Posts Tagged Crocus

Taxicabs and The Easter Egg Effect

Taxicabs and The Easter Egg Effect . . .

Snow Drop on Sunday

Snow Drop on Sunday

Wildflower City Firsts With Full Effect

A colony of dandelions as yellow as taxicabs scattered themselves on a browned hillside. Taxicabs, ironic in the color meets Latin cadence of Taraxacum, the official. Taraxacum Taxicabs.

And groundsel, another daisy Asteraceae and an active commuter, stood firm and flush in full yellow bloom.

Taraxacum Two-Step NYC (01 2015)

Taraxacum Two-Step
NYC (01 2015)

Bright, warmer than the season’s usual early winter face: January on a Sunday afternoon remained mild.

Groundsel Epiphany NYC (01 2015)

Groundsel Epiphany
NYC (01 2015)

A foot of snow covered the scene one week later. A sky grey like actual polished lead hung the air heavy with damp deep cold riding a wind that scoured.

Two and a half months of brown, white, and blue with an emphasis on the white has taken another form in the sustained full sun of March. A very few Galanthus nivalis have appeared. Cautious egg white snowdrop heads shaped like ornamental streetlamps peer from leaf litter soaked with snow melt. Puddles in undeveloped areas, lots and parks, have formed shallow ponds of perhaps a quarter acre in surface area up to one foot in depth.

And on Palm Sunday, Passover and Easter just days away, egg yolk yellow spoke an internal smile set in eyes of palest purple: the croci, feral for the most part in fact. City spots here and there overnight decorated with wild plant life: a park corner, a tree pit, grassy curbsides. The random and sparse spread produced The Easter Egg Effect in my own wildflower city hikes set on random and at the speed of meditation.

Croci Afternoon NYC (03 2015)

Croci Afternoon
NYC (03 2015)

Spring has arrived in the western side of Manhattan.

– rPs 03 31 2015

Postscript: The Easter Egg Effect, The High Line edition –

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Before the Snow

Before the Snow . . .

Life, as in its daily living and responsibilities, has intervened between me and my heretofore regular forays into the urban natural world. I have been devoting more time to earning a living, which by its very nature prevents me from experiencing the city’s wilder life fully and freely, even though it continues to exist off the grid, figuratively, whilst on the grid, literally, of Manhattan.

My wife did take a rare personal day this past Thursday, so I did as well. After some mutual fun and adventure, I set off alone to enjoy the last hour of light before nightfall. I wandered down to Hudson River Park where I was rewarded with solitude, as a cold rain and wind had arrived, the vanguard of what may have turned out to be the final snowfall on this side of the year.

Inclement weather is the secret ingredient to a solitary outing in the city, and this one provided me with the opportunity to walk upon the compact damp tundra of the park’s grass and assume some of the odder observational poses of the nature lover – extended bends of the knees and stretches of the neck – without public embarrassment.

There was much to see. The steady rain had coaxed a lot of life from the slumbering ground of the winter season. Rich, pastel green patches of lichens covered many of the tree trunks and onion grass had sprouted around their bases. Along the edge of one small rise of ground I also found what I was most searching for – the first full blooms of the year; a patch of white feral croci of the family Iridaceae.

First flowers of 2013: feral Croci. (photo taken 03 07 2013)

First flowers of 2013: feral Croci. (photo taken 03 07 2013)

A few yards farther on, I found a single small Common Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris, in flower.

Common Groundsel at the base of a tree. (photo taken 03 07 2013)

Common Groundsel at the base of a tree. (photo taken 03 07 2013)

Near the end of my little hike, and the available natural light, I walked along a thicket of hedges and found one more hardy variety, a confident sign of spring: the Common Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, huddled at the base of some bushes.

Common Snowdrop in the bush. (photo taken 03 07 2013)

Common Snowdrop in the bush. (photo taken 03 07 2013)

I had only my smartphone available for photos on this brief, damp, and dimly lit outing, so the quality herein is not up to my usual standard, but the idea hopefully has been conveyed . . .

