“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.
Beginning Monday, August 3, Willowwood is open Monday through Friday, 10 am to 3 pm.
Buildings are closed but most gardens and walking trails are open. A porta john is available.
This quote by Minnie Aumonier seems apt for this moment in time- “When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden”. Welcome back to the garden.
The summer bloom has just begun in the meadows. The waves of pastel purple wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) are attracting lots of pollinators. Recently, the joe-pye weed (Eutrochium) and early goldenrod (Solidago) have also begun to bloom. Visitors will likewise see ironweed (Vernonia) starting to bloom along the drive among the meadows in the upcoming weeks as well.
The barns are similarly surrounded by pastel flowers this year. An assortment of white, purple, and pink Angelonia were planted by the Stone Barn for the season. These “summer snapdragons” are known for their fragrance and flower all summer!
Lilies are currently blooming across the site and reaching peak bloom. Several that are in full bloom are the bright pink Lilium ‘Elodie’ is in bloom along the back of the propagation greenhouse, the yellow Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion’ blooming along the propagation greenhouse steps, and the many orange lilies blooming, such as Lilium lancifolium var. splendens in the cottage garden.
Visitors should keep in mind that the coronavirus has had a significant impact on activities at the Willowwood Arboretum. This has led to the closure of the Rosarie for the season and impacted maintenance activities across the site. In addition, construction is currently underway to replace the cedar shingle roof on the Propagation Greenhouse.
Thank you for your patience and support during this time.
MCPC Plant Records Curator Specialist
Willowwood is beginning to burst with lush foliage and colorful flowers from the plentiful rains the last few weeks. Visitors this week will see the Wisteria floribunda in peak bloom growing on rustic arbors throughout the gardens. The cottage garden is also beginning its display of alliums, cheerfully busting from the ground in explosions of color. The large purple orbs currently in bloom are Allium ‘Sensation’. These flowers in the onion family are a favorite!
Some other classic spring flowering shrubs and perennials are heralding Spring. Near the greenhouse, the blue star-shaped flowers of Amsonia tabernaemontana are in bloom and across the grounds, trees and shrubs in the Aesculus genus are beginning to bloom. One great location to see these is near the intersection of Patriot’s Path and the main drive. Here you can see a large Aesculus flava, yellow buckeye, and several Aesculus pavia, red buckeye, in full bloom. Aesculus parviflora, bottlebrush buckeye, is a butterfly magnet so keep an eye out for those long white flowers in the garden soon. Finally, we all know what season it really is at Willowwood… Lilac Season! Our lilacs have been at their peak bloom this week. I recommend a walk through Highland Park (the grassy area across from the Stone Barn) to smell their sweet fragrance. Their cotton candy like groups of flowers are blooming in subtle shades of white, blue, purple, and pink. Here are a few to whet your appetite: Syringa ‘President Grevy’ (French lilac) and Syringa ‘Wedgwood Blue’ (Common Lilac). Come visit Willowwood soon to view the other beautiful lilacs in our collection!
It may not be a bright sunny day but Mother’s Day and May is very special at the Willowwood Arboretum. Mother Nature has been very capricious this Spring but we are delighted to have the vibrant redbuds, tulips, azaleas, the first Lilacs of the season, the lovely purple wisteria and the wonderful rare Japanese flowering ‘green’ cherry, Prunus serrulata cv. ‘Asagi’ in bloom.
Mother’s day and the next few weeks will bring spectacular color as all the trees and plants finally pop. Visit any day 8 am to dusk and just enjoy.
On Mother’s Day Sunday May 13, special lilacs will be for sale, an expanded self guided cell phone tour and garden tours will be available, weather permitting, from Noon to 4 pm. $5. Car fee this afternoon.
Yes, the weather forecast is for cooler (Fallish) weather this weekend but it will warm up a bit again and the gardens at the Willowwood Arboretum are in full, late summer bloom – just lush and gorgeous! Plan a visit before first frost and stroll through the gardens or hike one of the trails through the meadows to Bamboo Brook to see the reflecting pools.
Planning Your Event
Garden facilities can be rented for special parties, corporate events and wedding receptions or a combination of a ceremony and reception.