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It’s Poppin’: March 23rd

March 23, 2023


Welcome to spring!  Looking back, record warmth brought many early bloomers to the surface in mid-February.  Flowers like winter aconites, snow drops and crocuses have had a wonderfully long season thanks to cold temperatures returning for most of March.  Last week, I was surprised to see a winter wonderland as I approached the Arboretum.  The Cleveland Botanical Garden had a layer of the white stuff as well.  While it may not seem like spring is progressing, the warmup this week has caused many new plants to emerge from the ground, and we will soon be experiencing a floral bonanza at both campuses. Here’s what you will be able to see this week:

Holden Arboretum

Skunk cabbage is in its full glory along the stream in the Wildflower Garden, and I had a blast teaching Fox 8’s Kenny Crumpton about its snow-melting super powers on the first day of spring.

Midweek I spotted the bright green leaves of wild leeks breaking the surface, and I also saw the basal leaves of wild hyacinth popping through the leaf litter.  Purple cress, a native early bloomer, is in bud, and the round leaves of golden ragwort have appeared. The yellow daisy-like flowers will be next.

wild hyacinth

Take a walk around Blueberry Pond to see a beautiful display of Lenten rose on squirrel ridge.  Over the next few days, the daffodils will begin to open in this display as well – the very first opened this week. On your way, you’ll likely hear spring peepers, hundreds of tiny little frogs, that began peeping their lungs out for the first time this week.

lenten rose
daffodil ‘Little Gem’

This weekend is most definitely the time to visit the Rhododendron Discovery Garden and its display of winter heath.  The cultivar “Pink Spangles” is spectacular right now. In addition to common snow drops, you’ll see patches of greater snowdrops in several places throughout the Layer Rhododendron and Display gardens.

winter heath

In the hedge garden, look for a low cluster of the early blooming daffodil ‘Little Gem’.  Finally, be sure to stop by the Corning Visitor Center, where you’ll experience a peak display of dwarf irises.  They’re looking absolutely spectacular this week.

dwarf iris

Cleveland Botanical Garden

The early blooms at the garden are continuing to show- meander around!  How many witch-hazels can you find that are still blooming?  You’ll find them scattered about, and they always are a pleasant surprise at this time of year.  They’re the only showy blooms that you’ll find at eye level. Several are located in the Gateway Garden.

witch hazel

Dwarf irises are looking spectacular in the Inspiration Gardens, which are on the far north side of the campus. Many cultivars of Lenten rose are also in peak condition- they looked spectacular in the snow on the first day of spring.  You’ll find them throughout the gardens.  A few more daffodils are now open, and next week, they should really start to pop.  The winter heath in the Western Reserve Herb Society Garden is a bright splash of color as well.

dwarf iris
lenten rose
winter heath

Even though it snowed this week, the warmer temperatures that came afterwards really jump started plant growth on both campuses.  Next week we hope to see a transition to a who new suite of bloomers!  Enjoy the winter aconites, crocus, and snow drops this weekend before they’re gone until next year.

It’s Poppin’ is Holden Forests and Garden’s weekly report of what’s in bloom at the Holden Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden. Use it to plan your weekly adventure to our campuses – be it a visit to the city, country, or both.  Be sure to follow HF&G on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook for more “it’s poppin” reports throughout the week.

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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