What Was in Bloom
Early May 2018
Our glorious Kanzan Cherry Trees (Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzan’ or ‘Sekiyama’)* reached their peak bloom this year on May 1st. These trees, at the edge of our Park, draw every passerby into the Park to admire, to photograph, to stand in awe of our eighteen trees, now almost 50 years old. In the extraordinary collection at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden there two 100 year old Kanzan Cherries. The typical life span is twenty-five years. Kanzan derives from the Japanese meaning bordering the mountain. ‘Sekiyama,’ another name for our trees, means mountain station. These sterile cherries are native to Japan, central China and Korea. Their double pink flowers (2.5” diameter) bloom as pendant clusters before the leaves. The tree is typically vase-shaped with a rounded crown that spreads with age, making the tree wider than it is tall at maturity. In 1912, the people of Japan donated 12 different varieties of flowering cherry trees to the U. S. for planting in the Washington, D.C. area, including the Yoshino cherries in the Tidal Basin and the Kanzan cherries in East Potomac Park.
Kanzan Cherry Tree Allée
Entrance to Park at 86th Street and East End Avenue
As you look through the arch of the Kanzan Cherry trees, you will see the splendid annual tulip display (Tulipa) in the Hoop Garden. Each year, the CSPC gardener creates an intricate new design. Carefully cut patterns of chicken wire are saved each summer, then laid on top of the of the 1800 tulips after they are planted to prevent squirrels from making a luscious meal.
Tulip Display in the Hoop Garden
Cherry Tree Allée
The current park-wide show of the pink-tinged, white petaled, flower-laden Crabapples (Malus) will soon be succeeded by the white blossoms of Hawthorns (Crataegus). Crabapples are everywhere in the Park.
The vibrant, almost skeletal Eastern Redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) with their leafless branches clothed in tiny deep lavender, red or pink flowers will leaf out soon and blend into the green background. Many of our Eastern Redbuds are found along the 84th and 87th Street paths, at the 86th Street entrance, and in Upper Peter Pan. Check out the weeping cultivars at 86th and 87th Streets.
Entrance to Park at 86th Street and East End Avenue
Just to the north of the Gold Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica var. glauca) in Upper Peter Pan, the delicate Flowering Almond (Prunus glandulosa) is forming a shapely bush.
Upper Peter Pan Northeast
The Star Magnolias in Upper Peter Pan are finishing, but the pink flowered Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia soulangeana) is still in bloom, right near a very large Redbud in Upper Peter Pan. Our two yellow Cucumbertree Magnolias (Magnolia acuminata) start later and end a bit later than our other magnolias. The cultivar “Butterflies” on the West side of the Park near the 87th Street building is the younger of the two; the other is on the edge of Hillside Lawn.
Soon, we will see the difference between the Flowering (Florida) Dogwood (Cornus florida) and the Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa). The Flowering Dogwoods, ‘the aristocrat(s) of native flowering trees” (Michael Dirr), are in bloom now in white or soft pinkish oranges. The flowers (their petals are really bracts) seem to float on the layered branches on both sides of the Playground Walkway. Examples of the cultivar ‘Cherokee Princess’ with salmony pink flowers are along this walkway.
Flowering Dogwood ‘Cherokee Princess’
This is the beginning of the season of viburnums; the Korean Spice Viburnums (Viburnum carlessii) with lightly pink toned snowball flowers will be followed by the Double File Viburnums with their distinctive horizontal branches and double rows of white flowers on each branch. The most stunning are along the 87th Street path.
Korean Spice Viburnum
The fragrance from the Korean Spice Viburnums rivals that of our abundant lilacs. The most flower laden purple lilacs are at the 89th Street entrance and in Upper Peter Pan. White flowered lilacs will be out soon near Flagpole Lawn.
Entrance to the Park at 89th Street
The peach colored multi-petaled blooms of our low growing Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles) are a feature just inside the 87th street entrance on the North and South Woodland Hills.
Inside the entrance to the Park at 87th Street
As you enter the Park at 89th Street, you will see a low growing blue flowered émigré, Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’). This plant is grown primarily as a ground cover for its spotted leaves and lovely green color.
On the south side at the entrance to the Park at 89th Street
The white flowered Shad (Amelanchier canadensis) are blooming already along Playground Walk. The ones in the garden near Flagpole Lawn, on the north Woodland Hill and at the northwest end of the Park had not yet flowered.
To see the delight on a child’s face when coming upon Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) is a joy. To see Bleeding Hearts that will bring a smile to everyone’s face, take a walk along the 87th Street path and look into the South Woodland Hill.
South Woodland Hill along the 87th Street path
Another favorite is Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulate) found in almost every Esplanade Garden bed and enjoyed by many Park visitors. This plant is especially happy along the river in the well-tended gardens.
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