'Nothing is so beautiful as spring' – Gerard Manley Hopkins said it best
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Starved for signs of spring after the seemingly endless winter?
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden could be your cure.
The magnificent magnolias at the century-old sylvan oasis are bustin' out all over. Buds began to flower forth a week ago – and their momentum is gathering strength.
By this weekend, with sunshine and temperatures in the low 60s expected, masses of white star magnolias and anise magnolias at the Central Brooklyn horticultural mecca should be something to see. On Wednesday, they were already starting to look pretty awesome. And there was a saucer magnolia tree with branches full of fat buds that could open up ASAP into lush pink flowers.
The blooms of Magnolia Plaza are one of BBG's most dramatic harbingers of early spring.
First planted in 1932, the formal garden boasts 72 trees of 17 varieties. One of the hybrids developed at BBG is the Judy Zuk magnolia, named for a former garden president.
Sometimes these babies bloom much earlier – like in 2012, when they were full-out fabulous before St. Patrick's Day. This year's foul winter slowed them down.
Near the magnolias, dandy Daffodil Hill's golden flowers are starting to show themselves in force. They're another big spring harbinger at the garden.
Elsewhere, there are flashes of color like ultra-pink tulips in a flower bed on the Lily Pool Terrace and a patch of blue posies called Siberian squill over in the Osborne Garden.
Possibly the most eye-pleasing color of all is the long expanse of green that is the Osborne Garden's lawn. When's the last time you saw a lot of green grass live and in person?
Of course, at the end of the month, on April 26 and 27, BBG hosts its famous cherry blossom festival, Sakura Matsuri. So make that your second spring trip to the garden instead of your first. Can you live until then without the sight of flowers that don't come from a deli or a Duane Reade?
There will even be the opportunity for open-air noshing. The Terrace Cafe – which serves up a kale and quinoa salad that tastes like spring – is moving back outdoors this weekend, an employee said. During the winter, the seating is underground, inside the Steinhardt Conservatory.
By the way, the first of the cherry trees just started blooming. You can find it in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden.
In case you don't have this link saved, here is BBG's CherryWatch Blossom Status Map, which you can use to keep track of when BBG's springtime superstars will be ready for their closeup.
A recent BBG website posting said Brian Funk, the curator of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and the Cherry Esplanade, “suspects” the stunning pink-flowered Esplanade trees “will likely be in peak bloom in early May,” which means after the festival – unless there are two weeks of really hot weather before then.
If that happened, it would probably be the only heat wave ever that not a single soul in Brooklyn would complain about.
If you go:
Brooklyn Botanic Garden visitor entrances are at 990 Washington Ave. and 150 Eastern Parkway.
Saturday and Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. now that it's no longer winter.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and students age 12 and up with valid IDs and free for kids under 12.
See www.bbg.org for info about how to become a member. If you join, your visits are free.