Creative Community

Green Spaces: Favorites from The Creative Community

by Maxwell Tielman

While walking my dogs last night, I happened to look up and noticed that (finally) there are the beginnings of buds forming at the tips of the tree branches in my neighborhood. Although it was a relatively chilly Brooklyn evening, this glimmer of green made me excited for the best thing about warmer months: the ability to be outdoors. It’s been a good while since I’ve been able to take a pleasant jaunt in the park, walk barefooted in freshly mown grass, or listen to birds chirp in my favorite garden. All of us at Design*Sponge have our favorite outdoor places to go when the weather gets warm, so we decided to check in on some of our favorite creative people to what theirs are. Here are the creative community’s favorite green spaces, from New York City all the way to the suburbs of Stockholm. May they guide your own outdoor adventures this spring and summer! —Max

Grace: Fort Tryon Park (home of the Met’s Cloisters Museum) was the first park I fell in love with in NYC. As a freshman at NYU I took the train uptown by myself and felt like I’d left the island of Manhattan completely. The views feel more like the Hudson Valley than uptown NYC. It’s the perfect place for a picnic date or a little quiet time for self-reflection.

Amy: My favorite outdoor space is the Huntington Library in Southern California. It marries two of my favorite things – history and outdoor spaces. Founded in 1919, there are 120 acres of gardens. It is magnificent. My favorite is the recently restored faux bois in the Japanese Gardens.

Max: I have two favorite green spaces— the first of which is the Buffalo Botanical Gardens, one of the oldest and most beautiful conservatories in the country, located right in the middle of one of Buffalo’s stunning Olmsted Parks. This was one of my favorite places to visit on cold winter days when I was growing up, because it felt like instant springtime! My second favorite green space has to be Storm King Sculpture park in Upstate New York. This place is beyond epic for any art or landscape design appreciator— it features stunning views and sculptures by some of the most notable artists of recent time.

Sarah Winward, Floral Designer, Utah: My favorite local “green space” would be the Wasatch mountains. I live just at the base of the mountains, and can be to them in a few minutes. There are many maintained trails throughout them that we enjoy hiking all through the warm months.  Favorite canyons are Millcreek, Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. Salt Lake City also has a wealth of running trails throughout the city that I love. The Bonneville Shoreline and Parley’s trail are closest to my home.

Heather Moore, Illustrator, South Africa: I live in Cape Town, South Africa, and simply put, I have a giant mountain in the back yard of my city apartment! Within a few minutes of leaving home, I can be walking on the slopes of Table Mountain, home to an exceptionally diverse and rare floral kingdom, as well as to deer, porcupine, tortoises, African wildcats, baboons, and lots more. I can also, if I like, continue my walk, hiking 87km (54 miles) along the length of the Cape peninsula on the Table Mountain chain, stopping in at mountain huts along the way. It really is quite extraordinary, and best of all? It belongs to all of us!

Frances Palmer, Pottery Designer: My favorite public garden to visit is Wave Hill in the Bronx.  It is easy to reach via car, subway or train and is a perfect place for a stroll or picnic.  There is a spectacular view of the Hudson River and now the dogwoods, magnolias and fruit trees are busting out.  The flower garden there is full of bulbs and early spring blooms.

Greg Lehmkuhl, Creative Director for Terrain: My favorite green space is The Chelsea Physic Garden in London. A good friend Stacy and I go whenever I visit. It’s hidden away behind closed walls. It’s the oldest botanical garden in London and it used to be used to teach young physicians— you always learn something!

Tassy de Give, Sprout Home: Some of my favorite green spaces around NY are community gardens because you can tell a lot of love has gone into each of the plantings. The Lotus Garden on the Upper West Side and the Green Dome in McCarren Park both have amazing ranges of flowers and plant types and will leave any gardener feeling inspired.

Annabel & Dorothee of Belathée Photography, New York City: The High Line is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. We love that it grew out of the passion of a group of locals who couldn’t bare the idea of losing a piece of history. Whenever we get a chance we stroll admiring its eclectic mix of railroad ruins, modern architecture and wildflowers. It’s fun to note how it morphs with the seasons.  Although it’s always buzzing with people, it’s a true tree house sanctuary above the bustle of NYC. With the addition of food carts it is the perfect place to relax and be inspired at the same time.

