This article was also written in part by Samantha Sokol
If you thought gardening was purely a white-fence suburban hobby, think again. These gardens scattered through Manhattan feature a diverse range of plants and flowers — one of them even has a pond! Check them out here.
1. Liz Christy Garden, Lower East Side
Located on Houston Street, between Bowery and Second Avenue, the Liz Christy Garden was founded in 1973 as the first community garden in New York City. The park has a winding gravel path that extends from Bowery to Second Avenue, hidden alcoves, and a lake 2.5 feet deep. If gardening is your thing, you could volunteer for 20 hours to receive a key to the garden.
2. West Side Community Garden, Upper West Side
Located on West 89th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus, the West Side Community Garden is an oval shaped garden which hosts a variety of movies, workshops and talks that are free to the public. With a cordoned off area for individual plots, the rest of the garden is layered with flowers and trees and offers benches if you want to rest for a while. The garden was founded in 1976 when the trash-filled area was designated for an urban renewal project.
3. The Gardens at St. Luke’s, West Village
Located on the grounds of church of St. Luke’s in the Fields in the West Village, these gardens are tricky to find because they’re surrounded by high walls. These high walls create a warmer microclimate, allowing for a more diverse selection of flora. These privately owned gardens are open to the public — especially when it starts to get colder!
4. Tudor City Greens
Elevated above 42nd Street at First Avenue, the Tudor City Greens feel like a true urban refuge. Hidden in the midst of Tudor City, the tall surrounding buildings give the gardens a sense of being uniquely yours. Unlike most parks in New York City, the Tudor City greenspaces are privately owned. In 1976, there was a major court case in which the city attempted to publicize these parks without properly paying the company which owned the parks.
5. Elizabeth Street Garden, SoHo
The Elizabeth Street Garden is a true Soho surprise! Located on Elizabeth Street between Prince and Spring Street, this garden was unthinkably on the verge of demise until the community rallied to have it saved. The only truly green space in the neighborhood, come to contemplate the doric columns made of stone, the varied scuplture, and stay for the respite it offers from the neighborhood otherwise laden with restaurants and high end boutiques. JR, famed street artist, also organized a mural in this space last year.
6. Lotus Garden, Upper West Side
If you find yourself in the Upper West Side, do check out Lotus Garden, a private community garden on 97th Street, open to the public on Sundays between 1 and 4pm. It was in fact, one of the first green roofs in the city, created as a concession by the high rise built on the same plot, and credited with the turn-around of the developer’s business.
There are 29 plots on the 1/6 acre plot, which sits above a garage. The volunteer gardeners pay dues to the garden, which account for 1/3 of the budget. Community members who have access to the garden pay $20/year–there are 1000 keys in circulation. Original member fees were only $15 for a lifetime, but it quickly became clear it would take more than that to maintain the space for perpetuity (The garden only runs on about $6,000-$7000 per year).
With a fish pond, dense vegetation and a living wall, Lotus Garden is nothing short of a magical escape just above street level.