City Green: Public Gardens of New York

Jane Garmey’s book takes us on a tour of the lovely green spaces of New York City, from pocket gardens to more expansive ones, and celebrates the ingenuity and spirit of their creators and keepers
public gardens of new york
Mick Hale and Jane Garmey explore the public gardens of New York in City Green.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the phrase urban jungle as “city life, especially the unpleasant parts of it,” such as traffic noise, pollution, and huge concrete buildings. New York City certainly has all of those, and they affect even the casual tourist. But it also possesses wonderful pockets of respite from all that—many more than the city’s crown jewel—Frederick Law Olmsted’s 843-acre Central Park. City Green, captured by the talented garden photographer Mick Hales, takes us on a tour of 25 verdant spaces in Manhattan and the outer boroughs. It’s a celebration of the ingenuity that urban gardens demand when short on acreage.

A waterfall and pond in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park overlooking the Hudson

The central gazebo in the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden in the New York Botanical Garden

The Pier 6 flower field in Brooklyn, with an abundance of oxeye sunflowers

The lily pond in the English-style garden of Central Park’s Conservatory Garden

Consider Paley Park, tucked between two buildings on 53rd Street just off Fifth Avenue, with its wall of water that drowns out Midtown traffic. At no more than one-tenth of an acre, it still makes a statement (and is perfect for an alfresco lunch). Not just creating but also keeping green areas green can be a challenge in a city tight on space. Writer Jane Garmey chronicles the determination of Upper West Side residents to protect their community garden from development, which resulted in a vibrant, self-funded, and well-tended space. The book also takes us to those gardens that are more luxuriant in space and pedigree, such as The Cloisters in Upper Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River, and Wave Hill in the Bronx, which was once a private estate. With this book in hand, even the most ardent naturalist can brave New York City in fine form.

public gardens of new york

City Green: Public Gardens of New York by Jane Garmey, photography by Mick Hales

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