Snow what if the polar vortex is back? There's a tropical oasis at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Unless you join a gym and hunker down its sauna all afternoon, the hottest spot in B'KLYN is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Steinhardt Conservatory. Photos by Lore Croghan

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Oh, to be in the tropics when it's snowing in Brooklyn.

You smarty-pants who went to warm-weather climes for the long Martin Luther King Birthday weekend came back just in time for the onset of a new Polar Vortex, promising several inches of snow and 9-degree temps.

What with massive flight cancellations at area airports Tuesday, your best bet for an escape is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The Steinhardt Conservatory, with its stunning greenhouses full of heat-loving plants and vivid flowers, is the hottest spot in Brooklyn – unless you join a gym and hunker down in its sauna all afternoon.

This looks like summer in January.

Steamy temps inside Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Steinhardt Conservatory are so delightful.

As long as getting there doesn't give you frostbite, BBG's greenhouses are an awesome place to laugh off the Arctic cold.

The Tropical Pavilion is a dream come true – so steamy that condensation is dripping off the leaves of the palm trees.

If you ignore the glass walls in the background, you could be on a tropical island.

Lovely to look at, spiky to touch.

Next door, the Helen Mattin Warm Temperate Pavilion feels as good as it sounds.

The cactus room is a little bit chilly because that's the way those prickly plants like it. The other greenhouses are warm and lush, and the snowfall outside is reduced to a whisper on glass roofs overhead.

You don't have to be one of Brooklyn's many avid gardeners to be thoroughly charmed. This is an inviting oasis even for those who don't know a bromeliad from a bougainvillea. (Indeed, even those who can't spell bougainvillea without help from are wowed. Trust us on this.)

Stuff in here grows on a grand scale

Stairway to Heaven? No, really, it's just the Steinhardt Conservatory.

And you don't need sled dogs to get there either – workers were out in force Tuesday with shovels and snow blowers, clearing paths for intrepid moms pushing strollers.

An added plus: weekday visits to the famed garden on Eastern Parkway are free in the wintertime.

When you've had your fill of strolling the perpetually summery garden paths, an art gallery space that connects the greenhouses shares their balmy temps. It has benches where you can while away the afternoon reading.

How about some Shelley – who survived the freakish Summer of 1816,  when the weather in Western Europe was so cold it snowed in July:

“O, Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

 Outside the Steinhardt Conservatory greenhouses, the snow was flying Tuesday.

A graceful cherry tree waits for spring in Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

January 21, 2014 - 3:00pm



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