Early Bloomers

It’s been quite a non-spring this year in Baltimore so far; nonetheless the flowers are beginning to appear, the grounds are greening up, and eventually, the warm weather will prevail. Meanwhile, there are a lot of hardy beauties to admire. Here are some early bloomers we’ve spotted, some fading and others coming into their glory along the paths and trails at Cylburn. It’s just the beginning!

Pretty in Pink: The Dawn viburnum, Viburnum x bodnantense (left), is most noted for its floral displays during winter and early spring. Pink buds open to pale pink, highly fragrant flowers as early as December in some regions. Ours is in full bloom now. The Okame Cherry (right), Prunus x incamp, is a hybrid between Taiwan flowering cherry (Prunus campanulata) from which it inherited heat tolerance, low-chill requirement for blooming, early flowering, fast growth, and deep-pink flower color and Fuji cherry (P. incise) from which it got increased cold-hardiness. This makes it a glorious ornamental tree for warmer climates.


Yellow as Sunshine: The Forsythia, also called Easter tree (top left), is a member of the olive family and was named after William Forsyth, a Scottish botanist who was royal head gardener and a founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society. The Edgeworthia chrysantha (top right), also called Paperbush, was named in honor of Michael Pakenham Edgeworth, an Irish-born, amateur botanist and police chief and for his sister, writer Maria Edgeworth. It’s found on the “edge” of the path through the Moudry woods at Cylburn, as well as in the Nathans garden. Daffodils number in the thousands at Cylburn. One of the earliest blooming bulbs of the season, Winter aconite (bottom right) sure warms up a cold day!


Purple majesty: The Trillium (top) is beginning to peek out as are the Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virginica. This trillium, also known as Toadshade (for its resemblance to a toad-sized umbrella), Wakerobin (for its appearance with the first robins), and Birthroot (for its medicinal uses during childbirth), is a woodland favorite that can live as long as 25 years. One of the most beautiful species of spring ephemerals are Virginia Bluebells (bottom left). These lovely plants are in the family Boraginaceae, which makes them relatives of other familiar species like Forget-me-not, Lungwort, and Comfrey. The flowers start off pink and gradually turn over to their famous shade of light blue as they mature. The blooms will last for many weeks in early spring (April and May) and will go dormant by mid-summer. Bees, especially female bumblebees that fly in early spring, often visit these flowers. Virginia Bluebells prefer soils typical of a woodland and we have many in the Larrabee garden where they thrive. In full bloom in a few weeks both ephemerals are showstoppers. Chionodoxa (below right), also aptly called Glory-of-the-Snow, is one of the earliest and loveliest spring flowering bulbs.


And dare we say it? White like snow: Known commonly in North America as Andromedas or Fetterbushes, the Pieris japonica (top) is a broad-leaved evergreen shrub. The leaves are spirally arranged, often appearing to be in whorls at the end of each shoot with bare stretches of shoot below; the flowers are bell-shaped. Cylburn has a big group of Pieris east of the mansion under the large spruce trees. With common names like Winter rose and Lenten rose, the Hellebore’s (below left) blooming season is no mystery.  Helleborus x hybridus, also found in a dusty pink and a rich magenta, are classic perennials found in abundance at Cylburn. The scilla family of spring-blooming bulbs (below right) includes some of the best bulbs for naturalizing. When planted in woodland gardens like the Larrabee garden at Cylburn, they will multiply quickly and produce waves of color year after year. These precious flowers are untroubled by rodents or deer, a great quality in Maryland!


Magnolia time! Cylburn has a collection of these magnificent trees with quite a few in bloom now including the Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata, (in white and pink), and the Cylindrical Magnolia. A lion’s eye view of the collection in the distance.


What’s Happening at Cylburn

There are lots of programs coming up at Cylburn, including a Fairy Workshop this weekend, Forest Bathing on Thursday mornings in April, and the 50th Anniversary of Market Day. The Arboretum is open from 8am to 8pm every day but Mondays. Come visit us soon for an event, or simply to walk the grounds and admire these and other flowers! More info always on our website, EventbriteFacebook, and Instagram

Market Day at Cylburn




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