It’s Poppin’: May 19th
Fri., May. 19, 2023
By Thomas Arbour, Curator of Living Collections
Isn’t it nice to have spring weather for a long, extended period? The flowers love it too, and while we are marching toward summer with the onset of the early blooming roses, lilacs, azaleas and rhododendron continue to impress at both campuses.
Cleveland Botanical Garden
The bulbs are gone now and green abounds from the fully leafed-out trees on University Circle. Begin to look for blooms in open areas as summer approaches. When you start your visit to the garden, do walk outside to see the beautiful winter king hawthorn (Crataegus viridis) blooming above the Meyer lilac (Syringa meyeri), a species discovered in a garden in China that has never been found in the wild. This smaller plant, like its larger siblings, has wonderful fragrance.
In the Western Reserve Herb Society Garden, the early blooming roses are out in full force. Two spectacular yellows caught my eye – Agnes and Harison’s Yellow. The former is a beautiful light yellow, double flowering, rugosa hybrid with a light but spicy fragrance. The latter is a bright yellow shrubby rose that’s also known as the Yellow Rose of Texas.
In the Butterfly Garden, you’ll see several southeastern U.S. native Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) vines growing on the hardscape. It’s tubular pinkish-red flowers are magnets for hummingbirds. Continue down to the woodland garden, and on the left you’ll pass a stunning flame azalea, at absolute peak bloom. This deep orange-flowered species grows is rare in Ohio, calling the Scioto River valley north of the Ohio River home in Ohio. It is much more common throughout the Appalachian Mountains. Finally, continue down the path to end your journey in the Japanese Garden, take a seat, and enjoy this spectacular display of azaleas and rhododendrons at its absolute best this week.
Lilacs are still absolutely amazing in the Display Garden, but this week, please travel all the way down our Tree Allee to the Rhododendron Discovery Garden and the Layer Rhododendron Garden. They are both looking absolutely fantastic, and the large-leaved rhododendrons are now blooming, as are dozens of different types of azaleas. This is one of the best springs in some time for these garden spaces. Purples, pinks, and whites abound!
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.