Explore: New York Botanical Garden

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I spent last weekend in New York City celebrating Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) with my family. I arrived on Friday evening and then spent Saturday visiting with old friends and toasting to my brother-in-law's graduation from his masters program (why they had the ceremony in September, I will never know).

On Sunday we had most of the day to explore, since the holiday festivities were not beginning until sundown. My mom, my sister and I decided to trek to the Bronx to visit the New York Botanical Garden. None of us had been before and we were all interested in the Frida Kahlo exhibit they were running.

We called an Uber and wound up in the car for 30 minutes as our driver got completely lost and drove us over the George Washington Bridge and back. Oy.

You can imagine my joy when the car rolled by the Frida Kahlo sign on the garden's fence, indicating that we had finally arrived.

We hopped out and walked under the archway into the garden. Look how blue the sky was that day!

After purchasing our tickets, we began to stroll. Before we even reached the official Frida exhibit, there were elements of her work and style infused throughout the garden. Like this mural from Bradley Theodore, a New York artist known for his skeleton portraits of icons like Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour and Coco Chanel.

The Frida exhibit was just a few feet beyond the garden's entrance in the Haupt Conservatory. How gorgeous is this building?

Frida greets you at the door to the Conservatory. That unibrow!

Inside, the main attraction is called Casa Azul (Blue House) and is inspired by Frida and her husband Diego Rivera's home in Mexico City.

The minute you step through the door, the colors, the textures and the smells transport you. It reminded me of the way you feel when walking into the courtyard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

I love the bright blue walls paired with the yellow marigolds. These flowers are commonly associated with the celebration of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

A path winds through the exhibit and one of the first stops is the Frog Fountain. People seem to be tossing pennies in to make a wish.

Along the path were rows and rows of potted plants, including some beautiful succulents.

Each of the plants were marked with signs explaining their features and origin. I couldn't help but laugh at the one below, the Swiss cheese plant!

This one also has a funny name, Lady's Eardrops.

In the center of the second room is a multi-tiered display covered in potted plants.

My sister spotted this purple flower that had bloomed on one of the vines. We both agreed it looked like a butterfly.

I loved seeing all the cactus varieties, not a plant you typically see in New England!

This next plant was also extraordinary. The leaves are spotted with white polka dots.

Also in this room was a description of Frida's studio. The information is mounted on an easel.

The garden has staged a desk made to look like Frida's work space.

I love the crayons and the bottles of lotions and potions. Or maybe they are dyes and glitters?

Moving into the the third room, the courtyard, the plants got even more impressive.

The courtyard was bursting with colors - bright green, deep red, orange, yellow.

I was drawn to the plants hanging from the ceiling which looked a bit like they belonged in a coral reef in the ocean.

The courtyard lead into the outdoor space behind the Conservatory, which took my breath away. The pool is home to all kinds of lily pads and koi fish.

We made my mom sit next to these little pads. Her name is Susan and these were called "Little Sue."

As I moved around the pond, the views only got more stunning.

These lily pads, the Amazon Water Lily, were incredibly cool. My mom said, "It looks like someone should be out there performing on them."

We kept leaning closer to discover the names of all the different flowers and plants.

These particular lily pads were exquisite.

I couldn't get over the beauty of this area - the pool with the Conservatory in the background, set against the blue sky.

All around us, people were taking photos and not just with their phones. At any given moment, there were at least four or five people with legit, professional cameras. Check out this guy's lens!

After gawking at the beauty of the pool, we started to walk along the edge. I love this wall of pink and red flowering bushes.

As part of the Frida exhibit, a row of cactus plants were placed along the rear of the Conservatory.

Back inside, we explored another greenhouse.

I loved the women sculptures beneath this water feature.

From there we entered yet another room with a tropical/jungle feel. Without even realizing it, my sister had dressed the part.

We kept stopping to point out the plants and trees that were studded with bright flower buds.

As we exited the Conservatory, a band called Mexico Beyond Mariachi was setting up. They played a set with musical instruments, song and dance. There were a lot of families with young children enjoying the performance.

After walking through the whole Frida exhibit, my mom and sister were ready to hit the gift shop and call it a day. I, on the other hand, wanted to make use of our trek to the garden and keep exploring.

I twisted their arms and we hopped aboard the tram to ride up to the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden.

As we walked down the steps, I felt the urge to sing "Painting the roses red!" from "Alice in Wonderland."

The garden is planted with row after row of different varieties of roses.

These purples blooms were among my favorites.

I swooned over this pink and yellow blossom.

There were also a few strands of two-toned roses.

These yellow buds were very sweet.

But the best part of walking through the rose garden was the flower names, like this one, Pink Home Run.

As we kept walking, the names got more and more hysterical.

Though the majority of the roses were already past their prime, I was still glad we looped through.

On the tram ride back down to the entrance, we zipped by a taco truck, another element of the Frida Kahlo takeover.

When the tram arrived back to the start, we jumped out and headed toward the cafe. The garden has a large outdoor seating area.

The bar has been rebranded as the Frida Kahlo Cantina. I was so impressed with all the ways they worked Frida's spirit into a multitude of places around the grounds.

Of course we ended the visit at the gift shop. The Galler girls have never met a museum gift shop they didn't like.

A huge portion of the shop was Frida-centric, including this altar.

There were also Frida coasters.

A Frida shower curtain.

And they were even selling cactus plants like the ones from Casa Azul.

Weirdly, none of us bought anything. A first!

I had mixed feelings about our trip to the Botanical Garden. First of all, my mom, my sister and I couldn't stop comparing it to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami, FL (read about my visits here, here and here).

Second, it's definitely a commitment to get out there. For us, coming from the Upper West Side, it was a 30 minute Uber ride each way, which was not cheap. I imagine it would take even longer if you took the subway.

Once we got there, I was sincerely impressed by the size of the garden and all the available exhibits, children's programs and food and drink offerings.

The Frida Kahlo exhibit was the undisputed highlight. The recreation of Casa Azul was amazing. Unlike some exhibits, where you can walk through in 10 minutes, we spent nearly an hour exploring. It was 100 percent worth the ticket price ($25 dollars per person).

For those hoping to take pictures during their visit, come early. We arrived at about 1:45pm and the whole garden (including the tram) was completely packed.

If you're thinking about making a day trip to the Botanical Garden, it's the perfect place for a family day of fun. It would even make a fun date spot.

For those interested in catching the Frida Kahlo exhibit, it's running through November 1, 2015.

Have you ever been to the New York Botanical Garden? Tips for making the most of the visit?


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Molly Galler

Welcome to Pop.Bop.Shop. My name is Molly. I’m a foodie, fashionista, pop culture addict and serious travel junkie. I’m a lifelong Bostonian obsessed with frozen confections, outdoor patios, Mindy Kaling, reality television, awards shows, tropical vacations, snail mail and my birthday.

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