Monday, April 25, 2011

Trees of Note: crabapple allees in the Conservatory Garden, Central Park

This morning I found, following much anticipation, the Japanese flowering crabapples (Malus floribunda) of the Conservatory Garden beginning to bloom. Because of their color and bloom time everyone sees them and thinks they are flowering cherry trees. Like cherries (and pears and hawthorns and...) crabapples are members of the rose family so it makes sense that the flowers fool people. As with all plant ID you have to learn to see more than just one thing, like flower. Especially with woody plants you have bark, stems, buds, leaf, flower, fruit/seed. If you want to really get good in the garden you have to expand your abilities of observation. Once you get to know the bark of cherries versus crabapples it gets easy to differentiate.
An allee (with an accent over the first "e", pronounced "Al-aye") is a landscape design term for a parallel planting. In the Conservatory Garden in Central Park the Japanese flowering crabapple allees date back to the 1930's and divide the three sections of the formal garden. Here you can kind of see the difference in the pinks, right? The trees closer to you with the lighter pink color are actually only in bud. They will actually open white as I will show you in the next couple posts. The trees behind are that fabulous vibrant pink that is such a wonderful surprise for the senses this time of year.
Don't worry, more pics of the allees to come in the next week. They are officially in bloom and they will only be as glorious as long as we have sane, tame springtime temps in the 50's and 60's., if you are in the neighborhood, hurry. These freak 70-80 degree days accelerate the development of flowers and cause these brilliant creatures to pass bloom quickly, so you don't want to delay!

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