Autumn amble at New York Botanical Garden


After touring Wave Hill on October 11, my daughter and I took the train to the New York Botanical Garden. Although both NYBG and Wave Hill are located in the Bronx, mass transit between the two ate up some time, and we had tickets to a Broadway show that evening. We knew we wouldn’t be able to stay long enough to see all 250 acres and 50 gardens.


Rather than stress about it, we explored at random, taking paths that wound around enormous boulders fringed by Japanese forest grass and white anemones and into woods tinged yellow and orange.


The afternoon was overcast and chilly, but the morning rain had ended, and we saw more people here than we had at Wave Hill. From a nearby sports arena we heard an announcer’s voice, cheers, and air horns. The cool weather, turning leaves, and game noise reminded me of fall days in the Southeast, where I grew up.


All that we lacked was the smell of wood smoke in the air.


I’ve admired council rings since first encountering one at Chicago Botanic Garden’s Evening Island. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have one in a home garden, with a fire pit in the middle?


I loved this meadowy scene atop a boulder-strewn rise.


It was one of the prettiest areas we saw.


Grasses, garlic chives gone to seed, asters, and pink daisies combined in a tapestry of fall color.


In a lower part of the garden, a swale for collecting and funneling rainwater leads the eye to a mound of vertical boulders.


A closer look


Woodsy paths beckoned with leaves just starting to turn.


Chipmunks scurried here and there, collecting nuts for winter…


…and stopping to eat one or two.


Who could resist a path like this? Not us.


My daughter picked up a fallen leaf and made a hair ornament of it.


Nothing bought in a store could be as pretty.


Fallen leaves adorned the ground too.


On a bridge high above a creek we looked down on more golden trees.


We saw a few reds as well.


A lovely native plant garden with a large pond offered a boardwalk stroll…


…past woodland borders with plenty of fall color.


Ferns were still green then but probably not for long.


At the sunnier end, we noticed a swath of colorful pitcher plants in the mucky soil along the decking.


Aren’t they lovely?


I’m noticing pitcher plants everywhere these days, especially in container plantings. Are they the plant du jour, wresting the crown away from tillandsias?


From wet-loving plants to dry-loving, this garden has it all. Devil’s tongue (Opuntia humifusa) looks quite happy, even in New York (yes, it’s native), nestled amid heat-reflecting boulders.


This must be a birder’s paradise with so many food sources, including coneflowers and grasses gone to seed.


I wish I’d taken a few photos inside the gift shop, which was quite nice and very large as botanical garden gift shops go. An extensive gardening book section captivated me for a while, and imagine my delight when I saw that they carried my book, Lawn Gone! — and it was even displayed face out! I swear I didn’t turn it that way for the picture.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my garden visits from New York. For a look back at Wave Hill (1 of 2 posts), click here. And for my extensive write-up of the High Line (1 of 2 posts), click here.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

22 Responses

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You bet I have enjoyed your tour. I am so happy you are a great photographer and so generous showing your work. What fun to see your book displayed! Love the leaf in your daughters hair. All that Japanese forest grass growing there is beautiful. Seeing it makes me drool. I can’t get even one little clump to grow here. Sigh~~ Fun post.I like seeing those white anemones in with the hellebores too. I have a small space with this going on. Of course this space is much prettier being so large.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Lisa, thank you for your kind words. No little clumps of Japanese forest grass for us here in Austin either, but I would have thought you could have it in Indiana. Ah well, that’s the joy of travel! —Pam

  2. Indie says:

    Wow, 250 acres and 50 gardens! That would be hard to see it all! It looks so lovely there, with the winding paths through the trees. I love the big boulders and meadow. I love pitcher plants,too. I have a container of them outside that I planted this year – overwintering them might be the tricky part! I’ve never seen so many growing in one spot before. Very pretty!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      It was lovely, Indie, and I’d have needed an entire day — or two! — to see this enormous garden. No wonder they had a tram that could take you to different parts of the garden. —Pam

  3. What a wonderful post and lovely autumn walk. I have saved this on my Pinterest board of Gardens I want to see and touch! I love the photos of your daughter, how great to share this garden with her. Happy Memories!

  4. Alison says:

    I have enjoyed your posts about your whirlwind trip to New York. Thanks for sharing your photos.

  5. TexasDeb says:

    Gorgeous gorgeous stuff. I typically think of cacti as “ours” but clearly such a resourceful plant species is going to find a way to make its home nearly everywhere. And speaking of “ours”, I (like others) have written about how we DO TOO have Fall Color here in Central Texas, but honestly, looking at those beautiful leaves? Sigh. Swoon….

    I hope you managed to have an easily overheard conversation with your daughter in the gift shop about how everywhere you go there is your book, and it gets to be almost too much, because you are such a private person otherwise… : )

    PS – I will have reached some sort of notable moment when I go to submit a comment WITHOUT having to be reminded to check that “I’m a human! Promise!” box first… So far? I’ve forgotten every time.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Deb, I learned that Opuntia is native to nearly every U.S. state — pretty amazing, eh? And a big yes to Texas fall color at ankle and knee level, but yeah, the Northeast has that AND the trees. Ah well, at least we’re not buried in snow each winter!

      I’m sorry about the anti-spam check-box. These things are such nuisances to have to have, but they really do block auto-spammers and don’t require real readers to log into an account in order to comment. A necessary evil, I’m afraid. Thanks for continuing to post your always thoughtful comments! —Pam

  6. Diana says:

    What a splendid garden. I love those craggy rocks and the paths adorned with colorful autumn leaves. Really – 50 gardens? That’s amazing. I’d bet you have plans to return to see the rest of them!

  7. I hope to visit here someday, thanks for the appetizer!

  8. Charlene West says:

    Since I can’t go to New York, your pictures were the next best thing! I enjoy all your posts!

  9. peter schaar says:

    Great photo tours of NY, Pam. Thanks! Next visit, I suggest touring the historic rose plantings in Harlem created by Stephen Scannielo and the Heritage Rose Foundation. I think the Hispanic Museum would be the place to start.

  10. Oh, yes, another on my wish list. That’s wonderful your book is so widely distributed and embraced by all! Lovely lovely tour, thank you!

  11. rickii says:

    What I wouldn’t give for a few of those boulders…or the chance to follow in your footsteps on this trip.

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