Reflecting the vision of Dr. Howard Rusk and Enid Haupt, the Glass Garden
was build originally to offer patients of Rusk Institute a refuge from the
rigors and clinical environment of their physical rehabilitation treatment..
Today the Glass Garden, a public botanic garden, still provides a welcome
respite for patients, families and staff, but it has evolved into an important
center for horticultural research, learning, rehabilitation and recreation.
The 1,700 square foot conservatory, opened
in 1959, was the first facility in the world designed to be totally accessible
to people in wheelchairs. It is a tropical oasis with collections that
include an aquatic garden, orchids, ferns, palms, bromeliads, succulents,
caudate, insectivorous plants and others adaptable to New York offices
and apartments. Koi, goldfish, turtles and catfish provide a display in
the pond; tropical birds provide birdsong; scents and soft music fill the
In order to extend the range of available services, in
1991 Mrs. Haupt donated funds for a 4,500- square-foot perennial garden.
On the south side of the conservatory, it has wheelchair accessible raised
beds, built-in seating, a barbecue and a secluded arbor. In warm weather
it serves as a classroom for horticultural therapy groups. Its diverse
plant collection, selected to withstand low light and the harsh conditions
of an urban environment, offers interest in all seasons.
On the north side of the conservatory a 5,500-square-foot
children's PlayGarden was built in 1998. This addition, also
open to the community, integrates a teaching garden, a playground, a treatment
clinic and classroom for children, their families and friends.
The diverse tree, shrub and plant collections were selected to encourage
children to explore nature's sensory richness, to provide material for
environmental education lessons, and to attract a wide range of exciting
wildlife and insect life. The custom-designed play components are used
by therapists and teachers to increase cognitive, language, social and
motor skills and abilities. They are also, of course, for fun. On sunny
days, the PlayGarden fills with rainbows projected by a revolving prism
To see a list of our plant collections in the PlayGarden click
The Alva and Bernard F. Gimbel Garden
Donated by the Gimbel
Family in 1969, this newly renovated serene, formal garden is a favorite
summer retreat where families enjoy the dappled shade and fountains.
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