Salvias Put on a Show

Salvias Put on a Show

As the weather gets cooler and some of summer’s flowers begin to fade, there’s one plant that continues to bloom abundantly well into the fall — Salvias. We have many varieties at Cylburn particularly in the gardens in front of the mansion where their colorful blossoms are busy with an array of pollinators. Salvia is the largest genus of plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae, with nearly 1000 species of shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and annuals. The name Salvia derives from the Latin salvere — to feel well and healthy, health, heal — referring to the herb’s healing properties. Salvia officinalis (Garden Sage or Common Sage) is widely used in cooking. Here are just a few of the Salvias to keep an eye out for on your next visit to Cylburn.

August Salvia RosebudSalvia involucrata (Rosebud Sage) — This perennial Salvia blooms from July up to frost and is a favorite of hummingbirds. Fast growing, it can reach over 6 feet. The showy pink-red flowers are born on red stems, adding to the interest.

August Salvia Blue Arrow

Salvia sagittata (Arrow Leaf Salvia) — This tender perennial Salvia is native to the Andes (Chili and Peru) where it grows at much higher elevations. The bright, true blue flowers make it a stand-out in the garden. The flowers are quite sticky!

August Salvia Ember's Wish


Salvia x ‘Ember’s Wish’ — The distinctive coral flowers of this Salvia make it a star in the garden and attractive to birds and butterflies. A relatively new introduction, it blooms continuously with dead-heading or cutting back. Another special thing about this variety — A portion of the plant’s sale is donated to Australia’s Make-a-Wish Foundation for kids. This is also true of the ‘Love & Wishes’ variety (pictured below).

August Salvia Love and Wishes

Salvia ‘Amistad’ (Friendship Sage) — This Salvia is a tender perennial past Zone 8 but blooms so profusely from spring though autumn and is so colorful and exuberant that it is desirable even though it doesn’t winter over.

 

Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’ has yellowish leaves that offset its deep red flowers.

August Salvia Yellow Leaves

There are many more Salvias to enjoy as you walk around the mansion gardens. You’ll see that you may not be the only one enjoying these flowers — The bees love them too!

Curious about How a Bee Thinks? Join us at 6pm on Wednesday, October 18 for a talk led by Baltimore City Master Gardener Michael Andorsky. He’ll cover honey bee intelligence, bee decision making, similarities between the bee swarm and the human brain, and what honey bees have taught engineers about designing robots.  More info here.

 

 

 

 

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Falling for the Dahlia

Falling for the Dahlia

People love autumn for many reasons — the cooling temperatures, the turning leaves, heading back to school, even the pumpkin spice. But for flower people there is a particularly beautiful reason to celebrate the season. It is the time that the dahlia comes into its own. Between the first day of fall and the first hard frost (usually mid-October) dahlia lovers are in ecstasy viewing their plants replete with large blooms and bright colors.

Cylburn’s dahlia patch is no exception — a “not-to-be-missed” treat for anyone visiting the gardens these days. Thanks to the determination and efforts of the Cylburn Arboretum Association’s staff and volunteers, the garden is in full bloom after weathering earlier season challenges from plant disease and resident critters. Several varieties featured there this year are worthy of special note.

At the far end of the fourth bed, closest to the rose garden, is Hollyhill Black Beauty, one of the darkest red blooms to be seen. It is classified as an informal decorative (bloom petals come close to but do not touch the stem) of medium size. Its form and rich color this time of year are unequaled.

Dahlia Hollyhill Black Beauty

On the other end of that bed is a large bloom that will brighten your day. Windhaven Blush is a bright yellow bloom with just a hint of lavender in the center. It is classed as a “semi-cactus” because of its pointed petals. Introduced several decades ago it is still exhibited in shows and fairs around the country.

Dahlia Windhaven Blush

Dahlia CabooseIn the center front of the next bed as you walk toward the mansion is a smaller plant with a very interesting bloom form. This cultivar is called “Caboose” and is classed as a red collarette. Collarettes are unique blooms with large ray petals surrounding an open center. Emanating from the center is a ring of smaller yellow “collar” petals from which the classification is named. Don’t be surprised to see a bee or two visiting the blooms. Open center blooms are advertisements to pollinators. But don’t be afraid; those bees are much more interested in the beautiful blooms!

Dahlia Mingus ArtIn the center front of the next bed is a plant that gives evidence to the great genetic diversity in dahlias. It is named Mingus Art and has a star shaped bloom classed as an orchid variety.   The bloom’s white petals fold forward revealing their pink underside. In dahlia classification language this striking difference in top and bottom petal color is often referred to as “reverse” coloration. Like the collarettes, this too is an open center bloom, sought out by the pollinators. As we near the end of the season, more and more bloom centers will be open, nature’s way of insuring pollination.

