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Photo Tour: May Views in the Gardens

May 21, 2020

By Jon Peter, Curator & Plant Records Manager, Royal Botanical Gardens

I had the occasion to visit RBG on May 19, 2020 to speak to CHCH Morning Live and took the opportunity to explore what was happening in the gardens. Since we are all yearning to get back in the gardens, I want to share some highlights from this rare visit.

In the Arboretum, the Magnolia Collection is at peak bloom, although it did suffer some frost damage to emerging petals and unopened flower buds. The Redbuds are budding up with the first few flowers opening. Late flowering cherries are in flower, and crabapples will be starting within weeks. Lots of interest was found in the Synoptic Shrub Collection.

Exochorda x macrantha
Exochorda ×macrantha ‘The Bride’ – RBG Accession 920256*A – Not yet pearly-white but the Pearlbush is looking splendid with tight buds blanketing the shrub in the Arboretum Synoptic Shrub Collection.
Viburnum x burkwoodii
Viburnum ×burkwoodii ‘Mohawk’ – RBG Accession 830759*A – The fragrance in the Synoptic Shrub Collection was dazzling with many Viburnum’s in full flower. Pictured here is the cultivar ‘Mohawk’ with its rosy-pink flower buds opening to reveal deliciously fragrant white flowers.

At Rock Garden, many of the spring bulbs including daffodils are still looking great. Early flowering perennials like moss phlox, lungwort, and barrenwort were in full flower. Many maples were looking glorious and the iconic Saucer Magnolia was in its flowering prime.

Narcissus 'Frosty Snow'
Narcissus ‘Frosty Snow’ – RBG Accession 20180216*A – A blanket of ‘Frosty Snow’ daffodils were spectacular, along with thousands of other daffodils that grow in the Rock Garden beds along York Road.
Narcissus 'Congress'
Narcissus ‘Congress’ – RBG Accession 20190444*A – This mass of daffodils was planted in fall 2019 and is working well to brighten up the space just outside Rock Garden Visitor Centre.
Narcissus 'Falconet'
Narcissus ‘Falconet’ – RBG Accession 20190473*A – Interplanted with Thalictrum ‘Black Stockings’ is another new addition to Rock Garden. These tall Tazetta Daffodils feature multiple flowers per stalk and the fragrance was amazing!
Lamprocapnos spectabilis 'Gold Heart'
Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Gold Heart’ – RBG Accession 20150480*C – A beautiful mass of golden foliage decorated by plenty of pink bleeding hearts.
Phlox subulata
Phlox subulata ‘Purple Beauty’ – RBG Accession 20170220*A – Along the main staircase in Rock Garden, a purple carpet of moss phlox blooms with the emergent foliage of Colchicum autumnale ‘Album’ – RBG Accession 20170267*A – pushing through, building energy to flower in the fall.
Trillium cuneatum
Trillium cuneatum – RBG Accession 20180203*A – This beautiful species is native to southeastern U.S.A. but is thriving in its second spring in Rock Garden.
Trillium cuneatum
Trillium cuneatum – RBG Accession 20180203*A – A close-up of the mottled leaves and dark purple sepals. The fragrance is described in the Flora of North America as “usually pleasant, faint, spicy, reminiscent of odor of bruised sweetshrub (Calycanthus) leaves, occasionally musty or unpleasant”.
Mertensia virginica
Left: Taxus cuspidata ‘Monloo’ = EMERALD SPREADER® - RBG Accession 20150357*I; Right: Mertensia virginica – RBG Accession 20150493*A – I couldn’t help but admire this plant combination of a low spreading Japanese Yew and the exquisitely coloured floral buds of Virginia Bluebells.
Rock Garden Visitor Centre may 2020
Narcissus ‘Cool Flame’ – RBG Accession 20160372*A – A gorgeous stand of daffodils looking up to the vacant Rock Garden Visitor Centre.
View from Lookout at Rock Garden in Spring
Magnolia ×soulangeana – RBG Accession XX502*A – A view from the south lookout with the iconic Saucer Magnolia framing the view.

At Laking Garden, it was great to see the plentiful spring flowering bulbs and the emerging foliage of peonies, clematis and hostas. Newly planted trees are starting to leaf out and the fruit orchard was looking fruitful.

Iris 'Pokemon'
Iris ‘Pokemon’ – RBG Accession 20160207*A – Some of the earliest flowers can be found in the Iris Collection like this delightful miniature dwarf bearded iris. This cultivar was hybridized in Idaho, U.S.A. by George Sutton.
Narcissus 'Quail
Narcissus ‘Quail’ – RBG Accession 20170292*A – A lot of companion plants along Hosta Walk were looking terrific among the emergent Hosta leaves. This mass of Jonquil Daffodil was especially pleasing set against the clear blue sky.
Pyrus communis
Pyrus communis ‘Bosc’ – RBG Accession 20170055*A – A popular pear variety with gorgeous flower structures is welcoming pollinators in the Laking Garden Orchard, with hopes of a fruitful season.

I hope this brief virtual tour of a few RBG spaces and plants has helped to connect you to the gardens. Be well and safe and please know that the plants and gardens are doing well and look forward to seeing you all in the future.