I spent a delightful June weekend in NYC exploring three public gardens: The Heather Garden at the Cloisters, the High Line and Wave Hill. What wonderful resources that contribute to the chi of their locations. One question worth pondering: do the gardens lift the chi of the surrounding area or did the vibrant chi of the area contribute to the garden being established? I’m not sure. What I do know is that the two go hand in hand. Gardens do wonders for your spirit and are a delightful space to spend time.
The Heather Garden near The Cloisters
The Heather Garden, located on the grounds of Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan, is a treasure. Open since 1936 and designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr. (the son of the co-designer NYC’s Central and Prospect parks) this gorgeous garden is a place of beauty, solace and calm. The winding path encourages you to meander and enjoy the scents, colors and sensations of the landscape that overlooks the Hudson River and offers a clear view of the NH Palisades in the distance. A series of curved paths lead to the Cloisters, which is a 10 to 15-minute walk away.
For people living in the neighborhood, the Heather Garden is an amazing place to replenish your chi and bring harmony to daily life. Free outdoor exercise classes, that take advantage of the setting, are offered throughout the year. The public can enjoy the garden for free, year-round. Easily accessed by public transportation, I encourage you to visit the Heather Garden and the Cloisters, if you find yourself in NYC.
The High Line
Build on a re-purposed railroad trestle, the High Line is a beautiful garden on the west side, in midtown Manhattan. The plant design includes many of the native grasses and flowers that grew wild in the abandoned location, prior to its redevelopment. The High Line runs from Gansevoort St. to W. 30th between Washington St. and 11th Avenue. Rising above the city streets, the High Line brings nature into a dense part of the city, providing a place to relax, rest and recalibrate from the stress of daily life.
The High Line is a wonderful place to meander or to sit and quietly take in the sites or chat with friends. You can also sit and watch traffic on the streets below. The garden is accessible from dawn until dusk.
Wave Hill is another NYC public garden, cultural center and treasure! Located in Riverdale, an area of the Bronx that borders northern Manhattan, the 28-acre site is accessible from the Metro North train line. A free shuttle runs hourly between the train and the garden. A small entrance (and parking) fee is charged.
Wave Hill overlooks the Hudson River with views of the NJ Palisades. In addition to celebrating gardens and landscapes, Ward Hill’s mission is to explore human connection to the natural world through art, horticulture and education. The day I visited, Austin Ballard’s Sunroom Project Space was wrapping up.
One aspect of feng shui is that the chi of each place is influenced by the people who spend time there and the events that take place. Built in 1843 as a country home by William Lewis Morris, the Wave Hill House has a remarkable history. Residents and visitors include Theodore Roosevelt and family, Mark Twain, conductor Autoro Toscanini, and members of the British Delegation to the UN during the 1950’s, among others.
Conservationist George W. Perkins was the last owner prior to donating the property to the city in 1962, under the condition that it not be used for biological research as the city initially intended.