Inspired by an 1888 visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens near London, eminent botanists Nathaniel Lord Britton and his wife, Elizabeth Knight Britton, decided that New York City needed such a beautiful attraction.

Conservatory Courtyard
Credit: Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden

“The Brittons believed New York should have a great botanical garden to advance understanding of plants, be a repository of rare and valuable specimens, and lead original research in botanical science,” said Nicholas Leshi, senior director of communications for The New York Botanical Garden.

Established in 1891, the 250-acre garden — the largest in any city in the United States — is now a National Historic Landmark. 

“Because of its picturesque terrain, freshwater Bronx River, rock-cut gorge and 50 acres of old-growth forest, the garden was situated on the northern half of Bronx Park,” Leshi said.

In addition to the natural attributes that attracted the Brittons, The New York Botanical Garden encompasses 50 specialty gardens and collections comprising more than 1 million plants. It also includes the Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the nation’s preeminent Victorian-style glasshouse.

Lillian and Amy Goldman Stone Mill
Credit: Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden

“Highlights include the award-winning Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, the Native Plant Garden celebrating the diversity of Northeastern North American plants and 30,000 distinguished trees, many more than 200 years old,” Leshi said.

Groups receive benefits such as discount tickets, tours led by expert staff, tours of the entire 250 acres on the Garden Tram and dining options. Tourgoers can enjoy a box lunch, buffet, or elegant plated meal in one of the garden’s unique venues like the historic 1840 Lillian and Amy Goldman Stone Mill. All dining packages include admission and a guided tour.

An important goal of the garden is to be an advocate for the plant world, Leshi said. 

“The garden pursues its mission through its role as a museum of living plant collections arranged in gardens and landscapes across its site, through its comprehensive education programs in horticulture and plant science, and through the wide-ranging research programs of the International Plant Science Center,” Leshi said.

For more information, call 718-817-8687 or visit

Main image: The Palms Gallery; Credit: Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden

Article by Jackie Sheckler Finch