Skip to main content

For Flowers, Trees, and Pretty Things Growing in Brooklyn: Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

In sticking with the theme of this year, I recently went back to another childhood haunt of mine, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Prior to this recent visit the only other time I have been there was on a school trip in the third grade. I remember it like it was yesterday. My teacher, Mrs. Phillips, was a photographer on the side in her real life, and somehow managed to get cameras for each of her students. This still blows my mind considering how public schools cut their budgets. I am sure she did this on her own. We were all given a camera, went on a school trip (on a “cheese” bus and everything) to the gardens. We were allowed to take pictures of anything we wanted.

I remember how excited I was. It is the first clear memory I have of using a camera. Somehow we developed the pictures, I am assuming she did. I will never ever forget what she said to me: “you have a great eye, I love your pictures”. I am not positive I had any idea what she was talking about but I knew what I felt: instant peace and happiness on a level I can’t explain. What made it more special is this was a teacher I was terrified of in the classroom. She was strict and stoic but with the camera we had a bond. It is a memory I hold dear to my heart. Now it is also my life line. 

I have wanted to go back for a while and that is when I decided to put it on my to-do list for this year ( I go to the New York Botanical Gardens much more often, usually once a year for their annual Holiday Train Show ( I decided to go back to my roots to see what the Brooklyn Gardens had to offer and also I had a job, I was going to take engagement photos for my friends who had just decided to tie the knot.

The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens are a popular place to get engaged and I have heard that they do have weddings here. Now I understand why. Even though the summer is probably their off season, as many more flowers will bloom in the spring, it was still a beautiful site for my visit. I actually didn’t appreciate it as much until I looked back at my photographs.

My friends and I set out on a Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago. I was attempting to beat the heat but I was unsuccessful. Also I love the light in the morning in the summer time. Another plus was that it was less crowded. People plus heat and me doesn’t not equal fun.

As I wandered around, stopping to photograph the happy couple, I was also looking around for this blog. It didn’t look like I remembered which of course makes sense given the season change and how many years have gone by.

What I was most excited to see was the Brooklyn Celebrity Path. It is the kind of Hollywood Walk of Fame but for Brooklyn. I didn’t know about this until I saw it on some random TV show a while ago but I think it is great. If you didn’t know about it, it might be hard to find but I was prepared.

What ended up being my favorite place was the serene and majestic Japanese Hill and Pond Garden. It was gorgeous. It is a great place to stop for a breather, take photos, and look around and take in your surroundings. This is a place I could have stayed for hours with just my camera and a cup of coffee. Even now thinking about it relaxes me. It sort of reminds of the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco; I never actually had time to go in but passed it by many times.

Overall the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens is a great place to visit. It is like a giant backyard for us urban residents. Time Out magazine agrees and says it is one of the places you should visit before the summer is over ( 

This time of year there are a lot of vines and vegetables growing. I liked the names of the roses growing so I took pictures of the ones that amused me. They also happened to be easy on the eyes.

There were interesting pieces of art all around and I always take pictures of shapes when they confuse or amuse me. I also like shrubbery that seems out of the ordinary. There are some examples of what I saw.

For a bonus it is best to go on Saturday before noon when there is free admission. It is hard to find a reason not to go when something is free and fun.

I still have those pictures I took in the third grade in a little photo album. When I looked at it last I feel like I can close my eyes and remember what I felt when I took them. I was so proud to have taken them and received such a compliment.

In another three hundred sixty degree moment I got in touch with Mrs. Phillips earlier this year. It was the first time since the third grade. I told her how much that meant to me and showed her what I was doing now. In an interesting twist of fate I was looking at her current work and I responded so naturally to it. It seemed like a lot of shots I would take, or hope to take.

I am proud to say that I have also recently met my other photography influence, the amazing and infamous Annie Leibovitz ( It was one of the greatest days of my life. I will never ever forget it as long as I live.

I recently saw a countdown of Oprah’s best episodes, according to TV Guide, and they showed one from the very beginning where she has her fourth grade teacher on, a woman named Mrs. Duncan. Oprah tells the story of how she was sobbing and this woman could never understand how much she meant to her even though she was fond of Oprah. As soon as I started writing this blog Mrs. Duncan popped into my mind.

Maybe there is just something extra special about elementary school teachers.

For more information:


Popular posts from this blog

For My Madness During Migraine Awareness Month

Last weekend as I sat staring at the blank page in front of me, I was still surprised and elated that I had an entire day to myself and unlike past experiences it was filled with what I wanted when I wanted it. There were a few rough moments but when I consider the previous twelve hours (and the days to come) have been better than the last week. Especially this last week even though I had braced myself ahead of time, I just didn’t know I should have braced for a more serious episode. I am a chronic migraine sufferer for so many years I don’t quite remember when they started exactly which is ironic because I can remember every special event they have ruined. I remember plays or dinners I was at where I don’t remember what happened but I could tell you what I felt minute by minute. It amazing how the mind works, especially when it’s operated by a migraine brain. In the last few years, specifically the last few years since I have been going to the Montefiore Headac

For Find Out Friday - Why Do Emery Boards Make My Skin Crawl?

You know that sound a fingernail makes when it scratches against a chalkboard?  You know that feeling the sound of that action gives you? I, like most people, hate that sound.  I instantly feel like scrunching my shoulders up to my neck and closing my eyes.  I feel the exact same way when I am using an emery board to file my nails. This annoying sensation has a name: “grima” which is Spanish for disgust or uneasiness. This term basically describes any feeling of being displeased, annoyed, or dissatisfied someone or something.  It is a feeling that psychologists are starting to pay more attention to as it relates to our other emotions.  Emery boards are traditionally made with cardboard that has small grains of sand adhered to them. It is the sandpaper that I believe makes me filled with grima.  According to studies that are being done around the world, it is not just the feeling that we associate with certain things like nails on a chalkboard or by using emery boards

For a New Chain of Mexican Fast Food: “Dos Toros Taqueria”

When it comes to fast food there are the names we are familiar with: McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Chipotle.  In you live in New York City, there is a new kid in town: Dos Toros.  Dos Toros is relatively new to this area but with any hope there might be one in your town soon.  Started by two brothers, Leo and Oliver Kremer, from Berkeley, California, the Mexican food you find here is inspired by food they loved growing up.  In California, the brothers grew up worshipping Gordo Taqueria, a favorite of Bay Area residents since 1977 (now promptly added to my San Francisco to eat list). Much of the recipes and even decor found at Dos Toros has been modeled on Gordo. Before moving to NYC in 2008, the brothers were living very different lives. Leo was the bassist for the band “Third Eye Blind”. Oliver fresh out of college, considered working in the technology or finance industry. Both disillusioned with their lives, they decided to pursue something they have l