Generally Speaking: Hydrangea: The official flower of Bay Ridge

April 13, 2021 Theodore W. General
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As cherry and apple blossoms start to bloom throughout the area, wouldn’t it be a good time to consider planting or cultivating Bay Ridge’s official floral emblem, the hydrangea?

Actually, very few communities have a flower that has been designated formally as their very own. On  Nov. 20, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation certifying the rose as the national floral emblem. However, long before that time, in 1891, schoolchildren in New York State participated in a state-sponsored poll with their winning choice, the rose. Nonetheless, it took the state Legislature until 1955 to pass a measure adopting the rose as the state flower, declaring, “The rose shall be the official flower of the state in any color or combination of colors common to it.”

Prior to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, the rose was also known as Gotham’s official flower. That changed when Bloomberg signed a proclamation on April 20, 2007 giving official status to the daffodil. Since the horrendous attacks on the World Trade Center, the daffodil has become the flower of choice at many 9/11 memorial tributes.

The forsythia became Brooklyn’s celebrated flower by a proclamation signed by Brooklyn Borough President John Cashmore on March 18,1940.

During the celebration of the Bay Ridge Sesquicentennial, it was decided to pick a formal flower symbol for Bay Ridge. With the joint cooperation of the Garden Club of Bay Ridge and the 36th annual eight-day Festival of the Arts, five flowers were selected and put on display in the parish hall of Good Shepherd Church on Fourth Avenue where festival-goers could vote for their favorite. The “candidates” were camellia, hydrangea, pansy, tulip, violet and yellow rose. The overwhelming choice of the hydrangea was conveyed to Borough President Marty Markowitz, who signed a proclamation on Aug. 22, 2006. He then brought the large proclamation over to the late Rosemarie O’Keefe’s recently restored historic Victorian mansion on 81st Street, and in front of a large, beautiful hydrangea bush in her backyard, and with a host of elected officials, announced and presented the proclamation. 

A cherry blossom tree at St. Patrick’s Church in Bay Ridge. Ebrooklyn media photos by Ted General

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