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!

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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.


Thursday’s storm left Winterthur bedecked with white, tracing every branch and tree trunk with a skeleton of snow. Check out these views in Chandler Woods, near the Golf Course, and at the back of Azalea Woods — all accessible thanks to the Garden Department’s around-the-clock efforts!

By Frank Quinnette

One of the cool things about starting my work day early is that I often get to see the sun come up. It is quite a sight for sure and the pictures I’ve added can’t do justice to the beauty. As a member of Winterthur, you can come take a walk or a run around the property and see some gorgeous sunrises in real time! So…consider a Winterthur membership and come be amazed by the views I get to see nearly every morning. For more information about becoming a member, please go to: http://www.winterthur.org/membership.

Frank Quinnette is an estate horticulturist, turf expert, equipment and safety guru, and aspiring photographer at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. ~EA

Last Sunday, as January was winding to a close, I took a stroll along the March Bank in honor of the Winterthur Garden’s creator, Henry Francis du Pont. His usual “Bank to Bend” walk (from the March Bank to Magnolia Bend) was always in search of the year’s first blooms, and indeed I was very much in search of the same!

Maybe it was just the cold, but the thought that I was walking in our founder’s footsteps gave me goosebumps. Take a walk for yourself as you enjoy the following photos, with cheerful sights of snowdrops and the golden buds of early adonis. My meandering technically went from Bend to Bank, then Bank to Bend and back again, but I don’t think Mr. du Pont would have scolded me too much (at least, not after hearing about the spirit of my search!).

For an added bonus, I include two bloom-sightings from the nearby East Terrace: the firework-like flowers of witchhazel and a single, sweet blossom of fragrant honeysuckle. Both were striking against their elegant architectural backdrop.

While small, none of these blooms can be measured for the joy they instill in the winter heart!

For information about our upcoming Bank to Bend celebration in early March, please check out the “Garden Events” tab of this blog.

By Frank Quinnette

Like me, if you’re craving some significant snow, you’re probably disappointed at what we’ve had so far. The long range forecast doesn’t look too promising, either.

So, as a reminder of what we still may get, here are some pictures of what we were doing here at Winterthur at the end of January 2016.

To those lovers of snow, take heart. Winter is not over!

To those who can do without the “white stuff,” a warning. Winter is not over…