Summer is a time of waterlilies, lotus and cool tropical serenity. Here are 5 of my favorite water gardens, and all are an easy day trip from the Jersey Shore.
Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA
PC: Judy Czeiner via Longwood Gardens website
If you only see one garden this summer, make it Longwood! From July until September, the water ponds are full of 100’s of species of water lilies and home to the gigantic ‘Longwood Hybrid’ water platters. They grow to 8 feet across and can even bear the weight of a light weight human. The size of these plants needs to be seen to be believed, but what’s also astonishing is just how fast they grow: in only 3 weeks, a relatively small curled up floating leaf grows to 6 feet wide! As well as the water garden, the new fountain gardens are on display this summer.
Join me on Saturday August 26 to see the water garden and fountains. Tour information is here
LONGWOOD GARDENS 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348.
Open: Sun-Wed 9am-6pm, Thurs-Sat 9am-10pm longwoodgardens.org
New York Botanical Garden, Bronx NY
New York Botanic Garden (NYBG)'s water ponds are gorgeous every summer, but this season is very special as Chihuly’s work has turned this garden into a unique visual feast! The mass of lilies, lotus and water platters floating amongst the glass sculptures is a sight not to be missed! The picture above was taken during a visit with my group on July 18. Get there to see Chihuly and the water garden before it’s all over in September. If you can, visit at night to see the glass work all illuminated!
NYBG 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458-5126.
Open Tues-Sun 10am-6pm. nybg.org
Untermyer Gardens, Yonkers NY
Less known, but worth a trip up to Yonkers is Untermyer Garden. Step into the walled garden and get ready to be transported. Surrounded by ruins of Grecian architecture, there’s an old amphitheater with mosaic floors, soaring white columns and probably the most peaceful, harmonious water garden I know. The walled garden with its symmetrical waterways was originally intended to mimic a paradise on earth and it certainly retains an ‘other world’ feel. This extraordinary garden was once one of the country’s finest and is gradually being restored. Make a day in Yonkers: visit Untermyer first then head back to Wave Hill for lunch and an afternoon in the garden.
UNTERMYER GARDEN 945 North Broadway Yonkers, NY 10701
Open 7 days a week, 7am to sunset untermyergardens.org
After you’ve wandered through Untermyer’s paradise garden, Wave Hill is only a short drive away. The plant connoisseur’s go to garden, Wave Hill is filled with gorgeous and unusual plants. As at Untermyer, water plays a big part in how you experience the garden: both are located high above the Hudson River giving extraordinary views across to the Palisades. If you can drag yourself away from sitting under their iconic pergola and watching the river pass, take a walk up through the Wild Garden until you get to the Aquatic Garden. It’s only small, but I love that it’s tucked away, so it’s like finding a hidden gem. I love the use of grasses around the pond and how the vine covered pergolas surround the garden, giving the space an enclosed sense of peace and retreat. It’s definitely worth the discovery.
WAVE HILL GARDEN 649 W 249th St, Bronx, NY 10471
Open Tues-Sun 9am-5:30pm wavehill.org
Chanticleer Garden, Wayne PA
Visit Chanticleer Garden on a Friday evening in Summer: the garden is open later and there’s a lovely ambiance with families picnicking and enjoying this garden as they would their own. Like Wave Hill, Chanticleer’s water garden is in a more natural space, surrounded by acres of gardens. Here, in this idyllic setting, nature reigns supreme with exquisite lotus and lilies co-habiting with frogs, fish and dragonflies. Chanticleer is one of the most relaxing gardens you will ever visit, where the focus is on slowing down and appreciating your surroundings. If you want to know about a plant, there’s ample information, but the visiting here is much more about engaging the senses than taking a horticultural lesson. Because of this, Chanticleer is known as a pleasure garden and considered the finest in the country. There is no finer place to wile away a summer’s day.
Join me visiting Chanticleer on September 13. Tour information is here.
CHANTICLEER GARDEN 786 Church Rd, Wayne, PA 19087
Open Wed-Sun 10am-5pm, Fridays to 8pm chanticleergarden.org