Monday, April 30, 2007

Branches in Bloom

My favorite part of spring is watching the parade of flowering trees and shrubs bloom in succession, from forsythia and cherry blossoms to dogwoods and azaleas. Since I grew up in the cherry blossom culture of DC, seeing branches in bloom always reminds me of home. Here are some I saw during a recent walk through Central Park.

The formal gardens at 106th Street begin with this large lawn flanked by two alleys of flowering pear trees. White and fluffy on the outside, they remain cool and green underneath.

The dogwood is one of my favorite flowering trees. In DC they come out at the same time as the azaleas and are often planted together. Supposedly they are called dogwoods because it looks like a dog has nipped the center of each petal, giving it that characteristic brown notch.

Pink flowers are particularly cheerful. I'm guessing that the ones on the left are some sort of cherry blossom while the tree on the right is a magnolia. Both look remarkably lush.

I always think flowering branches look terrific in arrangements, but it helps if you're working in a large-scale setting, like the entrance hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is well known for the larger-than-life arrangements it presents in these sculpture niches.

On the left a large lilac frames a Japanese maple and some sort of chartreuse shrub. The tree on the right may be a cape myrtle, or at least it has similar magenta blossoms. Although we see them every year, the electric colors that nature produces continue to surprise. I don't suppose I'll ever tire of watching this parade go by.