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What's in Bloom


As we move into the serious part of summer, hydrangeas are the shrubs to watch.  Throughout the Park, you will see the large white panicles of our stalwart Oak Leaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia). The best views are along the 87th Street path, on the side of the southern Peter Pan stairs, in the Hoop Garden and along Playground Walk. Oak Leaf hydrangeas are sturdy shrubs with tough oak leaf shaped leaves that prefer shade and tolerate drought pretty well. These are ideal park plants because they are tough, require minimal care and yet, bring beauty almost all summer. The panicles of the newer cultivars fade to muted pinks and mauves in the fall. We prune these hydrangeas in spring because they bloom on new wood so can be kept to a manageable size every year.


The Oak Leaf hydrangeas are very different from what we normally think of as the classic hydrangeas - the blue or pink puffy Mopheads or Lacecaps (Hydrangea macrophylla) or the white 'Annabelles' (Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle').  The old fashioned ecru flowered ‘Annabelles’ are often floppy, but due to our zone gardeners’ careful tending and staking, these flowers stay upright and delight us.  There are spectacular ‘Annabelles’ in the garden along the path inside the 89th Street entrance and in the curved Esplanade gardens.

Mophead Hydrangea

Hydrangea macrophylla

Oak Leaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea quercifolia

‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

We have very few Mopheads in the Park because they are too thirsty, and they get very large.  You can see them across from the 87th Street building, along the Peter Pan path, and under the London Plane tree in the Peter Pan Circle.  We have a good Lacecap collection which are less demanding than the Mopheads. There is one in the northeast corner of the Peter Pan Circle (obscuring the Garden of the Month sign!), one on the south side of the 87th Street path.  The Mopheads and Lacecaps bloom on old wood and can never permanently be reduced in size. 


The Chaste Tree (Vitex negundo) is a small tree with bluish purple flowers; it leafs out late, but blooms abundantly in the heat of the summer.  These vase shaped trees are in almost every Esplanade garden, in Upper Peter Pan just off the lawn, in the Peter Pan Circle and at the North End of the Park.  The fragrant flowers, in terminal panicles, attract butterflies and bees.  The origin of the common name is thought to be from the Greeks.  Athenian women put the sage scented leaves in their beds to stay chaste during the feast of Ceres.  This multi-stemmed vase shaped tree was introduced to the United States in 1697.

The Butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii) are also just coming into flower along the path meets the Esplanade at 87th Street, in the corners at the end of that path and in many Esplanade beds. Most of ours are the standard blue, but in the last Esplanade bed to the north is a deep purple cultivar.

Russian Sage, also called Perovskia (Petrovskia atriplicifolia), a graceful silvery plant with lavender flowers, puts on a spectacular show along the Esplanade.  With its tall wand like stems, Perovskia loves the location by the East River in full sun.  We planted these years ago, and they are now abundant in the Esplanade gardens. Perovskia was once classified as a Salvia, perhaps because of its pungent aroma.

Along the Esplanade

Bee Balm

Monarda didyma

Leopard or Blackberry Lilly

Iris domestica

White Spider Wort


Spider Wort


Chaste Tree

Vitex negundo

Tiger Lilly

Lilium lancifolium


Lavandula angustifolia

With cabbage moth and bees

Perovskia or Russia Sage

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Balloon Flower

Platycodon grandiflorus

Salt Cedar


White Yarrow

Achillea millefolium

Near the Dog Runs

Crape Myrtle



Echinacea purpurea

Elsewhere in the Park

Crape Myrtle

Lagerstroemia indica ‘Natchez’


Peter Pan Circle

Spider Flower



To the south of the North entrance to the Park at East End Avenue




To the south of the North entrance to the Park at East End Avenue

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