Petworth is blooming... but what are those flowers?

Spring has come to Petworth, and with it, the new blooms.

by Steven Feingold

Do you ever find yourself walking around our beautiful neighborhood admiring the flowers, but with no clue what it is you’re looking at? Let me try to help. Welcome to "Petworth Blooming"... every month I’ll feature some of the most common plants seen around Petworth, and give a little info about each one.

March just ended, which means that the spring bulbs are hitting their stride. The earliest (and smallest) of spring bulbs are the Crocuses. Only growing a few inches high these plants are very closely related to the plant the produces saffron spice. The next bulbs to bloom are the Daffodils (a.k.a. narcissus or jonquils). These are probably the easiest and least fussy of the spring bulbs to grow.

Next up are the Hyacinth bulbs. These plants have very fragrant flowers but sometimes the flowers get too heavy and flop over.  All three of these plants originally come from the Mediterranean region, but have become common in gardens throughout the world. Many different colors and varieties are available for each one.

Purple crocus on 4th St, yellow daffodils in Grant Circle,
purple hyacinth along New Hampshire Ave.

The first bushes to bloom in spring are the Flowering Quince and Forsythia. Both of these bushes originally come from Asia and if left alone will spread to form large thickets. Later in the year the quince is identifiable by its nasty thorns and small apple-like fruits. Too bitter to eat raw, the fruits are sometimes made into jams.  

Flowering Quince in Grant Circle and the traingle park at 7th and Taylor.  


Forsythia across the street from Roosevelt High School.

While we are still waiting for the cherry blossoms at the tidal basin, a different kind of cherry tree has already passed its peak. The Okame Cherry was bred as a hybrid and both the tree and its flowers are smaller than the Japanese cherries planted by the monuments. However, the Okame’s flowers are much more tolerant of frost and this year even managed to withstand 60 mph wind gusts during the Nor’easters we endured.  

Okame Cherries on 4th St and in Grant Circle Park at 5th and Upshur.

For the second year in a row our magnolia trees have gotten hit by frost and are looking a little sad.  These spring-flowering magnolias are mostly hybrids of various Chinese species and are often called Saucer Magnolias.  Magnolias in general have some of the largest flowers of any plant in DC and in years where they escape frost these trees are incredibly stunning.

Hybrid magnolias at GA Ave/Petworth Metro.
The recent frost has left them with patches of brown. 

So what's blooming in April?  Crabapples, Redbuds, Dogwoods, Tulips and so much more! 

Related Articles

Steven Feingold

Steven moved to Petworth in 2013, and he and his wife have since adopted three of the neighborhood's finest felines. He works in the biotech industry, programming robotic laboratory equipment. He enjoys gardening, hiking, carpentry and playing pickup soccer. You can email him with any plant or gardening questions you might have.

submit to reddit