Winter Hort Guide
January and February may seem like an unusual time for flowers to bloom, but our witch hazel collection is flourishing. Witch hazels (Hamamelis sp.) are described as small trees or large shrubs, and is one of Madison Square Park’s five perennial plant collections. With over 70 unique varieties planted in the Park, these fragrant flowers display an array of color from yellow, orange, red, and purple. When temperatures drop, the flowers close to protect their petals and reopen during warm spells. The species Hamamelis x intermedia, H. mollis, H. vernalis, H. virginiana, H. ovalis are represented in the collection of which only H. virginiana, our native witch hazel, is fall blooming. Madison Square Park Conservancy is in the process of registering this plant collection as a nationally recognized collection.
The Park has many hellebores planted throughout the perennial beds. Hellebores (Helleborous sp.) have nodding flowers in pink, purple, yellow, and white. These flowers reliably bloom in the dead of winter and their evergreen foliage is a relief to see when much of the garden is bare. In New York City, the 6 train subway stop at 28 Street shows artist Nancy Bloom’s rendition of these flowers blooming in Madison Square Park.
Madison Square Park was awarded level 1 accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program back in January 2018. This program approves the Park as an internationally recognized arboretum or tree museum. The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is the only global initiative to recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity, and professionalism. Madison Square Park is also now recognized as an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta—a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.
The Park’s arboretum consists of seven acres of urban trees. Of the 183 trees, two are historic English elms that pre-date the Park’s construction in 1850, as well as an oak from the Virginia estate of President James Madison. The Park has a number of notable surviving American elms and a redbud collection consisting of 32 specimens.