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Spring is in the Air!

Last night’s temperatures don’t tell the whole tale of spring at Winterthur. There is sooooo much in bloom right now! The Sundial Garden is amazing, daffodils are in bloom all over the place, and the tulips on the stone wall above the Brown Horticulture Learning Center are stunning.  Yesterday afternoon, I put on my coat and gloves (can’t I box those gloves up yet?) and took in an hour-long hike in the Winterthur Garden. Sure beats a treadmill!

I started out at the tram boarding center to check in with the garden guides. JJ was her cheerful self, despite the chill, and Duncan was sporting a flower bedecked hat. Takes a real man to pull that off…and one with an excellent sense of humor.

Onward, following the white arrow trail, I explored the trilliums in Azalea Woods (just a tiny opening of the buds on the azaleas…it’ll be awhile.)  The trail led me down hill past gloriously bright forsythia, to beds of daffodils, and right to the splendor of Magnolia Bend. Picture yourself on the bench beneath the trees with Magnolia petals falling all around you.

I veered off the trail to stroll the Winterhazel Walk. I kinda missed its main display (planning a baby shower!), but it looks great as the hellebores are in full bloom. Through the Pinetum to say ‘hello’ to the Blue Atlas Cedar, then towards the Sundial Garden. Did you know the flowering quince are in full bloom in the Pinetum now?  Their colors are so similar to the pinks and corals of Azalea Woods, but don’t get too close, those thorns will get you!

The Sundial Garden is always one of my favorite places, especially in late April when it’s in full bloom. The way the dark green of the Pinetum backs it shows off the paler, softer colors of the Sundial Garden. Love. It!

I missed part of the trail that leads smack dab through the middle of Winterthur’s amazing daffodil display, in the field beyond the Pinetum.  I should have backtracked for that!  On to the Quarry Garden where there are just touches of deep purple beginning to show on the primroses. Also, check out the newly renovated weirs below the Quarry Garden. The new stone work looks fantastic. And it looks like a great place for frogs to lay their eggs – bonus!

Then where did I go?  I was kind of lost in the moment and not thinking about writing later. That in itself is a wonderful thing!  Oh yes, I rounded through Enchanted Woods observing a multi-generational family enjoying the day in the garden, despite the chill.

From there, the arrows led me along the March Bank where I saw one of my favorite plants, Uvularia, in full bloom. It’s not a bloom to write home about, but I like the bright hanging-down flowers, like visiting an old friend.

Up to the house to check out its new look. The new windows look fantastic, no longer black empty mirrors, they have some life and vitality. And no more scaffolding and green scrim.

From the house, I cut through the galleries reception atrium on my way to the plant shop. Loes was busy laying out many, many new plants for purchase in her new digs. The plant shop has been entirely redone, inside and out, providing easy access to plants for your garden.

Lastly, I walked uphill to the Brown Center, extra points for hustling up that hill! Along the way, on the stone wall near the Coach House, one of the best displays of forsythia in the state, draping down the wall. Then, to top the walk off, the bright pink tulips near the Brown Center. Remember when Michele planted those last fall? They are in full bloom now. Well done!

A few pictures from my invigorating and mind-expanding walk in the Winterthur Garden on April 23. Get your tickets at the Visitor Center, or display your membership card, and get out in the garden this weekend!

 

Uvularia

Uvularia

Magnolia Bend

Magnolia Bend

Japanese Maple at Magnolia Bend with Daffodils

Japanese Maple at Magnolia Bend with Daffodils

Flowering Quince in Pinetum

Flowering Quince in Pinetum

Tulips near BHLC

Tulips near BHLC

Forsythia near Coach House

Forsythia near Coach House

Plants for Sale!

Plants for Sale!

Museum with new windows

Museum with new windows

Sundial Garden

Sundial Garden

April 22, 2015

The colorful daffodils throughout the Winterthur Garden date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Join Linda Eirhart, director of horticulture and curator of plants, for a closer look at the color and size variations in the cultivars grown at Winterthur. Linda will identify the known cultivars, explain the classification system of daffodils, and invite you to examine the still-to-be-identified flowers.

4-22 exploring historic daffodils

Walks last 45–60 minutes. Join us for demonstrations, talks, and guided walks covering a wide range of gardening topics. These events begin at 11:30 am on Wednesdays from April through October (except August). Wednesdays at Winterthur is free with all admission tickets. Members are free.

No reservations necessary. Please dress for the weather and wear walking shoes. Walks are generally not handicap accessible due to rough ground and steep garden paths.

