The Gardens of Eden in the Big Apple
Imagine a quiet oasis with water gurgling in a small pond lined with willows; people sitting on benches near cobbled walkways, reading or sipping coffee. A cat is slowly strolling around rows of tomatoes and lettuce. Sounds like an idyllic countryside getaway? It isn’t. In fact, it is the complete opposite: A community garden in the heart of one of the busiest places on earth: New York City.
Famously dubbed “concrete jungle”, the city also has a long history of another, greener side – Central Park is actually the first urban landscaped park in the United States. Today New York is home to four Botanical Gardens and prides itself with nearly 500 community gardens. Unnoticed by many, these green spots quietly hide between the multistory buildings and on the backstreets of New York. And even fewer visitors know that some of the community gardens are actually open to the public. So why not go there to take a break from the noise of the city?
Conveniently located within walking distance of SoHo, specifically the East Village has a lot to offer. Aside from small backyard flair places there are art and sculpture gardens, fruit and vegetable cultivations, ornamental plantings and water gardens. The flowery Miracle Garden at 194-196 East 3rd Street was created on the site of an abandoned building and offers plenty of shady spots to kick off your heels and curl up with a good book. Just a few blocks from there, the Creative Little Garden invites you to take a stroll around its beautifully designed compound at 530 East 6th Street. The little green oasis was voted the best community garden in New York and besides amazing with a large variety of flowers also has a small waterfall.
A comprehensive online directory makes it easier to dig up the gems and also lists events such as barbeques and farmer’s markets: www.gardenmaps.org. Alternatively, another directory categorized by boroughs is available here.
Since some of the small parks and gardens are privately owned and managed, access to them might be restricted.
Cordula Schaefer is a photography enthusiast who loves to venture out to explore new places and hardly ever leaves the house without a camera. A New Yorker at heart, she is especially fond of city trips and has a soft spot for beautiful beachscapes. She currently bases herself in Berlin and keeps the visual documents of her travels at Cordugram.