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Winter at Brooklyn Botanic Garden


The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, just blocks from my house, is a favorite place for walks in three seasons, but I've seldom set foot there in the dead of winter. Last week, on a walk with a grandson, I did, and was struck by the changes the winter made, not only in the plants and trees, but in the Garden's relation to the neighborhood beyond its walls.


Views that in summer are full of color and dense foliage now reveal more views of the buildings around the garden, but it is not the outside buildings that stand out—it's the altered shapes and perspectives within the garden, the flattening of the color palette, and especially, the stark images of leafless trees. George G once again solved the One-Clue Mystery, referring to the Garden's admin building, just visible at the edge of the photo below.


I've always been a 'wait-for-spring' garden visitor; I'm not much fun of cold anyway, but I think I'll be taking more winter walks in future years. Here's a gallery of some of what I saw, along with a few images of the same or similar areas from other seasons.


Among the Garden's glories is its large collection of magnolias; it's actually a key player in preserving and propagating some rare varieties. The view just above and at the top shows part of the magnolia garden with the leafless trees seeming almost like fragile, like dandelion puffs. Quite a contrast with their spring foliage, as these pictures from an April visit show.


Another contrast...


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Ironically, I found, some things show their color better in winter, and not just these dwarf winterberries. The brilliant display of the red-twigged dogwood was so bright it seemed almost unnatural; in summer its leaves attenuate the display.


More winter color...


And while some things never lose their color...


others clearly have an identity crisis (or was it identity theft?)


Come Spring, hundreds of children will be working here in the Children's Garden in America's oldest children's gardening program, but now, in the lower picture, it looks like a long way off...


In summer, this barren arbor along a path is covered in kiwis...


New York has two major botanical gardens, and a few of less renown. Of the two best-known, the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is far larger and has stretches of forest and field that could never fit into Brooklyn's 52 acres.


On the other hand, BBG, with its extensive collections and careful landscaping and host of specialty gardens makes a great visit—and you can see it all in a day. If you can, plan a half day for the Garden, and the other half for the next-door Brooklyn Museum, which currently has a major Frida Kahlo exhibit.



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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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