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The Ann Whitney Memorial Bed

July 20, 2022


The Magic Garden

Not everyone knows where it is.  It was recently called magical by my exceedingly intelligent seasonal gardener, Mikaela.  A day later, our equally intelligent intern, Eliza, also called it magical.  These hardworking women are not wrong.  Danny, the gardener in Main Display, has been hard at work helping me remove, rearrange, and plant the area near the arbor.  He also thinks the garden looks wonderful.  The chipmunks and bunnies also like it – we had to cover and protect some of the smaller plants, as they have been busy feasting on our new additions.   

Built in 1998, the Ann Whitney Memorial Garden is in Main Display nestled close to the eastern entrance of the Wildflower Garden.  Last winter I worked on a design update and my team and dedicated volunteers have been adding many new plants over the last month.  I am currently working on a plan to make the Ann Whitney Memorial bed easier to access by adding an additional entrance.  I hope to have it ready in the coming year.

I love this time of year.  Many of my favorites are in bloom right now.  Established plants include the red hot poker – Kniphofia ‘Pfitzer’s Hybrid’ and spilling over the rocks is Santolina virens – commonly known as green lavender cotton.  

Figure 1. Kniphofia uvaria ‘Pfitzer’s Hybrid’
Figure 2. Santolina virens – green lavender cotton

Flowers that I recently added include Delphinium ‘Blue Butterfly’.  It is a bright iridescent azure blue.  It has been blooming for almost 3 weeks and is still going strong.  I serendipitously planted it with Allium moly, golden garlic, which has neon yellow flowers, and it was just lovely together before the onion flowers faded.

Figure 3. Delphinium ‘Blue Butterfly’

I added two more delphiniums, I just couldn’t help myself.  The stems are heavy with flowers, so staking is recommended.  These flowers may be divas, but they are a beautiful addition to the space.

Figure 4. Delphinium elatum ‘Dark Blue White Bee’
Figure 5. Delphinium ‘Red Lark’

I also added a trio of Geums; Geum ‘Firestorm’, Geum TEMPO Orange, and Geum ‘Pretticoats Peach’.  The plants are small this season, but next spring we should enjoy diminutive 5 petaled red, orange, or peach flowers floating on dainty stems about 10 inches above their bushy leaves. 

Another blue little lovely I added is Platycodon ‘Pop Star Blue’.  It will only reach 7” inches tall and add a bluish-purple pop of color near the gardens edge.   

Figure 6. Platycodon ‘Pop Star Blue’

I added the low growing ice plant – Delosperma ‘Hot Pink Wonder’ near rocks and creeping thyme.  The neon hue practically glows near the gray rocks. 

Figure 7. Delosperma ‘Hot Pink Wonder’

The garden changes slowly over the season.  As these flowers fade, some favorites that are coming soon are Salvia azurea – a bright neon cobalt almost the shade of the Delphinium ‘Blue Butterfly’.  Also a Bluebeard plant – Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Dark Knight’ bush will wow with tiny cluster of blue flowers next to light purple Aster tartaricus ‘Jindai’ and newly planted red yarrow – Achillea ‘Hot Paprika’ and pink butterfly weed – Asclepias ‘Cinderella’.  Butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy visiting, so I urge you to bring your camera.  Visit as often as you can.

As I worked on adjusting rocks and adding new splashes of color, a dear friend of Ann Whitney’s came for a visit.  I continued to work as her friend enjoyed the shade of the arbor under the heart shaped chartreuse leaves of the Dutchman’s pipe – Aristolochia macrophylla.  She said it looked lovely as she left.  Mikaela and I reflected that it was a sweet moment to honor Ann Whitney’s memory.

Sandi Cesarov

Sandi Cesarov


Sandi Cesarov is a horticulturist at the Holden Arboretum campus. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Botany from Miami University.

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