The Conservatory Garden
History and Where it is Today
Smack in the middle of a bustling Central Park is the hidden oasis known as the Conservatory Garden. This six-acre garden offers much needed quiet and change of scenery–a serenity in stark contrast with the city’s noise and numerous activities.
The Conservatory Garden took its name from the previous glass conservatory which stood in the same area during the period 1989 to 1934. The original garden in the area was maintained by head gardener Ignax Pilate. His efforts of planting the first plants and shrubs paved way to the development of the very garden every tourist and New Yorkers enjoy up to this day.
However, the apparent deteriorating condition of the conservatory proved it too difficult to push through with the initial plan. Restoration expenses and maintenance efforts became too costly and soon enough the structure was torn down.
It was then that the idea of cultivating a formal garden was born.
Through the joint efforts and expertise of designer Gilmore D. Clarke, landscape architect Robert Moses, and M. Betty Sprout, the Conservatory Garden was completed and finally opened to the public on the year 1937.
A Quick Tour Inside the Conservatory Garden
To find your way inside the garden, you must enter through the Vanderbilt Gate, originally known as the passageway to Vanderbilt Mansion at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street before its demolition on 1927. The impressive iron gate with intricate design and repoussé details was made in an iron foundry France by George B. Post, a renowned American architect.
Designer Gilmore Clarke made sure that the Conservatory Garden is unlike any other. The Garden is divided into three parts of distinct styles: English, French, and Italian. A small part of the garden for each style represents the lavish and rich plant life one will definitely appreciate while inside the area.
The Central Garden is notably of Italian origin. Its walkways lined with prominent crabapple trees provides borders for both sides of the garden. During spring, the crabapples will be in its full bloom making the garden all the more aesthetically pleasing to onlookers.
Upon reaching the west side of the garden, a wisteria pergola made of wrought-iron can be seen ornamenting an immaculate geyser fountain–a divine view made more special when violet flowers are in bloom around the pergola.
The meticulously kept green lawn promises relief and relaxation with its understated platform where a full view of the myriad of flowers around the area can be more appreciated. The Italian Garden is ideal for celebration of weddings and is a favorite spot for couples wanting to have precious photos as souvenirs.
France in New York
At the northern part of the area lies the French garden. What differentiates this classic garden from the other sections is its Three Dancing Maidens, a beautiful fountain made by German Sculptor Walter Schott in 1910.
This central attraction within the garden is lavishly surrounded by beds of well-kept array of flowers which change with each season. Indeed, the wonders of plant life inside the garden might very well be the ultimate reason why anyone should at least visit the garden in their lifetime.
You can just imagine how a thousands of tulips signaling the end of winder will suddenly change into numerous Korean chrysanthemums to proclaim the coming of fall–each dance of season an opportunity for a wild and mesmerizing floral display.
And to fully appreciate the significance of the changing seasons, four entryways are connected to the center of the garden where each pergola is adorned with Silver Moon roses famous for their attractive pink and white hues.
English and Blooms
Finally, you’ll step into the south garden patterned in English style. What makes this part different from the first two is its lack of extreme formality–making it more laid back and closer to the heart of anyone who just want some time off the busy streets of New York.
What makes it even better is that you don’t have to wait for the season to change to see that much-awaited blooms you can admire as you can see it almost every week.
If you’re a reader and a fan of Frances Hodgson Burnett, you’ll immediately take note of the Burnett Fountain, a bronze sculpture of the young boy and girl characters in the book The Secret Garden. The fountain was designed by Bessie Potter Vonnoh in 1936.
Hundreds of floating water lilies can be found in the surrounding pool where a number of sophisticated goldfishes are freely swimming as well. The planting beds, collection shrubs and perennial trees are found in the southern part of the area and completes the whole mesmerizing aura that the English garden offers.
It’s safe to say that the English garden is a true favorite of many due to its dependable seasonal blooms and beautiful walkways. It is the place favored by strollers, gardeners, sight-seers and even readers who are looking for tranquil and open space.
Rich in History and Beauty
The beauty of the Conservatory Garden does not only lie in its rich background and history–it is found in the marvelous cycle of life seen with each bloom and season, heard in the very rippling sound of the fountain and the whistle of the wind, and felt in the hearts of every visitor.
Indeed, a glimpse inside the Conservatory Garden will transport you into a world you’ve never imagined can be found in the midst of the ever-busy New York City.
To take guided tour of Conservatory Garden please reserve 3-Hours Central Park Rickshaw Tour.