It was as if the other shoe had dropped a couple of weeks ago when the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing began charging admission. The newly refurbished (and still undergoing renovations) garden was one of the last great gratis garden tours to be had in the area (admission to the Brooklyn garden is $8; the Bronx charges a whopping $20).
Having grown up in Flushing, I remember taking annual school pilgrimages to the QBG with a few bucks from Mom in my pocket and instructions to stop in the gift shop for a begonia.
The garden has been financially strapped in recent years and has taken two cost-cutting furloughs in the past year, most recently closing earlier this week for two weeks. And staff has been cut by 25 percent.
Recent renovations include a new visitors' center, rose garden, solar-powered lighting and a multi-lingual trail guide. A "green" parking garden is still under construction, with completion expected later this spring. Beginning this month and through October, you'll have to pony up $4 to see them ($3 for seniors, $2 for students with ID and children older than 3).
Visit http://www.queensbotanical.org/home to see a schedule of programs and get a map. (134-20 Dahlia Ave., Flushing)