Information Session on Volunteering in the Winterthur Garden

March 31, 10:00–11:30 am  |  Brown Horticulture Learning Center

Come learn about the many ways you can serve (and have fun!) in the Winterthur Garden. Led by Winterthur staff and current volunteers.

Pre-registration required. Please call 800.448.3883. Free to Members and included with admission.


Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

If one was ever to get whiplash from weather it would have been this past winter—or was it spring? No, it was the winter that was a spring then reminded us that it was winter again. A heart break for many of us was when magnolias, forsythia and quince were in flower—a month early—then blasted by temperatures in the teens and then captured in ice.  On the upside though, I did get to check “see forsythia flower in February” off the bucket list.

When we experienced one of our late March snowfalls—which is not uncommon—the one thing that was different for us was just how far along the garden was in its flowering sequence. When asked if “the blue” would still occur once the snow melted the answer was a simple “I have no idea”.

I do have the answer now—and it is yes. Many of our early spring shrubs are vulnerable to the whims of weather changes.  Our winter and early spring bulbs seem to withstand the cold temperature dips much more; conversely, it is the warm days that will hasten their demise. With that in mind, it looks as if the next 10 days will be moderate with temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s (70 tomorrow but overcast and rain so it will be a “cool” 70). This should help us toward a slower unfolding into spring.  If the predicted rains are not too hard—which can flatten bulbs, too—it should be a nice blue display for a while.

I had my horticultural lawyer look over the above stated prediction and I received this advice. If you want to see the garden, don’t wait for that “perfect day”,  just come and see it.  If the past few months have taught us one thing it is that flowers don’t look at the calendar.  They respond to the conditions around them.  If your schedule is tight this week, see if you can steal away time before your day starts, at lunch or toward the end of the day (my favorite time to see the March Bank) and capture the moment while the moment is still here.

(sorry…pictures did accompany this post but technology would not work with me.  Perhaps this is the nudge you need to come and see it for yourselves!)


Calling the next generation of horticulturists!

Do you have a passion for horticulture, appreciate history, and love to learn? Are you a college student or recent college graduate having completed six months or more of course work in horticulture (or a related field) and six months or more of horticultural work experience?

If you are serious about growing your knowledge and skills in public horticulture at one of the country’s premier historic gardens, look no further than Winterthur!

We still have openings for up to three Garden & Estate Interns and one Turf & Grounds Intern! These are paid internships and include free housing on-site. The Garden & Estate internships run May through August (flexible start- and end-dates), while the Turf & Grounds internship can start immediately.

All interns work one-on-one with experienced staff. They learn and practice sound horticultural techniques, as well as gain an understanding and appreciation of Mr. du Pont’s original design intent for the historic garden and grounds.

Interns have the opportunity to participate in an array of educational programming including special trainings, plant identification classes, and field trips to diverse horticultural destinations in the region.

For more information about the Horticulture Internship Program at Winterthur and how to apply, please contact Erica Anderson at <eander@winterthur.org>. Time is running out, so please act promptly!

Bank to Bend

Despite the snow, I can’t wait for tomorrow’s lecture and Bank to Bend. Each year in March we have an event entitled ‘Bank to Bend,’ which celebrates the early display of bulbs here at Winterthur. This idea traces itself back to our Mr. du Pont who used to search out the first flowers in the Winterthur garden as winter was giving way to spring.

Tomorrow’s lecture is going to be delivered by Charles Cresson, one of the most knowledgeable horticulturists you will ever meet. Charles is going to share his insights on the winter garden. Personally, I will have my notebook ready, because he is a wealth of information. (Here is a link that provides a little preview of Charles’ garden Hedgleigh Spring.) We will also have Carolyn Walker from Carolyn’s Shade Garden on site selling rare and unique plants, an afternoon guided walk of the garden (even if there is snow on the ground we will see flowers), a self-guided tour, and a snowdrop ‘tutorial’ for those interested in learning more about Galanthus will round out the day. Below is some information for those of your who would like to pre-register. I hope to see you there.

Chris Strand
Brown Harrington Director Garden & Estate – Winterthur

Bank to Bend: Celebrating the Year’s First Flowers

Saturday, March 11, 10:00 am–3:30 pm

Celebrate the first flowers of the year and be part of a longstanding Winterthur tradition! This year’s featured speaker, Charles Cresson, a well-known horticulturist and plantsman from Swarthmore, will explore the wonder of the winter garden, drawing upon his rich gardening experience and long association with Winterthur. Come be inspired with new ideas for your own garden, enjoy a guided or self-guided garden tour, and shop our speciality sale of rare and unusual plants from Carolyn’s Shade Garden. Lecture: $10 per Member, $20 per nonmember, free for Garden and Landscape Society and Garden Associate members. Please call 800.448.3883 or 302.888.4600 to pre-registration required. Garden tours and plant sale are free for Members and included with admission.

