Garden Photo of the Day

GPOD on the Road: Spring at New York Botanical Garden

Fabulous flowering shrubs at a gorgeous garden in the heart of NYC

pink and coral colored azaleas

Happy Friday GPODers!

For the past several Fridays I have been going on and on about the trip across North America I took last year, discussing the amazing gardens and plants I saw along the way. While I love sharing my journey, I’m even more thrilled to finally have a Friday post courtesy of the amazing GPOD community! Today, Susan Fraser is sharing the trip she took in early spring to New York Botanical Garden, a haven of plants in nature in the heart of the Bronx.

The first week of May I visited the NY Botanical Garden. The azaleas, rhododendrons and lilacs were magnificent!

lilacs at New York Botanical GardensThere were hundreds of lilacs that were in full bloom. The scent was amazing! (Lilacs can be a very divisive scent. Some find them intoxicating while others find their fragrance too overwhelming. If you’re a lilac lover like Sarah, this spot looks simply sublime.

close up of Sensation LilacBut fragrance isn’t the only thing lilacs are bringing to the party, their blossoms are a garden worthy in and of themselves. Th two-toned flowers on this Sensation lilac (Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’, Zones 3–7) are particularly show stopping!

close up of white lilacThough it’s safe to say that lilacs are most infamous for their… lilac color, there are several varieties with white, pink, or blue flowers—and even a yellow cultivar called ‘Primrose’. While there are a few different white cultivars, this might be a common white lilac (Syringa vulgaris alba, Zones 3–7).

path lined with lilacsAnd Sarah captured a part of NYBG’s lilac display that highlights this point perfectly. Look at the various colors and shades of flowers in the row, all lovely lilacs!

bright pink with light pink rhododendronsBut, as Sarah mentioned, lilacs weren’t the only flowers to be found that early in the season. The rhododendrons were giving a truly impressive, if often brief, floral show.

close up of light pink azaleaI studied, researched, and reverse-image searched for this rhododendron variety until I was lost in a sea of rhododendron cultivars, and I’m still not confident on what this beauty is! The blooms are unbelievably abundant, so tightly packed together they almost look like clusters of cherry blossoms. Anyone have this variety in their garden or on their wishlist??

white rhododendron behind a large sonteWhile most of us have to work to keep our rhododendrons at a reasonable size for our space, the beauty of a botanic garden is seeing them in an environment where they’re free to grow as large as they please. These massive shrubs are a floral wonder.

bright yellow and orange rhododendronsWhile the variety of lilacs can be surprising, the vast genus of rhododendron means the variations are always expected and celebrated. No matter your color preferences or palette, you’re guaranteed to find a rhododendron for your garden (and yes, there are also a hearty number of dwarf varieties for those of us with small spaces).

bright pink rhododendron at the top of a rocky hillYet another massive specimen creating a vibrant focal point on this naturalistic bed of boulders and grasses.

Rhododendron Lemon DreamThe bright, vibrant azaleas often get the most attention by rhododendron admirers, but there are many light and pastel hues that are equally enticing. This butter yellow specimen looks to be ‘Lemon Dream’ rhododendron (Rhododendron ‘Lemon Dream’, Zones 5–9).

pink and coral colored azaleasSwimming in color! These azaleas looking like a stream of pink and coral flowers flowing through other evergreen shrubs.

rhododendron and azalea garden at New York Botanic GardenRows and rows of beauty! Also a great tip I’m taking from Sarah, visit this very busy botanical garden before its peak. There might be less in bloom, but lighter crowds means there is more space to enjoy.

close up of bright pink azalea

You can just see little glimpses of the amazing chartreuse foliage on this azalea, the incredible flowers are absolutely covering every inch of this shrub. Several azalea varieties sport a similar bright pink hue, but the distinctive foliage makes me think this is a Girard’s Fuchsia evergreen azalea (Rhododendron ‘Girard’s Fuchsia’, Zones 6–9).

bright pink azalea at New York Botanic Garden

Near and far, rhododendrons draw the eye. Even besides this incredible rock formation, this bright pink rhododendron steals the show (not sure if it’s the same as the close-up above).

Thank you for sharing your trip with us, Sarah. I hope more GPODers feel inspired to visit a public garden and share their experiences!


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View Comments


  1. btucker9675 06/21/2024

    This is a wonderful garden and anyone in the. NYC area should make sure to visit! We were members and used to go regularly. Marvelous photos!!!

  2. User avater
    simplesue 06/24/2024

    Wow, I just love your photo of the view "hundreds of lilacs that were in full bloom"...what a beautiful garden! Thanks for the tour!

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