Ursula Chanse is the Director of Bronx Green-Up and Community Horticulture and Project Director for NYC Compost Project hosted by The New York Botanical Garden. For more information about these programs and upcoming workshops and events, please visit Bronx Green-Up.
This past June, Bronx Green-Up, the Botanical Garden’s community gardening program since 1988, led a major transformation in the Crotona neighborhood of the Bronx. In partnership with In Good Company (an alliance of like-minded companies founded by Clif Bar), La Familia Verde, and the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, the Garden of Youth underwent a much-needed revitalization.
This was Bronx Green-Up’s sixth In Good Company collaboration and past projects have included creating a rain garden at Brook Park, a chicken coop at Taqwa Community Farm, and a complete renovation of the Neighborhood Advisory Community Garden.
A newly released video—which you can watch below—tells the story of our exciting week and highlights the hard work, determination, and commitment of volunteers, staff, and community members to transform this corner lot into a flourishing garden.
Lilies, hydrangeas, hibiscus, and so much more—the oscillating rain and heat of midsummer have brought out all sorts of beautiful characters to fill the Garden with color and lush, dramatic foliage. Plan to spend time near the water lily pools in the Conservatory Courtyard, where the water lilies and lotus blossoms are drawing the spotlight alongside our CHIHULY pieces. In the Native Plant Garden, the meadow takes the cake with its blooming perennials, and the Seasonal Walk is all summertime fireworks from start to finish.
Sarracenia species, Sabatia kennedyana, and Rhexia virginica are in full bloom in the wetland! This is the time to see meadow perennials like Euphorbia corollata, Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’, Monarda fistulosa, Solidago juncea, Asclepias tuberosa, and Rudbeckia hirta in bloom, as well as a variety of lovely ferns through the woodland.
There’s something about a lotus blossom lazily tousled by the breeze that makes us think “summer” around here, and this week that feeling is running high. The Conservatory Pools are quickly becoming the jewels of July as the lotuses—and their friends the water lilies—bloom under the sun. Meanwhile, the Perennial Garden is a party of foliage and flowers, and the Forest, as ever around this time of year, is the sort of zen escape sorely needed in this bustling city. Check it out!
While the Rose Garden has begun its summer settling-down, there’s still color to be seen there! Elsewhere in the Garden, such as the Native Plant Garden and the Rock Garden, you can find peaceful, shady vistas peppered with attractive summer flowers. The Azalea Garden is a lush escape as well during this time of year, with large-leaved hostas and other rich foliage creating a rolling hillscape of greens.
Tree of the Week: Catalpa × erubescens ‘Purpurea’, purple catalpa
Look for the showy pyramidal clusters of white and purple flowers of this young tree near the Harding Lab at the bottom of the Tulip Tree Allée. The cultivar ‘Purpurea’ is named for its foliage, which emerges a dark-purple and fades to green over the summer. Another catalpa, Catalpa bignoniodes, can be found blooming along Garden Way. The large, nearly heart-shaped foliage of these trees adds an interesting texture to the summer landscape.
While the roses have hit their spring peak, you’ll still find color in the collection throughout summer as we move on toward its September redux. Meanwhile, the lush greenery of summer is the pride of the Garden right now, with late spring flowers in all shapes and sizes making a showing throughout.
There’s no better place to catch it than in the Native Plant Garden, where speckled sunlight filters down through the tree canopy to light ferns and grasses in abundance. The Rock Garden continues its quiet, colorful reign as we move into summer, and the Perennial Garden is a manicured balance of flowers and foliage right now. See what’s beautiful at NYBG this week, just ahead of the summer solstice!
Perennial of the Week: Astilbe × arendsii 'Amethyst'
Reaching heights of 30”–36”, Astilbe × arendsii 'Amethyst' is known for its tall and fluffy plumes of lavender-pink flowers. This perennial is clump-forming, yet graceful with its flowers emerging erect on a tall and slender stem above the mounds of fern-like leaves (about 12”–24” tall). You can find sweeps of this beauty in the Azalea Garden.
While the herbaceous peonies that held the spotlight until now have bid us adieu for another spring, the Rockefeller Rose Garden quickly stepped in to take the stage, boasting thousands of beautiful flowers as the heat picks up at the Garden. Summer’s approach means a lush and sunny 250 acres to explore at NYBG, so grab your sunglasses and head outside!
Of all our collections—some 50 in total—the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden is a stand-out in the spring, sweeping into June with a panorama of classic colors. Whites, reds, pinks, and yellows abound, and of our 650 rose varieties, there’s certainly something for everyone to love.
While our Rose Garden Weekend was a huge success, the roses are expected to continue showing off their best sides through this coming weekend at the least, so don’t miss out on their spring bloom! Meanwhile, the herbaceous peonies across from the Conservatory continue to delight everyone who passes by—you really can’t overlook them.
An odd coincidence of springtime is the sometimes simultaneous display of our Cornus kousa, or dogwood, and the aromatic arrival of Nepeta, or catmint. But they’re not the only beauties making themselves known across grounds this week. Look for the peak bloom of the herbaceous peonies, the continued reign of the tree peonies, the ongoing revival of the Rose Garden, and the Rock Garden’s transition from spring floral spotlights to lush summer escape.
Look for the expanding white floral bracts of Cornus kousa in bloom throughout the Garden. Wonderful specimens of this small statured tree can be found near the staircase into the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden and along the path within the Burn Family Lilac Collection. Be sure to walk through the Benenson Ornamental Conifer collection to see many unique cultivars of this great species.
The peonies are in prime form this week, and are not to be missed as they put on a parade of color beyond the Conservatory doors. The tree peonies, likewise, are showing off and living up to their fanciful cultivar names—bringing the blooms just as the nearby Rose Garden begins to tease its earliest color.
In the Native Plant Garden, you can find a taste of early summer in the rich greens and small, bright flowers, while the Rock Garden continues to grow into its lush seasonal colors.
Perennial of the Week: Paeonia lactiflora various cultivars, herbaceous peony
Glorious showy blooms are held above rich green foliage on these peonies. Amidst the Matelich Anniversary Peony Collection, you will find a wide range in form from single to fully double, with satiny petals in white, pink, coral and red. They offer up scents of rose, lemon, honey, or musk that sing of Spring and even warmer days to come! You will find this collection along Perennial Garden Way, with more than 150 herbaceous peonies reaching their peak in mid-May.
This week the herbaceous peonies are sitting in the spotlight, just as their buds begin to burst into whorls of white, red, and pink along the pathway before the Haupt Conservatory. These brief but beautiful flowers are a must-see in spring!
Elsewhere in the Garden, the azaleas are still showing some color as they begin their decline, and the greenery of our 250 acres is on full display, filling out the Forest with the airy glow of millions of new leaves. You won’t regret a stroll on our miles of trails.
Check out what else is happening at the Garden this week.
Perennial of the Week: Amsonia hubrichtii, threadleaf bluestar
Though native to the Ouachita Mountains in central Arkansas, Amsonia hubrichtii is not a common perennial. This erect, clump-forming perennial reaches three feet in height and width. Noted for its powdery-blue spring flowers, feathery green summer foliage, and golden fall color, this plant is popular for its versatility of use in borders, native plant gardens, rock gardens, and open woodland areas. You can find this beauty around the Perennial Garden and the Azalea Garden.