For the few months out of the year when the weather is clear and the sun is warm, Boston has some flora to flaunt. For a city on the smaller side, it’s home to a surprising number of world-famous botanical landscapes, in addition to “secret gardens” hiding on unsuspecting rooftops or discreetly between skyscrapers. The Emerald Necklace is the famed seven-mile string of parks lacing through the city proper, a path you can trace with a bird’s eye view from the Skywalk Observatory on the 50th floor of Prudential Tower. But what makes these gardens so charming is how they retain their appeal in wintertime. After the blooms fall and leaves recede, the Boston Public Garden is still a lovely place for lengthy walks around the duck pond, and The Rose Kennedy Greenway is decorated with seasonal art installations and light displays every winter, spreading some warmth and cheer from the North End to Chinatown.
Boston Public Garden
The first recognized public botanical garden in America evokes a sense of Victorian style in the 21st century. The park is best known for its flowerbeds planted with thousands of bright and colorful tulips that bloom in the spring, but I’m partial to the allium blooms surrounding the George Washington statue in early summer.
The Rose Kennedy Greenway
This flowering, art-filled parkway is spotted with splash fountains for kids and a series of public art installations. Close to the Seaport Boston Hotel, you’ll find the popular LED-lit columns of Harbor Fog. Inspired by Boston Harbor buoys, when you walk through, motion activated censors release an opaque, misty cloud.
Cambridge Center Roof Garden
Found on the top level of the Cambridge Center parking garage in Kendall Square is this hush-hush community sanctuary, perfect for private afternoon picnics and a view of the surrounding skyline. Find the entrance to the garage on Broadway Street, appropriately marked “Roof Garden,” and take the elevator to the top.
Every May, Lilac Sunday is a Boston tradition celebrating the five-week flowering of the botanical garden’s premier collection, but my favorite time to visit is at the height of snow season. Walking through a wintry scene of ice-brushed treetops and white fields is a refreshing escape from cooped-up city blocks.
Post Office Square
Surrounded by the towering facades of the Financial District’s skyscrapers sits this shady oasis. In the summer, you can join in on a full calendar of free fitness classes and live music concerts, or come wintertime, visit the sunny, greenhouse-style Sip Cafe where you can warmly enjoy the natural light.