was clearly enough to deter others (I had the entire park to myself) – cast my surroundings in a misty haze, enhancing the dreamlike quality. Yes, I was standing in the middle of Brooklyn. No, I was not interested in returning to the stinky, crowded city streets any time soon.

I had no plan – I simply walked the perimeter and found myself rambling onto the path’s numerous offshoots – starting at the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden (my favorite stop), entering the Shakespeare Garden (where every plant bore a sonnet or play-attributed quotation), through the lily pond and fountain-strewn entrance to the Steinhardt Conservatory, around the pint-sized Children’s Garden, along the boulder-laden Rock Garden, past the Cherry Esplanade (famed for its seasonal blossoms), and into the Cranford Rose Garden (the celebrity and royalty-inspired names are almost as much of a showstopper as the blooms).

By the time I found my way back to the Washington Avenue entrance, I was sufficiently loved up by my chlorophyllic surroundings. And – this Labor Day weekend – you and yours can catch green fever, too – the Brooklyn Botanic Garden will be open from 10am – 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 718-623-7200 or visit http://www.bbg.org to find travel directions, admission and parking fees, maps, photos, a calendar of events and much more.

Your odds of having perfect weather for the trip are greatly increased by the fact that I’ll be out of town, so go forth and garden!

Originally published September 2009
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