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’ can be seen.
At Lantern Court the white-flowered weeping cherry (Prunus Snow Fountains) is by the salamander pool. There is a grove of the magenta-pink Sargent cherry, Prunus sargentii in the Conifer Collection and one in the Display Garden. One of the earliest and largest of our flowering cherries is Prunus subhirtella ‘Whitcomb’, on the southeast downslope of the Conifer Collection.
Bulbs such as glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa) and Greek windflower (Anemone blanda) are to be seen in the Display Garden and R. Henry Norweb, Jr. Tree Alleé. Also in the Display Garden and at Lantern Court are Siberian squill (Scilla siberica), crocus, striped squill (Puschkinia scilloides) and fragrant hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis). Daffodils (Narcissus) are in abundance in the Display Garden, Layer Rhododendron Garden and at Lantern Court.
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.
Forsythia ‘Meadowlark’, ‘Northern Sun’, ‘Northern Gold’, and ‘Sunrise’ and the light yellow flowers of Cornelian-cherry dogwood (Cornus mas) brighten up the Display Garden and Lantern Court. Hellebores (Helleborus) and fairy wings (Epimedium) are also blooming in the gardens.
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) and yellow flowered trout-lilies (Erythronium americanum) at Lantern Court and the Holden Wildflower Garden.
Primroses (Primula x polyantha & other Primula vulgaris hybrids) bloom at Lantern Court and the Rhododendron Garden. Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica) is blooming at Lantern Court and the Layer Rhododendron Garden. Check out the fragrant winter-hazel (Corylopsis glabrescens ‘Longwood Chimes’) in the Paine Rhododendron Discovery Garden.