After the spring ephemerals in the woodlands fade, I like to turn my attention to the meadows for native seasonal blooms.  While the striking goldenrod and lush warm-season grasses won’t bolt and bloom until late summer, delicate flowers litter the cool-season grass sea.  The wet areas are especially colorful this time of year.  Time to put my botany degree to work!

The Pale-Spiked Lobelia (Lobelia spicata) forms spike-like racemes of petite, pale blue flowers.  The specific name, spicata, refers to the unbranched “spike” that rises from the ground.


Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) bears white flowers tinged with hints of lavender near its base.  This flower displays a resemblance to the popular garden Foxglove flower, hence the specific name of this plant (digitalis) is the same as the generic name of garden Foxglove.  Both genera, Penstemon and Digitalis, are in the Plantain family (Plataginaceae).



Contrary to its common name, Meadow Evening Primrose (Oenothera pilosella) is a day-flowering species of evening primrose.  Its specific name, pilosella, refers to the downy hair that covers the stem and leaves.








Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium spp.) is a cute perennial which is scattered throughout wet meadows and wetlands.  While not a true grass, it is in the iris family (Iridaceae).

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), as many people know, is a wonderful host plant for the monarch butterfly caterpillar, and also is a wonderful pollinator plant.


Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata) presents bowed flowers which bloom from the axils of the plant.  This lower growing plant only reaches about a foot or two, so keep your eyes peeled in the tall grass!


Winterthur boasts almost 900 acres of natural areas including several hundred acres of meadow.  If you feel up to a light hike, be sure to follow the yellow arrows through natural meadow, woodland, and wetland habitat!


Acres of Azaleas

In 1917, H.F. du Pont bought a few kurume azaleas, flowers unseen, from Cottage Gardens on Long Island. He had his staff propagate them and now hundreds of azlaeas are coloring the garden in whites, pinks, reds, and lavenders.

Exploring Stowe

We are very excited to be hosting a lecture on Saturday, April 20, on the famous English garden, Stowe. Matt Rader, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will present, “Learning to See and Explore at Stowe” from 1:00–2:00 pm in the Copeland Lecture Hall. Matt will discuss his experiences learning to see the landscape as a young man at Stowe, the Capability Brown-designed landscape garden in Buckinghamshire, England. The lecture is $10 per Member. $20 per nonmember. Free for Winterthur Garden and Landscape Society and Garden Associate Members. Purchase tickets online or call 800.448.3883.

Join us on Saturday, April 13, 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.

The Day’s Schedule

10:00-11:00 Children’s Daffodil Show
Entries meet at the Brown Center with their daffodils – judging starts at 11:00

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

11:000  Follies Tour starts at Brown Center

1:00 & 3:00 Special Daffodil Tours start at the Visitor Center Patio

In addition, a self-guided Daffodil Tour starting at the Visitor Center, the Spring Tour through the house, the Costuming the Crown exhibit, and the self-guided Follies exhibit are available throughout the day. 


I learned a new word… kokedama is a Japanese word meaning ‘moss ball’ and is a creative way of growing specimen bulbs and other plants. Our Floral Coordinator, Heidi Militana, is going to show us all how to make one of these unique little bundles of plants in her new series on flower arranging called Garden to Vase. I am putting a link here to the signup and class information. The series of demonstrations kicks off this Wednesday with kokedama, and continues the first Wednesday of each month (from 5:30–8:30 pm) with a different flower arranging topic.

March Bank has the Blues

Today was overcast but the brilliant blue of the March Bank and daffodils brightened the day. Join us this weekend or coming week to enjoy the blues.