Paige Appel and Kelly Harris of Bash Please, Los Angeles: Our favorite green space in the Los Angeles area would be Malibu Creek. We love to go rock jumping in the lake, hike the shady trails, and watch the sunset behind the mountains. There is also a really gorgeous view of the ocean at the nearby campgrounds. The amount of butterflies that surround the grounds during spring is magical. It is definitely one our favorite places to get fresh air and explore the nature of Southern California.

Victoria Smith, Blogger at SF Girl By Bay, San Francisco: My very favorite green space in San Francisco is Fort Funston — an old and long-abandoned military fort along the Pacific Ocean where dogs are allowed off-leash. I take Lucy there every weekend (as you may have noticed if you follow me on Instagram) and we take the road less traveled — through the sand dunes and unmarked trails, under canopies of Cypress trees down to the beach where she runs like a maniac and I laugh my head off watching her. It’s beautiful, peaceful and the perfect way to start a weekend.

Amy Merrick, Floral Designer and Stylist, New York City: My favorite green place is Wave Hill in the Bronx. The style of planting there is by far the most beautiful of the New York gardens- their flower garden in June is my favorite place in the city! It’s so natural and wild- plus the garden has a breathtaking view of the Husdon River.

Dabito, Artist and Blogger at Old Brand New, Los Angeles: I just discovered the wonderful Vista Hermosa Natural Park in Los Angeles. It’s perfect for a light jog or a stroll down its windy trails filled with lush greens, like white sage and coyote bushes. It’s pet friendly and has an expansive view of our Downtown skyline. It’s totally a hidden, urban, jungle gem!

Amyel Oliveros, Industrial Designer, Stockholm: I know it’s weird to pick a cemetery as my favorite green space but if you ever get a chance to stop by Stockholm, Skogskyrkogården is not to be missed. These days cities are cramming for more space, but the architects were spared space for sanctity. With only 20% of the entire space actually structures. Skogskyrkogården boasts some of the most spectacular Scandinavian landscape architecture. A tree lined circular bike path surrounds a sloping hill that leads to a tall cross. From there you can see the the whole place. Situated within a big city, it’s extremely rare to find such a tranquil space.

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  • Hi.. so fun to be included here.. and it was hard to choose as we have many favorites..
    Just a note about the Huntington Gardens in LA that Amy loves.. we just had a chance to visit and were blown away! A true gem hidden in the urban sprawl of LA!
    Happy strolling everyone :)
    Dorothée + Annabel

  • Oh Hi Ft Tryon! I live across the street and was thoroughly convinced I moved there just because it was Manhattan but didnt look like yucky-city.
    Perfect getaway on the weekend for you “downtowners”.

  • Bartram’s Gardens in Philadelphia (where I got married), or my parents farm out in Montgomery County, PA. I have very special childhood memories of early spring lilies of the valley and dandelions out in their meadows. I love city life, but its always nice to escape for the weekend and play in the dirt!

  • Vancouver, BC is bursting with cherry blossoms right now. Can’t seem to stay indoors, since the weather has been amazingly beautiful and sunny for the past two weeks. (It’s back to gray skies and drizzling today, but that’s not stopping the blooms!) I’ve been posting one too many pictures of the cherry blossoms on my blog, too. Just wanted to share a slice of Vancouver in Spring with all of you. Cheers.

    Chelle at kiobie.blogspot.ca

  • I love this list! I’m going to have to check out the Wasatch Mountains now that we live in Colorado (only one big state away). And I’m glad to see that Wave Hill made the list not once, but twice! It’s a total gem– I’m always surprised that NYers who have lived in the city for years have never heard of it (I grew up a few blocks away and it’s where I got married :)

  • I volunteer at a beautiful iris garden near my home. Even though the tall beardeds are only open for around a month in May, there is always something wonderful blooming or going to seed. There are heirloom roses and lilacs, gorgeous Japanese iris and Siberians that open in June and July, all kinds of wildflowers, a breathtaking stand of peonies, and all kinds of lovely wildflowers and shrubs year round. We have wonderful visitors, like Stephen Scaniello from the magnificent Brooklyn Botanical Gardens Rose Garden, and botanists from around the world have come to learn about irises and trade irises. We have “satellite” gardens (gardens that we shipped rhizomes to) in Florence, Italy and Beijing, China, and more. Every garden, everywhere, is a gift to the community, from a small and well-loved urban garden in a tiny plot to the magnificent spread of a wildflower plain in the midwest.

  • Van Dusen Gardens in Vancouver is lovely and as Chelle mentioned the entire city is an explosion of cherry blossoms and magnolia flowers right now. The air smells sweet!

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