April at the Arboretum
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.
Glory-of-the-snow (Scilla forbesii, S. luciliae, formerly Chionodoxa) is also blooming in early April near the Visitor Center, in the Display Garden, along the Norweb Tree Allée , and at Lantern Court. Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus) are at peak bloom in early April 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 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) is already showing off its white spathes on April 1st.
Greek windflower (Anemone x blanda) is in bloom along the Norweb Tree Allée, in the Display Garden, Layer Rhododendron Garden, by the Visitor Center, and at Lantern Court throughout April. In the Layer Rhododendron Garden and the Eliot and Linda Paine Rhododendron Discovery Garden, 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) by mid-April along the stream, and the early buttercup, (Ranunculus fascicularis) in bloom on April 1st on the limestone rockery. The small yellow flowers of leatherwood (Dirca palustris), also are in bloom as of April 1st. 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.
Common primroses (Primula vulgaris) are blooming as of April 1st along the Primrose Path at Lantern Court. 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 are also in bloom. Lantern Court’s Valley Garden also features creeping forget-me-not (Omphalodes verna) and by mid-April by the salamander pool the blue flowers of heartleaf brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla) will be in bloom also adjacent to the rose garden and in the Display Garden, Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden, and adjacent to the bus pull-off at the Visitor Center . The earliest daisy (composite) to bloom is leopard’s bane (Doronicum ‘Magnificum’) with yellow flowers on the north side of the Display Garden.
In late April to early May crabapples (Malus) start to bloom in the crabapple collection, Display Garden, and at Lantern Court.