March 7, 2012

A New York Spring Calendar 2012: Blooming Times and Seasonal Events

Click here - Spring Calendar 2013 for updated information.

Spring 2012. Word on the street and in the parks is that spring is popping a little earlier this year. We have certainly seen some warm days of late, and signs of an early spring are in evidence in the city. The lawns of Central Park have taken on that new lime green tint, the shade we often see around St. Patrick's Day. A few forsythia here and there are shyly showing their little yellow flowers. Those of us who worry about climate change, however, don't exactly jump up and down in celebration of the warm days. Is that it for our winter, or do we expect a late reminder? At any rate, forecasts for the next ten days are calling for above average temperatures.

Central Park. February 27, 2012

It's time to take note of our seasonal blooming times, the best locations for witnessing spring's beginnings, and springtime events in the big city. We're just a short time away from parades and opening days. If we can't predict the weather, we can at least get a grip on the dates for Easter, Passover, and opening day at Yankee Stadium.

Blooming Times

• Central Park Conservancy's website lists blooming times within the park. During the month of March we begin to see crocus, daffodils, forsythia, snowdrops, witch-hazel, and hellebores. Species tulips will emerge in several places, but the Shakespeare Garden and Conservatory Garden are particularly good places to catch the beginning of Spring blooms.

April is usually the month when full blooms appear in New York City, and this NYC Parks website provides a handy monthly guide to the specific locations of blooming trees, flowers, shrubs, and buds.

Celebrating the great beautiful flowering crabapples, this page on the NYC Parks site explains why you can't buy and plant a crabapple today and expect it to look as beautiful as those in Central Park.

• By the first week of April, the callery pears should be in bloom, providing a soft white canopy on many New York streets. Greenwich Village looks great with the trees. (Update. The pears are early this year -  See this post with map and pictures from March 24, 2012.) These trees can withstand urban pollution, but storms can wreak havoc on them. The unusual snowstorm of late October 2011 took out many trees, not just the pears. Especially hard hit was Central Park where the storm damaged nearly 1,000 trees, including many at Grand Army Plaza.

Grand Army Plaza. April 2009.

Grand Army Plaza. November 4, 2011, after the freak early snowstorm.

• Check out The Orchid Show, a special presentation of a dazzling collection of orchids brought to you by The New York Botanical Garden in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road Bronx. The special show continues through April 22, 2012. The Garden is open year-round, Tuesday-Sunday, 10am - 6pm and select Mondays. Check the website for exceptions.

Spring cutback at the High Line
• Walking Off the Big Apple's favorite spring walk is wandering in the Ramble in Central Park. With the glorious Azalea Pond, it's the closest thing in the city to the back nine at Augusta (just don't try to play golf there). A great place for birdwatching.

The High Line features plantings around the seasons. Volunteers, including me, are currently cutting back the wild grasses and shrubs so new green shoots can see light and air.

• Million TreesNYC. See how you can help this citywide, public-private program to plant and care for one million new trees across the City's five boroughs over the next decade.

• Read the NYC Parks page honoring a Revolutionary-era white oak in Prospect Park that gave its life for its country.

• See the Wikipedia entry on the Oldest Living Thing in New York: Queens Giant, an old Tulip Poplar.

• Visit the Prospect Park Alliance website for interactive guides to the park, seasonal events, and more. When visiting in person, locate the park's Audubon Center for a quick orientation.

daffodils in Tribeca
• While many of the city's parks sponsor events for the season, Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan offers particularly good fitness opportunities in a spectacular setting. Consult the Fort Tryon Park Trust website for more information.

• While in Fort Tryon Park, visit The Cloisters. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's medieval branch is one of the best places to see varieties of plants in bloom. Check out the museum's blog, The Medieval Garden Enclosed.

• For those seeking to understand the ecology of the city's landscapes, explore the Wildlife Conservation Society's Welikia project, the city-wide expansion of their popular Mannahatta.

• According to the Victory Seeds website, the average last frost in New York City is April 13.

Spring Events for March and April 2012

April in New York
April in New York (2011)

• March 8-11, 2012. The Armory Show. Piers 92 & 94.

• Saturday, March 17, 2012 St. Patrick's Day Parade. Fifth Avenue, from 44th to 79th Streets. Begins at 11 a.m. Read more about the 2012 parade on this site.

• Sunday, March 25, 2012. 1 pm. Greek Independence Day Parade. Fifth Avenue. 64th to 79th Streets.

• Sunday, March 25 - Saturday April 7, 2012. Macy's Flower Show

• Friday, April 13, 2012. Home opener. Opening Day, Los Angeles Angels at New York Yankees. Yankee Stadium, Bronx. Official site.

• Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 1:10 p.m. Home opener. Opening Day, Atlanta Braves at New York Mets. Citi Field, Flushing, Queens. Official site.

April in New York
Central Park, last April 17 (2011)

• April 6-15, 2012. New York International Auto Show. Jacob Javits Center.

• Sunday, April 8, 2012. Easter Parade. Fifth Avenue, beginning near St. Patrick's Cathedral. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 49th to 57th Streets.

• April 18 - April 29, 2012. Tribeca Film Festival. Some of the special events take place outdoors. Tickets on sale now.

• April 28 - 29, 2012. 10 am - 6 pm, Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival - Sakura Matsuri 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Rain or shine. Free with admission. Celebration of Japanese culture and the blossoming of the garden's cherry trees. The cherry blossom season in the park is from April 1 - April 29. Also, consult the garden's Cherry Blossom Status Map for opportunities to visit.

a homemade Easter specialty -
Peeps sleeping in hot chocolate

Religious Holidays

• Passover begins at sunset on Saturday, April 7, 2012 and continues for 7 days until Friday, April 13.

• Easter Sunday falls on April 8, 2012.

Spring Forward

• Daylight Saving Time: Sunday, March 11, 2012, 2:00 a.m. Move your clocks ahead one hour, all of them - the coffeemaker, the oven, the bedside clock, the analog watch, the old VCR.

• Vernal Equinox in New York City, First Day of Spring. March 20, 2012. 1:14 a.m.

The Weather 

• The National Weather Service can and does predict the weather, issuing long-range maps and outlooks for the months ahead. Their monthly and seasonal color maps for the upcoming months indicates that New York City will see above average temperatures, not just for spring but for most months through May of 2013. 

Animal Life

• Several good blogs and websites keep track of the city's animal life. Among them -  Urban Hawks is especially observant of the adventures of our red-tailed hawks; Out walking the dog, the work of a playwright living in Morningside Heights, tracks wildlife on her daily walks in the neighborhood but also keeps an eye out for news and events; and The City Birder is a good source of information for birdwatching in the big city. Follow the continuing adventures of the hawks in Washington Square Park and other areas with Roger_Paw. Read more about these hawks in a post on this website.

• New York City Birding: See the home page of NYC Audubon for events, trips, classes, and programs.

April in New York
April in New York (2011)

Spring is a good look for the city. It's already in previews.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple. For a season-by-season guide to the city and suggested self-guided walks suitable for spring, please enjoy the NYC by Season page on this website.

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