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It’s Poppin: June 9th

June 9, 2023


Isn’t it amazing how each week there is something new blooming in our gardens?  Our horticulturists have carefully chosen plants to ensure a constant rotation of blooms will be poppin’ each week.  As I’ve walked through our public spaces to write this report, I’ve learned so many new plants – I hope you have too!  We heard a great deal about wildfires in Canada this week bringing smoke and poor air quality.  This also had the benefit of casting an unusual, diffuse and soft light across our landscapes. We saw many photographers taking advantage of these unusual conditions this week.

Holden Arboretum

The rhododendron show is winding down, but there are a few still blooming in the Layer Rhododendron Garden, including Rhododendron ‘Russell Harmon’, a hybrid between two U.S. native species, and the evergreen azalea Rhododendron ‘Gloskey Pink’.  Another member of the heath family,  genus Kalmia, are in full bloom – looking for the bright pink disc-shaped flowers of the diminutive Kalmia angustifolia in the Rhododendron Discovery Garden.

Rhododendron ‘Russell Harmon’
Kalmia angustifolia

Silverweed, a native buttercup that grows in low sandy areas along the shore of Lake Erie, is up and shining in the Wildflower Garden’s Lake Erie dune area.  The buds of our native Opuntia haven’t yet opened.  Also look for the underrated purple flowering raspberry, Rubus odoratus.  Instead of white flowers, it displays large and showy purplish-pink flowers.  Finally, the native Magnolia macrophylla is in bloom and should not be missed.  This small tree with gigantic leaves and large white flowers is extremely rare in Ohio, growing only at Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve and surrounding sandstone cliff areas of southeast Ohio’s Jackson County.

Magnolia macrophylla

Cleveland Botanical Garden

Once again, roses are the show at the botanical garden.  June is a perfect month to visit the newly designed Rose Garden and the historical rose collection in the Western Reserve Herb Society Garden.  Our many taxa of floribunda roses, planted last fall, are now blooming.  One of my favorites is the rich buttery yellow Julia Child™. 

Western Reserve Herb Garden
Rosa Julia Child™. 

While the woodland garden is quiet, there is one stunner. On the edge near the Japanese garden, be on the lookout for another Kalmia full of profuse white flowers.  This is our native calico bush or mountain-laurel, Kalmia latifolia. It can be seen in southeast Ohio and is particularly spectacular in Ohio’s Hocking Hills region. But you don’t have to travel there – simply come to either of our campuses to see a bit of Ohio’s natural heritage. It’s poppin’ out there!

Kalmia latifolia.
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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