Vanderbilt Gate is on 5th Avenue and 105th street. It used to stand before the Vanderbilt mansion that is no longer there. Nowadays it is the magnificent iron entrance to the Conservatory Garden. This is the only formal garden in Central Park. Itís free from the rush of bicyclists and runners, leaving behind nothing, but tranquillity and serenity. Instead visitors are greeted by the soothing aroma of lilac and magnolia that bloom in the English Garden.
It is a very intimate affair. Tucked away between trees and shrubs this is the place where many annual flower displays are put up. Perennial plants border the garden and woodland plants grow on the western edge. In the middle of this Secret Garden is the memorial fountain of Frances Hodgson Burnett by Bessie Potter Vonnoh. Mary and Dickon, characters from the famous story, sit on one edge of a lily pond.
The Conservatory Garden then opens up into a large lawn. Yew hedges and crabapple trees that bloom pink and yellow in the spring, compete with apartment buildings for attention. The Italian Garden crashes through the peace and quiet with its open spaces and 12-foot high jet fountain that leads to a wisteria pergola.
To the North lays the French garden that blooms with tulips in the spring and Korean chrysanthemums in the autumn. But what truly gives it its character are the beautiful parterres of germander that surround the Three Dancing Maidens fountain, made by the German sculptor, Walter Schott. If you look closely you will notice that the maidensí dresses are sculptured in such a way that they will always appear wet from the fountainís water.
Regardless of whether you choose the intimacy of the Secret Garden or the stunning view of the Italian garden this is a great place to escape for some peace and quiet. To grab a book and take a seat.
If you are a botanist at heart you can have a look at the Bloom Schedule that Central Park offers. It gives a unique insight into the location and season of plants in the park. Why not go for a walk and discover them all?
Conservatory Garden Hours:
November to February: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
March: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
April: 8:00 am to 7:00 pm May to August 14: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
August 15 to 31: 8:00 am to 7:30 pm
September: 8:00 am to 7:00 pm
October: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm