In April, Asian magnolias and their hybrids can be a sight to behold. In the Sally Gries Entrance Beds on Sperry Road, the fuchsia-pink flowers of Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ are wonderfully fragrant. Other fragrant Loebner types in the gardens include ‘Encore’, ‘Merrill’ and ‘Spring Snow’, all with white flowers. At Lantern Court the fragrance of the anise magnolia on the rise east of the drive is reminiscent of grape Kool-Aid (M. salicifolia ‘Grape Expectations’). Like a sentinel, the Kew magnolia, (M. x kewensis ‘Wada’s Memory’) stands guard by Lantern Court’s valley garden, in the Conifer Collection and the Display Garden, where the more diminutive Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’ and star magnolia hybrid ‘Betty’ are to be seen. Larger magnolia hybrids involving our native cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata) bloom later in the month. These include Magnolia ‘Yellow Bird’ and ‘Elizabeth’ in the Display Garden, ‘Butterflies’ at Lantern Court and in the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden by Sherwin Pond, ‘Yellow Lantern’ on Beech Knoll , and in the Conifer Collection ‘Daybreak’ and ‘Ivory Chalice’ which are also in the Arthur S. Holden, Sr. Hedge Garden and the Display Garden.
Netted iris (Iris ‘Harmony’) will be displaying its royal blue flowers by the northwest side of the parking lot at the beginning of the month. Glory-of-the-snow (Scilla forbesii, S. luciliae, formerly Chionodoxa) is also blooming in early April near the Corning Visitor Center, in the Display Garden, along the Norweb Tree Allée , and at Lantern Court. Also at Lantern Court are a number of crocus (Crocus chrysanthus, C. vernus) on either side of the drive, and see if you can spot the nodding white flowers of spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum) in the beds nearby. Hellebores (Helleborus x hybridus) will be blooming all month in the Display Garden, Hedge Garden, by the Visitor Center, in the Layer Rhododendron Garden, and at Lantern Court.
By mid-April at Lantern Court the pink flowered weeping Higan cherry (Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’) and the white Prunus ‘Snow Fountains’ will bloom by the salamander pool. There are a number of the magenta-pink Sargent cherry, (Prunus sargentii) in the Conifer Collection and a single tree on the east side of the Display Garden. On Bicknell Slope, on the southeast side of the Conifer Collection a number of flowering cherries are planted including the early blooming Prunus subhirtella ‘Whitcomb’, on the lower slope.
Serviceberries (Amelanchier arborea, A. laevis, A. x grandiflora) display their white flowers in mid to late April throughout many of the gardens including along the R. Henry Norweb, Jr. Tree Allée, the Wildflower Garden, by the parking lot, Layer Rhododendron Garden, by Blueberry Pond, and at Lantern Court. Also at Lantern Court in the Valley Garden the white Asian skunk cabbage (Lysichiton camtschatcensis) comes into bloom in mid to late April.
Greek windflower (Anemone x blanda) is in bloom along the Norweb Tree Allée, in the Display Garden, Layer Rhododendron Garden, and at Lantern Court throughout April. In the Layer Rhododendron Garden and the Eliot and Linda Paine Rhododendron Discovery Garden, a number of small-leaved rhododendron including Rhododendron dauricum, R. mucronulatum and a number of showy cultivars including ‘Cornell Pink’ are to be seen by mid-April. Forsythia ‘Meadowlark’, ‘Northern Sun’, ‘Northern Gold’, and ‘Sunrise’ brighten up the Display Garden and Lantern Court, along with daffodils (Narcissus) that bloom throughout the month.
In the Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden, see the bright yellow flowers of the marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) along the stream, and the early buttercup, (Ranunculus fascicularis) on the limestone rockery. Check out the small yellow flowers of leatherwood (Dirca palustris), a shrub related to Daphne. Other wildflowers of interest include the white-flowered bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), and the lavender-purple to white flowered sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) that are at Lantern Court and the Wildflower Garden. In late April, Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and great white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) start to bloom.
Check out the polyantha primroses on Beech Knoll in the Rhododendron Garden and in the northwest part of the Display garden in the bed above the footbridge. Lantern Court’s primrose path also features these cheerful denizens among other primroses above the valley garden. The earliest daisy (composite) to bloom is leopard’s bane (Doronicum ‘Magnificum’) with yellow flowers on the north side of the Display Garden. Moss-pink (Phlox subulata) displays blue flowers by the salamander pool at Lantern Court.
In late April to early May crabapples (Malus) start to bloom in the crabapple collection, Display Garden, and at Lantern Court.