“Blossom by blossom the spring begins” -Algernon Charles Swinburne
Suddenly it’s SPRING at Willowwood!. This winter was brutal as February was the snowiest on record for this area with over 31 inches of snow. It may have felt like winter was never going to end but the sounds of spring- the chirping birds, the hum of maintenance equipment, and the sounds of visitors in the gardens- have returned.
Many of the spring bulbs are beginning to peak. Most of the early and mid-season Daffodils have begun to bloom in the gardens and should continue to bloom for the next few weeks if the weather stays mild. Other spring bulbs, such as the glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa sp.) and Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica), are coating many corners of the arboretum in blue flowers. Plant common names like these often tell us something about a plant. Chionodoxa are incredibly hardy flowers and these “glory of the snow” can tolerate and bloom in cold, snowy conditions. However, some common names are misnomers. Despite the common name for Siberian squill, they are native to the southern region of Russia and not Siberia. All of these bulbs can be seen in the garden bed near the conservatory underneath the Cornus mas (Cornealian Cherry) which is also currently in bloom with a profusion of small bunches of golden yellow flowers.
The other sirens of spring are Magnolias and Cherry Trees. Several early flowering varieties are in bloom such as the Prunus subhirtella in the cottage garden and Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ in the orchard. While there currently are not any orchards at Willowwood, this part of the garden behind the Mediterranean inspired “Rosarie” garden was where the Tubbs family planted an apple orchard in the year following the purchase of “Willowwood Farm” in 1908 and it retains that historic garden name. The Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) and other varieties of Magnolias will also be blooming soon in the orchard area. Additional woody plants to look for that are in bloom around the grounds include these fragrant shrubs: Corylopsis glabrescens (Fragrant Winter Hazel), Viburnum farrieri ‘Candissimum’ (Fragrant Viburnum) and Lonicera fragrantissima (Fragrant Honeysuckle).
We are happy to announce that Willowwood’s regular daily operating schedule of 8AM to Dusk and all parking areas are open for the season. Please enjoy the gardens safely and respectfully.
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Zinnia Cheetham, Plant Records Curator Specialist, MCPC