What Was in Bloom
Early April 2018
As winter stays with us through early spring, the plants in Carl Schurz Park are showing their resilience. The beautiful blooms have shrugged off frigid temperatures, freezing rain, and snow. In fact, partly due to the March cold, the early blooms have held on longer which makes our flowers more bountiful this spring. These durable, cold hardy early bloomers include our evergreen, many hued Lenten Rose (Helleborus) which are so happy in our Park that they multiply each year.
Lenten Rose in abundance South of Gracie Mansion
The other sturdy bloomers are our Cornelian Cherry Dogwood trees. The soft yellow haze that seems to float over the Park starting in late February is due primarily to the more than 40 Cornelian Cherry Dogwoods spread throughout the Park. In the late 1930’s, the NYC Parks Department planted groves of these stalwart trees in Upper Peter Pan and along Playground Walk. Their fluffy mustard yellow flowers are often over by early April. Our classic April bloomers, forsythia and daffodils, are almost in full bloom, adding to the impression that our Park is populated by only yellow flowers.
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood tree and Forsythia bushes in Upper Peter Pan
Fluffy Blooms of Cornelian Cherry Dogwood along Playground Walk
Daffodils of all hues from white to deep yellow create spectacular displays primarily north of 86th Street.
Daffodils in Garden south of Gracie Mansion
Daffodils donated by a Dutch bulb grower to help renew the spirits of New Yorkers after 9/11 are at the edges of the grassy areas along the Esplanade.
Daffodils along the Esplanade
Breaks in the yellow haze are created by the real show stoppers - our two pink Japanese Flowering Apricot trees (Prunus mumé). The weeping cultivar (pendula) is in the Peter Pan Circle and the ‘Peggy Clarke’ cultivar is west of the Large Dog Run. A third dark red cultivar ‘Matsura Red’ at the north end of the Park near East End Avenue is late this year.
Weeping Japanese Flowering Apricot in the Peter Pan Circle
‘Peggy Clarke’ Japanese Flowering Apricot west of the Large Dog Run
Our five white flowered Star Magnolias (Magnolia stellata) along and near the Esplanade between 86th and 89th Streets are at their peak in mid-April. A young Star Magnolia at the 89th Street and East End Avenue entrance to the Park is flowering this year. The beautiful rose-colored flowers of Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x ‘Soulangeana’) in Upper Peter Pan are beginning to emerge.
One of a pair of matching Star Magnolias along the Esplanade
Star Magnolia east of Hillside Lawn
Photo: Jeffrey B. Evans
Young Star Magnolia at the 89th Street and East End Avenue entrance
The spring flowering camellias (Camellia) on the 87th Street path (south side) and in Upper Peter Pan add a tiny touch of pink and red (Camellia japonica ‘April Tryst’) to our gardens.
Camellia in Upper Peter Pan
Camellia ‘April Tryst’ on path to Peter Pan Statue
Our evergreen Japanese Pieris (Pieris) shrubs along the woodland path leading to the Peter Pan Statue are covered with panicles of crisp, white, urn shaped flowers. These panicles are the reason that this shrub is often called the Lilly of the Valley bush.
Japanese Pieris along the woodland path leading to the Peter Pan Statue
Our earliest flowering rhododendrons are beginning to bloom. The ‘PJM’ cultivars are found along the East End Avenue woodland garden and the woodland path leading to the Peter Pan Statue.
‘PJM’ Rhododendron along woodland path leading to the Peter Pan Statue
What Was in Bloom
Mid March 2018
As we wait for the days of spring to arrive, we can enjoy the last of the blooms that flower from late winter into early spring. Witch Hazels, Snowdrops, and the Lenten Rose have blossomed for almost a month. The shoots of daffodils are bravely emerging and the first crocuses will soon appear.
‘Arnold Promise’ Witch Hazel at 84th Street Entrance
Photo: Jeffrey Evans
As you enter the Park at 84th Street, turn left and head north to be greeted by our two vase-shaped ‘Arnold Promise’ Witch Hazels along Playground Walk. This large shrub/small tree is a hybrid cross of Hamamelis japonica with Hamamelis mollis. The spidery flowers of Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’ are bright yellow with a reddish center of the calyx cup. This is one of the oldest, most popular cultivars of Witch Hazels, introduced by the Arnold Arboretum; our representatives have been in our Park for decades.
Witch Hazel ‘Arnold Promise’ Playground Walk West
Photo: Jeffrey Evans
Despite the name, these trees are neither the source of witches’ brooms nor of hazel nuts. Rather the witch part of the name comes from the sight of the seeds as they are propelled out of the mature seed capsules.
Other popular members of the x intermedia group are along our ‘Winter Witch Hazel Walk,’ the 87th Street path leading down to the Peter Pan Circle. The first two Witch Hazels you encounter are Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Angelly’, on the south side of the Woodland Hills. With clear light yellow flowers and a faint fragrance, these grace the top of the hill.
Yellow Blossomed ‘Angelly’ Witch Hazel on the South Woodland Hill
Further along on the same hillside, is Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’, distinguished by its bronze red flowers. If you look to the north hillside, you will see another ‘Diane’ nestled in front of the Tree of Heaven.
If you now head up the Peter Pan stairs to the north and turn left to the bridge, you will see the last blossoms of one of our many Vernal Witch Hazels (Hamamelis vernalis), the native species, on the right. This is a tough plant, whose blooms have a soft spicy fragrance. The flowers are small and in our Park tend to be orangish red. There are several more Vernal Witch Hazels along the Playground walk; two are just north of the Playground entrance and one is opposite them on the west side.
Coppery Blossomed Witch Hazel ‘Diane’ and Yellow Blossomed‘Angelly’ on the Woodland Hills
Photo: Jeffrey Evans
At the eastern end, on the south woodland hill is another intermedia, Witch Hazel ‘Jelena.’ These blossoms are a true copper color and are carried on horizontal branches.