At the edge of the bed closest to the mansion is the eye catcher of the whole patch. It is named Akita No Hikari and is classed as a novelty variety. Set on a six-foot plant, the large blooms’ spiky crimson petals have a delicate touch of yellow. The more central petals curve inward, revealing a reverse of white tips.

Linger long enough to enjoy the delicate structure of this bloom and those of the many other varieties in the garden. You should not be disappointed! Here are a few more to keep your eye out for the next time you visit.

Special thanks to John Krick for offering these garden notes. John’s been growing dahlias for more than thirty years, and for the last six years he’s tended the Cylburn dahlia garden.

An Evening of Celebration & Support

An Evening of Celebration & Support

On September 15, friends of the Cylburn Arboretum Association gathered at Discover Cylburn to enjoy each other’s company, and to learn about and celebrate the CAA’s work. It was a lovely evening and we raised more than $20,000 to help support educational programs, the arboretum’s tree collection and gardens, scholarships for summer camp, environmental initiatives with partners, and so much more! Thanks to our sponsors, guests, donors, members, volunteers, and so many others who contributed to the evening’s success! A special thanks to our Discovery Sponsors  CFG Capital Funding Group & DLA Piper and our Partners Transamerica and Sir Alfie of Baltimore! The CAA’s work to enrich and enhance Cylburn for the Baltimore community would simply not be possible without all of this support. A photo recap:

The Gardens at Cylburn

The Gardens at Cylburn

In addition to rolling green space and thousands of trees, Cylburn is home to a wide variety of beautifully planted gardens displaying shrubs, perennials, and annuals.  From the “named” gardens that honor those who have played important roles in both Cylburn’s and Baltimore’s history to the colorful plantings that enhance the Mansion and other points around the grounds, each garden offers a collection of colors and textures that delight visitors. Many of the plantings are tagged for information. The Cylburn Arboretum Association’s gardeners and volunteers help to make sure the gardens are gorgeous year round. Here are a few to look out for the next time you visit.

The Mansion & Front Circle Gardens

These gardens are designed to be colorful showcases for perennials, annuals, tropicals and shrubs that thrive in full sun. The Mansion circle contains not only gardens but an ingeniuos planting of Lagerstroemia (Crape or Crepe Myrtle) that align perfectly from any angle. In summer their bright pink flowers are striking.

The Nathans, Larrabee and Worthley Gardens

Each of these memorial gardens has a distinctive character. The Worthley garden is a botanist’s delight with a variety of plantings of succulents, cacti, conifers and grasses, as well as perennials and annuals.

The Nathans Garden is shady and peaceful oasis, inviting on even the hottest day. Both the gazebo and bench located there are a favorite spot for visitors to sit and enjoy lunch or a book.

The Larabee Garden features plants chosen to provide habitat for birds and butterflies and includes a small pond.

The Shady Garden, All American Selections, and Formal Gardens.

Nestled directly behind the Mansion is a small “shady” garden that is fenced in. It contains a unique set of plants along a path sheltered by a large Cryptomeria. Between the back of the mansion and Cylburn’s Carriage House (currently closed with plans for renovation underway) you can find the All American Selections garden as well as other beds with an array of flowers and herbs. This time of year the blooms are plentiful and the dahlia and canna are notably gorgeous. If you’re lucky you might catch hummingbirds and other birds, bees and butterflies there. Look to your right as you face the Carriage House and you’ll see the Formal Garden, a lovely place to walk and enjoy the colorful symmetry of flowers and foliage.

The Julie Smith, Three Sisters, and Ryer Gardens

The Julie Smith and Three Sisters gardens are located along the path from the mansion to the greenhouses. They are quiet and shady with plants chosen to thrive at woodland’s edge. There is always something interesting in bloom there and stone benches offer a place to rest and reflect. The Ryer garden is similarly shady and planted at the woodland’s edge. It is located behind the Vollmer Center where the trails lead into the woods.

The Rain Garden

Located by the greenhouses, classrooms, and employee parking lot, you’ll find the Bay-Wise-certified rain garden. It features a variety native plants that can withstand both drought and wet conditions. This garden captures rainwater runoff from the hard surfaces and sends it to the adjoining forest where it will infiltrate and be purified in the process. A rain garden addresses the issues of storm water runoff and water pollution. and stops the water from reaching the sewer system. It also provides habitat. Ours is always bustling with bees and butterflies.

These are just a few of the gardens at Cylburn. There are beautiful plantings, flowers, trees and shrubs throughout the grounds and around all of the buildings. Wherever you walk, look for the tags that identify many of the trees and flowers.

