Thanks to the Long Valley Garden Club for the lovely lilac photographs taken at the Willowwood Arboretum.
The 6th Annual Tubbs Lecture at Willowwood Arboretum was held this past Sunday, April 24, 2022, in memory of Henry and Robert Tubbs. Guest speaker, Jack Alexander, held the position of Plant Propagator for 40 years at Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum. He shared his expertise in growing Lilacs and gave a guided walk through the Lilac collection at Willowwood. Each guest received a FREE Lilac.
Bio. – John (Jack) H. Alexander III
Jack Alexander recently retired from his position as the Plant Propagator of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, a position he held for 40 years. He is a third generation nurseryman. Jack has had a long interest in the propagation of woody plants and has a special interest in lilacs. He has published numerous articles on both subjects, including some here.
In 1995 he was named a Fellow of the Eastern Region of the International Plant Propagator’s Society and in 2004 he was awarded their prestigious Award of Merit and he was twice the recipient of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Jackson Dawson Medal.
Jack is New England Region Vice President of the International Lilac Society, has received several awards from ILS and has served numerous terms on their Board of Directors. He is also the principal author of the booklet Lilacs Plants of History – Plants for Tomorrow. Syringa × chinensis ‘Lilac Sunday’, Syringa ‘Purple Haze’and Syringa ‘Foxey Lady’ are cultivars that he introduced.
- Info on Lilac Sunday: ‘Lilac Sunday’ Lilac – Arnold Arboretum | Arnold Arboretum (harvard.edu)
See: https://www.arboretum.harvard.edu/people/john-herbert-alexander/ and also an article about Jack at: http://www.arboretum.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/Spring-2016-Silva_Gift-for-Growing.pdf
“I sought the wood in summer When every twig was green; The rudest boughs were tender, And buds were pink between. Light-fingered aspens trembled In fitful sun and shade, And daffodils were golden In every starry glade. The brook sang like a robin- My hand could check him where The lissome maiden willows Shook out their yellow hair” -Excerpt of ‘I Sought the Wood in Winter’ by Willa Cather
This past weekend was the first garden event of the season and featured Jack Alexander giving a lecture on lilacs. It was an excellent way to kick off the spring season and soon the gardens will be full of families, photographers, and artists enjoying the warm weather and horticultural displays. The gardens are looking especially lovely this season and the much-anticipated lilacs are starting to peek open. While the early-blooming lilacs like Syringa ‘Annabel’ are starting to open, the early-spring bloomers such as daffodils and cherry trees are beginning to fade. This week some daffodils like Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus are still at their peak so visit soon if you’d like to see them. These daffodils are unique for their small red and yellow cup and large white petals. The latin word ‘recurvus’ also indicates that the petals arch backwards which makes them especially unique among daffodils. The upcoming weekend will also likely be the last weekend to see a robust tulip display. The tulips are quickly coming into bloom, most especially in the cottage garden this year, but there are also some lovely Lady Jane tulips in the Rosarie which will be re-opening to the public this year.
As the mid-season spring blooms open, the garden is constantly changing. The ostrich ferns are emerging and unfurling in the shady gardens and small blooms are tucked into the corners. Some of these are Epimedium ‘Sulphureum’ and Erythronium americanum which both have delightful bursts of yellow flowers. The flowering trees are also sure to attract the eye as the crabapples, magnolias, and redbuds are all coming into flower. These are located throughout the gardens but the Malus baccata behind the rock garden beside the house and the Magnolias in the woodland trails behind the house look especially fresh. Come and enjoy a walk through the gardens this spring. Everyone could use a moment to be mindful with their loved ones, notice the leaves on the trees coming out for the season, and hear the birds cheerfully chirping overhead. As Lao Tzu said, ‘Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.’
Lilac Party May 21, 2023
Mark your Calendar.
I have just enjoyed back to back visits to Willowwood so as not to miss a single new thing. While a stop at the arboretum is a delightful experience in any season, spring holds a special joy. Although the Bloom Report provides a wonderful way to “stay in touch” it is hard to resist snapping photos of the daffodil field, blue bells, magnolias and more to share with family and friends. The daffs alone are sunshine for the soul.
Be sure to put a visit on your spring “to do” list and also make note of the date for next year’s Lilac Party. After a three year hiatus our Trustees are hard at work creating an exciting event for Sunday, May 21, 2023. As we gather once more among the Lilac Blooms we will have a great deal to celebrate.
On behalf of the Trustees, thank you for your continued interest and support of the very special Willowwood Arboretum.
President, Willowwood Foundation