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Winterthur—and our blog readers—will see a bit of a change on March 27th.  This is the last day that Karen will be officially working at Winterthur.  I say officially because this garden has a strange way of luring former employees back, in one capacity or the other.

During her 16 year tenure, Karen has been a stalwart advocate for the garden.  She was responsible—via the trams—for making sure that every guest had the opportunity to see the garden. She in turn would be the “eyes of the guest”, relaying to horticulture staff aspects of the garden as the visitor might see them.  On top of the coordination that position demanded, she then became the major contributor to the Winterthur Garden Blog.  In passing one time I inadvertently referred to it as “Karen’s Blog” and I realized that I did so because her voice was always there to trumpet some aspect of the garden.  Her devotion and love of this garden was the motivating factor behind every responsibility she endlessly took on and the garden is a better place for it.

Karen leaves her position on a high note, having made it through the busiest and most demanding visitation year in our history during Winterthur’s Downton Abbey exhibition.  With the success—and relief—of making it through last year, Karen will be able to hang up her hat and spend more time with her grandchildren, and enjoy all of the relaxation and “doing other things” that comes with retirement.  I don’t want to make promises, but in the “way that the garden lures you back” that I mentioned above, Karen says that she wants to “keep in touch” and be a guest writer for the blog. Her position may have changed but her dedication has not.  After all, it is hard to leave friends—especially flowering ones who never gave you grief except perhaps when weather events such as frost, rain, or wicked winds struck during peak bloom time but they always made up for it in the following year!

Karen, in a week or so, the March Bank will give you a standing ovation for all that you have done to promote The Winterthur Garden.  When you see it, may you have a sense of pride in your accomplishments and may it be a resounding Thank You from the garden and its tenders!

March Bank Blue

March Bank Blue

 

 

Last Saturday’s walk was cancelled, but it seems such a shame to miss the March Bank and the East Terrace, so I have re-scheduled the walk for this coming Saturday, March 21. We will meet at the Visitor Center at 1:00 pm.

snowdropaconite Tommiesweb Snowdrop2 Snowdrop MarchBankweb Eastterraceweb

From Today

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Nature can sure keep us hopping!  Last week we had single digit temperatures, significant ice and snowfall and today, sunshine and warm temperatures are again raining down.  March is known for this behavior but never-the-less it sets our mind spinning a bit.

The still-frozen ground and melting snow has made for a “mud season” for us, a term familiar to many New Englanders and folks of more northerly climes, describing the mucky conditions of spring thaw.   When walking around earlier this week, when my ears weren’t filled with the squishing sound of the earth beneath my feet the familiar sound of buzzing filled the air; bees.

We are not the only ones that are uplifted by the sight of the flowers of late winter.  For honeybees and other early pollinators, these flowers are an important food source for this time of year.  Honeybees are not native to the United States but then again, neither are our early bulbs yet the two provide a wonderful symbiotic relationship with each other—food source and pollination—in their “new land”.

In speaking with fellow gardeners in the region, many of us have shared a secret love of winter—simply for the fact that it is a time that gardeners can “do something else” besides garden! Under normal circumstances, it is a time when a gardener can have a “single thought” rather than going in a thousand different directions as the garden often “makes” us do.  Winter can be a reflective time for pruning, planning and cleanup.  This winter however was not a normal winter and time outside was often too downright cold.  Spring officially begins next week and gardeners are lined up at the gate, waiting for the starter pistol to ring out but that is next week.  This week, a simple walk around Winterthur may provide that soul-filling experience that did not unfold until just about now.  The March Bank and surrounding areas are filled with snowdrops, crocus, winter aconite, adonis, a few spring snowflake and early flowering shrubs such as witchhazel.

The bees are buzzing, the flowers are emerging, the birds are beginning their mating songs and the beauty of the winter landscape is still present—just with a little more friendly temperatures.  Not a bad reason to visit, is it?

 

Honeybee on Crocus. Photo Credit: John Kovasckitz

Honeybee on Crocus. Photo Credit: John Kovasckitz

ClennyRun

My thanks goes out to all of our garden supporters who braved the weather to join us for Bank to Bend. While it was pretty, the temperature started out at 2 degrees F. Our walks in the afternoon, however, revealed just how intrepid snowdrops can be – we found about 35 of them coming up despite the snow! This little one appears to have a bit of yellow, but maybe it is just the cold.

