Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Early Spring at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden


I visited the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for the first time in many, many months, cycling across Prospect Park to get there. You book online and show up at your appointed time and gate. 

If you are in New York, and can go, choose the Flatbush Avenue entrance. It is stunning, right now, designed for early spring, and it is at its peak.

The scene-stealers there are the luminous winter-hazels (Corylopsis).

And they have a warmer yellow backdrop of an unusual abundance of Edgeworthia. Its downy yellow flowers appear on bare branches that look almost succulent. They have a very strong fragrance, too.

The winter-hazels range from small shrubs to one of the largest I have ever seen (that giant is just west of the rose garden).

While I love - and advocate for - native plants, it's hard not to smile at a hill of daffodils.

And then there are the hellebores. They are glorious.

And good from every angle.

The relatively new layout at that Flatbush gate is luxuriant with them, planted under camellias that are in bloom, and about to bloom

The high berms allow you to see right into the flowers' hearts.

And what about the magnolias?

They are another story.



  1. Such beautiful photographs... I am putting a corylopsis on my planting list right now! And if edgeworthias grow in New York surely they would grow here... is it a particularly sheltered spot? Crossing my fingers.

    1. Thank you! Where is "here"? Brooklyn is generally a USDA Zone 7b. They are not particularly protected, but they do have shrubs behind them that might act as a gentle windbreak.

    2. I mentioned before where 'here' was so didn't want to repeat myself. France, altitude 3000 feet, in the Massif Central. Cold winters but not really below -10C. Similar to a 7b zone. Mildly acid soil, hearty and moist all year round but well drained. The problem is wind, but I have a spot sheltered by mature trees, where magnolia stellata and witchazels thrive. I'd love to add a corylopsis...

  2. Oh my. How lovely. The last time I was there was for Sakura Hanami in .....the mid-90s. One day, I will go back.

  3. Camellias outside in NY? I already miss the witch hazel.

  4. I've never seen such beautiful hellebores. I was completely unfamiliar with the plant until we put some in my new landscape five years ago. But they didn't thrive and I took them out. Maybe this Mediterranean climate is not the best for them? Those you've shared are stunning.

    1. These are very healthy hellebores! And yes, they do need some cold. But also plenty of moisture. Are yours in sun, shade, or both?

  5. Maybe their biggest challenge was growing under a breezeway where they were protected from cold and didn't get enough water. And the white flies thrived in that location! The hellebores were part of a landscape designer's vision, and like many plants in that project, were experimental; they are not with me anymore.


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