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First Blooms: Witch-Hazel in Greenwich Village
Witch-hazel. Many plants have evocative names, but few can beat witch-hazel. It sounds magical, although as an old-fashioned treatment for insect bites, maybe it is less than magic, but its scent always makes you feel cooler and fresher.
What is magical about witch-hazel is that it is, right now, on March 1st, in full bloom. The first tree (after all, it's still winter) to flower, witch-hazel does not have particularly showy blooms. Its yellow pales compared to daffodils or forsythia, but it shines in winter in its solitary assertion that spring is coming. So it looks pretty magnificent to me.
Several witch-hazels are blooming in the Village, nice ones in Hudson River Park, just south of Houston Street, and a beautiful tree in St. Luke's Garden on Hudson Street. Go enjoy their magic before the gardens run riot with color.