Up Close and Personal – Buds, Berries and Cones

With the Greenway looking more and more sparse you might think there is little to see as you hurry through the park. However, I find great delight in the surprise of a brilliant flash of red, the crisp lines of twigs swollen with next year’s leaf buds, and the soft, antler-like show of Magnolia flower buds. All these and more wait patiently through tough, windy, piercing cold winters; caught up in the cycle of horticulture that is life on the Greenway.

-Salix bebbiana

At the Harbor Island Pavilion, you might notice the orange-red twigs of Salix bebbiana, with gold tipped buds looking like burnished copper. These are hanging over the seawall stones along the sidewalk – an easy eye level find. Some others take more attention and keen observation. The wonderful, large flower buds of the magnolias, there are 4 varieties throughout the Greenway, remind me of reindeer antlers, and almost beg to be stroked. In the North End Parks are our yellow blooming Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’, and all along the Wharf district park you will find two culitvars of native Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana).

-Magnolia Elizabeth

The cones are found on the needle bearing evergreens. In Chinatown the Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika) in the large containers, are loaded with just opened cones, spreading their scales and releasing the mature seeds.  In our young Urban Arboretum, across from Rowes Wharf, there are beautiful mature cones on the Japanese White Pine (Pinus parviflora) as well as new cones.

-Pinus Parviflora

Watch, too, for the berries and fruits of the flowering shrubs and trees. Winterberry and rose hips are prolific in various parts of the park, while many other fruits have been eaten clean away by the birds. In some cases all that is left is the dried seed pod. Cupped, curved, and seamed, these small architectural vessels are curious and intriguing.  The star-like seed heads of the Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora var. ternifora) in the Pergola in the North End will continue to mature over the month – another easy to view, micro show.

-Rosa Virginiana fruit