Conservatory Garden in the upper east flank of Central Park is one of the great vest-pocket parks of Manhattan. Enter through the imposing wrought iron gate – rescued from the Vanderbilt Mansion – and you come into a formally planted garden of grand allees, ornamental lawns, and an enormous wisteria-covered pergola. It’s about as transporting as you can get in this city, short of a trip to the botanical gardens. The flowering pear trees are right now raining down a storm of small white petals, carpeting the walkways with their ephemeral snow. Narcissus, in a profusion of pastel paint-chip variations, are in full flower. So, too, are the tulips. And best of all, the narcotic lilac groves are blooming with all the colors of Easter eggs – soft purple, pale blue, paper white – and filling the air with a sweet perfume.
Stretched out under the pergola and looking up at the tangle of vines, I couldn’t help but think of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s stained glass windows and decorative arts. Something tells me he’d love it here.