Think of Claude Monet. Now consider Monet’s most famous painting. Bet water lilies came to mind.
You’re probably not the only one, and the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in the Bronx wants to change that. Water lilies have their place, certainly, but in its current exhibition – Monet’s Garden, on through October 21 – they’re but one part of the main event. The exhibition features a seasonally changing interpretation of the garden that inspired Monet’s art. Beyond this, NYBG also has on exhibition two rarely seen paintings by the artist, and has an ongoing schedule of films, concerts, poetry readings, and more.
Monet in front of his house at Giverny, 1921 Image: Patrice Schmidt, Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, NY
Monet wasn’t just a knockout painter and visionary artist. He was a gardener, too. The garden in the NYBG Conservatory is inspired by his own garden in Giverny, France, brought to life through romantic design using a diverse mix of plants in stand-out colors.
The exhibition has been open since May, and summertime has provided new reasons for visitors to stop in. Those famous water lilies are at their peak, having blossomed into an array of shapes and colors – deep pinks, yellows, and creams and whites. There are new “paint box beds” alongside the lily pond: these features, inspired by Monet’s long-time habit of playing with color combinations in miniature before incorporating them into the larger gardens, might even inspire your next garden (or, let’s be real, fire escape) planting plan.
A re-creation of the gardens of Giverny. Image: Ivo M. Vermeulen
Inside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the floral installation has progressed from spring to summer to fall. Nasturtiums and sunflowers will soon give way to dahlias, asters, sages, and goldenrods. And a re-creation of Monet’s Grand Allée, a path of rose-covered arches, also shines – and changes from season to season. Zinnias, cosmos, and hollyhocks are in bloom, and in a few weeks the pathway will be peppered with meadow rue, feathery grasses, and pale lavender.
Re-creation of the Grande Allee. Image: Talisman Brolin
Want a little more Monet in your life? Visit NYBG by October 21: the Adult All-Garden Pass starts at $20, and tickets are still available for the Monet Evening concert on the Conservatory Lawn on Saturday, September 22; City Chamber Music Collective will perform. In the meantime, download its new free app – not only can you access images of these beautiful gardens and his paintings at your fingertips, but you can transform your own photographs into masterpieces with the Impressionist Lens.
New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx, New York. Accessible via MetroNorth, subway/bus, and car.