Be careful where you step, plants are emerging! Fragile new plantings for future beauty

Thu., May. 13, 2021

By Beth Whipple, Horticulturist

By Beth Whipple, HF&G Horticulturist

As the days start to get longer and the temperature warms up many herbaceous plants are breaking their dormancy and emerging after a long, quiet winter.

It’s a wonderful sight to see – leaves unfurling, buds beginning to swell, colorful blooms! However, some plants are just starting out and are still small as they break through the soil surface.

As you make your way to the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden to check out the spring blooms and to visit the Judith and Maynard H. Murch IV Canopy Walk at the Holden Arboretum, be careful where you step as you travel alongside Heath Pond. What may look like a long strip of wood chips, is actually the home to hundreds of plants. Some are so small at this time of year they can go unnoticed, only reaching less than a half inch tall! Young plants that are just beginning to emerge are extremely fragile and the kick of a shoe or step of the foot can damage the young shoots. If you would like to get close to the pond to see fish, snakes and snapping turtles please use the rock outcroppings to do so, the horticulture staff and the plants will thank you!

The renovation of Heath Pond began in the spring of 2020 when Gardener, Mary Lineberger, and I began laying cardboard and mulch down over the North end of the pond in hopes to smother all the unwanted plant material. Using cardboard and mulch is a great alternative to spraying herbicide.

New plants emerging.

In September 2020, the entire horticulture staff came together and planted over 400 perennials along the north side. These plants include:

  • Acorus americanus
  • Darmera peltata
  • Chelone glabra
  • Hibiscus moscheutos
  • Eupatorium dubium ‘Little Joe’
  • Eupatorium perfoliatum
  • Asclepias incarnata
  • Pycnanthemum flexuosum
  • Vernonia lettermannii ‘Iron Butterfly’
  • Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’
  • Saururus cernuus
  • Onoclea sensibilis
  • Iris versicolor

I chose these plants because they are well adapted to wet areas, slopes and full sun. The variety of colorful blooms and varying bloom times will provide food and habitat to pollinators throughout the summer.

In the spring of 2020, the Logsdon family made a generous donation to renovate all 4 edges of Heath pond. Each side of the pond will be renovated over the next 4 years, the south side is projected to start planting this fall 2021.

Keep an eye out for horticulture staff as we work to plant and maintain this area. It will be an exciting and rewarding experience to watch these changes year after year. And please watch where you step, so we can ensure these plants survive their first year in their new space.

South end – to be completed this fall 2021

Beth Whipple

Beth Whipple


Beth Whipple is the horticulturist of the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden at the Holden Arboretum. She began her career at Holden as a seasonal in the Display Garden back in 2014 and was hired full-time in 2016. Beth received her BA in Parks and Recreation, Biology and Geography from Kent State University and is currently enrolled in Tri-C’s Plant Science and Landscape Technology program. Her favorite thing about being a horticulturist is working outside in a beautiful place, the opportunity to learn something new every day, and the ability to work with the most amazing people.


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