Winter at Cylburn

Winter at Cylburn

Winter China Fir

Happy Holidays! In a few days it will officially be winter. The gardens have been put to bed and tender plants moved to warm quarters. The CAA staff is still working on the grounds but in the coming months activities will shift indoors to perusing seed and plant catalogues and preparing for the spring. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to see at Cylburn! There are plenty of plants and trees that choose the “off” season to show their stuff. Here are just a few to look for on your next winter hike here.

December Cylburn Hawthorn TreeCrataegus viridis ‘Winter King’ (‘Winter King’ Southern Hawthorn)

The brilliant red berries on this cultivar of our native Hawthorn make it a show-stopper. ‘Winter King’ is loved for its fragrant white blooms in spring and its thornless stems, making it much kinder to the gardener than the traditional thorny Hawthorns. Find a group of five ‘Winter Kings’ at the southwest corner of the lower Vollmer parking lot.


December Cylburn WinterberryIlex verticilatta ‘Red Sprite’ (Winterberry)

This deciduous holly is known for its large, vividly red berries, a favorite with our birds. ‘Red Sprite’ is a female cultivar of the native winterberry, easily grown in sun or semi-sunny locations, adaptable to very wet soil conditions. It fruits well if a male pollinizer such as ‘Jim Dandy’ is nearby. Find ours on the south side of the Larrabee Garden.

December Cylburn HollyIlex x koehneana ‘Ruby’ (Koehne Holly)

‘Ruby’ is a cultivar Koehne holly, a cross between Ilex aquifolium and I. latifolia. The shiny dark green leaves make Koehne hollies an attractive choice when a large dense holly is desired (it typically grows to over 15’ and is almost as wide). The clusters of berries on an attractive pyramidal shape are widely admired. Plant this and other evergreen hollies in full sun. Cylburn’s ‘Ruby’ is located on the east side of the East Oval Holly Collection, near several other Koehne cultivars.

December Cylburn JuniperJuniperus virginiana ‘Grey Owl’ (Red Cedar)

The beautiful blue-grey foliage of this native cedar shows off prolific bluish berries in the late fall and early winter. Native to this region, this easily grown conifer is an excellent landscaping choice for a full sun location. Cylburn has a conifer collection in the woods, on the north side of the asphalt walkway near to the north ends of the greenhouses.

December Cylburn Scotch PinePinus sylvestris ‘Gold Coin’ (Scotch Pine)

This Scotch Pine is pyramidal with mint green foliage in the summer that turns bright golden yellow in the cooler temperatures of fall and winter. Plant this bright pine in full sun. Also a part of the Moudry Conifer Collection near the western end of the planting.


Winter is also a time to get close to the trees and appreciate things that may not be as noticeable in other seasons, like the texture and patterns on the bark. Two examples are the Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese Elm or Lacebark Elm) and the Lagerstroemia ‘Acoma’ (Crape Myrtle).

There’s no reason to wait until spring to come to Cylburn — The grounds are beautiful year round. Now they’re especially festive covered in fresh snow! On behalf of all of us at the Cylburn Arboretum Association, all the best for a wonderful winter.


SnowMansionTHANK YOU! We are grateful for the support we’ve received this year! The Cylburn Arboretum Association is the nonprofit friends group for Cylburn and we depend on the generosity of our donors, members, volunteers, sponsors and friends to enrich and enhance the arboretum for the community. To learn more about what a gift to the Cylburn Arboretum Association can do, click here. If you’d like to make a year-end donation, click here. Special thanks to our partners at Lifebridge Health for making our What’s in Bloom posters possible for visitors each month. They’ll direct you with maps on where to find the plants listed above and others each season. Hope to see you at Cylburn soon and thanks again!

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:

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!





A little “stolen heaven.”

A little “stolen heaven.”

One of the many joys of spring at Cylburn is our collection of Tree Peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa). Installed by the Roland Park Garden Club in 1980 when the plant was both rare and expensive, the unusual stand that flanks our formal garden is a gem among the arboretum’s holdings.

Beloved in China for over a thousand years, the Tree Peony was once grown solely for the pleasure of the Chinese emperor. Even today, the Tree Peony is considered the unofficial national flower of the Peoples’ Republic of China. Its spring flowers look just like those of the herbaceous peony — big, loose and colorful, with multiple layers of petals and a sweet fragrance.

In China, the peony’s lush growth and blowsy petals made it the symbol of prosperity. In Japan, the same attributes seemed like a masculine symbol of devil-may-care attitude and a disregard for consequences, and there it was a popular motif for men’s tattoos. It is no wonder that in Asia the naming of Tree Peonies often approaches poetry with names such as “Red Beauty of China” and “Purple Dragon in a Pink Pool.” We have varieties called “Red Moon,” “Rose Flame” and even “Stolen Heaven.”

The Tree Peony is a woody plant that does not die back in winter like its herbaceous relatives, but it never approaches the size of a tree. It will stay in the 3 to 5 foot range and take a long time getting there. These are long lived plants that can survive for over 200 years.