Once again there are wildflowers in the West Village.

– rPs 03 09 2013

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The Easter Egg Effect

The Easter Egg Effect . . .

Easter Eggs: a group of Spring Crocus, Crocus vernus, emerge from the undercover on The High Line. (photo taken 03 14 2011)


The emotional appeal of wildflowers, especially those found growing in an urban setting, can to me be summed up in something I like to call “The Easter Egg Effect” – that feeling of excitement, instigated by discovery, akin to a child finding a pastel egg hidden within the grass in the backyard. I began Wildflowers of West Village just under a year ago after one such pivotal moment. I was walking with my wife on a pleasant Sunday afternoon on the first day of spring. The Hudson flowed to our right as the park on our left became bathed in the thin setting sunlight of the Equinox. My eye caught sight of a patch of pale blue Siberian squill flowering at the base of a tree. The rest of the surrounding parkscape remained primarily brown, so the presence of living color stood out even more distinctly. We headed home, feeling rejuvenated by the first visible sign of the natural world’s reawakening, and simultaneously the idea for a new nature writing project began to bloom.

This year I first felt The Easter Egg Effect on the opposite end of the Christian Lenten calendar; during its opening week, just after Ash Wednesday. I was out for a walk yet again, this time along a unique Manhattan greenway: The High Line, one of the most popular public destinations in the West Village. Once an abandoned elevated railroad spur, the former West Side Line was converted over a decade into a belt stretching from its terminus on Gansevoort Street north to West 20th Street. After opening in 2009, the response was immediate and enthusiastic. Flanked by impressive architecture like the Standard Hotel and Frank Gehry’s futuristic IAC Building, the park’s benches, art installations, and plantings attract models, rock stars, and tourists from around the globe. They can be found daily socializing as well as photographing and filming themselves, distant views of the Hudson River, and close up portraits of this unique urban green space, which also happens to be my front yard.

As a writer focused on outdoor sports and nature, I find it ironic that Fate has me residing around the corner from this premiere example of urban nature. Beyond that, the greenway provides me a quick and traffic-free route uptown. Often, to the bemusement of international tourists, I can be found carrying dress shirts and spare hangers in hand on the way to my dry cleaner on 18th Street. I like to think the sight of me going about my mundane daily business portrays me as a goodwill ambassador from the neighborhood, a reminder to visitors that regular people with daily lives – and chores – reside here, too.

So it was that during a run to the dry cleaners I caught sight of an initial sign of the impending spring: a pastel purple crocus, Crocus vernus, starting to flower beside the rust brown rails of the High Line. The blooms, still cupped and closed, even resembled colored eggs.

Crocus vernus sprouts from the repurposed railway of The High Line. (photo taken 03 14 2011)


Later in the week I found another variety, the Dutch Yellow Crocus, Crocus flavus, coloring the gardens of St. Luke in the Fields.

Dutch Yellow Crocus, Crocus flavus, blooming in the gardens of St. Luke in the Fields. (photo taken 03 13 2011)


Along the hedge line of Hudson River Park I found an entire croci community of white Crocus vernus about to flower.

A colony of white Crocus vernus about to bloom in Hudson River Park. (photo taken 02 28 2011)


While not wildflowers in the pure definition, most varieties in the Crocus genus have gone feral or become naturalized to the extent that the distinction between wild and cultivated has become blurred. The presence of their blooms in unexpected places – like an elevated railway or a corner of a vacant lot in Manhattan – appears like a shiny penny in the gutter, or a decorated egg in the backyard. Embodied in such sudden wild flowering, the joy of spring is evinced by The Easter Egg Effect.

 – rPs 03 14 2011

Postscript . . .

The High Line and Friends of the High Line maintain a website for more background information –   – and remember, if you do visit, look don’t touch. As the sign says . . .

Sign on The High Line. (photo taken 03 14 2011)

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