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It’s Poppin’: March 15th


It’s the time of year we’ve all been waiting for… It’s Poppin’! You may have noticed that things seem to be blooming a bit earlier than usual this year, and it’s true. Flowering dates at both the Botanical Garden and the Arboretum seem to be about two weeks earlier than average due to the warm, mild winter we’ve had. In fact, some of the plants that we highlighted in our first It’s Poppin’ report of 2023 like snowdrops and winter aconite have already flowered and finished their show. But don’t fret– some of our most charismatic spring bloomers are just getting started. Let’s dive right into our inaugural It’s Poppin’ report of 2024 and check out some much-anticipated spring flowers. 

Cleveland Botanical Garden

Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’ and Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Miss Saigon’

If you are a daffodil lover, the Cleveland Botanical Garden is the place to be this spring. With over 100 varieties on display, you are sure to find one that you love. One of our earliest-blooming daffodils, Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’, will greet you the moment you step out onto the Geis Terrace. On a warm, sunny day, you are sure to catch a whiff of the nearby hyacinths drifting on the breeze as well.  

Hellebores, also known as Lenten roses, are another iconic spring bloomer that can be found in a variety of shapes and colors throughout the gardens. When you find one, make sure to reach down and take a closer look at the nodding flowers— most come in shades of pink, white, or maroon, but some have polka dots, double flowers, or petals rimmed in contrasting colors.   

Magnolia kobus

We are not usually thinking about magnolias this time of year, but believe it or not, some are getting ready to bloom. In the Restorative Garden courtyard, the buds of the kobus magnolia (Magnolia kobus) have broken and its petals are starting to unfurl. With just a few days of warm sunshine, this lovely tree will soon be putting on quite a show.  

Holden Arboretum

Upon entering the arboretum, you will immediately be greeted by a striking display of miniature daffodils and reticulated irises outside of the Corning Visitor Center. The waves of yellow and blue lining the beds on either side of the entrance drive are truly stunning this year and something that a photo simply cannot do justice. Make sure to visit this weekend to see the display at its peak!

Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ and Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’

While you’re looking down at cheery bulbs during your stroll through the arboretum, don’t forget to look up for early-flowering woodies too. Pictured below is Salix udensis ‘Sekka’, a Japanese fantail willow. Male plants like this one are more noticeable than females when their silky catkins unfurl, revealing heaps of yellow pollen that excites bees into a frenzy. To see some willows in bloom, walk south on the path beside the hedge garden and head down the sloped lawn on the right where the path begins to take a turn. At the bottom of the slope near the bridge, you will find Salix udensis ‘Sekka’ in full bloom. This same variety of willow can also be found in the Hershey Children’s Garden at the Cleveland Botanical Garden where it is just as spectacular. Continuing over the bridge and on to the Whitney Memorial Bed at the arboretum, you will find several Salix ‘Winter Glory’ in bloom as well.   

Finally, one of our earliest-flowering rhododendrons, Rhododendron dauricum, is particularly early this year. Take a walk through the Layer Rhododendron Garden loop to see several plants in bloom.  Pausing to appreciate the rose-lavender flowers floating on delicate branches amidst the tranquil surrounding forest is an experience that I can only describe as enchanting. 

At the rate that this spring is advancing, there is no doubt that we will have plenty to share in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for the latest updates on the best times and places to see your favorite plants at their peak. It’s Poppin! 

Alex Faidiga

Alex Faidiga

Plant Recorder

Alex Faidiga is the Plant Recorder in the Horticulture and Collections Department at HF&G. She earned her Masters degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she studied plant evolutionary ecology and the impacts of climate change on native plants. She was excited to return to her hometown of Cleveland in 2022 to work for HF&G, one of the many places in northeast Ohio where she discovered her love for plants at a young age.

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