The Best Community Gardens in Manhattan
A peaceful stroll among roses and lilies… in Manhattan?
In this installment of our Ultimate Guide to NYC Flowers, we show you how to find a free New York Garden in Manhattan. Later, Flower Girl NYC will give us the scoop on buying and arranging flowers in our homes. Earlier we discussed the impressive botanical gardens and free flower gardens in every borough.
Read on to discover where to find Manhattan flower gardens and the special experience each one offers.
COMMUNITY GARDENS IN MANHATTAN
Not everyone knows about the community gardens NYC is full of. In the 70s, residents began turning dozens of vacant lots into green spaces; today, there are over 600 community gardens in the city. (Find yours at GardenMaps.org.) These unique public spaces enrich their neighborhoods by offering peaceful places to rest and work, supporting biodiversity and clean air, and hosting local cultural events.
Often founded and run by local enthusiasts and advocates, such as members the New York City Community Garden Coalition, the gardens are supported by the NYC Parks’ program GreenThumb, the largest community gardening program in the nation. Each has a different model for membership. Members donate time and/or money to a single plot or to the whole garden in exchange for a part in one of the sweetest city spaces.
The gardens are spread across all five boroughs, offering us city folk the chance to be gardeners and active community members. Below are four better-known gardens in Manhattan.
THE LIZ CHRISTY COMMUNITY GARDEN
Established in 1973, the garden was the very first of its kind in NYC. First named the Bowery-Houston Community Farm and Garden, it was renamed to honor its founder, Liz Christy, who led the Green Guerillas and sparked the community garden movement in New York City.
LOCATION: 92 E. Houston St. on the corner of Bowery
WHAT’S INSIDE: Pond, wildflower habitat, grape arbor, vegetable plots, weeping birch trees, fruit trees, herbs
MEMBERSHIP: 20 hours of volunteer work earns you a key; 40 hours makes you a Gardener with voting rights
THE CREATIVE LITTLE GARDEN
Voted Best Community Garden by the Daily News in May 2012, the Creative Little Garden began in 1978 and overcame threats related to the construction of a new luxury rental building in 2006. It operates under the NYC Parks Department through the Greenthumb program.
LOCATION: 530 E. 6th St, between Avenues A/B
WHAT’S INSIDE: flowers, low bushes, trees, birdhouses, fountains
MEMBERSHIP: Member dues are $20 per year, and help is optional
THE CLINTON COMMUNITY GARDEN
Clinton Community Garden was the first in New York City to get permanent parkland status. While it remains locked, anyone is welcome inside. Nearby residents can even purchase a key for $5.
LOCATION: W. 48th St. between 9th & 10th Aves
WHAT’S INSIDE: Flower beds, shrubbery, trees, lawn, paths, herb garden, rock garden, beehive, rose bed, grape arbor and Native American medicinal plants bed
MEMBERSHIP: Mail a postcard with contact info to get on the 6-year waiting list
THE WEST SIDE COMMUNITY GARDEN
One of upper Manhattan’s only public gardens, this 89,000 sq ft plot was reclaimed from a vacant lot in 1976 and has delighted the neighborhood ever since. The Flower Park is overseen by the Flower Committee – be sure to drop in on their meeting on the first Sunday of every summer month at 2 pm to ask for a flower assignment.
LOCATION: W. 89th St between Columbus and Amsterdam Ave
WHAT’S INSIDE: Flower Park, Vegetable Plots, Greenhouse (at St. John the Divine on 112th St.)
MEMBERSHIP: Four hours per month volunteer work, form + $15