Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

With spring (finally) just around the corner, there’s no better time than the present to sing the praises of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), the lush, 52-acre urban oasis that has served as a green getaway for generations of nature-loving New Yorkers and visitors alike.

Founded in 1910 on the site of a former ash dump, this botanical garden in the heart of Brooklyn (at the intersection of the Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Crown Heights neighborhoods) is now home to more than 10,000 varieties of plants, and receives over 900,000 visitors from around the world every year. Justly famous for its spectacular landscaping and its numerous specialty plant collections, the Botanic Garden’s grounds include the Steinhardt Conservatory, which is home to the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, the Cranford Rose Garden, the Children’s Garden, and (since this is book-crazy Brooklyn, after all) the Shakespeare Garden, which displays approximately 80 plants cited in the Bard’s poetry and plays.

One of the Botanic Garden’s most beloved attractions, meanwhile, is its collection of more than 200 cherry trees, which make it one of the premier locations for cherry blossom viewing outside of Japan. Depending on the weather in any given year, the flowering cherries bloom for roughly a month, beginning in late March or early April; at the peak of the cherry blossom season every spring, the Garden holds an extremely popular weekend festival, Sakura Matsuri, that also serves as a celebration of all things Japanese.

The best viewing spots for the cherry trees are (naturally) the Cherry Esplanade, the Cherry Walk, and the stunning Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Completed in 1915 by native Japanese landscape architect Takeo Shiota, the Hill-and-Pond Garden was the first Japanese garden in any public garden in the US, and includes such eye-catching features as a waterfall, a pond, a Shinto shrine, and several artfully placed rocks. (Look carefully in the Hill-and-Pond Garden and you might be rewarded with the sight of a plucky little box turtle paddling in the pond, or trundling along its shoreline.)

Anyone planning a visit to New York City in the spring should try to make time for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. New York Habitat offers a number of furnished rental apartments throughout Brooklyn and in the adjacent neighborhoods, the center of “brownstone Brooklyn.” Here are a few ideas for conveniently located rental apartments to help get you started:

-To discover historic Brooklyn, this 3-bedroom furnished rental in Brooklyn, New York (NY-12798) in a two-story townhouse dating from the 1900s in Prospect Heights has two bedrooms with double beds, and a third bedroom with bunk beds. The house is located close to the Botanical Gardens, the Museum of Brooklyn, and a large number of restaurants and bars on the nearby Washington and Vanderbilt Avenues.

– Not far off, a furnished  apartment (NY-14781) in the Clinton Hill neighborhood A number of beautiful 19th-century houses and churches are in the vicinity, along with the Pratt Institute, Fort Greene Park, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

Do you have a favorite personal spot in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, or a particular attraction there you’d like to recommend?  Please feel free to share your thoughts below.