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This Saturday is going to be our annual Azaleas & Bluebells event, a celebration of the spectacular display of azaleas in Azalea Woods. Unfortunately, the weather – both the early spring and the rain forecast – has made it nearly impossible to celebrate. Nevertheless, if you are stalwart, intrepid, and dare-I-say daring, you will come to Winterthur this Saturday to enjoy the garden and to get access to some rarely available plants.

Tomorrow, we will have azaleas for sale that have been propagated from our Winterthur plants in Azalea Woods. The brief history is as follows.

As early as 1907, Cottage Gardens Company of Long Island began importing plants directly from the Yokohama Nursery Company in Japan. Cottage Gardens was one of HF du Pont’s favorites. On one visit to the nursery, he spied 17 compact azaleas covered with small glossy leaves but no flowers. Cottage Gardens had purchased them after Yokohama had won a gold medal for showing 52 varieties at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. They were called Kurume hybrid azaleas after the city on the Japanese island of Kyushu, where the azaleas were originally bred. HF purchased all 17 plants. These are the plants that HF du Pont propagated and planted in Azalea Woods starting in 1917.

Because many of these azaleas were unnamed HF du Pont chose to simply number them, so when you see them for sale tomorrow most of the plants will just have numbers. I have put together a photographic guide to the varieties that will be on hand tomorrow.

For me, these azaleas are special not just because of their history at Winterthur but also because they were some of the first Kurume azaleas available in America. The horticultural connections to Cottage Gardens and the Yokohama Nursery Company, as well as the Panama Pacific Exposition, make them living bookmarks from an important chapter of American garden history.

The azaleas will be for sale Saturday and Sunday at our Museum Store. Hope to see you there – I will be the one in a raincoat!

Saturday’s Schedule

Azalea Sale 10:00-5:00 (Museum Store)

Garden Tour 11:00-noon (Starting at Visitor Center)

Garden Tour 1:00-2:00 (Starting at Visitor Center)

 

 

Garden Insider: Amazing Azaleas—Getting to Know the Kurume Hybrids

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 – 11:30 am – Brown Horticulture Learning Center

Join horticulturist Susan Sibley for an easy stroll through Azalea Woods to examine the many beautiful examples of Kurume hybrid azaleas. Learn all about their history and see up-close the special color combinations that make Azalea Woods such an amazing destination in spring.

Kurume hybrid azalea (Rhododendron #10)

“Garden Insider” is a new name for a longstanding Winterthur tradition (“Wednesdays at Winterthur”). Join us for this unique series of walks, talks, and demonstrations which introduce you every week to a specialist from among the staff, volunteers, and other professionals affiliated with the Winterthur Garden. Presentations explore all aspects of the Winterthur Garden and Estate – their history, design, and plants – as well as current topics of interest in horticulture, agriculture, and environmental studies. All presentations start at 11:30 am at the Brown Horticulture Learning Center. About 1 hour. Free to Members and included with admission.

Postcard from the 1960s

For those of us who love and admire this well-known pair of statues in the Winterthur Garden, it is a delight to see how they inspire others beyond Winterthur and even beyond the garden realm. Check out the recent musings of an assistant editor from The Washington Papers at the University of Virginia: http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/the-washingtons-at-winterthur. You may never look at these two figures the same again! 

This article was written for The Washington Papers’ blog, Washington’s Quill.

Putting the Historic Garden on the Map

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 – 11:30 am – Brown Horticulture Learning Center

Thanks to a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Winterthur Garden staff are busy at work inventorying and mapping the woody plants in the Winterthur Garden, updating plant records, and geo-referencing key historic maps. The ultimate goals include making Winterthur’s “living collection” available online. Mapping Specialist Lori Schnick and Plant Records Intern Cole Larson-Whittaker will discuss all aspects of their exciting work. Come hear about this giant undertaking from the professionals on the front lines!

Historic Map of Azalea Woods

“Garden Insider” is a new name for a longstanding Winterthur tradition (“Wednesdays at Winterthur”). Join us for this unique series of walks, talks, and demonstrations which introduce you every week to a specialist from among the staff, volunteers, and other professionals affiliated with the Winterthur Garden. Presentations explore all aspects of the Winterthur Garden and Estate – their history, design, and plants – as well as current topics of interest in horticulture, agriculture, and environmental studies. All presentations start at 11:30 am at the Brown Horticulture Learning Center. About 1 hour. Free to Members and included with admission.