The blossoms however are fairly short lived each spring. In fact there are just a few beautiful lush weeks to see them in their prime. Now! So to steal a bit of heaven, come visit them soon in bloom!


Pictured above clockwise: Gosha Zakura, Red Moon, America, Black Sea, Stolen Heaven, Shimadaijin, Rose Flame, and Banski. Lady Baltimore has a beautiful view!


An April Walk

An April Walk

With an historic mansion, formal gardens, wooded paths, hundreds of trees, and so much more, one walk is never enough at Cylburn Arboretum. There are many treasures, large and small, to behold in the 200-acre arboretum. We are looking forward to sharing some of them with you through this blog but we really hope you can come for a visit to enjoy them firsthand. Here are just a few things we found on an early April walk.

Cylburn is home to hundreds of trees, including many unique evergreens. If you walk along the path between the mansion and Baltimore City’s greenhouses, you’ll find a variety of gorgeous conifer specimens. If you’ve ever wondered how to tell some of them apart, here’s a great mnemonic device: Spruces are “sharp” with single pointy needles while firs are “flat and friendly” and won’t prick you. Pines have needles that always come in bundles (two, three, or five). Cones come in a variety of sizes and shapes too but look carefully – not everything you’ll see in the branches are cones.

DSCN0154On a recent tour, a round brown Praying Mantis egg sac nestled in the branches of a Cupressus arizonica (Blue Ice Arizona Cypress) looked almost like its cones.

Fun fact: The species of Praying Mantis most commonly seen in our area is the highly predatory Chinese Praying Mantis that can grow big enough to eat a hummingbird!

The conifer collection is fascinating, but don’t forget to look down as you walk along the path. Delicate flowers such as Hepatica and Trillium are peaking through the nourishing leaf litter. The closer you look, the more delicate beauties you’ll see! Daffodils, bluebells and hellebores were found in abundance early in the month as well but they’re fading fast in the warmer days.

Cylburn Tour April 7 BulbsNestled directly behind the mansion is the charming Shady Garden. Amble here and along the way enjoy Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud) and fragrant Viburnum. Note a large majestic Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese Cedar) providing ample shade. Although the ground beneath it is carpeted in leaves it has shed, it is a real soldier in winter storms, rarely, if ever, dropping branches. Blooming now in the garden is Mahonia (Oregon Grape Holly) with spiky leaves and yellow clusters of flowers. Other precious flowers such as Leucojum vernum (Summer Snowflakes) and Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) populate the path’s edge.

Cylburn Tour April 7 Magnolia Yellow ButterflyBeyond the mansion is a collection of Magnolia trees, beloved and best known for their gorgeous pink blossoms. The Cylburn collection includes white varieties and a yellow “Butterflies” Magnolia whose blossoms indeed look as if they’re about to take off into the air. This year, due to a “false spring” some of the trees are a bit more sparse than usual.

Did you know that it takes a tree a whole year to produce its blossoms and leaves? A false spring can cause a real energy drain on the limited stores of energy that a tree has.

Above the Magnolia be sure to look up and see a huge native Prunus serotina (Black Cherry) tree blooming in the sky. Black cherry supports 456 species of butterflies and moths. Also note the tall “Tulip Poplars” common in Maryland.

Fun fact: Although we like to call them Tulip Poplars, they’re not actually “poplars” but tulip trees that are members of the Magnolia family. If you think about the flowers they drop from the sky, it makes perfect sense!

Cylburn Tour April 7 DutchmenStroll down into the woods and you will find a plethora of tiny delights along more than three miles of paths. Be careful where you step in this virtual fairyland – you don’t want to crush the Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria – pictured left), Bloodroot (Saunguinaria canadensis), Toothwort (Dentarai diphylla), or Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) to name a few. Many of these little native beauties bloom early in spring, taking advantage of the sun before the trees leaf out. Most are ephemeral, only appearing briefly this time of year before retreating until next April.

Unfortunately, some invasive species have found a home in the woods too – you’ll note especially lesser celandine (Ficaria verna or Ranunculus ficaria).

April is also baby month at Cylburn, and all around us. In addition to plants, shrubs, and trees, the grounds and woods of Cylburn are home to abundant wildlife. We’ve recently seen a few snakes (none poisonous!) and salamanders. Don’t touch these please – they are very sensitive to our dry skin.

Here are some tips via the Department of Natural Resources for what to do if you should find a baby at Cylburn, or anywhere.

  • Baby birds will fall out of nests, hop around and whine a lot. This is normal! What’s not is a baby bird that lacks feathers and is not able to hop around. Then it is best to call a wildlife rehabilitator.
  • Contrary to popular belief, you might see fox, coyotes or raccoon mothers and babies out and about during the day – It’s not a sign of illness. It is also normal for young to be left unsupervised.
  • This is true for deer as well – Fawns can be left alone for as long as 9 hours at a time. It’s always best to leave them alone.

For more information on young wildlife, visit Maryland DNR’s website.

Come visit us for a walk, tour, or event soon! And follow this blog if you’re interested in getting an email the next time we share some news, history, or photos from Cylburn. Thank you!