Early Bloomers

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



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!

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.





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 Larrabee 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.



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!





May Trees & Shrubs in Flower

May Trees & Shrubs in Flower

May is the month that many of Cylburn’s trees and shrubs are in bloom with extravagant and fragrant flowers. It is the month of the Chinese Fringe Tree and the Cockspur Thorn, the Beautybush and the Mock Orange. Here are just a few of the beautiful specimens that you’ll see if you visit us in the next couple of weeks.

If you begin your walk in the Vollmer parking lot, you can pick two paths up to the Visitor Center. On one, the Philadelphus xSnow Dwarf’ (Mock Orange) is covered in fragrant white blossoms. In the garden, this easy to grow shrub can be espaliered on a wall, trellis or fence. Along this path, it is simply planted in clusters. On the other path, Itea virginica ‘Little Henry’ (Virginia Sweetspire – pictured below) blooms under the draping limbs of a Cladrastis kentuckea (American Yellowwood).

Blog May Sweetspire

In front of the Vollmer Center you will find some dogwoods still blooming. Fun fact: The white “petals” of the dogwood blossom are actually bracts, or specialized leaves. The flowers themselves are tightly clustered in the center. The variety at the Vollmer Center is called Cornus rutgersensis ‘Rutdan’ and has blushing pink white leaves fading quickly now in the heat. Also there the Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’ (Sweetshrub – pictured below) is showing off deep red blossoms.

Blog May Sweetshrub

Continue up the path and consider following signs to the Greenhouse which will take you on a circuitous walk past a selection of Cylburn’s flowering shrubs. Along the way, you’ll see Cotinus coggygria (Smoke Tree) and the lovely Kolkwitzia amabilis (Beautybush). This graceful and old-fashioned shrub, which is rarely found in garden centers, has exuberant pink blossoms (see below). As difficult as it is to find it isn’t fussy at all loving sunny, dry conditions. Next to the Beautybush is the tall, upright shrub Deutzia with its profusion of white flowers. These particular shrubs are not fully unidentified (others on the opposite side of the path are) but are nonetheless very pretty! Spiraea nipponica (Snowmound) can also be found along this walk.

Blog Kolkwitzia amabilis

As you emerge from this walk look straight ahead at the impossible-to-miss Chionanthus retusus (Chinese Fringe Tree). The genus name comes from the Greek words “chion” meaning snow and “anthos” meaning flower. Indeed the trees in bloom look like they’re covered in snow. Fun Fact: This species of tree is dioecious — male and female flowers are on different plants (although there are a few exceptions). Cylburn has three Chinese Fringe Trees; the larger two are more floriferous and are females. Beyond them if you get a bit closer, you might also notice the red flowers of the Aesculus pavia (Red Buckeye).

Blog Fringe Tree.jpg

To your right, on the West Lawn between the beeches and the large sugar maple, is the fantastic, thorny Crataegus crus-galli (Cockspur Thorn). Look but don’t get too close as the thorns are a full 4 to 5 inches of danger (see below)! The thorniness of Hawthorns led to the development of the ‘Winter King’ cultivar (Cylburn has a grove of five by the Vollmer parking lot) but this Cockspur is truly fascinating, like a tree from a medieval fairy tale. Our thorny beauty was pruned by Matt Mitcheltree and his team at North Hill Tree Experts  in spring 2016. We are grateful to them not only for their contribution of this service to Cylburn, but for their bravery in taking it on.

Blog Cockspur.jpg

If you choose to continue to tour the Mansion Gardens with their profusion of poppies, allium, peonies and innumerable other flowers, you’ll no doubt notice the Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Mindia’ Coppertina (Ninebark). Its unique “coppery” color is a standout wherever it is planted and its limbs drape with beautiful blossoms (see below). Fun fact: This native plant is fantastic now but also interesting in the winter, getting the name “ninebark” from the peeling bark on its mature branches that reveals an array of colors.

Blog Ninebark.jpg

We hope you’ll come see these fine trees and shrubs for yourself. There is an array of flowers as well — the material of another blog post! If you can’t remember all of this information, stop to see our “What’s in Bloom” posters next to the Vollmer Center, across from the Rain Garden, and on the Mansion porch — Thanks to our partners at Lifebridge Health we are able to offer this information for visitors each month. You can always visit our website, Facebook and Instagram pages for more images and information about the arboretum. Hope to see you at Cylburn soon!

Here are a few more photos of trees and shrubs currently blooming.

Pictured above clockwise: How about a picnic by the Cockspur Thorn (just don’t get too close); Mock Orange; Red Buckeye; Dogwood; Snowmound Spiraea; Chinese Fringe Trees at their prime on Market Day; and Smoke Tree.