The borough's trees are budding and blooming, adding a joyful touch of spring to quiet streets and busy avenues alike, and capturing the gaze of many a photographer and blogger in the process. Out in Crown Heights, Eastern Parkway is slowly turning green while the flowering trees on Franklin, Bedford, and other avenues have taken on the resplendent look of white and pink cotton candy in the last week. Pictured above is a flowering dogwood, thriving despite the steady stream of fragrant smoke from the jerk chicken grills of The Spice is Right on Franklin.
The Parks Department has a complete list of New York City's trees here, which you can use to play urban botanist as I did earlier this evening. My amateur investigation--which led me to the assertion that the tree above is indeed a dogwood, and not a crabapple or cherry tree, both of which can also be found on Franklin--produced the following conversation with my neighbor:
Neighbor: Beautiful, aren't they?
Me: Yeah--do you know what kind of trees they are?
Neighbor: No, but they look great when I'm on mushrooms.
Me: Well, I'll google that and see what comes up.
Neighbor: You do that. Goodnight
The trees we were enjoying are some of New York City's most valuable and productive residents. No matter your business or issue, trees along the street are a good thing: they increase property values, they reduce pollution, they collect rainwater and help prevent combined sewer overflows, they block wind, absorb sunlight, and create shade, all of which reduces heating and cooling costs, and they do it all while making the built environment a tolerable and sometimes beautiful place to live. The Parks Department, which manages the city's street trees, counted nearly 600,000 in NYC in 2005-2006, and they have an ambitious plan to add a million more trees to the city (including parks and private lands) in the next decade. The mayor and council are backing them, passing legislation last year that requires the planting of street trees at all new developments.
As a New York City resident, you can request that the parks department plant a tree for you, or you can plant one yourself (more information here). If you're feeling particularly motivated, Trees New York will teach you to care for the trees in your neighborhood. They've certified over 11,000 residents since their founding in 1976, and the work they do is crucial--healthy, happy trees make for a healthier, happier city.
UPDATE (4/17): If you're a motivated Brooklyn resident with a yard, Million Trees NYC is offering a coupon for 20% off trees grown and planted in NYC. Thanks to Team Tish for the heads-up.