Brooklyn Botanic opens new overlook with sweeping views

A peek at the new Robert W. Wilson Overlook at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.(Photo by Michael Stewart / Courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

The overlook brings 40,000 new plantings to the garden.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is offering a new way to stop and smell the roses.

On Wednesday, the 52-acre garden opened the brand new Robert W. Wilson Overlook, a 1.25-acre area with views of its cherry esplanade, rose garden and other areas that were previously undeveloped.

Its designers, WEISS/MANFREDI, took a page out of its recently designed Diane H. and Joseph S. Steinberg Visitor Center at the garden and reimagined the overlook with a 600-foot switchback pathway with retaining walls that connects the upper pathway and the cherry esplanade.

The overlook has also been inundated with 40,000 new plantings, including 34 crape-myrtles of 12 different types, and a four-season planting scheme of native grasses and perennials that sway in the wind and invite insect life, including wild strawberry, prairie dropseed, wine cups and Tennessee coneflower.

“Our design for the Robert W. Wilson Overlook is conceived as an ascending crape-myrtle garden shaped by spaces for communal gathering that overlook the iconic Cherry Esplanade,” Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi of WEISS/MANFREDI said in a statement. “The curvilinear path with cast stone walls, integrated benches, and lighting choreograph a collection of framed views that reveal the magic of the Garden.”

Toby Wolf of Wolf Landscape Architecture said that the design joins both the Visitor Center’s living roof and the Native Flora Garden to create “a nearly continuous ribbon of meadow-inspired plantings, each of them a distinct response to its site and to the Garden’s mission.”

The overlook is named after Robert W. Wilson, who was a Brooklyn Heights resident and Wall Street short seller that would often take a walk through the garden by himself. He contributed to the garden’s conservatory campaign and $10 million to its Campaign for the Next Century in 2007, which ensured the completion of the garden’s renewal. The overlook was done in partnership with the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust.

Shaye Weaver