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Thanks to the great efforts of our garden staff, Bank to Bend will take place as planned. Here are the updates on the conditions and schedule:

10:00-3:00  Plant Sales by Carolyn’s Shade Garden

Carolyn will have hellebores and cyclamen for sale. There will also be a limited number of common Galanthus available for purchase in the bookstore.

11:00-noon  ‘Myddelton House Gardens’ Lecture in Copeland

Andrew Turvey’s flight got in safely and he is ready to share the progress at Myddelton with us.

1:00-2:00  ‘An Introduction to Snowdrops’ workshop at Brown Center

The workshop will run as planned at 1:00.

1:00-2:00  & 3:00-4:00 March Bank Tour start at VC

The walking tours will run as planned, though we won’t see any snowdrops – just a winter wonderland!

All Day  Spring Tour & Conservatory Display in the House

Will run as planned.

Adonis Adonis2 tough

Yes, there are plants in flower on the March Bank despite the unrelenting cold!

Snowdrops from 'My Garden in Spring' by EA Bowles 1914

Snowdrops from ‘My Garden in Spring’ by EA Bowles 1914

Our first program of the year – and your invitation to get a taste of spring – is Bank to Bend, an event that celebrates the history of the garden and the du Pont family’s habit of walking the March Bank in search of the first flowers of spring.

This year’s lecture will be delivered by Andrew Turvey of Myddelton House Gardens. This historic garden is the former home of Edward Augustus Bowles ( 1865-1954), one of Britain’s most famous self-taught gardeners, author, artists and botanists. Bowles’ famous My Garden trilogy describing Myddelton in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter is still widely read and respected by garden enthusiasts world-wide. During Andrew’s talk he will introduce EA Bowles and his achievements, his love for plants (among them Crocus, Narcissus and Galanthus). The garden is in the midst of extensive restoration and Andrew will share with us their progress and future plans.

Another image from 'My Garden in Spring'

Another image from ‘My Garden in Spring’

As usual the day will include the opportunity to purchase rare and specialty plants from Carolyn’s Shade Garden, have lunch in the Pavilion, and walk the March Bank on your own or with a guided tour. This year we are adding a drop-in Snowdrop Workshop in the Brown Center and this is the perfect opportunity to visit the recently restored conservatory on the Cottage. Here is a schedule of the day’s events:

10:00-3:00  Plant Sales by Carolyn’s Shade Garden

11:00-noon  ‘Myddelton House Gardens’ Lecture in Copeland

1:00-2:00  ‘An Introduction to Snowdrops’ workshop at Brown Center

1:00-2:00  March Bank Tour start at VC

3:00-4:00  March Bank Tour start at VC

All Day  Self-guided White Arrow Tour starting at the Visitor Center

All Day  Spring Tour & Conservatory Display in the House

All Day  Plant Sales at Museum Store

Below are some photographs I took of Myddelton this summer with my iPhone. It is truly a magical place and I can’t wait to here more about it from Andrew.

Myddelton3 Myddelton5 Myddelton4

To register for any Winterthur Garden program, please call 800.448.3883 or 302.888.4600. 

Winterthur Garden Internship

Laura Cruz, our nearly year-long Garden Intern writes the following about her experience in the Winterthur Garden:

This past summer I completed a horticulture internship at Winterthur.  I decided to apply for this particular internship because, having studied landscape architecture, I wanted to compliment my degree by learning more about historic garden design as well as gain practical horticulture skills.

The internship truly went beyond all my expectations. I had the chance to live and work on Winterthur’s beautiful woodland estate and have this world-class garden as my backyard.  The other interns I worked alongside had backgrounds in disciplines from horticulture to biology, design and agriculture and I think we were all given the opportunity to tailor our internships to meet our individual needs and interests- for example, with my design background I had the chance to help with GIS mapping and other design related work.

By working with different horticulturists in a variety of garden areas we gained experience in a range of horticultural practices.  There were weekly service projects, plant IDs, garden trips, workshops and opportunities for networking with other garden professionals and interns throughout the region.  Interning at Winterthur gave me the chance to enhance my skills, knowledge and confidence to go on to a full-time job in the horticulture and design industry, which I start in a few weeks!

