Track the blooming buds and flowering trees of spring in NYC
Magnolias in Herbert Von King Park (2020). Photo courtesy of NYC Parks
A reward for getting through winter, the first blooms of spring have been spotted in New York City, ushering in a new season of warmer, longer days and outdoor activities. While cherry blossoms are a definite favorite, there are a variety of flowers and trees that bring new life and vibrancy to parks in every borough. The city’s Parks Department last week released a “signs of spring” timeline to keep track of the season’s flowering plants. Plus, the cherry blossom trackers from both the New York Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which follow the progress of trees from bud to blossom, are back for the season.
According to the Parks’ tracker, one of the earliest signs of spring is the emergence of Snowdrops, which appeared in Central Park and Washington Square Park as early as late January. Other sure signs of the season include the crocus, one of the first bulbs to bloom in the city, and daffodils, the city’s official flower, starting in late February.
Cornelian cherry trees are in bloom, as are Red Maple trees, one of the first trees to bloom. Later in the season, expect to spot pretty magnolias, glory-of-the-snow, tulips, Callery pear trees, crabapple, dogwood, azaleas, violets, and more.
“Spring is the most exciting time in our parks, and it stirs a localized wanderlust only experienced through a stroll through one of our greenspaces,” NYC Parks Horticulture Director Matthew Morrow said.
“Our city continues to recover, and I hope each and every blossom parkgoers see instills a sense of unique beauty and pride towards our parks and city. As our park flowers begin to poke through the topsoil, I urge New Yorkers to stop and smell the flowers as they visit our parks, and take the season in stride – enjoy its beauty and surprise as it comes!”
The first cherry blossoms of spring were spotted this week on the Prunus × incam ‘Okame’ trees in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Over the coming weeks, the blossoms on the garden’s more than 200 flowering cherry trees will go from buds to peak bloom to falling petals. Use the BBG’s “Cherrywatch” map to see the trees’ progress during hanami, which means cherry blossom viewing in Japanese.
The garden is offering free-with-admission guided walks of the grounds starting April 1, extended morning and evening hours starting April 15, and three weekends celebrating cherry blossom season with pop-up music performances, programming for children, and more.
In the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden has its own “spring bloom tracker” to track the flowers and greenery returning to all 250 acres. The garden features more than 200 flowering cherry trees, found in the Cherry Collection, the Arthur and Janet Ross Conifer Arboretum, and in front of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. As of Tuesday, the garden’s tracker says cherry blossoms are at just 1 percent of the way to peak bloom, with magnolias at 2 percent and daffodils at 5 percent.
Some additional spots to see cherry blossoms in the city include Sakura Park on the Upper West Side, the East River walkway on Roosevelt Island, Brooklynk’s Green-Wood Cemetery, and the Queens Botanical Garden.