Intersection of Highland Drive and 7th Avenue on the northeast corner.
Parsons Garden is located on a corner lot across the street from the viewpoint at Marshall Park and just a few blocks west of the famous Kerry Park. It was once the private garden for the home of Reginald and Maude Parsons. In 1956 their children donated the garden to the city so the public could enjoy it.
There are two entrances to the garden. The side entrance is on Highland Drive and the main entrance is at the intersection of Highland Drive and 7th Avenue. I recommend using the main entrance to get the full effect.
Street parking is available on Highland by both entrances, on the west side of 7th, and across the street in front of Marshall Park.
The park is a peaceful urban oasis often described as “a secret garden” or “magical.” Once within the garden you feel disconnected from the city, embraced by the quiet stillness.
I was here in January so I didn’t see the garden at its best. But even in winter it was lovely with its old twisted trees and profusion of greenery. In spring and summer the green surroundings are enhanced by flowers, with the spring bloom being the garden’s best and most colorful season.
The garden is circled by a level compacted dirt and gravel path with plantings on both sides of it. In the center is an open lawn. Since the garden is small the path loop is easily walkable by most everyone.
After you enter the main gate the path splits to the right and left. I went to the right, so will describe the garden going in that direction.
As you start to approach the back of the garden the path splits again. To the left is the main path leading directly to a deeply shaded bench in a stone-paved area. There are three stone steps in the path to get there.
If you are in a wheelchair you can stay to the right instead and the path curves around the back and comes out just on the other side of the bench. The path is narrow but a wheelchair should be able to make it through and there are no steps.
A short distance beyond the shady bench is a larger open area with an elevated brick-paved section, a small shed roof, and a bench beneath a pergola. If you’re here on a chilly day this bench gets sunlight in the afternoon. I read that the vine on the pergola is wisteria so it should be quite pretty when it’s blooming in May or June.
From here the path heads west back towards the street. At the northwest corner a short side path goes to the right where there is a third bench next to the garden’s border fence. The main path curves to the left and takes you back to the entrance.
The majority of visitors just take a walk around and leave again, but this is the perfect spot to bring a sack lunch, have a long chat with a friend, or spend an hour reading a good book. The garden should be especially appealing on hot days because of the plentiful shade.
This is a popular wedding venue so if you don’t want to feel awkward touring around while a ceremony is in progress you might want to skip summer weekends if you have to go out of your way to get here.
As public gardens go Parsons Garden isn’t a must-see and for those who aren’t garden enthusiasts it’s not worth making a special out-of-the-way trip. But if you’re already in the area at Kerry Park you might as well go the few extra blocks to also visit the garden and viewpoint at Marshall Park for a more complete outing.
Things to Know
6 am to 10 pm
No picnic tables.
None most of the time.
From June through September a porta potty is put in the garden Thursdays through Sundays to accommodate weddings.
Street parking on Highland, west side of 7th, and across the street in front of the Marshall Park viewpoint.
Usually parking near the entrances is easy to somewhat easy come by. But if it’s at sunset on a nice day or there’s a wedding then nearby parking can be difficult to impossible to find.
Parsons Garden is primarily used by locals, especially those who stroll through while out on a walk. Some people also wander down from Kerry Park.
I was here on a sunny weekday in January for half an hour and had the place to myself except for one woman who walked her dog around the path and left again. That’s probably pretty typical for much of the year. In warmer weather and during tourist season expect higher numbers of people coming through and shorter periods of solitude.
On weekends from June through September weddings are frequently held here.
Flowers and trees.
Best light: Afternoon.