Plant of the Week: Wintersweet

Wintersweet blooms are produced on older growth, and High this season marks the first flowering at the park.

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees — each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share with you one of our gardeners’ current favorites.


During the summer months, wintersweet may go unnoticed as one of the park’s leafy bushes, but it’s in the colder months of the year that it takes on another character. Wintersweet, Chimonanthus praecox, is one of the park’s notable winter bloomers, producing dangling fragrant yellow flowers this time of year. If you walk along the High Line near West 21st Street, you may smell the scent of lilac wafting across the winter landscape.

The plants take time to establish themselves before flowering – some say up to 7 years. High Line Gardeners were pleasantly surprised to see the park’s wintersweet bush blooming for the first time this year.

Wintersweet is also sometimes called Japanese allspice, although the plant is native to China. European gardeners adopted the plant from Japanese gardens, and since then Chimonanthus praecox has been commonly grown as an ornamental bush because of its fragrant winter blooms.

On the High Line at West 21st Street

Download our January Bloom Guide.

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