I go away for two weeks and wow, have our campuses bloomed! Thank you to Alex Faidiga who wrote the last two it’s poppin’ reports and provided the photos from the Cleveland Botanical Garden this week. I was in Korea exploring several botanical gardens in natural areas and I can’t wait to tell you more about that trip. But wow was I surprised to see so much change in our gardens and groves in just 10 days. Happy Arbor Day – let’s see what’s poppin’!
Cleveland Botanical Garden
While the bulbs are still putting on a beautiful show, stroll through the garden to find some of our lesser known but still beautiful plants. As far as woody plants go, the sister of Ohio buckeye, yellow buckeye, Aesculus flava, is in full bloom in the Topiary Garden. It’s native to the Appalachian region of Ohio, growing on dry hillsides, unlike Ohio buckeye which prefers bottomlands along rivers. In the Hershey Children’s Garden, look for the deep maroon blossoms of pawpaw, Asimina triloba, one of our favorite understory trees because it produces a tropical-like fruit comparable to banana. The diminutive Fothergilla x intermedia ‘Mt. Airy’, commonly called “fothergilla”, a small shrub in the witch-hazel family, is spectacular right now. This hybrid between two southeastern U.S. species has unusual bottle-brush shaped flowers. There are no petals – the showy parts are hundreds of pollen-producing stamens clustered together. Look for it in the restorative garden by red oak lawn.
One of my personal favorites, the native flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, is beautiful right now. But it holds a trick – it’s not actually flowering yet! The large “petals” are flower-like bracts that form below the cluster of flowers in the center of each inflorescence. Look for a beautiful specimen near Red Oak Lawn. Finally, along East Boulevard, look for two native wildflowers. Wild ginger, Asarum canadense has tiny dark maroon flowers held low to the ground and underneath its leaves- you have to hold back the heart-shaped leaves to see them. And look for the drooping trillium, Trillium flexipes, which Alex also spotted along East Boulevard.
There really is so much blooming at the Arboretum right now, across the 200-plus acres of gardens, it’s nearly overwhelming to start to describe the floral wonder. Crabapples. Azaleas. Magnolias. Wow! Let’s start by taking a look at the azaleas and rhododendrons that can be found in the Layer Rhododendron Garden. In the crabapple orchard north of the Corning Visitor Center, look for a field of whites, pinks and purples, a display more showy than last spring. Particularly stunning are Malus ‘Raspberry Parfait’ and Malus ‘Pink Dawn’.
On the opposite side of the Arboretum, the small-leaved rhododendrons are magnificent. Enjoy the hot pink blossoms of ‘Olga Mezzit’ and the softer buble gum pinks of ‘Myrtifolium’ near the canopy walk. And on your way there, don’t forget the lilacs, which are open and billowing their fragrance throughout the Display Garden. Hyacinth lilac, Syrina x hyancinthiflora ‘Maiden’s Blush’ and flower clusters of the more traditional lavender Syrina vulgaris ‘Pat Pesata’ are poppin’. Finally, the stunning yellow-flowered Magnolia ‘Sunburst’ in the Rhododendron Discovery Garden is simply breathtaking.
There is so much to see at the Arboretum – everywhere you look there are incredible flowers in bloom. Enjoy them now before spring is over!
Curator of Living Collections
I grew up in northeast Ohio, graduating from Stow High School. I attended Hiram College, where I learned to love plants through the mentoring of Dr. Matt Hils. After Hiram, I obtained a Master of Environmental Science at Miami University, completing an internship with The ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves in Columbus to help convert the Ohio Natural Heritage Database from paper maps to a GIS-based system. Over 20+ years, I worked with ODNR in central office in Columbus as a rare plant botanist, wildlife research technician, nature preserves administrator, and finally, the state trails administrator. In these positions, I had the opportunity to document many of Ohio's rarest plants and plant communities.