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It’s Poppin’: April 5th

April 5, 2023


This week’s warmup has brought many new things in bloom, including several new trees and shrubs. It’s exciting as the feel of spring is in the air! Canada geese are honking, red-winged blackbirds are calling, and spring peepers still punctuate the air at the Arboretum. At the garden, fox sparrows are passing through this week. Let’s hope we continue to get moderate temperatures and no late season frosts that will help us see spectacular blooms for weeks to come.

Holden Arboretum

At the Holden Arboretum – let’s focus on wildflowers and woody plants this week. When I visited the wildflower garden, I spotted the early buttercup at peak – this striking yellow flower is growing in abundance in our garden, but it’s quite rare in northeast Ohio because of its affinity for the sweet soils of the western half of Ohio. The diminutive purple cress, a member of the mustard family that thrives in moist bottomlands, has broken bud. Cut-leaf toothwort, another mustard, is also up and in bud. Both mustards will be open this weekend with the warmup we are expecting. Look for hepatica start to bloom this week as well. It’s in bud and will be up soon. Bloodroot is also up and will likely be in peak bloom this weekend. Be sure to visit soon however, because its white petals are notoriously quick to drop. Also look for the unique flowers of seersucker sedge near the bridge over the stream.

There are many woody plants coming into bloom. While more difficult to spot, take special care to look at the trees and their flowers in early spring. One to be on the lookout for are the male catkins of American hazelnut, and the accompanying tiny female flowers with its deep purple stigmas. Also, the interesting leatherwood, a member of the Thymelaeaceae family common in Ohio’s Appalachia region, is now blooming. At the Corning Visitor Center, the beautiful Merrill magnolia is just now breaking bud and should be spectacular this weekend. Find this medium-sized tree tree just to the right of the main entrance door at Corning. And be sure to insert your nose into its wonderful soft-white blossoms. You’ll be rewarded by a spectacular fragrance!

Another sign of spring for many gardeners is the blooming of Forsythia, and ours are now open and displaying their yellow bell-shaped flowers in the Display Garden. Also be on the lookout for one of Holden’s own, Magnolia ‘Grape Expectations’. Can you guess why we gave it that name? In the Layer Rhododendron garden, our Korean rosebay have just broken bud – be sure to walk the entire loop around the Layer Garden to spot them. In a few more days, they will be a can’t miss floral display.

It’s been a spectacular season for Lenten Rose – our favorite spot at the Arboretum is the display on squirrel ridge, adjacent to Blueberry Pond. And the spring heath in the Rhododendron Discovery Garden is even better and more pink than last week. It’s hard to get enough of this low-growing perennial that carpets the rockwork.

spring heath

Cleveland Botanical Garden

At the Cleveland Botanical Garden- Change is happening quickly! Focusing on trees, our cherries started to bloom mid-week. There’s a beautiful Prunus ‘Snow Fountains’, a weeping cherry in peak condition in the Japanese Garden and another row of weeping cherries in the gateway garden. Also in the Japanese garden are a row of low growing Magnolias – Magnolia x lobneri ‘Leonard Messel’. They’ve opened their star-shaped flowers which are white with shades of mauve. They are quite beautiful!

Red maples are now blooming – it’s in the spring when we can really see where Acer rubrum gets its name – the flowers are early blooming and bright red on this native tree. Another native woody, spicebush, a shrub ubiquitous in our rich forests throughout Ohio, is also blooming. Its yellow flowers can be observed Woodland Garden. Also look for the willow Salix udensis ‘Sekka’ in the Hershey Children’s Garden. Plant recorder Alex Faidiga spotted a carpenter bee enjoying the nectar and pollen that these early bloomers produce.

In the Western Reserve Herb Society garden, look for a few early blooming pink tulips and a beautiful row of purple hyacinths. They’re spectacular. Our massive displays of tulip bulbs along the allee leading to the Kohl Gate need a week or two to start blooming. And TONS of Daffodils all over the grounds!


The gardens of both campuses are beginning to blossom. We’re now at the point where nearly every place you look, you’ll see interesting blooms. Spring has finally sprung!

Thomas Arbour

Thomas Arbour

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.

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