On February 2, the groundhog saw his shadow, forecasting six more weeks of winter. Not to fear, the High Line features a four season garden where something is blooming 'round the clock. Even in February, typically the coldest month of the year, visitors will find hellebores, witch hazels, and snow drops in bloom. Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' provides a fiery blast of orangey red, lighting up the High Line in winter. This ornamental deciduous shrub blooms from the naked trunks (similar to the redbud tree) before it leafs out.
This year, 'Jelena' is blooming almost a month early. Early blooming species such as witch hazel help the High Line horticulture department track the phenology of the garden and may indicate future weather patterns for the upcoming season. Phenology is the natural plant calendar that takes the life cycles of plants into consideration for forecasting. We currently collect data on the bloom periods of each plant species in our collection, which helps us plan and predict the upcoming maintenance needs of our plant collection. The use of this natural calendar has been used in horticulture since ancient times to predict future weather conditions.
Phenology records resulted in proverbs and rhymes that help gardeners remember common weather patterns. For example, "If the Oak is out before the Ash, 'twill be a summer of wet and splash." Or in our case, "If Jelena's fiery buds break in the first month of the year, Spring Cutback is near!"
'Jelena' provides good structural value to a woodland garden. Plant it as a single shrub or as a hedge. It will reach a height of 12-15 feet. Dot a group of 2 or 3 through the garden for winter interest and as bird habitat. Many sources recommend planting the shrub against an evergreen backdrop, to further highlight the tree when it is in bloom. 'Jelena' is low maintenance and adaptable.
WHERE TO FIND THIS PLANT:
Washington Grasslands at West 13th Street, and the Chelsea Thicket at West 21st Street
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 500 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. Every week we share one of our gardeners' current favorites with you.
Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line's most important gardening projects.
TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.