 

 

Fireflies Light Up an Evening at Cylburn

Fireflies Light Up an Evening at Cylburn

During late May, June and July fireflies put on a magical show flashing their little lights in our yards, parks and countryside. Although they are not as prevalent as in years past, they are still one of summer’s pleasures. The “lightning bug” is actually not a fly but a winged beetle. Of some 120 species found in Eastern United States, about 8 to 10 species are resident at Cylburn. Recently we learned more about these fascinating beetles from Dr. Abner Lall, who guided us on a walk around the grounds. He also generously contributed this post if you’re curious about this magical insect. Thank you Dr. Lall for the information and the tour.

Fireflies

Light production in fireflies is due to a type of chemical reaction called bioluminescence. Fireflies utilize bioluminescence as a signal for mating. The flashing males patrol the habitat for responsive females who are perched on a blade of grass or a leaf. When a female is ready to mate, she then answers the courting male with a single short flash.

Since different species of fireflies are active at the same time in the same habitat, the fireflies have evolved a species-specific flash code analogous to a telegraphic code. The flash code consists of three elements: (1) the frequency of flashing of the male, (2) the duration of the male’s flash, and (c) the time delay of the female’s answering flash.

When the flash duration is long, i.e., about 1/2 sec or longer, then the shape of the flash also varies such as in the most common big dipper, Photinus pyralis. Here the males emit a series of ½ sec J-shaped flash every 4.5 sec, and the species females respond with 1.5 – 2 sec delay. Photinus scintillans males emit 0.15 sec duration flashes every 2.6 sec, and the wingless female answers from the grass below with a 0.42 sec delay.

Fireflies2To ensure that all females are well provided with courting males, the ratio of flying and flashing males to quietly perched females on the vegetation is about 50 to 1. So most of the males, in their short life of a week or ten days, never find a mate and die flashing. The females live for a longer period, two to three weeks and lay eggs and die.

The bioluminescent signal is of low intensity and is effective only in light-limiting conditions. Most firefly species are nocturnal. Green is the “default” color of visual sensitivity among insects and the nocturnal species emit lime-green colored light.  In the northern latitudes, twilight zone is extended in duration. The firefly species that have invaded this zone emit yellow to orange light, a signal of contrast color (e. g., yellow butter-cup flower in green grass) against the green-foliage reflected sunlight at dusk. At twilight Photinus pyralis and scintillans emit bright yellow and amber colored lights respectively, while Photuris species emit lime-green light at night.

The number of fireflies has been declining dramatically during the last forty years for several reasons. (1) A reduction in undisturbed habitat availability induced by a dramatic increase in human dominated landscape and highway construction. (2) In northern latitudes it takes two years for fireflies to complete their 8 developmental stages from egg to adult. The larvae are very vulnerable to fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals that are used in lawns and farms. (3) Finally the lighted highways and security illumination that blazes all night around our homes and commercial buildings compromise the communication ability of adult fireflies.

FirefliesDrLallDr. Abner Lall (pictured right) is Professor Emeritus of Biology at Howard University (1988-2011) where his research over the last 30 years has been on the vision in fireflies. He began his investigation of vision and bioluminescence at Johns Hopkins University in the eighties (1979-88) as a research scientist. In his retirement, he is the visiting scholar at JHU, Department of Biophysics, Homewood Campus.

 

 

Summer’s in bloom!

Summer’s in bloom!

In addition to trees and pathways, trails and the mansion, there are many gardens at Cylburn with a variety of flowers of all kinds. In fact, Cylburn is classified as an arboretum, but is also one of Baltimore’s marquee public gardens. Summer is peak time for many of the beauties to be discovered on the grounds. Here are just a few you’ll find blooming now.

June Foxtail Lily 3

Eremurus sp. (Foxtail Lily)

This striking plant bears a tall stalk of yellow/orange-ish indeterminate flowers (“indeterminate” meaning that the flowers open from the base up, in contrast to “determinate” flowers which open from the top down).  This planting of Foxtail Lily bulbs attracts more “What IS that flower?” questions than most of the others.

Where: Across from the Mansion Circle, next to a weeping beech.

June Larkspur CloseupConsolida ajacis (Larkspur)

These bright blue and pink spikes are show-stoppers. Considered to be an annual alternative to delphinium, which struggles in this climate, the larkspur is an enthusiastic bloomer, and re-seeds itself every year. Larkspur is the “Flower of the Month” for July evoking feelings of joy, levity and love.

Where: Find them in the Mansion Circle and the Worthley Garden.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)

This colorful native perennial is the sole host plant for Monarch butterflies, providing critical habitat for this endangered species.

Where: The orange variety can be found on the south edge of the Larrabee Garden and scattered other places. A less common yellow flowering cultivar ‘Mellow Yellow’ grows in the Mansion Circle.

June Butterfly Weed

June CactusOpuntia sp. (Cactus)

Bright yellow flowers prove that perennial cactus does grow and thrive in our non-desert climate! This one is surrounded by Sedum sexangulare (Stonecrop), a groundcover that can be found sprawling throughout many of Cylburn’s gardens.

