Of course it has trees! Its streets are lined with them. What I mean is trees behind an iron fence in a botanical garden, trees that are mature and majestic, seemingly waiting patiently to be admired by garden goers.
Situated in Flushing, the Chinese epicenter of the borough, the Queens Botanical Garden has 39 acres of marvels. It was founded nearby as part of the 1939 New York World’s Fair and moved to its current location, then an ash landfill, in preparation for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. I ate one of the delicacies of my life, Belgian Waffles, at that Fair.
The Queens Botanical Garden differs quite a bit from its counterpart in the Bronx, named the New York Botanical Garden. It is, and I love this about it, a bit shaggier than the pristine, well trod, picture-perfect New York Botanical Garden. You find wonderful trees, but other unexpected things.
Or a little hobbit-bridge in the middle of nowhere.
Walking around, I felt the crabapple orchard was out of a storybook, put there for my pleasure.
People were doing tai chi on the paths, including one man wearing plastic gloves and a mask. The Garden has some impressive oaks. One swallowed its previous tag and had to be given a new one.
Equally impressive, this medium size, delicate persimmon tree. It seemed appropriate in this very Asian neighborhood.
At the New York Botanical Garden, I have never seen a little half-dressed imp go unsupervised.
Perhaps he was looking for this fort.
A couple of years ago I participated in a planting program for kids at the Queens Botanical Garden called Green Horizons. I was paired up with a really smart DEC forester named Greg Owens. Before the kids got there, when we were preparing, he told me he had brought a lot of cookies. I thought, how nice of you to bring cookies, I hope they’re chocolate chip. When it came time to break them out, it transpired that his cookies were wood, slices of trees, a way of learning something about the age of trees. Made good coasters, too.
If you get tired of tree worship, stop and smell the roses. They’ve been a bit battered by our recent heat and storms, but are still incredible.
The thing about Queens, though, you are not only caught up by persimmons and roses but by the sky. It’s under the flight paths to JFK and LaGuardia airports, and planes are constantly booming overhead. It’s enough to make you want to take off for someplace exotic.
But if you’re grounded in Flushing, you can do what I did – go sit in an outdoor restaurant bubble of clear plastic and eat spicy dan dan noodles. A good finale to an arboricultural feast.