Whether you’re planning a leisurely stroll, an intimate wedding, or some quiet time with a good book, the Conservatory Garden offers a peaceful and colorful setting in all seasons. The six-acre Conservatory Garden is Central Park’s only formal garden. It takes its name from the huge glass conservatory that once stood on this same spot, built in 1898.
In 1934, when maintenance of the facility had become too costly, the conservatory was demolished and replaced with the present Garden, which opened to the public in 1937. The Conservatory Garden is in fact three gardens representing different landscape styles: Italian, French, and English. To enter the six-acre Garden from Fifth Avenue and 105th Street, you must pass through the Vanderbilt Gate, which originally stood before the Vanderbilt Mansion at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street, the site of today’s Bergdorf Goodman store. An Italian-style garden opens immediately before you. It is a restful oasis of formal green lawn and clipped hedges. It is bordered to the north and south by alleés of crabapple trees; their bloom times vary from mid-April through the first week of May, depending on the weather. On the west side is a wrought-iron wisteria pergola that sits atop a series of tiered yew and spiraea hedges. An elegant geyser fountain in front of the pergola provides a vertical contrast to the rows of hedges. Few visitors know that on the walkway under the pergola are medallions inscribed with the names of the original thirteen states. The Italian garden is the site of many wedding photography sessions and, in the spring, of the Central Park Conservancy’s Women’s Committee Frederick Law Olmsted Luncheon.