April 19, 2014

Concrete and Flowers: Early Spring in Brooklyn

What is more cheering than a daffodil in early spring? Its brilliant color announces a season of hope, of bright light and long days. Here in Vermont the daffodils are just beginning to send their green shoots above ground, but in Brooklyn spring was further advanced. In my mother's small front garden, a few daffodils were blooming alongside the geometry of concrete and brick.

I took a walk through the neighborhood, looking for spring blooms, and found this lovely weeping cherry, its bright pink blossoms beautiful against the blue sky.

Farther down the block were these delicate white blooms, opening from pinkish buds, a tree contrasting with the lines of sidewalk and contained grassy verges.

A mass of purple pansies were hidden within a rectangular opening of hedge.

A pot of pansies graced a front porch on Ocean Parkway.

Magnolias sparkle in the afternoon light.

Hedges, formed into small rounds, filled a front garden, nature coaxed into a regularity like that of the surrounding brick.

With all these early spring plants, here is the official flower of Brooklyn, the forsythia, blooming in Brooklyn fashion alongside a concrete driveway. Like the daffodil, they bring thoughts of sun and buoyant spirits. This post from the Brooklyn Public Library tells the story of forsythia and Brooklyn, whose Borough president declared it to be its official flower in 1940. The woman who lobbied for this honor, Florence A. Blum, stated that the flower was "a symbol of unity and brotherhood at a time when world conflict is in force". A native of China, specimens were brought to England and later found their way to the United States, so uniting three continents. I have forsythia plants here in Vermont, but because our weather is so much colder, the varieties that grow here have much smaller flowers. It was a treat to see the grand golden glories of Brooklyn forsythia, and see a preview of a northern spring's coming attractions.

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