May 262017

Spanish Bluebell blooming under the cherry trees

Near the 77th Street entrance to the American Museum of Natural History, fragrant Spanish Bluebell brightens Roosevelt Park’s garden beds with bell-shaped, lavender-colored flowers.

Spanish bluebell reproduces by seed and rhizome and naturalizes well beneath the shade of deciduous trees, such as the cherry trees in Roosevelt Park. Bulbs develop into blue-green clumps of sword-like leaves, eventually spreading to 18 inches or more in width. Small flowers hang from upright flower stems that rise above the foliage. Spanish Bluebell flowers come in several colors: lavender, pink and white

Spain, Portugal and the Upper West Side

Although Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) is native to Spain and Portugal, this winter-hardy, shade-loving bulbous perennial also does well in New York City. Stop by the park and enjoy the flowers!

 May 26, 2017  Comments Off on Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica)
May 242017

AzaleasAzalea (Rhododendron sp.) flower blossoms are lighting up Theodore Roosevelt Park with brilliant hues of pinks and reds.

AzaleasThe colors of late spring

Flowering in late spring, and after tulips, daffodils and cherry blossoms have faded, azaleas brighten Roosevelt Park with splashes of dazzling color that last for weeks.

The showy, funnel-shaped flowers can be seen growing under dappled shade along Columbus Avenue and 79th Street, and in front of the Planetarium.

Around the world and the Upper West Side

Azalea shrubs are hardy, shade-loving perennials, native to North America, China and Japan that grow well in acidic, moist soil with good drainage – growing conditions available throughout our park.

 May 24, 2017  Comments Off on Azaleas are blooming in Roosevelt Park
May 182017

Hellebores in Roosevelt Park

Hellebores are Here!

Hellebores (Helleborrus sp.) produce the earliest flower blooms in Theodore Roosevelt Park. Rose-like flowers, with five petal-like sepals, bloom in March and continue blooming until May. The garden beds fronting the Hayden Planetarium include a variety of colorful Hellebores, whose flowers can be shades of green, yellow, white, and purple.

Immigrants from Europe and Asia

Native to mountainous regions of Europe and western Asia, Hellebores are low-clumping, spreading, evergreen perennials that prefer partial to full shade in fertile, well-drained soils, such as those in Roosevelt Park.

Healthy, hardy plants

Hellebores are disease-resistant and the foliage remains attractive throughout the year. Hellebores are hardy and most species will grow well in USDA hardiness zones 4-9 (New York City is in hardiness zone 7b).

 May 18, 2017  Comments Off on Hellebores are here!
May 082017

Spring Sun Brings Tulip Blooms

The tulip (Tulipa) is an upright herbaceous perennial bulbous plant in the lily family, growing from 4 to 24 inches in height.  Native to Central Asia and cultivated in Holland, tulips are one of the most beloved and recognizable flowers in the world.

Flowering from early April to May, tulips have no rivals for providing springtime carpets of pure, intense, vibrant color.  Gorgeous blooms, usually one flower per stem, are available in almost any color except blue and black.

Tulip gardening in the park

Tulips in Roosevelt Park

Garden near E 81 St. and Central Park West

It’s difficult to get tulips to produce blooms year after year. At Roosevelt Park, we maximize tulip flower bloom by choosing sites with well-drained soil in full sun, we plant bulbs deep, (8”) in late fall, water-in bulbs after planting, and purchase bulbs that naturalize well (Darwin hybrids and species tulips).

Tulips will tolerate light shade, but the flower bloom will not be as spectacular, nor will the flowers bloom as well the following spring.  Tulips grow poorly in heavy shade.

Full sun allows the greatest amount of carbohydrates to translocate in the flower bulb, providing necessary nutrients for flower bloom the following spring.  Leaves should be allowed to remain on the stems until turning yellow (about 8 weeks).

NYC is good for tulips!

Tulips in Roosevelt Park

Garden in front of Hayden Planetarium flagpoles.

Tulips require a chilling period of 12 to 16 weeks at soil temperatures around 40 degrees F. and therefore do not grow well in warm climates.  Tulips thrive in New York City weather.

How long should tulips last?

The majority of tulip bulbs in Roosevelt Park were planted last fall. With the right growing conditions, tulips can bloom for three or more seasons, so we expect our current tulips to bloom at least until 2019.

 May 8, 2017  Comments Off on Spring Sun Brings Tulip Blooms
May 032017

Cherry tree

Have you seen the flowering cherry trees, now in spectacular full bloom in Theodore Roosevelt Park?  An absolutely jaw-dropping display of marvelously formed, delicate pink blossoms, cascading over bent branches.   Pink petals float through the air, carpeting the walkways.

