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It’s Poppin’: June 30th

June 30, 2023


Summer is here, and with it brings so many blooms across our gardens. Plants that take advantage of the summer sun and are pollinated by bees and butterflies are dominating our beds. The colors and the shapes abound – roses, astilbes, mints, lilies, and the last of the rhododendrons. There’s a lot poppin’!

Cleveland Botanical Garden

Pink is the theme this week. While on my stroll, I found three fun bubble-gum-pink plants that I challenge you to spot this weekend. First, the tall meadow rue native to Japan and Korea, Thalictrum rochebruneanum, is up in the Restorative Garden. Plant recorder Alex Faidiga told me the unopened flower buds remind her of a single drop of dippin’ dots ice cream. Delicious! Next, I descended Hosta Hill and the lovely Astilbe chinesis ‘Visions’ stood out in the afternoon light. This selection is much smaller than some of the other available cultivars, and its flowering panicle doesn’t droop as easily as some of the other astilbes in the garden. Finally, I was quite astounded when I encountered the shockingly pink Monarda ‘Electric Neon Pink’. This hybrid of Monarda species developed by Walters Gardens is planted in each corner of the knot in the Western Reserve Herb Society Garden. You might need sunglasses- it’s that bright!

Thalictrum rochebruneanum
Astilbe chinesis ‘Visions

Holden Arboretum

The last rhododendron to bloom, our native Rhododendron maximum, is now at peak in the Wildflower Garden. Its white blossoms tinged with lilac are worth the wait, and you’ll save yourself a trip to the Appalachian Mountains, where it’s native. Perhaps the most spectacular display of Canada lily, Lilium canadense, I’ve ever seen can be spotted at the lower end of the June Room. Don’t miss the tall stands of downward-facing perfect red lily flowers. At a distance, it’s a bit difficult to separate them from a large patch of daylilies, but as you walk closer, they’ll pop for you. Finally, in the streamside meadow in the Wildflower Garden, spot another Monarda– this one our native bee balm. It’s stronghold in the state is Northeast Ohio- look for it in wet meadows and fields after you’ve come to the Arboretum to see it first.

Rhododendron maximum,
Canada lily, Lilium canadense,

I hope you enjoyed a peek at what’s blooming at each campus. These plants are only icing on the cake – look for sunny spots at each campus and you’re sure to see a myriad of blooms.

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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