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Right next door to the Brooklyn Museum is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Odd as it seems to have to pay to get in (hey, capitalism!), it’s well worth a visit. The gardens are huge and varied, including fountains and lily pools…

… a conservatory that houses palms, aquatic plants, and a BONSAI MUSEUM where some of the teeny trees are nearly a century old…

… plus Japanese style gardens, a herb garden, a veggie patch for local kids to get their hands dirty, a grove of magnolias, and much more. When you first enter from the Eastern Parkway you’re met by the Osborne Garden – a beautiful Italian-style lawn edged with wisteria-draped pergolas – which today was being gussied up for a Sunday evening wedding.

The park has a bit of an interesting history which you can read about here, the space was an ash-dump in the 1800s. Things are happening in the gardens all year round, like the “Ghouls and Gourds” festival planned for Halloween in a few weeks. My all-time favourite flowers are peonies, so fingers crossed I’ll still be here in May when the collection of tree-peonies donated from Japan are in full bloom.

Another part that must be amazing in full bloom is the Cherry Walk, with stretching rows of different varieties of cherry trees which apparently put on the best cherry blossom display outside of Japan. Next to that, at least the massive collection of roses were out in all their glory.

Then there’s this strange sight – a public artwork by Patrick Dougherty. Called “Natural History”, it will stand in the gardens for 12 months until August 2011. Dougherty constructed these odd little huts – they’re big enough to stand inside and peer out of – from reclaimed non-native tree branches, with the help of volunteers.

It’s apparently all about sustainability and nature and the feelings he felt when he spent time in the gardens. But you know what they remind me of? Those crazy woolly monsters in Where The Wild Things Are. I like the quote from Dougherty where he said he wanted the finished work to resemble “lairs; a place for feral children and wayward adults.”

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