May 8, 2013

At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Blooms of Early Spring

I had a glorious visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden a few days ago, and got to see the great lanes of cherry trees in full bloom. They were enjoyed by masses of people––families in circles, children playing, folks relaxing in sun or shade––taking in the ephemeral beauty. This garden is a place of my childhood, full of memories, and which always delights me when I get a chance to go there, which is not often enough. It's wonderful to see so many people taking pleasure in the gardens, though it makes me sad that there is now an admission charge, making the place less affordable for many. The last time I visited was in the very early spring of 2010; I wrote a blog post on the early blooms here, and on cactus in the greenhouses here

This was a perfect spring day, with bright sunlight showing off the carefully modeled forms of shrubbery in the Japanese garden. Different hues of green intermingle brightly with reds. 

A fish floats in the green water of the pond...

...and cherry blossoms delicately hang like a lit screen in front of it. 

Long violet tubes ending in swirling ball gowns gather in large groups.

But what gave me the most pleasure that day were the masses of tulips blooming, of all different colors and shapes, compellingly gorgeous. Even though some had gone past their peak bloom, their brilliantly colored flopped-over petals were still beautiful. 

Red flames decorate the bright yellow tulips, capturing the warmth of the sun.


Viridiflora tulips have a green stripe along each petal; this is a particularly wonderful example with intense pink against the green. 

The delicate double flowers of Angelique are one of my favorites, looking almost like peonies. In my garden these tulips are much shorter and smaller; the BBG grows all its plants to perfection. 

These are small, perky flowers growing close to the ground, so I assume that they are a species tulip, related or even the same as, the wild tulips from which our modern hybrids were developed.

This stunning tulip stopped me in my tracks. The crimson and white, the frothy petals, the large size, made it a grand and luscious flower. It is pictured on the garden's website and is called Carnival de Nice, a perfect name when I remember the lively, colorful parade in Nice during its summer carnival. When I see these tulips I can almost understand the tulip mania that overtook Holland in the 17th century. The Polish writer Zbigniew Herbert wrote a wonderful piece on this strange occurrence titled "The Bitter Smell of Tulips", which you can read here. It begins: "Here is a story of human folly."

Lastly, a fat tree peony bud, one among many that will soon bloom. I wish I could be there to see them, for tree peonies are the most extravagant of all the peonies, and peonies are my favorite flower.


  1. Wonderful to see the BBG with everything blooming madly! I was there three months ago on a cold, windy, gray day and knew that if I just waited a while, all would change. Thanks for showing me that's true.

  2. Thanks for the nice comments, jean and Alice and Gail.