The charm of a secret garden is that it's surrounded by walls or somewhat hidden from view.
Ideally, it requires you to open a gate or walk under an arch, leading to a peaceful space filled with beautiful flowers, small trees and maybe even a magical creature or two.
Luckily, uptown has three that truly fit the bill and make the perfect spot for reflection on a sunny afternoon.
Roger Morris Park, Jumel Terrace between W 160th and W 162nd Sts
Open daily 10am-5pm
At some point during the summer, the sunken garden behind the Morris-Jumel Mansion—built in 1765 as a summer villa for English colonel Roger Morris—turns into an overgrown idyll. Located in the northeast corner of Roger Morris Park and separated by a small stone retaining wall, the garden has a few wooden benches from which to admire the sundial as well as plants such as the stinging nettles, anise, yarrow, and horseradish. But the centerpiece is the small copper-domed brick building that feels straight out of some romantic English landscape.
The Met Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park, 99 Margaret Corbin Drive
Thu-Mon 10am-5pm; entry by timed ticket or reservation only
Resembling an old European cloister, the Met's uptown branch houses the museum's medieval art collection. Walking through the two levels, you'll find three enclosed gardens, each laid out in different ways. But the one that's the most secluded—and filled with the largest variety of plants—is the Bonnefont Cloister garden. Reached by a beautiful arcade, this small eden with inspiring views of the Hudson River features as many as 300 species of medieval plants used in cooking, medicine, magic and art.
The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave at W 112th St
Open Saturdays and Sundays, 9:30am-6pm
A few steps south of the magnificent Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is the entrance to the church's grounds and its peaceful gardens. But only one of them is truly tucked away. Follow the driveway to the Cathedral School and on your left you'll find the small arch leading to the Biblical Garden. Featuring a central fountain surrounded by shaded benches, this charming oasis is filled with a variety of plantings mentioned in the Bible. Consult the guide near the entrance to learn what's what while waiting for one of the Cathedral's three peacocks who roam the grounds—Harry, Jim and Phil—to wander by.