Tiny Gardens in Greenwich Village


I’ve posted about the big famous gardens I saw in New York City earlier this month (here and here), but I also got a kick out of the small gardens all around me.

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Greenwich Village, where I was staying, has lots of charm and gardeners, including the terrific one who lives in the house on the left.  In contrast, a crappy pizza joint offers zero curb appeal for the apartment I stayed in (via airbnb).  But to my surprise, the five apartments above the pizza place share an amazing rooftop garden, shown below.


I was told that the primary gardener here is my temporary landlady, a film director who was spending the month in Europe.



Back on street level, this private garden caught my eye.


Tree pits are important bits of land in any city and they’re usually boring.  This one shows how much design thought can go into a tiny space.


This pocket park around the corner is chockful of interesting plants, plus paths and containers.  New York seems packed with these tiny but prominent gems, which are almost nonexistent in D.C.



This sunnier, more colorful pocket park below is maintained by Green Infrastructure, a program with 2,500 such “Greenstreets” to its credit.


This is part of an entire block of townhouses planted with Begonias, some mixed with Liriope.  It’s hard to capture the effect but in person, I was wowed.

sheridan square google street view

Here’s something I’d never seen before – a “viewing garden.”  (Photo via Google maps).  Which explains, I guess, it being completely fenced-off to everyone but the gardeners.


West of the Village I found Pier 45 and other much-used parkland along the river.  Again I was surprised how nice a bit of lawn can look, in a city with so little of it.

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No lawn here in the dog park, but plenty of seating for owners, and a triple-pool water feature.


Finally, this balcony is just feet away from the High Line, so the owner naturally needed a bit of privacy.   Very cool solution!


  1. The tree pit planting is absolutely gorgeous. Makes me feel like adopting some in my own neighbourhood.

    Other cities should really take inspiration from NY, and help organize these green patches around the city. On top of it being beautiful, it’s intended to help the city infrastructure cope better with stormwater.

  2. I lovelovelove the unexpected gardens found in cities. It always seems to me they are the ultimate gardening against the odds. Often, these tiny city gardens are so much more precious because of the difficulties against which they thrive, and for the oasis they provide.

  3. When I go to the Smithsonian Butterfly Habitat Garden, it’s always a bit sad because the pollution (and noise) from the nearby tunnel discourage that which it intends to attract, the horticulturalist informs me. It’s a beautiful and educational garden, but I can’t help but imagine that it would encourage more people to utilize those plants if the bees and butterflies would show up.

    But, I also think they’re not there because it’s isolated from other butterfly-friendly gardens. Luckily, I live on a watershed, so despite the fact that my lawn and shrub-scalping neighbor doesn’t help the wildlife, I get lots of insects that hang out around the protected creek.

    Actually, I think I see more gardens on my drive into D.C. near the Capitol Building than I see in my own neighborhood here in suburbia. These continuous strips of green can’t help but benefit the pollinators, despite the noise and pollution. Hopefully, New Yorkers will join their neighbors in adding beneficial greenery to their small yards.

    Here’s part of my drive into D.C. on East Capitol Street, just east of the Capitol Building. (You can lift click your mouse and move your mouse to do a 360 view of the yards-hopefully this will work for you.) Following this is a link to a NY video:

    from Sunday Morning:

    • ….looks like the link didn’t come out perfectly, but if you click the photo at the top left, you’ll get the intended street view for rotation.

  4. I have to commend the efforts, but I also have to lament that “civilization’ has been reduced to this. Keep your large cities. I’ll rejoice in the openness of the great Midwest.

  5. It’s true, NYC is blessed with many, many such little spaces, public and private. Up in my nabe, lovely little Straus Park (Broadway & 106th St.) has a tiny formal center with a little fountain & statue of its namesake Ida Straus, who died on the Titanic rather than be separated from her husband of many years:
    Closer to the perimeter, a smart succession of Hellebore orientalis, then daffodils, then day lilies. In the heat of August it’s mostly just a green cool haven for the many neighborhood folks who go sit there.

  6. Oh, the rooftop garden! When I was in college, some classmates had an apartment with access onto a neighbor’s flat roof, and used to hold cookout-parties (cheap, easily moveable Weber grill and off-brand ice chest; potluck ingredients). I think they had one potted plant, but I thought that rooftop was the Coolest Thing Ever, it was so “Bohemian.”

  7. I love peeking at little gardens, public and private. A friend gave me a great book, Garden Guide: New York City edition, that gives information about over 100 small public gardens in all the boroughs. They are there for anyone’s, everyone’s enjoyment, but they are often tucked away so you need to know how to find them – and feel confident that they are for the public.

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