Spring in the Garden can get very crazy. Flowers are blossoming, people are coming, lots of things are happening. That is great for the visitors and the beloved plants, but for those of us who have the misfortune of being labeled a weed, it can get a bit scary. The gardeners seem to be extra vigilant in trying to keep the place tidy, so that is bad for me. I’ve been running but it is hard to hide.
Because of my nomadic ways this month, it has been difficult to take the time to write. The silver lining is I have seen lots of great plants this spring. Glorious crabapples and cherries bloomed in the arboretum. Azaleas are enjoying a banner year around Mirror Lake and in the Enchanted Forest and Rhododendron Glade. Viburnums dot the landscape with magnificent white flowers. Flowering vines scramble across arbors throughout the Garden. Spring flowering perennials pop up in every garden from the Fragrance Garden to the Native Plant Garden. Spring annuals like tulips don’t shy away from the attention they get from the visitors either. Just about everywhere a visitor turns, there is something great for them to see and smell.
Finally, I think I found a pretty good place to try and blend in since I can’t hide that well. I am in the Colonial Garden. Since I was originally brought to North America by the colonists as a favored plant, I figure I might be more welcome here. Plus, spring in the Colonial Garden is a great place to be.
Lots of “old world” plants like me grow and flower here. The charming wallflower warmly greets guests with is orange glowing flowers. Cheerful plantings of heartsease (the more modern name is Johnny-jump-up) dot the garden. In the center of the garden, tall mounds of blue flowering comfrey sit coolly surveying the formal planting squares. Energetic little chives spill from a corner here and there. At the far end, an old world columbine illustrates the origin of its name which is derived from the Latin word for dove (columba) – the purple spurs cluster together like a group of doves sharing a secret while the petals flare out like their tails.
Don’t forget to take the time to look beyond the garden fence. The planting beds facing the canal are filled with great plants. Antique Roses are blooming heartily and two of my favorites are the ‘Old Blush’ and ‘Cramoisie Superieur’. The China Rose ‘Old Blush’ is the first repeat blooming rose to arrive in America and a parent for many hybrids that followed. ‘Cramoisie Superier’ is much younger, not appearing in gardens until the 1800s, but the rich velvety-red flowers are very fragrant. Spanish lavender, peonies, clary sage and bachelors buttons are also sharing their colorful flowers with the canal. An occasional cardoon provides a wonderful architectural feature as its tall gothic stalks arch above nearby plants.
At the north end of the garden stands an old man – Grancy gray beard. He is also known as a fringe tree. Both names are good descriptions of the charming white flowers that are currently cascading from its stems. When the sun hits the tree, the white flowers light up like that corner of the garden very nicely.
So I am going to sit here in the Garden, trying to fit in with my old world buddies. Hopefully people with stop by and enjoy their classic charm too.