No need to wait for April’s showers — there are plenty of blooms coming up to welcome spring. Here are the best places to see truly impressive flower displays around the city.
April 1 is the official kickoff to cherry blossom season, but some of the sweet-smelling trees in the traditional Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden are already in bloom. Not to worry — the garden is host to an extraordinary variety of cherry trees, from tiny bonsai to the white-flowered Yoshino cherry trees most prized in Japan, all blooming at various times (and only for a week each) through mid-May. For the full effect, follow the Cherry Walk for the showiest Kanzan trees (28 petals per bloom!) that loom over the path. Don’t miss the Sakura Matsuri festival on April 30 and May 1, celebrating Japanese heritage and current cultural trends — the cosplay alone is Comic Con-worthy.
If you’ve been meaning to get up to the Met Cloisters in Washington Heights, make time for an amble through Fort Tryon Park’s Heather Garden, the city’s largest free, unrestricted garden. Originally designed for John D. Rockefeller and opened to the public in 1935, the park boasts more than 500 varieties of plants, trees and shrubs. But the jewel is its collection of fuschia-bright heathers — the largest in the Northeast. Enjoy the blooms until April 9, which brings the Shearing of the Heathers as part of a community parade (bring your instruments!) through the gardens, plus flower-themed arts&crafts and clippings available to start your own garden.
The only formal garden in Central Park is tucked into six acres at its northern end: the Conservatory Garden, which is actually three unique areas styled after three European countries. Flower seekers should head to the French garden, where 45,000 tulips and daffodils upstage the Three Dancing Maidens fountain, or bring a picnic to the Italian garden’s rectangular lawn, surrounded by gorgeously fragrant crabapple trees, all expected to flower between April 20 and May 3. Or forget the city is even nearby under the shower of violet blooms that take over the wisteria pergola between May 8-15.
Orchids were the 19th century’s Pokemon in Europe, where a single specimen shipped to England in 1818 kicked off a craze dubbed Orchidelirium. That event inspired the New York Botanical Garden’s 14th annual Orchid Show, which showcases the orchid’s bloody history — the flowers had to be harvested from jungles, where dangerous animals and disease were common. Back in the safety of the Bronx, they’ll continue to bloom — most memorably as a giant waterfall made entirely of various orchids — through April 17.
In June, the NYBG’s focus shifts to roses will step into the spotlight at the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, where over 650 varieties will flower until October.