Signs of Spring in NYC Parks
The first day of spring is Thursday, March 19, 2020
This year, Staten Island Chuck, NYC's resident groundhog at the Staten Island Zoo, predicted early spring. Take look at our timeline of some of the signs of spring to look for in New York City:
A check mark will appear and the image will brighten when a sign of spring is discovered in 2020. This timeline is subject to change.
As winter comes to an end, snowdrops emerge out of the frozen ground, usually in January or early February, as one of the earliest signs of spring. This year, snowdrops were first spotted in Central Park on January 1. Our friends at Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association spotted snowdrops in bloom in at Stuyvesant Park on January 13.
A timberdoodle was spotted in Bryant Park in early February! The presence of woodcocks also known as "timberdoodles" is a sign that their spring migration to the north has begun. @BirdCentralPark on Twitter believes this timberdoodle is “one of the first northbound woodcocks of the year”. Their peak arrival time is usually around mid-March. As springtime nears, our parklands welcome warblers, songbirds, and many more feathered friends migrating to NYC.
Hellebores aka Lenten Roses
Hellebores commonly blossom in the middle of winter. Although not really a sign of spring, it is a sign that spring is near! Hellebores are called Lenten roses because their petals usually open up around the 40-day Lent which starts on February 26. This year, Madison Square Park shared budding hellebores in early February but our gardeners had already spotted other varieties of hellebores in bloom!
The crocus is one of the first spring bulbs to bloom in our parks. This year, a crocus was first spotted in Central Park in early February!
Many New Yorkers look to the blossoming of daffodils—NYC's official flowers—as a sure sign that springtime is arriving in NYC. This year, daffodils in bloom were spotted in mid-February near 13th Street at East River Park and in Morningside Park!
Red Maple Trees
Red maple trees are budding! Look for tiny red buds on the branches. Red maple trees are usually one of the first trees to bloom in NYC, usually around early March. We spotted buds on the red maple tree at The Pond in Central Park in late February. Use the NYC Street Tree Map to find a red maple tree near you!
This year, we spotted buds on a Cornelian cherry tree (actually part of the dogwood family) at Central Park in late February. Our friends at the Washington Square Park Conservancy reported a Cornelian cherry tree in bloom in early March.
This musical clock is a favorite stop for kids walking by the Central Park Zoo. On March 2, the clock switched to its spring playlist, featuring songs such as “It Might As Well Be Spring” and “Easter Parade”.
These pretty lavender-blue flowers were first spotted in bloom at Carl Schurz Park in early March. At its peak, these pretty lavender-blue blanket the woodland floors at Wave Hill, adding a magical experience to walk around the garden grounds. This year, our friends at Wave Hill spotted glory-of-the-snow flowers starting to bloom during the second week of March.
NYC's cherry trees are the highlight of spring! The most commonly-spotted cherry tree species in NYC include kwanzan (pink and double-flowered), yoshino (tiny white flowers that smell like almonds), and okame (tiny deep pink flowers with a reddish-brown calyx that encloses the petals). This year, okame cherry trees bloomed in Central Park during the first week of March. Okame cherry trees usually start blooming earlier than the more famous Yoshino cherry trees which were first spotted in bloom at Hunter’s Point South Park last year during the second week of April; kwanzan cherry blossoms were first spotted in Washington Square Park one week later.
Spring Forward: Daylight Saving Time
On Sunday, March 8, 2020, time springs forward one hour. This means more daylight hours and later sunsets!
Azalea flowers were spotted in bloom in Central Park during the second week of March!
For many New Yorkers, it's officially springtime in NYC when magnolia trees in Central Park are in bloom. This year, star magnolias first bloomed in Central Park during the second week of March. Last year, saucer magnolias first bloomed at Union Square Park during the first week of April.
Callery pear trees are one of the most common species of street trees in NYC. Their blossoms are clusters of tiny, snow-white flowers. Callery pears across NYC are in full bloom as of late March.
Crabapple trees bloom fluffy-looking clusters of sweet-smelling blossoms on the tree's gnarled, craggy branches. The flowers are hues of pinks and reds, white, or white with pink trimmings. Last year, our friends at Riverside Park Conservancy spotted crabapples in bloom in early April!
Unlike all the other flowering plants, eastern redbud flowers grow directly from the branches (not from stems)! Their unique lavender-pink clusters of flower buds look like pom-poms on its branches. We first spotted buds on these trees in Brooklyn Bridge Park during the second week of April last year.
Tulip season peaks around late April to early May, adding pops of colors along our walkways as spring turns into summer weather. The tulips were last early this year -- we spotted them in bloom at Hunter’s Point South Park in mid-April.
Last year, these unique flowers (the petal-like structures are actually leaves) were first spotted in Washington Square Park during the third week of April. Their colors can range from white to pink to pale red.