Beautiful blossoms are well-suited to New York City

Cherry BlossomFlowering cherry trees grow well at Theodore Roosevelt Park and have few rivals for sheer beauty.  Cherry trees need full sun and well-drained soil for optimum health, and their location in Roosevelt Park provides these conditions. Flowering cherry trees are grown throughout New York City, including in Central Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and New York Botanical Garden.

 May 3, 2017  Comments Off on Cherry blossoms on the Upper West Side
Apr 282017

New York Cares volunteers

On Saturday, April 22nd, 70 volunteer gardeners and 7 Greenlife interns joined New York Cares team leaders and New York City Parks Department staff to lend their passion and horticulture skills to clean up and plant flowers in Theodore Roosevelt Park. As volunteers assembled in front of the Hayden Planetarium, one woman said that she and her group of 15 high school students had traveled 4,000 miles, from Denmark, to volunteer at the park during their New York City visit! Volunteers worked steadily for three hours, in spite of the chilly, intermittent rain.

Spring cleaning and planting

Planting flowersThe gardens in front of the Bull Moose Dog Run were cleaned of dried leaves and weeded, and the pathways were swept clean.  Volunteers planted redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea), lavender (lavandula grosso,) and blazing star (liatris spicata).  These shrubs and perennials will provide desirable color, texture and form to our favorite Upper West Side park.

Lavandula grosso (lavender)

Lavender is a French hybrid with gray-green foliage. It grows into a shrubby mound 30 inches tall, and produces abundant fragrant, dark blue flower spikes in mid-summer.

Greenlife Interns

Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood)

Redosier dogwood is an upright, spreading shrub that can grow up to 10 feet tall. Small white fragrant flowers bloom in late spring, and fruit is produced the following summer, attracting birds. In the winter, stems turn bright red, an attractive contrast to a snowy background.

Liatris spicata (blazing star)

Blazing star is a clump-forming perennial, growing to 2 – 4 feet tall. It forms terminal spikes of purple flower heads in the summer.

The benefits of volunteering

Volunteers in Roosevelt ParkJudging from their smiles and friendly conversations, all of the volunteers enjoyed their work, admired their horticultural accomplishments, and felt proud to be able to contribute to the beautification of Theodore Roosevelt Park. Stop by the park in a few weeks to see how the flowers are coming along!


 April 28, 2017  Comments Off on New York Cares Volunteers at Roosevelt Park
Apr 212017

Earth Day

Roosevelt Park Trees and Flowers

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. Conceived by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day was intended to increase awareness of threats to the environment.

Roosevelt Park NYC bare dirtTwenty years after the first Earth Day, The Friends of Roosevelt Park were a newly formed group, dedicated to the restoration of Roosevelt Park. The park had been neglected, resulting in stretches of bare dirt broken interspersed with dead plants. It was a stressed environment.

Today, Earth Day has become an international observance, and Roosevelt Park has been restored to a welcoming slice of nature in the city. Its 10 acres are filled with trees, grass, and flowers. This Earth Day, come sit on one of our benches and celebrate how far the park has come!

 April 21, 2017  Comments Off on Earth Day
Apr 182017

IMGP6987 drinking water fountain

The first public drinking water fountain in New York City was installed in City Hall Park in 1842. Today there are more than 1,000 drinking water fountains in New York City parks. Water is fat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and gluten-free, and if you choose fountain water over bottled water, it’s cost-free as well.

 April 18, 2017  Comments Off on Have a drink in Roosevelt Park
Dec 162016

Gingko biloba (maidenhair tree)

Gingko biloba, native to China, is one of the most beautiful trees in Roosevelt Park. In fall, the fan-shaped leaves turn a spectacular yellow color.

Ancient trees

Maidenhair trees have been called a “living fossil.” They are the sole survivor of a group of trees dating back more than 200 million years.  Maidenhair trees can live to extreme old age; the oldest recorded tree is 3,500 years old.

Medical Uses of Gingko biloba

Chinese medicine has used the leaves of the maidenhair tree for a variety of disorders. Flavonoids and terpenoids in the plant are believed to be the cause of medical effects.

Scientists have recently conducted studies using standardized extracts from dried Gingko biloba leaves to evaluate whether it is effective for treating conditions that include dementia, macular degeneration, glaucoma and PMS. The seeds of the tree can sometimes be toxic.

 December 16, 2016  Comments Off on Maidenhair tree
Dec 152016

Hydrangea quercifolia (oak leaf hydrangea)

Hydrangea quercifolia is native to the United States, and well-suited to the growing conditions in Roosevelt Park.  The oak leaf hydrangea can grow under direct sun for limited periods, but prefers dappled sun and partial shade. It is fairly drought tolerant.

Fall Foliage

In spring and early summer it produces panicles of greenish-white flowers that change over time to light pink and brown color as the flowers age.  In fall, the large, oak-like leaves can turn beautiful shades of burgundy, red, orange and yellow.

 December 15, 2016  Comments Off on Oak Leaf Hydrangea