Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: Lunch at The Modern, A Stroll Through The Conservatory Garden in Central Park

The Bar Room at The Modern in New York (Photo by Lia Chang)

The Bar Room at The Modern in New York (Photo by Lia Chang)

My leisurely Sunday afternoon begins with lunch in The Bar Room of The Modern with my cousin Ed, who is in New York on business.  From the tasting menu, we choose two of my favorites- veal and lamb. Our light repast includes the warm veal and goat cheese terrine with watercress,  a fresh grilled shrimp with green cabbage and gruyere salad and a roasted opal lamb chop, served with artichokes, manchego and extra virgin olive oil.

warm veal and goat cheese terrine with watercress (photo by Lia Chang)

warm veal and goat cheese terrine with watercress (photo by Lia Chang)

a fresh grilled shrimp with green cabbage and gruyere salad (photo by Lia Chang)

a fresh grilled shrimp with green cabbage and gruyere salad (photo by Lia Chang)

After bidding him farewell, I’m on the bus up Madison Ave to my favorite oasis, the only formal garden in Central Park, called the Conservatory Garden which is located on Fifth Ave at 105th Street. Rain and colder temperatures are in the forecast today, but to my delight the sun is shining, taking the chill off during my stroll.

Saucer Magnolia Tree in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park (Photo by Lia Chang)

Saucer Magnolia Tree in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park (Photo by Lia Chang)

I enter the Garden through the Vanderbilt Gate at Fifth Avenue and 105th Street. Installed in 1939, it originally served as the entrance to the Vanderbilt Mansion at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street (at the present site of the Bergdorf Goodman department store) until its demolition in 1927.

The Conservatory Garden gets its name from the huge glass conservatory that once stood on the same spot, built in 1898. Many of the first shrubs and trees that were later planted in the park were first cultivated in this conservatory by Ignaz Pilat, the head gardener of the new park. In 1934, maintenance of the facility became prohibitive, so it was torn down and replaced with the present garden that we enjoy today.

Saucer Magnolia (Photo by Lia Chang)

Saucer Magnolia (Photo by Lia Chang)

The Garden is divided into three distinct sections, the north (French Garden), the Central (Italian Garden) and the south (English Garden). Today, it is the southern garden, which features the English style, which is bloom and it is where I spend the rest of the afternoon.

Ballerina Tulip (Photo by Lia Chang)

Ballerina Tulip (Photo by Lia Chang)

Planted to be enjoyed the year round, I overhear from others in Garden, “What a little sunshine can do,” since the saucer magnolias, ballerina tulips, grape hyacinth and the stunning array of narcissus are basking in the glow. As am I.

Narcissus (Photo by Lia Chang)

Narcissus (Photo by Lia Chang)

The Conservatory Garden in Central Park is located at 5th Ave and 105th St. Free tours start at the front gate Saturday at 11 a.m., April – October.

Click on the arrow below to see what’s in bloom at the Conservatory Garden

Click here for more on the Conservatory Garden

Related Articles:

Cherry Blossoms, Magnolias, Tulips and Narcissus at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Spring in New York is a Veritable Color Riot
Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Sashimi at Chiyoda

Sushi and Sashimi for Two at Nomado 33

The Dish on Susur Lee and Shang

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.

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This entry was posted on April 20, 2009 by in Food, Gardens, New York, Restaurants and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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