Spring and summer may be Central Park's busiest months, but the end of warm weather doesn't mean the end of work for the Conservancy's staff. "Maintaining Central Park is a year-round effort," says Neil Calvanese, the Conservancy's Vice President for Operations. "Every season has its work, and winter certainly has its fair share."
Drops in Park visits and temperature don't mean a decline in responsibilities. Conservancy staff continues to maintain playgrounds, clear catch basins, remove invasive species, repair fences, sweep paths, cut back spent plant materials and mulch plant beds around the Park throughout the winter. In addition, winter-only tasks are added to the mix like de-icing the Park's 58 miles of pedestrian paths and clearing snow.
Bulbs are another big part of cold weather work. Staff members plant tulip, daffodil and an assortment of other specialty bulbs in the late autumn. Since they typically bloom early in the spring, planting bulbs early gives them time to develop a robust root system for a healthy, vigorous plant in the spring. Through snow and cold weather, bulbs grow underground all winter.
One of the most important jobs the Conservancy takes on this time of year is tree care. With most of the Park's more than 20,000 trees bare of their leaves, the Conservancy's arborists use these months to more closely survey their condition, pruning any dead or diseased branches to ensure tree health. In addition to work on trees, staff members prune the Park's shrubs and understory trees.
Central Park's autumn leaf sweep also continues into the winter. Raking leaves is one of the biggest jobs the Conservancy tackles all year. With the help of volunteers, the Conservancy collects an estimated 3,000 cubic yards of raked material during each year's sweep. The material is sent to our composting operation at the Mount, where it eventually breaks down into rich compost used in planting and horticultural projects all year long.
Calvert Vaux created the miniature castle in 1869 as one of its many whimsical structures intended as a lookout to the reservoir to the north (now the Great Lawn) and the Ramble to the south.