5 design tips to steal from The New York Botanical Garden – to create a beautiful plant display

Mirror the grandeur of the Empire State's floral utopia – wherever you are

The reflecting pool in New York Botanical Garden
(Image credit: New York Botanical Garden)

When it comes to new garden ideas, we could do far worse than follow the example of one of the most famous landscapes in the United States. The New York Botanical Garden has kissed The Bronx's urban neighborhood since the late nineteenth century – but its majestic composition remains eternally contemporary, thanks to collaborations from artists, including esteemed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. 

Here, we've listed the top five garden landscaping ideas from across its verdant 250-acres, so you can inject elements of its ambiance across your own garden – and turn your exteriors into a museum of beautiful botany. 

1. Break up with your open concept garden  

Peggy Rockefeller rose garden in New York Botanical Garden

(Image credit: New York Botanical Garden)

Open-plan gardens had enjoyed several seasons at the peak of the garden design industry, but their time may be coming to an end. Naturally, The New York Botanical Garden dispensed with that long ago. 

We're not suggesting you venture away from an open-plan landscape forever, but we're following the Garden's lead and creating separate zones with garden furniture, including pergolas. These zones introduce privacy and make room for spaces that are a multifunctional extension of your home – and if the New York Botanical Garden approves of their aesthetic, then we will surely approve too. 

2. Accentuate your seasonal blooms 

Blossom tree in New York Botanical Garden

(Image credit: New York Botanical Garden)

Perhaps the most delightful elements of our gardens are those that change throughout the seasons. From the blushing cherry blossoms of spring and the fiery leaves of autumn to the dynamic colors of our flower beds, we would struggle to forget that our exteriors are brimming with live species that bless our gardens with ever-changing hues. 

Just as the New York Botanical Garden built one of its most acclaimed buildings – the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory – in the shadow of their overflowing blossom tree, we too should construct our gardens around its seasonal assets. Placing them at the forefront of our garden will act as a subtle reminder of our garden's power and change our landscape all year round. 

3. Curate a greenhouse – with a tropical twist 

Deserts of the Americas Gallery with cacti in New York Botanical Garden

(Image credit: New York Botanical Garden)

While we're not giving up growing veg, we are looking for new greenhouse ideas, and we're equally inspired to create an escapist utopia in our exteriors by dedicating a section to the most architectural plants of them all: cacti. 

The aptly named Deserts of the Americas Gallery in the Conservatory is a grand celebration of this exotic plant – and though we might not be able to match its vast collection, we can design a sanctuary that reminds us of sunnier climates throughout the calendar. 

4. Invest in a statement water feature  

The Tropical Pool in the Conservatory Courtyard

(Image credit: New York Botanical Garden)

When searching for garden pond ideas, there is none quite so dramatic as the water features at New York's Botanical Garden. The haven epitomizes everything we need to remember when bringing water into our exterior space – most prominently because it uses its impressive garden dimensions and style to influence its size, shape, and location. 

The Tropical Pool in the Conservatory Courtyard is only one of the garden's exquisitely placed features that showcases a fun-filled theme that makes the space feel more lighthearted but no less magnificent. We're bringing its tropical-inspired charisma into our backyards at the earliest opportunity. 

5. Make magic with (outdoor) mirrors  

KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature at NY Botanical Garden

Infinity Mirror from KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature

(Image credit: YAYOI KUSAMA, Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner)

As the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces continue to blur, we're seeing an increase in furniture and home decor accessories in our gardens – and mirrors are no exception. Whether you bring a mirror into a living room zone or hang an antique piece to make a statement during your next garden party – outdoors mirrors will reflect the beauty of your home design beyond its four walls.

New York's Botanical Garden is open daily from 10am – 6pm. Visitors are encouraged to buy tickets via their website to guarantee admission, especially for the KUSAMA Garden & Gallery Pass, which often sells out. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.