By Alex Faidiga, Plant Recorder
Every spring, I am amazed by how much the landscape can change over the course of a few weeks (or even days, as was the case this week). It truly never gets old! With a much-welcome streak of unexpectedly warm, sunny days, spring bloomers are coming out in full force at both the Arboretum and the Botanical Garden. Many of our earliest native spring wildflowers have emerged, inviting pollinators and human admirers alike. This beautiful weather will carry into the weekend, making it a spectacular time to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of spring.
If you plan on visiting this weekend, you cannot pass up the opportunity to take a stroll through the Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden on a warm spring day. The green- and purple-mottled leaves of trout-lily (Erythronium americanum) emerged just a few weeks ago, and these small but striking plants are now coming into full bloom. Cutleaf toothworts (Cardamine concatenata), easily recognizable by their deeply lobed leaves, hold their delicate lavender-white flowers high and stand out amongst the leaf litter. Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) dapples streambeds with its golden flowers. See if you can find the pollinator on the picture of marsh marigold below!
Leaving the Wildflower Garden, head to the June Room in the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden to see the striking blue flowers of lungwort (Pulmonaria species). Lungwort leaves come in many interesting patterns—see if you can find the one with silver polka dots along the stream heading toward Logsdon Pond. As you journey through the Rhododendron Garden, keep an eye out among the leaf litter for one of our most delicate spring wildflowers, spring beauty (Claytonia virginica)– a sure sign of spring each year.
Finally, continue to the west side of the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden to see one of our earliest rhododendrons in bloom: Korean rhododendron (Rhododendron mucronulatum ‘Cornell Pink’), a deciduous rhododendron.
Cleveland Botanical Garden
Spring wildflowers can be found in nearly every corner of the Cleveland Botanical Garden if you take the time to slow down and look for them. One of our most charismatic spring wildflowers, bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is in full bloom right now, and you don’t want to miss it—it is a true spring ephemeral, meaning that after it emerges, its flowers only last for a few days. Look for a sizeable clump in the Hershey Children’s Garden next to the wooden ramp leading up to the treehouse and in the Western Reserve Herb Society Medicinal Garden. You can find solitary plants scattered throughout the gardens as well.
In the Woodland Garden, you can also sneak a peek at the very first flowers to open on our Ohio state wildflower, great white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum). There is nothing like seeing the first flowering Trillium of the year! Also keep an eye out for trout-lily; a good patch can be found right by the path at the bottom of the canopy walk deck.
Aside from wildflowers, there are a number of woody showstoppers at the garden this week as well. Be sure to stop by the Western Reserve Herb Society Garden to catch the large, mature serviceberry tree (Amelanchier canadensis) in full bloom. In the summer, this native tree will produce fruits that are loved by birds. Serviceberry can also be found in the Hershey Children’s Garden, along with the stunning weeping Higan cherry tree (Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula Plena Rosea’). Standing underneath it, you will be surrounded by cascading branches of pink flowers—a magical experience for children and adults alike.
It has been a transformative week at both campuses. Some plants, like the weeping cherries outside of the main entrance at the Gardens, have already started blooming and passed their peak since the last It’s Poppin’ report. Stay tuned for next week— this is just the beginning!