“Then summer came, announced by June, With beauty, miracle and mirth. She hung aloft the rounding moon, She poured her sunshine on the earth” -Leslie Pinckney Hill, excerpt “Summer Magic”
Although the main event of spring blooms has passed, the arboretum has lots of blooms for those who are willing to slow down and look. One show-stopper that is easy to pass by is the great masterwort (Astrantia major) in bloom in the cottage garden along the back of the greenhouse. The blooms look like little fireworks and are beautiful when observed up close despite their diminutive size. Another unique bloom hidden among the planting beds is the Tricyrtis latifolia (Toad Lily) in the Rockery near a boxwood (Buxus microphylla). These flowers have an unusual shape and bright red speckles on the petals. Some other beautiful plants to observe are the Clematis vines (Clematis ‘Madame Julia Correvon’ and Clematis viticella ‘Etoile Violette’) growing on the trellises on the front of the propagation greenhouse. The blooms have big, bold purple blossoms and the seedheads they form will be just as showy as the flowers themselves.
Other plants are not so subtle. Visitors entering the Cottage Garden through the main gate will see Spiraea japonica ‘Dart’s Red’, which is a vibrant shade of deep magenta, all along the front border. There are also a number of other pink blooms in the Cottage Garden including Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) and the pink Hibiscus and Phlox will be in bloom later this summer.
For those who prefer muted tones, Pan’s Garden is still in bloom planted with predominantly white flowering plants. The highlight during late June is the Astilbe ‘Deutschland’ which sends up sprays of delicate white flowers. There are also white blooms on the Magnolia sieboldii in the Woodwalk just around the corner near the towering rhododendrons. The Magnolia blooms face downward for an excellent view of the flowers. Closer to the parking area, the prominent flowers on the Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’ are on full display alongside the Shingle Barn and Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ is in bloom near the entrance to the propagation greenhouse.
“Mother Nature presents neither a wrinkled face nor tottering form, but constantly renews the bloom of her youth, while time fills up the volumes of her history.” -James Lendall Basford.
Spring has settled in and Willowwood is now bursting with blooms. The main event- the annual lilac display- is now starting to reach its peak as blossoms are opening up in bold hues of pink, purple, and blue. Many crabapples have been planted in the main garden during the past few years so visitors will also spot some additional bright blooms near the lilacs. The next week is also a good time to see the last of the spring bulb display as the daffodils and tulips are beginning to fade with the warmer weather. Now is the time to enjoy Spring at Willowwood with your family among the peaceful gardens.
Please note that Willowwood is open daily 8 am to Dusk. The Restroom, running water and other buildings are not open but there is a porta john available. Please follow all social distancing recommendations.
The gardens are open Mother’s Day but no activities are planned. Lilacs WILL NOT be sold on Mother’s Day. The Annual Lilac Party is postponed this year. Our NEW DATE is May 15, 2022. Look forward to seeing you then!
Welcome to the Willowwood Arboretum. The Lilacs are in bud and some of them like Syringa x hyacinthiflora ‘Annabel’, one of the best pinks, are just beginning to bloom. The next couple of weeks will be wonderful as more Lilacs will open with sweet lilac fragrance perfuming the air.
“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.
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
The beauty of the autumn season has begun and visitors may now enjoy the arboreta during standard operating hours, daily from 8AM to dusk. The maples, dogwoods, and katsura are all changing color at the Willowwood Arboretum and the Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center. For those who are able to detect the sweet scent of yellowing katsura leaves (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), they will be delighted by the fragrance along the meadow near the Stone Cottage and on the Woodwalk path before the small stone bridge at.
The late season perennials in the garden are still going strong despite the chilly evenings. Some favorites that are blooming include the Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia spp.) in the Cottage Garden, asters (Symphyotrichum spp.) in the meadows and cottage garden, and white and pink Japanese anemones (Anemone spp.) throughout the core gardens.
One show stopping annual in particular has been delighting visitors in the Cottage Garden this season. Several stalks of red amaranth are towering over other plants in the garden at over 7 feet! The feathery plumes are a rich reddish purple and draw attention like a waving flag. It is also lovely to look at the leaves as the sun shines through them as they take on an appearance of pure red stained glass. In addition to being an attractive plant, amaranth leaves and seeds are edible! The Cottage Garden once served as a kitchen garden for the Tubbs family who lived at Willowwood. Although they would not have grown amaranth, as it was not introduced into the United States until the 1970’s, the tradition of including vegetables, fruits, and grains among ornamental plants carries on.
The first hard frost will likely arrive in the next few weeks. The meadows have already evolved into shades of yellow, tan, brown, and purple and will offer movement and texture during the winter as the wind sweeps through the plants putting their seed heads into motion. Many shrubs and trees have also set fruit and birders will continue to see a variety of birds visiting the arboretum for sustenance during the months ahead. Meanwhile, the garden staff will continue to prepare for next spring and look forward to the next growing season.
Zinnia Cheetham Plant Records Curator Specialist
Planning Your Event
Garden facilities can be rented for special parties, corporate events and wedding receptions or a combination of a ceremony and reception.