Flower Shows

Erin O’Hara

If it only takes a bouquet of flowers to brighten your mom's Mother's Day, just imagine what a whole field of them will do. This year, skip the tear-jerking greeting card and give Mom something from your heart—spend a day with the whole family at one of these great gardens and make memories that will remain vivid long after the flowers are gone.

Bask in The Glory of Dutch Bulbs at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). The special, once-in-400-years exhibit contains about 50,000 bulbs, many of which are tulips, in honor of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's momentous voyage to the region we now know as New York City. When you're done tiptoeing through the tulips, take a trek (or a tram) across the garden to NYBG's collection of lilacs—in brightest bloom during the month of May.

May is also the best time of year to visit the Queens Botanical Garden, since this is the month when the largest percentage of its flowers are in bloom. Take Mom to the Fragrance Walk for a surprising olfactory treat—the garden's flowers are selected to create a symphony of sweet scents.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) celebrates spring with cherry blossoms. Hanami (the traditional Japanese custom of appreciating cherry blossom season) lasts through May 10, and Sakura Matsuri, a springtime festival commemorating Japanese culture, is ongoing May 2–3. Check out the CherryWatch Blossom Status Map on the BBG website, which is updated every weekday with the current bloom position of each tree. The garden offers free guided tours every Saturday and Sunday at 1pm, and you can pick up a living Mother's Day gift at BBG's plant sale, held under a tent on the Cherry Esplanade May 6–7.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is also in the botany biz. On May 2, at the perennial plant sale and green market, you can purchase plants, herbs and annuals for Mom's garden (or cut flowers if she doesn't exactly have the greenest thumb) from 10am to 4pm. Plus, as part of NYC Wildflower Week, take a tour of the garden or learn how to grow your own at a planting class. Meanwhile, May 2–3, enjoy the Staten Island Orchid Society Show, with beautiful displays of these exotic plants, some of which are available for purchase.

Moms deserve relaxation more than anyone. Wave Hill's Yoga in Nature classes, on Sundays and Tuesdays, will let her unwind with the wind in her hair. After a stretch in the sun, enjoy the many seasonal treats, like the flowering dogwood. Every Sunday from 11:30am to 1pm, guests can enjoy brunch in the Mark Twain Room inside the Wave Hill House, featuring fresh, organic produce from the local Katchkie Farm. Treat the family on May 10 as the chefs present a special Mother's Day menu. But don't delay—reservations are always required, and due by 4pm on the preceding Friday.

If you still haven't had your fill of flowery fun, you won't want to miss out on the rest of the NYC Wildflower Week festivities. Many of the events take place at Union Square, the week's floral headquarters. There, the Native Plant Display Garden showcases local flora, from azaleas to witchhazel, helping New Yorkers reconnect with the City's "natural heritage." Stop by the garden on May 3 from noon to 3pm and pick up a free native wildflower of your very own. The week's events, which are happening all over the five boroughs, include botanical walks and garden tours, information about NYC's wild plants and creating sustainable landscapes, and cooking classes and restaurants, where you and Mom can eat or learn to create dishes made with native NYC ingredients.