We occasionally issue imperatives here about things we feel strongly about, but trust us when we say that you absolutely, positively do not want to miss New York City’s own annual rite of Spring: the flowering of the cherry blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.Located in the middle of the garden’s 52 acre spread, the gorgeous Cherry Esplanade was a gift to the United States from the Japanese government at the end of the War. And with over 200 trees and 40 different species, there is no other place showcasing this kind cherry tree variety in the world outside of Japan. Particularly spectacular is how downright Seussical a walk-through this pink canopy is, and how easy it enables one to check a jaded New York attitude at the front gate. Good luck attempting sarcasm or irony in the face of such a pure pink onslaught.Once in full bloom, these trees are vivid and gorgeous and according to the BBG real-time CherryWatch map, they’re in full bloom right now. However, their beauty is ephemeral and once flowered, the blossoms don’t last long. So, go. Play hooky, call it a prescription for mental health, do whatever you need to do– but do yourself a favor and go park under some cotton candy trees one morning this week and take a deep breath. It’s even free admission if you go between 10am-12pm.
New York City is full of sharp edges. Bricks and mortar, steel girders, massive expanses of glass and chain link fences. Left raw, these materials make for a downright brutal place to look at and live. Here’s a sliver of my silver painted roof and chain link fence. Slap a tree, flower or bush into the mix (or all three in massive quantities) and it becomes another room for at least six months out of the year.
Do the same to the city and it becomes a much more palatable place to call home 12 months out of the year. Fan of Mayor Bloomberg or not, his Million Tree Campaign has made a tremendous impact on once aesthetically impoverished neighborhoods. My block in Alphabet City alone had eight new trees planted on it last year. The Bronx has over 150,000 trees planted in areas that were once full of crumbling buildings. Broadway and First, Eighth, Ninth and soon-to-be Second Avenues have trees planted IN islands built to separate bike and car lanes! Really?! Trees in the middle of nasty First Avenue? Kind of amazing. Have you been to Union and Madison Squares lately?
These huge planters tastefully packed with an amazing array of tropical looking leafy things line the edges of the park and surround pedestrian areas that were once potholed throughways to carbon monoxide generating four wheeled machines. And forget about the amazingly lush Hudson River Park which 20 short years ago was a dilapidated falling-into-the-water mess. Just walking down the street in New York City has become a vastly more enjoyable experience with all of these new and growing green friends giving of shade and offering a welcomed juxtaposition to the concrete and glass.