In 2003, Lynn and I — as well as our motley crew of cats, Felix and Chloe — up and moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Scottsdale, Arizona on a whim. This radical decision was predicated upon a number of factors: we were incredibly weary of the long winters; we could no longer envision a future filled with opportunities in our professional lives; and there was a discernable feeling that we were in a rut, living out lives that seemed alarmingly predictable and comfortable given our relatively youthful ages. A malaise had set in, as well as a soul-crushing ennui. Something had to change. And so something did: we moved.
The next nine years of our lives were spent in Arizona. Unexpectedly, the change of scenery revealed more about what we’d left behind than what we’d discovered at our destination. In particular, we found a new appreciation for the finite change in seasons we’d previously taken for granted. Sure, there’s a “cooler” period in Arizona, but a mild drop in temperature a change of seasons does not make. Absence, as they say, makes the heart grow fonder.
So, in the spirit of our devotion to the seasons, we recently made our way out to one of our favorite get-away-without leaving-the-city destinations: the New York Botanical Garden. There’s no bad time to visit NYBG (you can see our different seasonal posts here and here). But taking in the fall foliage on their impeccably manicured grounds is one of our favorite ways to usher in the cooler temperatures. On this occasion, we timed our visit with the Giant Pumpkin Weekend.
The Giant Pumpkin Weekend is exactly what the name implies. In collaboration with the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, Pumpkins of Unusual Size (not to be confused with Rodents of Unusual Size — it is New York, after all) arrive from all over the country. And apparently it’s open to international submissions: a pumpkin from the UK managed to Brexit its way over here. Some of the more massive ones weighed in at over a ton. You could meet the growers and learn about the growing process during Q&A sessions. Or, you could just take a picture with a pumpkin that makes you feel less bad about that extra slice of pizza.
The Scarecrow Exhibit, however, is new this year. Sculptor and artist, Ray Villafane, created an original installation of natural materials set amidst swamp and marsh in NYBG’s landscape. The exhibit explores the evolution of the scarecrow in the U.S., from their utilization in agriculture to their unique place in popular culture, superstition and lore. Also, after 3 pm and on Scarecrow Nights, the installation incorporates performances by the all-inclusive theatrical production company, Truth in Lies, with costumes designed by Bronx artist, Lucrecia Novoa.
The scarecrows and pumpkins will be on display through October 30, but check the NYBG calendar for additional events and exhibits. Also, we’ve mentioned it before but it bears repeating: if you take the train from Grand Central it’s a short 20-25 minute ride, and on the weekends you can use the City Ticket, which offers a reduced rate.
Pair it with:
A meal at Hudson Garden Grill
Restaurateur Stephen Starr has proven, time and again, that he knows the formula for a successful restaurant. He has a very clear, straightforward vision which he implements with precision. His growing restaurant empire is uniformly accessible, elegant and sophisticated without succumbing to the pitfalls of stuffiness. Hudson Garden Grill is no different. Nestled on the grounds of NYBG and with views of the arboretum, the spacious open kitchen offers New American, farm-to-table fare. The menu is sourced locally from Hudson Valley farms, and hence rotates with the season. It’s the perfect place to take a break from your garden exploration.
Lunch served 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
Bar service, coffee, and lights snacks 3–6 p.m.
Weekends and Select Mondays:
Full menu served 11:30 a.m.–6 p.m.