AUTHOR’S NOTE: This post was written on March 12, 2020, before we were open to the public. My walk through the gardens was alone with no one else nearby. With the current guidelines to open as an essential business, all customers and staff must wear masks or face coverings to enter the property. Click here to read what we are doing to keep staff and you safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Thank you for all your support this spring. We are happy to provide a small bit of joy in this challenging time.
Since all the news is terrible, I took a (solitary) walk through our gardens to just take a breath and see what good magic was happening out in the gardens. It’s comforting to see that amid the chaos, the garden can always bring a little peace. Most of these pictures were taken today on my walk through the Learning Gardens. Signs of life are out there. Stay calm, wash your hands, and take a moment to see what’s popping up in your garden.
Pictured above Ivory Prince Hellebore (Helleborus) buds peek out among the leaves. Hellebores are one of the finest, cold-tolerant early flowering plants in cultivation. The foliage is leathery, dark green and palm-shaped. Many have showy blooms that look like bells nodding towards the ground and some of the newer varieties like Ivory Prince and Merlin are bred to have more upright, outward-facing flowers for you to enjoy. They like moist, well-drained soil in part shade and are rabbit and deer resistant.
I just love the cute little leaves of Primroses (Primula) emerging from the ground in our Cottage Garden in Naperville. This variety will bloom yellow later in spring but their leaves are already starting to show up. A true English cottage garden plant, they thrive in a shady, moist area, attract pollinators and are deer resistant.
Both the low growing sedum and upright sedum are also starting to show themselves. Sedum, a workhorse in the garden, doesn’t need much once the plants are established. They like sunny, well-drained locations, and are drought tolerant. The variety of shapes, sizes, and colors make a statement planted in gardens and containers.
I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorites in our gardens sporting some new leaves today. They may look a little like hairy dandelion leaves but don’t be fooled, they belong to our Prince of Orange Poppy (Papaver). In early summer it will have large, papery blooms the color of tangerines. Oriental poppies like Prince of Orange can reach 2-3′ tall when mature.
The bulbs showing up all over brought a smile to my face! Crocus and snowdrops (Galanthus) are blooming now and the leaves of the tulips and daffodils are showing signs of life. Bulbs are a ‘plan ahead’ plant, available to plant in fall for their spring show. Plant them among your spring-flowering perennials. As the energy of the bulbs leaves are absorbed back into the bulb, the new growth of the spring perennial will cover the their wilting leaves. Pictured below are snowdrops from above and tulip leaves shooting up.
Sightings of Witchhazel (Hamamelis) in bloom have been seen around town. Look for yellow flowering bushes that can grow up to 10’ high and are often used for screening. These are the branches often cut and forced to flower indoors in late winter for cut flower arrangements.
Another shrub in that will have yellow bloom splendor soon is the Golden Glory Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, or Cornus mas ‘Golden Glory’. It serves as an excellent small tree for a shrub border or screen with all-season interest. Yellow spring flowers, summer red berries against glossy green leaves, bright-red-purple fall color and exfoliating bark in winter. Full confession this picture is from a few years ago. They aren’t quite this far along right now.
Other than the bulbs for fall planting, all of these spring-blooming plants are available at The Growing Place when we open March 28th.