Where: Find it in on the berm in the Worthley garden.

June Indian PinkSpigelia marilandica (Indian Pink)

This bright red and yellow native perennial grows in a large clump and is a favorite of hummingbirds. Although the genus name, Spigelia, honors Adrian van den Spiegel (1578-1625), a Flemish anatomist, the specific epithet, marilandica, means “of Maryland”.

Where: A large clump is found in front of the Vollmer Center, on the right as one faces the building. Also in the Larrabee Garden by the mansion.

 

June BetonyStachys densiflora ‘Hummelo’ (Betony)

This bright pink perennial has a long bloom season, from early June through July or even August. You can also find Stachys officinalis ‘Pink Cotton Candy’ by the Vollmer Center. Less well known that Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears), these Stachys are well-behaved, dependable perennials with an orderly habit.

Where: In the Larrabee Garden by the mansion.

Whenever you visit Cylburn, keep an eye out for our What’s in Bloom posters. Thanks to our partners at Lifebridge Health for making these informative pieces possible for visitors. They’ll direct you with maps on where to find these flowers and others throughout the season. There are many gardens scattered throughout the grounds of Cylburn with more blossoms than can fit on one poster, so we hope you’ll explore! Find more info here. You may see our dedicated gardeners and volunteers out there planting, weeding or watering — They help to make all of this possible. We’re always looking for additional help so if you’re interested in joining our efforts you can find more information on how to volunteer here, or how to become a member here. Before you go, here are some more of this season’s blossoms!

 

Clockwise: Agastache rupestris (Threadleaf Giant Hyssop); Rudbeckia maxima (Great Coneflower); Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan); Hesperaloe parviflora (Red Yucca); Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’ (Bee Balm); Salvia ‘Purple rain’; Ratibida (Prairie Coneflower); Asiatic lily; Biker circling the Circle Garden; Hypericum calycinum (St. John’s Wort); and Mansion Garden.

 

 

 

 

 

New Trees & New Ways to Explore Cylburn Arboretum

New Trees & New Ways to Explore Cylburn Arboretum

We’re delighted to announce a significant new planting of sixty-two large deciduous shade and specimen trees at Cylburn, as well as two new ways for visitors to explore the arboretum and learn about our current trees, gardens and history. Cylburn is Baltimore City’s only arboretum and takes its mission as a “Tree Museum” seriously, aiming to expand its collection and other offerings for the enjoyment and education of everyone.

Blog June Three Newbies

Three new trees.

Along the main entrance drive and Greenspring Avenue, a “Piedmont Woods” has been added. Trees native to our Mid-Atlantic region well adapted to our soil, climate and conditions have been thoughtfully selected and planted by a team including the Forestry Division of Baltimore City’s Department of Recreation and Parks, Natural Concerns, Inc., and Mahan Rykiel Associates. Careful consideration has been given to the location of each new tree including water tolerant and charming Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay) chosen to flank the stone bridge on the main entrance road as visitors enter the arboretum.

A second planting includes the addition of large shade trees along Mansion Way between the Vollmer Center and the Mansion. In a few years, as these trees take root and grow, they’ll provide desirable respite for walkers approaching the Mansion. Here’s a list of all the Cylburn 2017 New Trees. Many of the trees have been planted this spring and others will be added in the fall.

This central walkway currently includes some of the arboretum’s marquee trees and we’re excited to announce a new easy-to-use online “tree tour” that provides in-depth information on thirteen of them. Find the link here and on our website — You can use it through any web browser on your phone, computer or tablet! The Tree Tour was developed by a team of Cylburn volunteers with the financial support of The Eliasberg Family Foundation, Inc., the mapping expertise of RK&K, and production assistance from Kathryn Johnston Concept & Design.

Another new way for visitors to explore Cylburn is a Scavenger Hunt created by our friends at Baltimore Green Map. Simply visit the app store on your phone, search for and download Actionbound, then find our “bound” by typing in Cylburn. The child-friendly app will take you on an interactive tour of the grounds, asking you to stop, look, listen and photograph. It’s a fun way to learn a little bit more about some of our treasures! We’ll have paper versions of this hunt available in the Vollmer Center, where you can also find some other maps and materials about Baltimore’s green places.

We hope you’ll visit soon to enjoy Cylburn and all that it has to offer! Adding species not currently present at the Arboretum to increase the diversity and beauty of our collection and also providing ways for the public to access information about our trees and gardens is exciting indeed.

Blog June Team

It takes a team to plant a tree — We are grateful to our partners in helping 62 new trees find a home at Cylburn. They’ll be tending the young trees for three years to ensure a strong, healthy future. Visitors should enjoy the trees for generations to come! Partners have also helped us to develop two new ways to enjoy the arboretum — A virtual Tree Tour loaded with information and an interactive Scavenger Hunt fun for the whole family! Thank you!