The Azalea Garden is filled with spring color for our Mother’s Day Weekend Garden Party! Here, see some of Senior Curator of Woody Plants and Landscape Project Manager Deanna Curtis’s favorite semi-evergreen varieties in bloom, along with other surprises you can find in this unmissable spring collection.
Around the Garden
Whether it’s the eagerly anticipated waves of azalea blooms, the beauty and perfume of the lilacs, or the crowds of colorful warblers that migrate through the Garden, May is a particularly picturesque month at NYBG. And there’s plenty to do beyond admire the scenery. Lilac Weekend kicks off tomorrow with activities, live music, and the return of our Plein-Air Invitational, followed by the games, music, and food of our Mother’s Day Weekend Garden Party. Soon after, Spring Uncorked brings the region’s best wineries back to the Garden for drinks and fun in our 250 acres. If you’ve been waiting to visit, consider this your signal!
Right now, cherries and crabapples paint the skies with pinks and purples while the daffodils of our One Million Daffodils initiative paint the ground in glorious swaths of yellows, creams, pinks, and oranges. Here you can see the unique color progression of Narcissus ‘Chromacolor’ as it matures from macaroni orange, to soft peach, to electric coral. Explore the slides to see more of our daffodil collection and the diverse expressions of beauty it offers, and don’t miss this outdoor spectacle as it reaches its peak this weekend on Daffodil Hill and in the Liasson Narcissus Collection!
Be here now! The beauty of spring is swinging for the fences throughout our 250 acres, and we’ve got five highlights in particular that you won’t want to miss in this season of rapid color and change.
Daffodil Hill is a must-see, as are the flowering trees—like cherries and magnolias. Our first spring in the new Edible Academy is a great opportunity for families to get their hands dirty in the vegetable gardens, and as you explore, don’t forget to keep an eye out for migratory birds in this time of renewal.
Lloyd Jones is an Assistant Gardener in NYBG’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.
Within the Lowland Rain Forest house of the NYBG’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory exists the only orchid genus from which a culinary product is derived. Native to the tropical Americas, it is widely cultivated in tropical climates throughout the world. Vanilla planifolia is an orchid of unusual orchid characteristics, but provides a popular, gratifying flavor. The opposite and alternate foliage is flat, thus the specific epithet “planifolia.” It is classified as an epiphytic/terrestrial tropical vine with aerial roots for support and to collect nutrients and water. This plant thrives in moist, humid, and warm conditions with filtered light. The name vanilla comes from the Spanish word vainilla, meaning small pod.
This year I have personally counted 13 clusters of flower buds, which are now unfolding one bud per cluster, per day. The flower color ranges from light green to pale yellow, and, because the native pollinator is not present outside the orchid’s native range, it must be hand pollinated during the morning of the first 24 hours when they flowers are receptive. For both educational and collections purposes, we plan on hand pollinating the flowers as they successively open. If pollination is successful, we expect to see the familiar vanilla pods forming over the next few months. Come visit and witness the origin of one the world’s favorite flavors!
Todd Forrest is the Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections at The New York Botanical Garden.
Seasoned tree lovers often experience a bit of anxiety during unseasonably warm winter weather. Extended thaws in January and February can cause the fuzzy gray buds of the magnolias to swell in anticipation of the bloom, elevating the risk of frost damage should cold spells show up later on. Nothing is so disheartening as magnolia flowers turned to ugly brown mush by a surprise spring freeze.
Sometimes things do work out, however. There were brief warm spells this winter, but there were also long periods of deep cold and the magnolia buds didn’t really get moving until March. The weather warmed gradually from March into April, and we are now entering the beginning of one of the most dazzling horticultural spectacles of the year.
After a sleepy winter season where the Rock Garden remains closed, we’ve finally reopened it for spring, and just in time for the tiny alpine treasures that call this collection home to wake for the warmth. Pick a sunny day to visit this treasured, secluded space at NYBG to discover brightly colored irises, crocuses, and cyclamen growing in and among the rocks that form its borders.
The approach of full-fledged, kaleidoscopic spring color is undeniable now. All around the Garden’s 250 acres you’ll catch hints of the crowds of blooms to come, from the earliest Korean rhododendrons to the magnolia buds bursting at the seams. See just a few of those hints here, as we explore what’s beautiful now.
Happy Spring Equinox! Join us and explore the first signs of our most colorful season of the year, from the earliest crocuses to the vibrant buds of rhododendrons and Japanese apricot trees. For something a bit more out of the ordinary, look for visually striking Chrysosplenium macrophyllum in the Azalea Garden.
The late winter snows of the past few weeks have given us one last glimpse of the snowy white vistas of the Garden ahead of the burst of color to come.