  • Lecture by Charles Cresson, “Winter Flowers: Inspiration for Your Garden,” – 11:00 am, Copeland Lecture Hall
  • Guided walking tour of the garden led by Director of Garden & Estate Chris Strand – 1:00 pm, begins at the Visitor Center Patio
  • Self-guided tour – all day, begins at the Visitor Center Patio
  • Plant sale by Carolyn’s Shade Garden – 10:00 am–3:30 pm, Visitor Center




Curtain Call

As snowdrops bend to the earth and winter aconites send husks of spent blooms aloft on glistening green umbrellas, a new cast of characters rushes in to capture the spotlight. Seeming to laugh at the recent downturn in temperature, several blossoms not only delight us but take us by sheer surprise. Is that a patch of daffodils in full bloom over there in that shady pocket of Azalea Woods? Oh my! The afternoon sunlight slants through the tree canopy at just the right angle, illuminating the yellowest yellow I have seen this spring.

The March Bank, which is now in the adolescence leading to its incomparable “blue phase,” still amazes us with a bright yellow-green firecracker (or specimen of Cornus officinalis) at the end of its historic walk. Meandering over to the Pinetum, we find mauve-purple blossoms of early rhododendrons (a little crumpled from the cold) standing out against their dark green backdrop. Rising from a woodland mulch of pine needles, a pageant of nearby hellebores scatters the forest floor with shades of pink, cream, pale green, and plum.

The parade continues down the Winterhazel Walk, where the first pale yellow clusters of winterhazel flowers provide a cheerful canopy. Further along, we find the striking lime green flowers of stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) with its attractive, deeply dissected foliage.

It’s getting colder, though, and my fingers are beginning to freeze inside my gloves. But wait another minute: across from the famous sentinels of Sargent cherry, there are multiple shrubs of fragrant viburnum (Viburnum farreri) covered with pale pink and rose-colored flowers! The descending sun catches the blossoms and, for a moment, warms me with their pink glow.

But just for a moment. As I sprint my way back through the garden, I attempt to enjoy one last finale. The sun is making bright halos around the millions of fuzzy buds at Magnolia Bend! But I can no longer grip my camera. At least for today, the show must come to an end.

The March Bank bulb display is currently a study in gold and white. The yellow cups of winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) masterfully catch the light and glow as if with lights of their own, while golden blossoms of Amur adonis (Adonis amurensis) deepen the overall palette. And such snowdrops! The pearly white of both the common (Galanthus nivalis) and large (G. elwesii) forms stands out against the predominant browns and greens of the late winter garden. An occasional spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum) also delights the eye, with bright white bells that are flecked with green. Completing the scene are the swelling yellow buds of Japanese cornel dogwood (Cornus officinalis), if one is willing to turn one’s view upwards!

By Cecilia Davidson

Take advantage of this early spring weather and take a walk through the garden. You will notice highlights of yellow, purple, and white flowers carpeting the landscape throughout. Don’t forget, Winterthur reopens Wednesday, March 1st!

For a detailed report of what is blooming in the garden, check out our weekly bloom report compiled by our dedicated Garden Volunteers, Walter Hipple and Pauline Myers (and reviewed by Cecilia). It is a wealth of information!

02-23-17 3

Cecilia is Plant Records Assistant at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library.

Right now the best seat in H. F. du Pont’s 175-room mansion may very well be just outside its walls, on the stately East Terrace. There a circular iron bench overlooks a sea of lavender crocus (Crocus tommasinianus). Known affectionately as “tommies,” these early-blooming crocuses naturalize easily and have the added bonus of being squirrel-resistant! Planted en masse, their delicate shades and graceful shapes soften a space otherwise studded with brown columnar forms both arboreal and architectural. The resulting view is absolutely breathtaking!

2017 HPS March Into Spring Conf Brochure

Attention Winterthur members! Come join Director of Garden & Estate Chris Strand this Saturday, February 11 at 1:00 pm for a garden walk focusing on winter color in the garden and the very first flowers of the year! Walk leaves from the Picnic House at the far end of the Visitor Parking Lot. Come a little early to grab a cup of coffee or tea to take with you on the trail! In case of inclement weather, an update message will be left at 302.888.4915 approximately 3 hours before the walk.