To learn more about paid Winterthur internships and apply, check out:

http://www.winterthur.org/?p=778

Tree climbing demonstration with one of Winterthur’s full-time arborists

Tree climbing demonstration with one of Winterthur’s full-time arborists

Woodland perennials staged and ready to plant!

Woodland perennials staged and ready to plant!

Enjoying the sights and smells of plant identification on Sycamore Hill.

Enjoying the sights and smells of plant identification on Sycamore Hill.

The One-Armed Waver

Working in and caring for an historic garden can sometimes shift what could be construed as normal garden sense i.e. keeping a plant that is long past its aesthetic contribution because of its historic relevance.  Case in point:

Cherry tree on Sycamore Hill

Cherry tree on Sycamore Hill

This poor old specimen of a cherry tree has gone from a regal adornment a top a hillside of daffodils to an almost cartoonish figure of a one-armed waving tree, greeting guests as they stroll along Garden Lane.  OK, maybe I have an active imagination…

This cherry tree has been in decline over the past few years.  Our arborists have been slowly removing bits of dead but last winter’s accumulation of ice and snow lead to two limb failures with the end result being our one-armed waver.  Yet despite it all,  it still flowered last spring!

The reason it still remains is not for its cartoonish aesthetic—although it is a conversation starter; it’s because we don’t know what type of cherry tree it is.  A few years back when the tree was starting to show some significant dieback, our plant records were consulted to start the documentation process of removing and replacing the tree.  During this procedure we found that this tree had “no name and no history” in our garden.  It’s a curious thing when some plants or some areas of the garden can have so much documentation and yet others very little or as in this case, none.

When we found this tree to be undocumented, we started the process of having it propagated so that we could replace in kind the same tree regardless of what it is.  That proved to be somewhat difficult in that although it is still alive, it has not provided good growth needed for propagation material.  Cuttings have been taken over the past two or so years but so far without success.  Our last resort will be a visit by some local plant experts this spring to help us identify the cherry—provided the remaining branch makes it through this winter and that the timing is good for our experts to catch the notoriously fleeting cherry blossoms.  Washington, DC is not the only one who will be fretting over the timing of the cherry blossoms this year…

After a (hopefully) successful identification of our elusive cherry tree, our arborists will come in and “complete the lifecycle”, making way for a new and well-documented cherry tree to begin the process of renewal in the garden once more.

A Much Fuller Canopy a Few Years Back

A Much Fuller Canopy a Few Years Back

The Garden Programs 2015 have been posted, both on Winterthur’s website and on the Garden Programs page of the blog (see 2015 tab above). I will be adding information and updates about these classes, programs, and events over the next several weeks, so check back here often for new information.

Snowdrops from 'My Garden in Spring' by EA Bowles 1914

Snowdrops from ‘My Garden in Spring’ by EA Bowles 1914

Our first program of the year is always Bank to Bend, an event that celebrates the history of the garden and the du Pont family’s habit of walking the March Bank in search of the first flowers of spring.

This year’s lecture will be delivered by Andrew Turvey of Myddelton House Gardens. This historic garden is the former home of Edward Augustus Bowles ( 1865-1954), one of Britain’s most famous self-taught gardeners, author, artists and botanists. Bowles’ famous My Garden trilogy describing Myddelton in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter is still widely read and respected by garden enthusiasts world-wide. During Andrew’s talk he will introduce EA Bowles and his achievements, his love for bulbs including Crocus, Narcissus and Galanthus and talk about how he coined the phrase Galanthophile. The garden is in the midst of extensive restoration and Andrew will share with us their progress and future plans.

Another image from 'My Garden in Spring'

Another image from ‘My Garden in Spring’

As usual the day will include the opportunity to purchase rare and specialty plants from Carolyn’s Shade Garden, have lunch in the Pavilion, and walk the March Bank on your own or with a guided tour.

Information about the day’s schedule can be found here.

Below are some photographs I took of Myddelton this summer with my iPhone. It is truly a magical place and I can’t wait to here more about it from Andrew.

Myddelton3  Myddelton5  Myddelton4