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Exploring NYC: Spring Flowers in Central Park
Blooms amid the grime in the New York City springtime
Magnolias and Cherries in Central Park
In early April in Central Park, spring struggles for a foothold.
The weather is erratic, and even when an unusually temperate day dawns, it's hard to pretend it is summer already. The little details are all wrong: the drinking fountains in the park as still shut off for the season and the lawns and the ball fields are bare and gated.
Spring may be a mere mirage at this point, but this makes spring's first flowers all the more welcome.
Tiny narcissus and crocuses poke above ground, and then magnolias unfurl and blossoms speckle the branches of tree after tree, as the landscape alters day by day.
The first 60 degree Saturday is sure to draw crowds with beach blankets, picnic lunches and a determination to go without coats and jackets even as the wind starts to blow cold and colder. (I've been among them.)
Brave the rain, own Central Park for a day
A light, cold drizzle and a deep gray afternoon sky can mean a chance to explore Central Park without the crowds.
One particular stretch of mid-April showers gave me a chance to preview May's flowers in near solitude in the middle of Manhattan.
The day was fit for hot cocoa indoors, as most tourists and New York City residents must have concluded. As I followed a route starting at the southwest corner of the park and snaking northeast toward the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the only others on the walking paths in Central Park were a few lone figures with cameras, coats and gloves.
But in the silent, moody mist — set against a landscape of bare branches and still sparse patches of grass — the pale pinks and whites of the flowering trees seemed especially vibrant. And the magnolias smelled heavenly the moment a light rain stopped.
Lilacs bloom and color returns
Springtime lilacs and tulips
When spring officially begins (at least according to overly optimistic calendars) New York is still a chilly place and Central Park's lilac bushes are still bare. Mid-April brings just a few buds and teasingly hot days.
It isn't until late April that the lilacs start to bloom and springtime truly arrives.
Late April is also good time to wander north in the park to the Conservatory Garden. (It's off Fifth Ave. at E. 105th St.)
This is not an expansive garden, but it's a relatively peaceful place, and the the tulips displays are impressive.
Elsewhere in the park, azaleas start to bloom as the last daffodils fade away.
The pale white blossoms and bare branches of early spring have given way to a greener, more colorful time of year.
More About Flowers in New York City
- Where To Find Flowers In Central Park In April
In Central Park, winter gives way to spring colorfully and obviously, with sprouts, shoots, buds and blooms in April.
- Queens Botanical Garden
Inside the gates of Queens Botanical Garden, I find peace and quietude wandering past the shaded nooks, nosing through the herb garden and stopping to smell the lilacs. It's serenity in New York City.
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden
When and how to visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for an ode to all things that bloom in New York City: cherries, roses, tulips, lilacs.