Saturday, March 9 – Lecture: 11:00 am, Copeland Lecture Hall (1 hour); Garden Tour: 1:00 pm, begin at Visitor Center Patio (90 minutes); Self-guided Tour of March Bank: all day, begin at Visitor Center Patio

Savill Gardens in December

Join us as the snow begins to melt and celebrate the early bulb display of the March Bank at Winterthur with a lecture, garden tours, and the spectacle of the March Bank in bloom. This year’s featured speaker John Anderson, Keeper of the Gardens at Windsor Great Park, will talk about his role as Keeper of the iconic Savill and Valley Gardens. Mr. Anderson will take us through the seasons, highlighting the remarkable plant collections and historical garden features, including the much-in-the-news garden at Frogmore. To purchase tickets, please call (800) 448- 3883. $10 members, $20 non-members, free for Winterthur Garden and Landscape Society and Garden Associate Members.

The Punch Bowl at Savill Gardens in the spring

March Bank Awakening

Whatever illusion I had about understanding the weather has been dashed in the past year.  Between the recent temperature swings and the “need to build an ark” with our record-breaking rainfall has set my confidence in my weather predicting out the window.  Weather has never been predictable but our norms and trends now seem to be setting their own norms and trends and will make this year’s flower predictions very challenging.  Perhaps this is Mother Nature’s gentle reminder to us all to live a little more in the moment rather than in what is to be. 

That being said, I can report to you some flowering activity that I saw on Tuesday before the drop in temperatures.  The warmer than normal winter has set the March Bank in motion.  We are not saturated in color by any means but it is very heartening when dormancy is broken by burgeoning life.  With temperatures increasing by nearly 50 degrees on Tuesday, (there I go, predicting again; old habits die hard) we should see even more white and yellow color added to the brown of the forest floor.

                                         Underneath the leaves, winter aconite begin to emerge.
                                                           A single winter aconite almost in flower.
                                                              Adonis… on the verge.
                                                             Snowdrops in flower.

This winter, while Winterthur is closed, we are trying something new. We are offering a class, taught by our beekeeper Chris Biondi that will finish in time for participants to start their own hives. The details are below and we hope that a host of members, staff, volunteers, and the general public will be interested!

Beekeeping Basics
Saturdays – February 2, 9, and 16 9:30 am to 11:30 am, Brown Center
Package installation demonstration will take place on April 7 or 14 in the field

This introduction to beekeeping will teach you the basics of starting, maintaining, and caring for your honeybees. Winterthur beekeeper Chris Biondi and Charles Karat will present the history of beekeeping, provide information on where to purchase honeybees and equipment, discuss hive placement and site selection, describe basic honeybee biology including life cycle and diseases, and introduce Integrated Pest Management schemes. The class will culminate with a demonstration of how to install a “package” of honeybees at the Winterthur Apiary (proper beekeeping attire required–not provided). $85 members, $100 non-members.

To register, please call Winterthur’s Information and Tours office at 302.888.4600 or toll free at 1.800.448.3883.

Below is a flyer you can download and share – please help us fill this fun class!

Galanthus Gift

This post was contributed by Eileen Scheck, Assistant Curator of Garden Education. Here she describes a walk in the Winterthur Garden a couple days after Christmas.

A much-needed break from the frantic frenzy of the holiday season led me out into the garden. Along the March Walk I spotted dabs of bright white standing out in a sea of brown leaf mulch.  Snowdrops! Spotting these tiny flowers is a horticultural treasure hunt enjoyed by many — including H.F. du Pont.  

In a Dec. 10, 1932 letter to his sister Louise, Mr. du Pont wrote, “I am glad to say I found my first Galanthus […] in bloom yesterday.”

I was glad, too, when I found my first Galanthus in bloom.  (P.S. Galanthus is the genus name for snowdrops.)  I had to admire this tough-as-nails little plant emerging from the cold ground.  It gave me pause. And that was the best part of my walk — stopping. The act of searching for tiny blooms on the ground slowed me down and forced me to focus.  A reminder to enjoy the moment was the perfect present to give myself this holiday season.  

Save the date! March 9, 2019 is “Bank to Bend,” a celebration of the early bulb display at Winterthur. For more details, see the garden events page on the Winterthur website.