Spring awakening at the Queens Botanical Garden
Flushing, New York, April 10, 2008 – For the first time in 44 years, visitors can enter Queens Botanical Garden and enjoy an uninterrupted view of the magnificent trees that line both sides of its central axis, the Oak Allée. Last year, the Garden demolished its old headquarters that blocked a view of the Oak Allée and moved into its new Visitor & Administration Center to the north. In place of the old building, the Garden built an entry plaza with a cascading fountain and a man-made watercourse that echoes the now-buried Mill Creek, a natural waterway that once meandered through the property until it was filled in as part of the 1964 World’s Fair.
The cascading fountain anchors one end of the rejuvenated Cherry Circle, the near-perfect oval whose perimeter was replanted recently with perennials and textured ground cover such as lambs ear, oak leaf hydrangea, and plum pudding alumroot. Twenty-seven cherry trees of different varieties grace the circle. Some trees have flowered but others, with small pink buds, seem to be waiting for their close-up.
Just beyond the Cherry Circle, the magnolias and dogwoods of the Woodland Garden are beginning to show creamy white and pink blossoms too. Years ago, QBG’s gardeners mixed dogwoods with magnolias to brilliant effect and added more color closer to the ground with azaleas and daffodils. Cherry trees, trout lily, white trillium, and bleeding heart all bloom in April in the Woodland Garden
The curved path from the Woodland Garden to the Bee Garden is lined with some of the 14,000 tulips, daffodils, and grape hyacinth planted last fall. As one of only two public gardens in New York with bees, QBG is a good place to contemplate the disturbing phenomenon of bee colony collapse vexing American agriculture. The Garden uses its beehives to teach the 11,000 students who visit annually the bee’s role in pollinating almost all the fruits and nuts we eat. The taxicab-yellow hives look like miniature pagodas on a Japanese hillside. One almost expects an actor in a rubber Godzilla suit to knock over the pagodas as agonized civilians point to the sky.
Walk a little further, and one encounters the white-picketed Wedding Garden, the first nuptial garden in a public garden in the United States. The Wedding Garden has a number of extraordinary trees, including two towering weeping willows that look like a frozen waterfall and two European hornbeams shaped like wineglasses. The hornbeams’ twisted branches look as if they’d be ideal whisks for a witch’s broom.
Behind the Wedding Garden is a grove of fifty crabapple trees that is perhaps QBG’s most glorious spring offering. The trees are planted randomly and informally in a grassy meadow, as if one stumbled on them behind a barn upstate. Sitting beneath the trees in the roughly-mown grass and glimpsing a blue sky through wine-red, crimson, and pink blossoms is about as much transcendence as anyone can find in a congested city.
A visit to QBG wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the Visitor & Administration Center, available free of charge at noon on the first and third Saturday of each month. With its solar energy panels, compost toilets, geothermal heating and cooling, water recycling, and a host of other innovations, the Visitor & Administration Center is New York City’s most advanced green building. One of the Center’s most delightful features is the planted green roof on the auditorium, one of the few such roofs accessible to the public in New York City. The green roof insulates the auditorium from heat, cold, and noise, absorbs rain water that would otherwise flow into New York’s overburdened sewer system, and cuts down on the heat that accumulates in a conventional roof during the day, a phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect. But visitors seem to enjoy most the roof’s lookout over QBG’s otherwise flat terrain, another Garden view that hasn’t been possible for the past 44 years. That is, unless you were a squirrel.
For more information:
Susan Lacerte, Executive Director, 718-886-3800, ext. 205
Scott Stefan, Director of Marketing, 718-886-3800, ext. 329
All photos credit: Scott Stefan
Last autumn, Queens Botanical Garden planted 14,000 bulbs to welcome spring, including these two varieties of daffodil.
Cherry blossoms from a tree on Queens Botanical Garden’s recently restored Cherry Circle.
Erica Belczynski and her daughter Madison of Briarwood in Queens Botanical Garden’s crabapple grove.
Nine-year-old Ester Lee and her aunt Ham beside the watercourse at Queens Botanical Garden.
Andrew Lee, age 11, beside Queens Botanical Garden’s new cascading fountain. The Garden’s terrace canopy captures rainwater and channels it into a recycling system that feeds the fountain.
Copyright 2006 Queens Botanical Garden | 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11355