USA: NY: Conservatory Garden Part 2

After leaving the green lawns and formal hedges of the Italianate garden in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden, it comes as something of a shock to walk into the next section of the garden and see a riot of colourful flowers.


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Overview of the French Garden

This French influenced garden is oval in shape. A clipped hedge protects the outer border of colourful flowers while the apron of the fountain pool is surrounded by a partierre style garden of green and red. Beyond are the trees of the main park with a path leading away from this small contained garden to the wide acres of Central Park and the waters of Harlem Mere.



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The plants of the partiere are left unclipped with a shaggy, soft appearance.



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The floral border was a mass of Korean Chrysanthemums.

Korean Mums ( Dendranthema) are very hardy and grow in a loose and graceful mounds.  Their dark-green foliage stays fresh all season. According to garden officianados in the North Eastern Sates of US, these Mums suffer no bug or disease problems worth mentioning and the 3-inch daisy-like blossoms don’t have the aroma that other Mums seem to exude. (Apparently, some people don’t like the smell of conventional Mums.)  All in all, a good plant to grow in this part of the world. I wonder how they’d grow here in Canberra, in Australia. We might try!

I love daisy-like flowers and photographing these blooms was a delight.



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Notes from the New York Botanic Garden tell us that “Korean Mums were first hybridized (bred) in Connecticut in the 1930s by a nurseryman named Alex Cummings. He was working on hybridizing cold-hardy varieties that would flourish in New England temperatures. He came across a tall plant, a wild species he mistakenly identified as Chrysanthemum coreanum. Breeding from that plant resulted eventually in these lavish Korean Mums.

The original species was native to Korea, so the popular name of “Korean Mum” is correct. Their spectacular, daisy-like flowers come in a wide range of colors, from pale yellow and dusty pink to burnt-orange and fiery red. They certainly make a vibrant show in the autumn months in the Conservatory Garden. ( If you come here in the Spring time, you can enjoy a lavish display of colourful tulips.)



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After inspecting and photographing this wonderful display, we took time out to just sit on one of the benches with our New York friend and enjoy the beauty of one of her favourite quiet places.



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The fountain in the middle of the pond is a bronze copy of the joyful “Three Maidens Fountain” by German Sculptor, Walter Schott. Here in this garden, it’s also known as the Untermyer Fountain in memory of a well known civic leader, Samual Untermyer. The sculture once graced his estate in Yonkers, New York and was given to the city as a gift by his children after his death in 1940.



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The fountain exudes the joy of life and really lifts your spirits as you watch, half expecting the maidens to begin to laugh as they dance. Their dresses cling to their bodies as if perpetually wet from the spray of the fountain!

Beyond the fountain there are borders of perennial plants and a rose covered archway.



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Another view of the garden through some perennial plants.



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The perennials add even more bright colour to the garden.


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A closer look! Stunningly beautiful.



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Sunshine yellow against dark foliage is an interesting combination.



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This French section of the Conservatory Garden is indeed a very pleasant and quiet place to spend time away from the chaos of the city. But we had not yet finished our exploration of this secret part of Central Park. We still had the third section of the garden to explore, the English Garden, and we’ll visit there in my next posting.

Jennie and David

All photography copyright ©  Jennie Thomas and David Young