What’s In Bloom
Even before the snow has melted and the ground has thawed, some of the first flowers to emerge in chilly New England gardens are witch-hazels. With colors ranging from yellow to orange or red depending on variety, these flowers often appear as early as January and can persist well into mid-march. The majority of the Witch-hazels on the Greenway are the cultivar ‘Arnold Promise’, a yellow-flowering hybrid of the Chinese and Japanese Witch-hazels introduced by the nearby Arnold Arboretum.Witch-hazels can currently be seen flowering on the Greenway in the Fort Point Channel Parks.
Also making an appearance as the winter lingers on is the popular red-flowering ‘Diane’. Though these large shrubs flower far too early to truly signal the start of spring, they provide the first shred of evidence that the flora is coming alive, hinting at spring’s imminent arrival.
Possibly the most popular late-winter flowering plant is the Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis), originally native to Europe. The species is threatened in its native range following years of heavy harvesting for sale, however all snowdrops currently available in the trade are nursery-propagated, allowing the wild-growing snowdrops to begin to rebound in number. The scientific name Galanthus comes from the greek words gala, meaning milk, and anthos, meaning flower, and though these flowers are nearly pure white, it is the green markings towards the base of the flower which tend to be of the most interest to a true “Galanthophile”(lover of snowdrops). Hundreds of distinct forms of snowdrops have been hybridized and cultivated, often only identifiable by the size and shape of these markings.
Though Snowdrops do tend to become rapidly overshadowed by larger and showier Crocuses, Tulips, and Daffodils as April approaches and temperatures begin to rise, they tend to appear just as the snow melts, a noticeable sign of the change of seasons, promising that spring is truly on the way. Snowdrops can be seen flowering both in the Fort Point Channel Parks alongside the Black Hellebore (Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’) as well as in the Promenade of the Wharf District Parks with their relative the Giant Snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii), a species growing to 12”, nearly twice its size.