Garden Glimpses

IMG_2404

Garden Glimpse Video

Visit now to see the March Bank in full bloom. The oldest surviving garden area at Winterthur, H. F. du Pont began the Bank in 1902 and by the 1940s had planted thousands of snowdrops, snowflakes, crocus, squill, and glory-of-the-snow.  A late spring this year means that you can still enjoy the show! View our Garden Glimpse video of this week’s bloom highlights on the March Bank.

Your Flowering Forecast

Magnolia flower

Magnolia flower

The next two days will feature highs in the 70’s; this will be what the budded blossoms need to jettison us into spring and to a little more seasonal flowering time.  As you probably have noticed, the garden has been a little behind schedule.  The forecast for early next week is for temperatures in the 60’s which will also bring on some color, followed by temperatures in the 50’s to help keep the flowers from fading.

This means what is now in full flower, such as the Winterhazel Walk, may come and go quickly so if you want to see that garden in full flower, perhaps a visit today or Saturday is in your future.  Some of the other plants you will find in flower now are magnolias, forsythia, daffodils, cherries and the first early wildflowers, also called spring ephemerals. What will be in flower in a few days remains to be seen. Perhaps checking in on the Twitter feed to the right of this page can keep you up to date with the spontaneous nature of the garden.

Ephemeral should be a mantra for spring in general.  The height of flower can be cut short by frost, high winds and a surge in heat.  The panacea for the ephemeral is to visit often.

daffodil3

Join us on Saturday, April 18, and celebrate the beauty of the daffodil while enjoying Winterthur’s amazing daffodil display! Henry Francis du Pont used his collector’s eye in assembling his collection of hundreds of heirloom daffodil bulbs arranged in cloud-like drifts on Sycamore Hill. The day’s events will include tours, kids’ crafts, and a children’s daffodil show. Members free. Included with general admission. Make a reservation for Daffodil Day Afternoon Tea Buffet by calling 302.888.4826. The Afternoon Tea Buffet is $29.95 for adults and half off for children under 12. Members receive a 10% discount on up to 4 guests. Reservations required. (printable schedule here)

The Day’s Schedule

10:00-11:00
Children’s Daffodil Show Entries Meet at Visitor Center with their Daffodils

10:00-2:00
Daffodil Kids Activity at Visitor Center

11:30 & 1:30
Guided Daffodil Tour through the Drifts of Daffodils (tour starts near the Conifers)

1:00-2:30
Daffodil Workshop Brown Center

3:00
Daffodil Tea at Visitor Center (reservation required)

The following activities take place all day (10:00 am to 3:30 pm)

Children’s Daffodil Show on Display in the Visitor Center
Self-guided Daffodil Tour (follow the White Arrows starting at the Visitor Center or take the tram)
Special Tram Daffodil Stop (near the Conifers)
Spring Tour & Conservatory Display (begins in the Galleries Reception Area)
Plant Sales (at the Museum Store)

We hope that many families will join us on Daffodil Day for our Children’s Daffodil Show and crafts in the Visitors Center. The daffodil is a cheerful harbinger of Spring and a great way to introduce kids to gardening. The following link is to the very basic instructions for entrants in our first ever Children’s Daffodil Show. There will be lots of prizes and fun to be had by all! [Instructions]

April 15, 2015

Enjoy a leisurely stroll through field and woodland edges to observe bird species and activity. Please wear walking shoes and bring your binoculars.

 

4-15 Birds of Winterthur W@W

 

Walks last 45–60 minutes. Join us for demonstrations, talks, and guided walks covering a wide range of gardening topics. These events begin at 11:30 am on Wednesdays from April through October (except August). Wednesdays at Winterthur is free with all admission tickets. Members are free.

No reservations necessary. Please dress for the weather and wear walking shoes. Walks are generally not handicap accessible due to rough ground and steep garden paths.

It’s Blue!

For my first outing to Winterthur after retiring (yay!), I had to check on the March Bank. Knowing the glory-of-the-snow in my garden are blooming, I figured the March Bank had to finally be kicking in. Yesterday, though, it was chilly and overcast, so the little flowers were mostly closed.

 

View from Magnolia Bend

View from Magnolia Bend

 

This weekend, with the sun, it should be beautiful out there. Carve out at least an hour to enjoy open views from secluded benches, walks along curved paths, and a peaceful time to admire the blooms in the Sundial Garden (magnolias), Winterhazel Walk, and the March Bank.  It’ll be worth it!  Just display your membership card, or purchase admission at the Visitor Center, and the Winterthur Garden world is your oyster.

