Thursday, March 31, 2011

Central Park, late March

After some viola planting on the Upper West Side yesterday morning I walked into Central Park near West 81st Street, a familiar route, leading me into The Ramble. 

I was hoping to find some early spring flowers, but the woods were closed for business. Not at home to visitors. Birds hopped in the rustling leaf litter and  hammered the bark of tall trees and called from bare branches. Not a single violet leaf peeped out of the brown quilt thrown over the hills and stream beds of this wild part of the park. This will all change in April, and if you're thirsty for a Northeastern spring visit a previous post about April in the park.

Heading towards the Upper East Side I paralleled the 79th Street cut-through allowing traffic to cross the park. Recently in the Times Sarah Maslin Nir wrote about the snow flurries we received last week, ending by noting that along the walls of the 79th Street transverse  "sprays of perennially overeager pyracantha flounced down the stone walls, branch tips almost mingling with small snow drifts..."

Really? First, it's too early for pyracantha (firethorn) to bloom, and's too early for pyracantha to bloom. I had thought the writer must mean winter honeysuckle, which is at least white in bloom, but now I wonder if she meant forsythia. It's only a little bit different from pyracantha. One is pure white and one is bright yellow, but they are both flowers. Just looking at article now (my last in my monthly allowance - I have discovered The Guardian) I see there is a correction in the piece - something about tulips.

The vestiges of witch hazel flowers hung over the road. These were beautiful old trees, their branches in horizontal layers, and I am sorry I missed them in full bloom.

Near the zoo, a large blue splash of glory-of-the-snow,  Chionodoxa lucilieae [4/1/11 - which earlier I identified as Siberian squill, or Scilla siberica - see Janet's comment]. Here I passed two girls on a bench, wearing sunglasses bigger than their heads and eating icecream,  flanked by eight small dogs, seated four on on either side of the girls, on the bench. Each one clad in a quilted orange coat. Upper East Side doggy daycare? I asked if I may take their picture. NO, said one expressionless girl, licking her icecream.

Flowers are easier.

A woman said, as I was photographing these tête-à-têtes and Siberian squill, Scilla siberica [see, similar but different, the squill nods], I just love that purple with that yellow! I actually looked around, thinking I had missed something else in bloom, but no. That just shows that my blue is not your blue.

These buds belong to a cherry, a beautiful, sprawling specimen growing near the yacht pond (properly known as Conservatory Water). I must go to check on its blossoms, soon.

Every lawn was speckled with robins.

And opposite The Plaza a cardinal posed in grey branches...

...before diving off.

In the end the March park belongs to the Cornelian cherries - Cornus mas. They are everywhere, and wonderful. Perhaps I will be brave enough to pick their berries for jelly in summer.

The forsythia, winter honeysuckle, Cornelian cherries, daffodils, scilla and hellebores will give way to the magnolia, cherry, crabapple, amelanchier, and later to azalea, rhododendron, hawthorn; to the woodland ephemerals - violets, bloodroot, shooting star, trillium, to the bedding tulips, to a dozen flowers I have not thought of. 

Perhaps even some pyracantha.

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