Musings at The Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC

The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know. ~ Michel Legrand

Michel Legrand’s quote sums up how I feel about Central Park. The more I see the less I know, I thought as I left through The Conservatory Garden’s beautiful cast-iron gates yesterday and into the commotion of Fifth Avenue.

The silhouette of Manhattan from the northern end of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.

Of his favourite spots to visit in Harlem, celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson singled out “the Conservatory Garden in Central Park just off East 105th Street.” I’d filed this mention in the back of my mind.

Main entrance into the Conservatory Garden. The gates once stood at Cornelius Vanderbilt’s mansion on 58th St and 5th Avenue

February, the first: a warmish (59F) winter’s day in New York, a day to make an uptown trip to Central Park North. As I hadn’t done any prior research, I thought  The Conservatory Garden resided in a greenhouse. Not so.

The Conservatory Garden began as a large, E-shaped greenhouse, or conservatory in 1898. It featured an indoor winter garden of exotic tropical plants and outdoor decorative Victorian flowerbeds. In 1937, the deteriorating structure was demolished and this… formal garden was designed in its place.*

Six acres of outdoor gardens define its expanse, a triad of stylized gardens, influenced by France, England and Italy. A little bit of Europe in NYC. I hope you enjoy The Conservatory Garden through this pictorial. Oh, and prepare yourself mentally to enter an “Official Quiet Zone”.

As an aside, I would like to dedicate this post to my few bloggers: Vidal’sNYC for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger award. I hope you may check out Vidal’s photo-glimpses of New York as he sees it. I’m also so appreciative of the support by robertoalborghetti and MiltonJohns Photography for reblogging my posts on Letting Love Rule @ Radio City Music Hall (Lenny Kravitz) and Gated Abandonment on Bowery ~ downtown NYC. I am really humbled by your kind comments and thank you for your inspiration. I hope you may check out the photography and art portfolios of all three bloggers. I’m a keen follower of their work and hope you will be too.

Musings at The Conservatory Garden

The French inspired part of the Garden, at its northern end.

Fountains stand empty for now. Dancing Maidens sculpture by German artist Walter Schott.

Manicured hedges and patterned green.

Winter’s calm beauty: still trees, a late afternoon sun, long shadows.

Hibernating hydrangeas; sleeping beds of roses..

A stream of late-afternoon sun rays.

The English-inspired part of the Garden, to the south.

Grassy furry plants remind me of Mr. Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street.

More puppet reminders, this time of those crazy hairstyled muppets on Fraggle Rock. Do you remember? The English part of the garden is based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic, The Secret Garden, but it is so Jim Henson inspired.

Early bloomering jonguils. Perhaps spring is closer than we think.

The Italian-inspired garden, in the Conservatory’s centre.

Entangled Chinese wisteria against a Fifth Avenue view.

A blue period.

A touch of history : the original 13 states engraved into tile.

The Italian Renaissance Garden: The Medici, the ruling dynasty of Florence, used gardens to demonstrate their own power and magnificence. “During the first half of the sixteenth century, magnificence came to be perceived as a princely virtue, and all over the Italian peninsula architects, sculptors, painters, poets, historians and humanist scholars were commissioned to concoct a magnificent image for their powerful patrons.” **

At dusk, the grand gate must close.

Hello Manhattan.




34 thoughts on “Musings at The Conservatory Garden, Central Park, NYC

  1. Beautiful. I will look forward to you maybe re-visiting the Conservatory Gardens in Spring but I love gardens in Winter. What you have ably shown us with your lovely pictures is structure and design laid bare. Both that of nature and of the garden’s designers. The garden in Winter is quiet, peaceful and for me, a great place for optimistic contemplation, surrounded, as you are, by the hidden promise of the seasons to come. I really enjoyed this post. Thank you Marina.

    • Thanks so much Adrian! I’ve learned to like so many things in winter (not my fave season) simply be experiencing them, especially winter’s gardens and beaches. They really are spaces for contemplation ~ quieter for the off-season, though so much calmer and soulful. And in a sense, even more beautiful before they are muted with blooms and people. “Design laid bare” – what a great way to describe it. I appreciate your comment, as always! And thank you for enjoying the post!

  2. Thank you so much Marina for your friendship and support! And I thank you for this great post about NYC and its incredible “open air secrets”. You know how to find in our daily life fascinating reasons to appreciate the human genius and creativity!

    • Dear Roberto – your comment is so kind and thoughtful. Thank you so much for it – it means alot to me, hearing that from you. I hope to share more of the world with you, and thank you for your support also!

  3. Marina these are really beautiful images, each one! I can’t believe you have flowers in bloom already!! And really, you’re not that far away.
    I like your “Jim Henson plants”, inspiration everywhere. 😀

    • Hi Karen! The Fraggle Rock like plant made me laugh – it looks like hair standing on end! Thanks for your comment about the photos ~ I am so glad to hear it from you 🙂 I look forward to spring, though am not done with winter yet 🙂 Thank you again!

  4. I said I like your photos, so much. I really don’t understand why people say america is young, there’s a lot of history marina in your picture. Your story, your personal one and everyone’s. I saw emily dickinson walking along the alleys in the dusk. She wasn’t alone. Best regards

    • What a thoughtful comment, thank you. America certainly isn’t young, though compared to other parts of the world, I understand it being perceived in this way. I am from Australia and can relate to being brought up in a ‘young’ country. As for Emily Dickinson ~ there is alot of soulful inspiration around these grounds. Thank you!

    • Brandie – your collage of images has made me excited for spring at the Garden! I also like it – who knew an actual Conservatory stood in the space? I must find some photos of it. You’re right though ~ it has been a blessing to be able to walk outside without gloves! I tried the flickr – it’s asking me for a log in and I don’t have an account with them. Are you on tumblr?

    • Thanks so much! It is a lovely space – Europe in Manhattan! I can’t wait to see it change during the seasons. It also seems a little less populated than the southern end of the Park, closest to 59th Street. 🙂

  5. Glad you’re enjoying everything winter has to offer…it’s such a lovely time of year, albeit hard to appreciate sometimes in the bitter cold. I really love the photographic journeys you lead us all on. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks so much for your comment – I appreciate that and glad to share. It hasn’t been the coldest winter yet in NY – last year was FAR worse. I am definitely trying to take advantage as there may be a day when I just cannot get past the snow at the front door 🙂

  6. Love walks in the park 🙂 So much culture in one place, it’s impressive, I had no idea! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Love these early evening sunshine rays breaking through to the park and making it glow in this beautiful golden colour. It seems that the weather outside is fresh and crisp, just perfect for a lovely walk in such a beautiful park!

    • Thanks Kristina – I had no idea about this European-inspired Garden either! It was a nice find for me 🙂 The weather has been blue skied, chilly (but not so bad recently) ~ so being outdoors isn’t too tough. Thank you for your lovely comment 🙂

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