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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Jefferson Market Garden

I must have walked by Jefferson Market Garden a few hundred times before I discovered one could actually visit this Greenwich Village spot.

While the greenery is plainly visible behind the high iron fence adjoining the Jefferson Market Library, the lack of a gate suggests it's a private space. And for years the garden was closed, meant only for viewing from the outside.

Surprise! Those dark days are over.

The entrance isn't on Sixth Avenue but around back, on Greenwich Avenue. And in nice weather the garden is open all day, minded by a volunteer who sits at a small table greeting visitors with a nod and a brochure.

Tucked beside the striking library (formerly a courthouse), the Garden holds within its iron bars a complete, verdant little world—on the site of the old Women's House of Detention. After the demise of that unhappy edifice in 1973, the Parks Department took over, and now, stewarded by local residents, it's a flowery, embirdened oasis of quiet right alongside the bustle of Sixth Avenue. (That's right, "embirdened." Like Sarah Palin and her idol, William Shakespeare, I can coin new words.)

In summer, the richness of the verdure, the smells of the earth, hang so thick in the air you can hardly believe you're in a city.

More unusual than robins and rhododendrons is the fish pond, full of bright golden…fish. (Do I know enough about fish to tell you what kind they are? Is the Pope Jewish?) A scarcity of benches means the garden will never get too crowded, unless there's an event like a concert—or a wedding. Apparently, Miranda got married here on Sex and the City, but thankfully, if the spot is on the route of any gawking tours, such monstrosities have never coincided with any of my visits.

Another Jefferson Market Garden plus: proximity to Roasting Plant Coffee. Just saying.

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