April in New York City is a fragrant, colorful rebuke to the cold and gray days of winter. The flowers are finally in bloom, both indoors at flower shows and in the great outdoors -- in every park, flower box, sidewalk crack and planted median. Perhaps most famous are Central Park's offerings: crocuses often come first, then the daffodils, followed closely by the crabapples, magnolias and dogwoods. But that's not the only game in town. Below are some of the choicest blossoms to be seen this month -- remember to stay flexible, since blooms keep their own schedule.
1 MACY'S FLOWER SHOW: THE PAINTED GARDEN
WHAT There's a new theme every year for this Macy's event approaching its 40th anniversary, and this time the tented display on Broadway Plaza is all about India. The centerpiece is the 10-foot-tall painted elephant, festooned with thousands of flowers in different hues. Statues, a fountain and many Indian architectural motifs surround the profusion of plants. Friday at 1 p.m., there's a flower arranging demonstration on the eighth floor of the main store led by Tom Sebenius of Starbright Floral Design.
WHEN | WHERE Through Monday in the tent in front of Macy's, 151 W. 34th St.
INFO Free, 212-494-4495 (flower show hotline), macys.com/flowershow
2 THE ORCHID SHOW, NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN
WHAT Fun facts about orchids abound: They are the largest family of flowering plants, with more than 30,000 varieties found in nature. The botanic garden has 7,000 in its collection, and the yearly show is a riot of color housed in its Victorian glasshouse. There's a poignant superstorm Sandy element this year, too: The display features orchids that will be growing on some of the huge old trees that were uprooted by the storm. This show is beloved by many, so book tickets early if you can.
WHEN | WHERE Through April 22 at 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx
INFO $25, 718-817-8700, nybg.org
3 CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL, BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN
WHAT One of the signature events of the season is the blooming of hundreds of cherry trees here; you can immediately understand why the entire country of Japan focuses on cherry season. Generally it lasts five weeks, and this year it is expected to start in mid-April. Because there are more than 40 types of cherry trees, all flowering at different times, the fun is spread out. The weeping cherries in the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden bloom first, followed by the cherry cultivars and finally the 76 Kanzan trees on Cherry Esplanade. Luckily you can track the progress here: bbg.org/cherrywatch. The Sakura Matsuri festival of Japanese culture takes place April 27-28. And if you can't wait that long, the spectacular magnolias nearby usually debut first -- they're worth a separate trip.
WHERE 990 Washington Ave. (at President Street)
INFO $10, 718-623-7200, bbg.org