By Jane Garmey

Beat the midwinter blues by heading to the New York Botanical Garden where the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory offers visitors the humidity of a lush, tropical rain forest and the invigorating dry heat of a cactus-filled desert landscape—and this is just a prelude to the annual orchid extravaganza that begins on February 28. Always spectacular, this year’s event invokes the tropical setting of a contemporary Brazilian garden and is designed by noted Miami-based landscape architect Raymond Jungles. Should you go on Saturday, bring your binoculars and join the weekly bird watchers’ walk that takes place at 11 am. (A recent sighting of White-winged Crossbills caused great excitement.) Also don’t leave without seeing the Benenson Ornamental Conifer Collection. These rare evergreen specimens are particularly magnificent in winter.
Now is also a good time to visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It offers an impressive range of free workshops for families and by mid-March the star magnolias should be coming into bloom.  The Irish Hunger Memorial in Lower Manhattan may well be New York’s least known garden. The landscaped memorial commemorates the more than one and a half million people who died in Ireland during the potato blight of 1846-1850. With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, now’s the time to check it out.  Another bucolic winter expedition a hike along the recently restored woodland walk at Wave Hill.  Its narrow trail weaves a circuitous route around the woods bordering the property. There are board walk crossings over ravines and glorious views across the Hudson.

Jane Garmey writes about gardens and landscape architecture for a number of publications including The New York Times and Town & Country. She is the editor of The Writer in the Garden, an anthology of garden writing, and is currently working on a book about private gardens in Connecticut.