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What's in Bloom

Mid-March, 2019

As we wait for spring to arrive, we can enjoy the last days of our late winter blooms - the Witch Hazels, Snowdrops, and the Lenten Rose which have been in bloom for most of February. 

We now have a good collection of Witch Hazels (genus Hamamelis), many of which have been planted recently in our efforts to increase the biodiversity in the park and to provide plantings with four seasons of interest to people and pollinators.  Despite the common name, these large shrubs/small trees are neither the source of witches’ brooms nor of hazel nuts.  Rather the ‘witch’ might be from the Anglo-Saxon wice or wican which means pliable or flexible.  The hazel could arise from the similar use of Witch Hazels and Hazels (genus Corylus) as divining rods in England long ago.  

The genus name Hamamelis is from the Greek and refers to the fact that the fruit and flowers occur simultaneously (primarily on the fall flowering species); hama means at the same time and melon means fruit.

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Witch Hazel ‘Arnold Promise’  

Hamamelis x intermedia 

Playground Walk West

Photo: Jeffrey B. Evans

To see the park’s witch hazels, start at 84th Street. Our two vase-shaped ‘Arnold Promise’ Witch Hazels are along Playground Walk.  This 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 in 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’  

Hamamelis x intermedia 

Playground Walk West

Photo: Jeffrey B. Evans

As you head north, you will pass the purplish red blossomed Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Birgit’ in Henderson Berm (opposite Henderson Place).

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Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Birgit’

Henderson Berm near 87th Street

Photo: Banford Weissmann

Other popular members of the x intermedia group of Witch Hazels are in our Woodland Hills along 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. 

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Witch Hazel ‘Angelly’ Yellow Flowered Shrub

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Angelly’

Southwest end of Woodland Hills along 87th Street Path with Witch Hazel Diane coming in from the left

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 (Ailanthus altissima). 

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Witch Hazel ‘Diane'

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ Shrub

North of Large Dog Run

(along the 87th Street Woodland Path)

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Witch Hazel ‘Diane'

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ Flowers

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Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

Southwest end of Woodland Hills along the 87th Street Path

At the eastern end, on the south woodland hill is another intermedia, Witch Hazel ‘Jelena.’  These blossoms are a true coppery color and are carried on horizontal branches.

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Witch Hazel ‘Jelena'

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ Shrub 

North side of 87th Street Woodland Path

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Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’

Southeast end of Woodland Hills along the 87th Street Path

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Galanthus nivalis

In the Woodland Hills along the 87th Street Path

The valiant Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis) can be found to the right and left along the 87th Street Path, as well as near the 87th Street building.   These bulbs were planted about 10 years ago.  They are clearly happy to be where they are!

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Galanthus nivalis

In the Woodland Hills along the 87th Street Path

The Lenten Roses (not roses at all), in the genus Helleborus, have had a tough winter with few blossoms.  The best ones now are also in the Woodland Hills.

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Lenten Rose

Helleborus orientalis

Woodland Hill along the 87th Street Path

Soon the park will be suffused with a yellow haze from the blossoms of the Cornelian Cherry Dogwoods (Cornus mas).  These were planted by NYC Parks Department in the late 1930’s when the park was redesigned and cantilevered over the FDR Drive.  A close relative, a Japanese Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (Cornus officinalis), is already in bloom.  In addition to the one along Hockey Walk, there is one to the east of the Peter Pan Bridge.


Japanese Cornelian Cherry Dogwood

Cornus officinalis

Along Hockey West Walk

Soon the Japanese Flowering Apricots (Prunus mume) will bloom.  The weeping cultivar of Prunus mume is in the Peter Pan Circle.  The pink flowered Prunus mume ‘Peggy Clark’ is opposite the large dog run.  Lastly, Prunus mume ‘miu’, a white flowered cultivar is further south along Hockey Walk.  To confuse us, another common name is Chinese Plum.

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