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Plant Talk

Wondrous Winter

Posted in Inside our Collections on December 31, 2021, by Marlon Co

Marlon Co is the Photographer & Digital Media Manager of The New York Botanical Garden.


It’s been a relatively warm and dry winter so far. In the absence of snow, the most magical and beautiful gift of the season, it can be hard to motivate yourself to go outside in search of nature’s beauty when there is seemingly little to see. However, fans of NYBG’s cooler months know there is much to be appreciated this time of year. Of course, there’s always the festive allure of the Holiday Train Show and newly expanded NYBG GLOW. The Conservatory, too, offers a warm and lush respite from the Garden’s sleepy grounds. But these are obvious, and among NYBG’s outdoor collections one might have to look a little bit harder and dress a bit warmer to discover botanical wonders.

There is a positive side to bearing the cold, though. A world of minute treasures awaits those who seek the blissful solitude and quiet of the winter grounds. Some dogwoods in the Native Plant Garden, for example, change color after spending much of the year covered in foliage, their bark gaining an enviable winter tan in vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow as they are exposed to sun and cold. Not far away, near the entrance of the Rock Garden, another stunning example exhibits this behavior: Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’, or coral tower maple. Its twigs and branches similarly display a sometimes intense hue that emboldens as the season progresses. Indeed, once you start training your eye to these small details there seems to be an endless supply of things to look at. Crabapples—and many other fruit-bearing plants—joyfully light up pockets of an otherwise subtle landscape. And even within that ostensible uniformity, there is wonder. The structures of trees, seed heads, dried grasses and leaves; they all conspire to captivate your attention with their forms and textures. So, on your next visit to NYBG this winter, come see the obvious, but search for those unnoticed moments. You’d be surprised what beauty you can find in the dead of winter.

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