2012-04-19 / Opinion
Mother’s Day garden retreat
I ’m not sure exactly when our Mother’s Day garden tradition began, but I do remember that my sister, Mel, and I craved an escape from our grim reality — Mother’s Day celebrations without our beloved mom. Inevitably, we will always equate this tribute of a holiday with our mom’s passing, which occurred the day before Mother’s Day nearly12 years ago.
For years afterward, my sister and I would disappear on that spring Sunday. We wanted to be alone together to reflect and remember, taking comfort in each other’s sorrow. We weren’t ready to join in the merriments of our respective husbands’ families. Luckily, our mothers-in-law are very understanding, and gave us space during those early years. Once our children came into the picture, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden became our tranquil sanctuary on Mother’s Day. We chose that garden inadvertently; we were simply looking for a serene place to meet halfway between our New Jersey and Long Island homes. We never imagined this place would have such a therapeutic impact on us.
The natural beauty of the setting distracted us from the intrinsic sadness of the day. Strolling in fresh air amid the colorful blooms, our bleak moods would instantly be lifted. And so that’s how Mel and I eventually emerged fromour proverbial cocoon. And now each year, we meet at 10 a.m. when the garden opens (at that time it’s not yet crowded and easy to get parking in the lot at the Washington Street entrance), and spend the morning together before heading to our in-laws for afternoon festivities.
If you don’t already have a plan for this Mother’s Day, May 13, take your mom or grandmother on an outing to a garden. Your children will enjoy it as much as you.
Following are some events going on at regional gardens for Mother’s Day.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden (www.bbg.org): I have been to this 52-acre garden numerous times, and am always amazed that this pastoral gem can exist in the heart of Brooklyn. Free guided public tours will be offered on Mother’s Day at 1 p.m. departing from the Visitor’s Center. No reservations are necessary. Private group tours ($15 per visitor with 10-person minimum) are available between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. with an advance reservation (718-623-7220).
Hands down, my favorite spot is the impeccable and picturesque Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Walk around the perimeter of the pond to admire it from all angles. There’s a footbridge, sheltered pavilion for viewing koi, artificial island, stone lanterns, a waterfall and red ornamental Shinto shrine. It’s one of the most visited Japanese gardens outside of Japan.
Apopular spot for al fresco wedding cocktail hours is the Lily Pool Terrace. Flanked by the glass conservatories housing the desertscape and tropical plant exhibits, the terrace features rectangular reflecting pools, 100 varieties of water lilies, fountains and border gardens. For a quick lunch, the Terrace Cafe serves sustainably farmed food, including locally made pickles. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mother’s Day. Admission is $10 adults, $5 seniors and free for kids under 12.
New York Botanical Garden (www.nybg.org): Visitors can enjoy aMother’s Day Garden Party at Daffodil Hill and the Azalea Garden within this lush, Bronx oasis over Mother’s Day weekend. From noon to 5 p.m., your family can partake in such lawn games as badminton and croquet, fly a kite, picnic (food will be available from food trucks), and enjoy nature activities and crafts for kids. On Sunday, May 13, at 1 and 3 p.m. in Ross Hall, therewill be a BronxArts Ensemble Family Concert featuring a performance of “Beauty and the Beast.” Reserve your Mother’s Day tickets in advance online.
The centerpiece of the New York Botanic Garden is the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a Victorian-style glasshouse. The conservatory has a permanent exhibition called A World of Plants. It depicts 11 distinct habitats, from a rain forest to a cactus-filled desert.
Garden hours on Mother’s Day are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. TheAll-Garden Pass, granting access to the conservatory, special exhibitions, the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, Rock Garden and Tram Tour, are $20 adults, $18 seniors and $8 kids 2 to 12.
Longwood Gardens (www.longwoodgardens.org): If the plant collections and expertly manicured displays of this spectacular property in Kennett Square, Pa., are not enough to tempt you into a visit, then consider a fine-dining experience.
Reservations are required (610-388-1000) for the Mother’s Day Buffet in the ballroom May 12-13, available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. both days. A selection of meats, vegetables, soups, salads and desserts will be served. Another option is Sunday brunch in the 1906 restaurant from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Buffet prices are $57 per person 12 and older; $31 kids 5 to 11, and $5 ages 1 to 4. Garden admission is included in the price.
Wave Hill (www.wavehill.org): With views overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades, this 28-acre public garden and cultural center in the Bronx is offering several activities on Mother’s Day. Registration is required (718- 549-3200, ext. 305). From 10 to 11:15 a.m., you can participate in a hatha yoga session in a quiet corner of the gardens. The cost is $23 for nonmembers. The one-hour Garden Walk meets at the Perkins Visitor’s Center at 2 p.m. Birding at WaveHill, led by a naturalist and geared to families with kids 10 and older, meets at the visitor’s center at 9:30 a.m. The last two activities are free with admission.
Other regional gardens worth visiting are the New Jersey Botanical Garden, Ringwood, N.J. (www.njbg.org); Queens Botanical Garden in New York (www.queensbotanical.org); Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills, N.J. (www.greenwoodgardens.org); Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown, N.J. (www.mon mouthcountyparks.com/page.aspx?Id=2518); and Central Park Conservatory Garden (www.centralparknyc.org/visit/things-to -see/north-end/conservatory-garden.html).
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