Bruce Crawford, Manager of Horticulture MCPC
Spring 2022 was a great season for plants at Willowwood! It provided great growing conditions for the shrubs, trees and meadows to flourish and prepared the arboretum for the long sunny days of summer. This spring also saw the installation of numerous new plantings and of course, the summer display of annuals!
Probably the area undergoing the biggest change is the Rosarie. Keeping to many of the original design concepts, the garden features plants from the Rose Family in combination with plants inspiring a more Mediterranean appearance. A new urn was placed as a focal point for visitors entering from the Chive walk, which will be surrounded by Potentillas this summer. To add a fun twist, the old door from the red barn that is featured at the end of the main walk was painted a dark purple, which very nicely picks up the blues of the Catmint and purples of the Salvia. Adding spots of hot colors, red nasturtiums were planted along with red and yellow flowered Kangaroo Paws. To hopefully provide a dry Mediterranean appearance, bark nuggets were used for the mulch. The nuggets also give a more unique feel to the garden since they are not used elsewhere in the Arboretum. Even the chive-walk received an update with a row of large pots of Agaves placed along the nursery fence. To provide a bit of contrast to the Agave’s sword-like leaves, three Button Bushes with rounded and glossy foliage were intermingled among the containers.
Elsewhere around the house and barns, the summer annual displays provide fun splashes of color in both the beds and containers. The Cottage Garden features several bright orange Bromeliads called ‘Hawaii’ intermingled amongst the perennials to add a bold shot of color and texture. True to history, tomatoes are also added to the Cottage Garden and the covered patio behind the house is appropriately bedecked in containers and hanging ferns.
The improvements begun last fall along Longview Road continued this spring. The remainder of the truncated trees beneath the electric wires were removed and the areas was chipped to suppress weeds. With the help of volunteers from Morgan Stanley, masses of Ostrich Fern, Swamp Milkweed, Columbines and Blue-Flag Iris were planted, with more plantings to come as the summer progresses. All of the plants are resistant to deer browse and will thrive in the variable moisture conditions along the road. The planting will allow visitors to see into the Arboretum throughout the year while repeating the appearance of the meadow from inside the fence.
Summer is a great time to visit Willowwood Arboretum, both to enjoy what was planted upwards of 100 years ago or merely last month. Come out for a stroll this summer and enjoy the peacefulness of the garden mingled with these many new colorful sights!