 

image

Follow the white arrows to the March Bank

 

Disclaimer: I’ve all but given up trying to capture the ephemeral beauty of the blue phase of the March Bank via photographs. I must need a filter on my iPhone, or use a better camera.  And it’s not just the March Bank – the blue extends way beyond the March Bank, covering the ground near Enchanted Woods, in Azalea Woods, in surprising patches here and there. I noticed that yesterday there was so much blue, my mind started reading it as grass…like blue was the normal color of the ground.  Come and see for yourself!

 

Winterhazel Walk

Winterhazel Walk

 

 

Rusty Blackbird credit: Stuart Oikawa from Cornell All About Birds Website

Rusty Blackbird credit: Stuart Oikawa from Cornell All About Birds Website

Linda Rossell Bailey, Natural Lands Technician, notes the following observation:

Although Winterthur is well-known for its Garden and Museum collections, the property also quietly hosts a variety of wildlife species- especially birds.  Some are here year round, some travel from the tropics to breed here in the summer, and others come to escape the frosty, boreal forests of Canada for the winter.  This March, we had two visiting individuals of a species facing severe decline- the Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus).

Once an abundant species, Rusty Blackbird (or Rusties, as they are affectionately called by the birding community) populations have decline between 85% and 99% over the last 40 years.  The reasons behind this dramatic and rapid decline are still unknown.  Scientists have speculated a host of causes, but a combination of loss of wooded wetland habitat to agriculture, mercury contamination, competition with other “blackbird” species for food resources, and climatic changes in their breeding grounds appears to be the culprit.  Because of this worrisome decline, Rusties were recently downgraded to “Vulnerable” status (one step above “Endangered”) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The sightings were reported to the Delaware birding community and submitted to the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz 2015, which aims to gather information about the Rusties’ migration patterns, behavior, and habitat requirements.  With any luck, our two little visitors will help provide some answers towards how to best conserve this species!

We hope that on your visit(s) to Winterthur, you will take the time to not only enjoy the Garden and Museum, but also to explore the birding and wildlife watching opportunities the natural lands have to offer!  You never know what you might spot!

April 8, 2015

Enjoy an early spring walk through the winterhazel garden with horticulturist Michelle Stapleford and see the early blooms of the lavender Korean azaleas with the pale yellow blooms of the winterhazels.

 

4-8 winterhazel walk W@W

 

Walks last 45–60 minutes. Join us for demonstrations, talks, and guided walks covering a wide range of gardening topics. These events begin at 11:30 am on Wednesdays from April through October (except August). Wednesdays at Winterthur is free with all admission tickets. Members are free.

No reservations necessary. Please dress for the weather and wear walking shoes. Walks are generally not handicap accessible due to rough ground and steep garden paths.

 

Whether you have found yourself to be a patient person or not, spring has made us wait a bit this year and in one sense, is still making us exercise that part of us that wants what we want NOW!  The March Bank—for the 3rd time in recent years—will again be the April Bank.  This year, it gets the grand distinction of being the second week of April.

Adonis and other early bulbs in yellow and white phase

Early March – the ‘yellow and white’ phase

The usual gentle unfolding of the snowdrops, winter aconite, adonis and snowflake that occurs over the winter months on the March Bank was rather condensed and late this year but has been absolutely stunning the past two weeks, providing  that much needed color for the gardener’s soul.  I almost wish for more cool temperatures to prolong the flowers and just savor the color as it is for just a little bit longer…but I think that wish would start a coup.

Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa or Glory of the Snow

So, you all get your wish!  A warm day on Thursday, a few more in the 5-day forecast along with some rain are sure to arouse the blue from its winter sleep and fill our collective souls in another way—like the serene and calming effect of looking at a large body of water.  If I were a betting person, I would place some chips on mid next week for saturated color or you can be like the kid in the back seat saying “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” and come and see the daily transformation for yourself.   Some blue is awakening in both the March Bank and Glade and on The East Terrace, our early, “preview spot” it is fairly close to full bloom.

Sheets of blue in the March Bank

Sheets of blue in the March Bank

If you have only one day to view, perhaps make it next week—on a day when it’s not forecast to rain.

If you have multiple times to see the March Bank in its blue grandeur, try different times of day and weather conditions, especially if you are trying to photograph this hard-to-capture moment in the garden.  My favorite time is about 5:00-5:30 in the evening after a sunny day; the glory-of-the-snow flowers are wide open as a result of the sun but the waning daylight makes the blue electric.  No matter when you see it, delight in it!

Reminder: for up-to-the-minute news and photos of flowers in the garden look to the column on the right at @WinterthurBloom. This is a constant feed of what is happening now in the garden (and in the region for gardeners). You can also subscribe to this directly through Twitter (www.Twitter.com).