Monday, May 4, 2009

Two Spring Favorties now in Bloom!

Two favorite spring blooming plants at Powell Gardens are currently in bloom: Oriental Wisterias and Azaleas! The slow, cool spring has been much to their liking and their flowers are lasting a long time. Look for Wisterias covering the Perennial Garden lakeside arbor and Azaleas throughout the Rock & Waterfall Garden.

Oriental Wisterias (the hybrid cultivar 'Caroline' depicted) are quite fickle in our climate. Oriental wisterias set flower buds the previous late summer and fall. In spring, emerging flower buds are often nipped by a late freeze and hence they never bloom. This year they are grand! Oriental Wisterias bloom before most of their foliage is out and the flowers are very large and fragrant; making them the a spring favorite. We have tried many types of Oriental Wisteria and the cultivars 'Caroline' and 'Texas Purple' are our best performers. We recommend you grow a selected cultivar to ensure good bloom as we have some wisterias that are more than a decade old and have never bloomed! There are also American native species of wisterias which bloom in late spring/early summer and they are 100% reliable because our weather has settled down by then.

America's favorite shrub is also painting the understory of the Rock & Waterfall Garden: Azaleas! It is best to come walk through the garden to get the full effect of their rich hues, the spring sunshine, the floral aromas and the songs of all the visceral birds in the garden. I tried to find some compositions to capture the glory of the garden this morning but agreed with several visitors that it is something that must be experienced in person.

The top performing azalea in the Rock & Waterfall Garden is the cultivar 'Herbert' seen here. It has what is called hose-in-hose flowers (its like two flowers in one) of a vibrant lavender purple and a darker flare.

Herbert azaleas like most of them, look better in masses set among shade loving plants.

We have some azaleas you cannot see in these parts including this white Glenn Dale Azalea. It is an unknown cultivar that was a good doer by long-time local nurseryman and azalea enthusiast Andy Klapis. Andy is currently in his late 80's and donated the original collection of Rock & Waterfall azaleas. I gave him a call to let him know that the azaleas are spectacular this spring. We have both a pink and white Glenn Dale azalea from him that are among our most spectacular azaleas.

Azalea Girard's Dwarf Lavender is a great choice for small spaces and vivid color.

Azalea 'Girard's Hot Shot' has orange in its red blossoms so can be difficult to sight in the landscape though is beautiful with other red azaleas and white flowering dogwoods.

Azalea 'Stewartstownian' is our best red azalea and can be found in good masses in the Rock & Waterfall Garden. Again it can be a bit difficult to sight in a landscape but is gorgeous set with green foliage and white flowering dogwood. Blue flowers like woodland phlox and Spanish bluebells are also good companions.

Powell Gardens are currently at their peak of spring color! Dogwoods (see prior blog) and azaleas are as good as ever this year. Together with the wisterias on the perennial garden arbor a visit to the Powell Gardens delivers an ethereal experience.

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