Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring has sprung and I have been surprised by the speed with which bulbs, pansies, and other cold hardy flowers have begun appearing in tree pits across the city. The emergence of buds, leaves, and flowers on trees and woody plants is also amazing and wonderful. The weather is still tempestuous, varying from the 50s to 20s, but the brave new leaves and buds have come forth and are keeping their own.

In my neighborhood, the crocuses emerged first. Then the dwarf irises. Pansies were planted. And then all sorts of cold hardy plants began emerging on windowsills, stoops, and shop fronts. One interesting thing I've noticed is the different ways in which flowering bulbs have been appearing in tree pits around the city. In many neighborhoods bulbs were planted last season and have sprouted and flowered on their own schedule (such as the purple irises below). In other neighborhoods they do not allow their bulbs to overwinter on the street, but grow their bulbs in greenhouses and then bring in plants that have already sprouted and developed flowers to bring instant color to their tree pits (such as the yellow tulips below). Two different methods. One is certainly more expensive than the other. Another difference is an aesthetic one between a more naturalized planting, bringing a bit of natural woodland into the city, verses filling in the tree pit as if it were a flower box, to be kept to optimize seasonal color. Tree pit plantings are always contrived, cultivated areas. However, there remain different approaches to the aesthetic of a tree pit, and decisions to be made on whether it is to be treated as a bit of nature in the city, or a controlled flower box to be filled with the monoculture of the season.

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