Growing up in Florida, we didn’t really have seasons; It is summer most of the time. Not that I’m complaining. But then I went to college in Boston. And learned about weather. Really cold weather. But something amazing happened after that first long winter: a season called spring! For the first time I was introduced to tiny bunches of grape hyacinths and sprays of pearly white snow drops popping up everywhere! What are these delightful little gems, I asked. We don’t have a lot of flowers in Florida due to the intense heat. Mind you, cheerful hibiscus in tropical colors can be found in everyone’s yard all year long. But not these delicate and random sprigs of hope after a long winter.
When I moved to New York, I wondered where in the middle of all these people and pavement I would find spring. We moved at the end of summer into a much smaller apartment. I’ll be honest: I was not thrilled about the move. I loved our neighborhood in Boston’s South End. It was safe and quaint and quite dear to me. But alas, it was time for us to go.
Then I realized that we were only a few blocks from Central Park. Wait. Did I say that loud enough: WE WERE ONLY A FEW BLOCKS FROM CENTRAL PARK. And one other perk: New York has A LOT LESS WINTER!! Central Park became my place for all seasons: The Great Lawn for summer picnics, The Reservoir for running, The Sheep’s Meadow for sledding, The Bridle Path for fall foliage. And then I read about a little known place called the Conservatory Garden. Not a lot of tourists make their way up there because it’s near the most northern part of the park. And not many native New Yorkers have heard of it either. How many have ever been to the Statue of Liberty? No mind to me for I have enjoyed my little secret garden for years now.
My first visit had me running between the gardens — there are three within the Conservatory Garden: The Italianate, The French and the Victorian. And it’s the only formal garden in the park. I couldn’t get enough…what will I find around this corner? What is on this side? What are these called? Easter egg-colored tulips go on for what seems like blocks. Hidden hillsides surround the southern side of the park where bright pink bleeding hearts are sprinkled between lush green hostas and peppers of bee-laden buttercups. I expected a tiny sprite to pop out and offer me a wee cup of tea from the towering hollyhocks; It was like a fairy land.
Now every year, I look forward to seeing what new blooms might greet me when I enter that grand gate. Will the prickly purple allium still be next to the dancing daffodils? Will the fountains be running yet? Will my favorite spot still be my secret? What will summer bring?
How lucky to have found this magical world.