Sometimes it feels like a waterslide of color… @winterthurmuse

A post shared by Winterthur Garden (@winterthurbloom) on

Drifts of color… @winterthurmuse

A post shared by Winterthur Garden (@winterthurbloom) on

 

Garden Design Duo—H.F. du Pont and Marian Cruger Coffin

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 – 11:30 am – Brown Horticulture Learning Center

Henry Francis du Pont’s earliest collaboration in building his Museum was with Bertha King Benkard, and in his Garden his chosen design partner was Marian Cruger Coffin, one of America’s first female landscape architects. Indeed, Mr. du Pont was gender-blind when seeking advice from the experts! Join Museum and Garden Guide Debra Shedrick for an exploration of this productive partnership. Following the 30-minute presentation, take a guided walk through the Sundial Garden and East Terrace – two lasting examples featuring the design work of this dynamic duo.

Marian Coffin and one of her drawings for the Winterthur Garden

“Garden Insider” is a new name for a longstanding Winterthur tradition (“Wednesdays at Winterthur”). Join us for this unique series of walks, talks, and demonstrations which introduce you every week to a specialist from among the staff, volunteers, and other professionals affiliated with the Winterthur Garden. Presentations explore all aspects of the Winterthur Garden and Estate – their history, design, and plants – as well as current topics of interest in horticulture, agriculture, and environmental studies. All presentations start at 11:30 am at the Brown Horticulture Learning Center. About 1 hour. Free to Members and included with admission.

Winterthur and Delaware’s Pollinator Protection Plan

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 – 11:30 am – Brown Horticulture Learning Center

Pollinators are a key component of U.S. agriculture, but sadly they are facing multiple stresses including parasites, pesticide exposure, and habitat loss. Thalia Pappas, of the Delaware Department of Agriculture, will describe Delaware’s “Managed Pollinator Protection Plan,” part of a wider federal effort to protect the health and habitat of honeybees and native pollinators.  Learn how Winterthur’s meadows are playing an important role in protecting pollinators.

Apis sp.

“Garden Insider” is a new name for a longstanding Winterthur tradition (“Wednesdays at Winterthur”). Join us for this unique series of walks, talks, and demonstrations which introduce you every week to a specialist from among the staff, volunteers, and other professionals affiliated with the Winterthur Garden. Presentations explore all aspects of the Winterthur Garden and Estate – their history, design, and plants – as well as current topics of interest in horticulture, agriculture, and environmental studies. All presentations start at 11:30 am at the Brown Horticulture Learning Center. About 1 hour. Free to Members and included with admission.

Beyond the Spring Bling

In the time of much “gardening bling” it is easy to overlook some of the subtler beauty that is awakening at the same time. A bright red tulip, a show-stopping yellow forsythia mass, or the lush pastel fluff of a cherry tree in full flower is likely to grab anyone’s attention but surrounding that is just as much eye candy minus the bling.

Walking from the Peony Garden yesterday I came across a beech tree unfurling near the Museum Store (with a lot of spring bling for sale!) and it was beautiful.  A fellow employee asked what I was doing and we both looked at this “ordinary sight” with eyes of wonderment.

Beech flowers emerging

The rest of the walk back to my office—through parking spaces and main road access (not the most glamorous of places) —was filled with the quiet beauty that surrounds us.

Miniature leaves of tulip poplar

Bright red emerging leaves of oak

Felted leaves of oakleaf hydrangea

Catkins of musclewood

A cooler spot in the garden where the beech have not yet opened up

After the subdued color palette of winter, it is great to celebrate the addition of color to the spring landscape but take time to look past that to what else is happening.  Look at your own garden, park spaces or even plants in the shopping centers with new eyes and see beyond the obvious to find the mystery that lurks behind the flowering flash.

As Brandywine gardeners we are truly lucky to be surrounded by so many great horticultural organizations. I thought it might be useful to have a simple, shorthand guide to plant sales in the area to help you plan your weekend purchasing. If I have missed a sale, please send me a comment.

APRIL

Saturday, April 22
Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve
Native Plant Nursery Opening Day

Friday & Saturday, April 28 & 29
University of Delaware Botanic Garden
25th Anniversary Plant Sale Celebration

Saturday, April 29
Delaware Center for Horticulture
37th Annual Rare Plant Auction

MAY

Saturday & Sunday, May 6 & 7
Delaware Nature Society
Native Plant Sale

Saturday & Sunday, May 6 & 7
Tyler Arboretum
Annual Plant Sale

Saturday, May 13
Brandywine River Museum
Annual Wildflower, Native Plant & Seed Sale

Saturday, May 13
Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
2017 Annual Plant Sale

Tips

Almost all of these sales offer member and donor previews, so if there is something special you really want, go ahead and join the organization and take advantage of the early access.

Look online for a preview list or catalog and then prioritize what you want to buy. Good plants often sell fast, so you need to be strategic.

Wear sunscreen and sunglasses, bring a bottle of water, fold the seats down in your car and put a tarp down in back, bring some plastic bags and cardboard boxes to prop plants and wrap up your purchases, and bring cash and checks in addition to your credit card.