What’s In Bloom

22, Feb, 2012 Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy

As an unusually warm winter persists, we are beginning to see some of the shorter-term effects that the balmy weather is taking on our plants along the Greenway. We have noticed very early flowering times, bulb emergence, and bud swelling, to which other gardens and colleagues have made similar observations. This changing weather has been gradual over time, but has not gone unnoticed, particularly by gardeners, researchers, and other plant enthusiasts. The USDA released a newly revised Plant Hardiness Zone Map at the end of January, confirming that our average minimum temperature has indeed risen, and here in Boston our zone is now classified as 6b (http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/).

Last year we featured some of our late winter/early spring-blooming plants in a blog post dated March 28, 2011 (http://www.rosekennedygreenway.org/2011/03/28/whats-in-bloom-19/). This year we have already observed many of the same plants in bloom.

Giant Snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii)

Some of our Snowdrops began flowering along the Wharf District Promenade as early as February 6th this year. Galanthus elwesii, or the Giant Snowdrop, is a species native to the Eastern Mediterranean region with larger flowers than the more common Galanthus nivalis. These delicate bulbs can be identified by their unique green markings on the inner segments of their flowers, which can be seen in this photo.

Galanthus elwesii

Witch-hazel (Hamamelis vernalis)

Our collections of Witch-hazel are also blooming in the Parks. The Vernal Witch-hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) can be seen in the Wharf District Parks across from the Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion, and the Fort Point Channel Parks are also filled with a variety of sweetly-fragrant Witch-hazel flowers. Our Witch-hazels are primarily cultivars of a hybrid between the Chinese and Japanese Witch-hazels (Hamamelis mollis x Hamamelis japonica). In addition to Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’, ‘Jelena’, and ‘Arnold Promise’ we have the ‘Primavera’ cultivar, which produces bright yellow spider-like flowers.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Primavera’

Black Hellebores (Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’)

These flowers have been blooming consistently for the past few weeks in the Fort Point Channel Parks. The ‘HGC Jacob’ cultivar produces pure white flowers, which may become tinged with pink as the weather grows colder. As the flower matures it changes to light green, and becomes a subtle but beautiful feature against the plant’s glossy dark green foliage.

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’

Mature Flowers of the Black Hellebore