From 2 Weeks Behind to Back on Track

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From 2 Weeks Behind to Back on Track

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru, Under a Blue Moon

The long relentless winter got spring off to a slow start at Powell Gardens and in the Kansas City region. We were running as much as three weeks behind on bloom time of some plants but with recent summer-like warmth we now have plants blooming right on their “average bloom date” schedule!

Royal Crown Magnolia (Magnolia hybrid ‘Royal Crown’) is a great example with exquisite blooms still going on now. Normally this magnolia responds too soon to winter warm-ups and can bloom as early as late February! This magnolia usually has its spring blooms ruined by frosts but this year was held back a full month so its large spring flowers enliven the Visitor Center Trolley Stop. This magnolia has even nicer re-bloom in June so we forgive it for its usual spring follies and enjoy it now on rare occasions like this year. Apricot trees in the Heartland Harvest Garden have behaved the same way and we may get an apricot crop this year as their bloom was held back past hard freeze dates.

Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) normally bloom at Powell Gardens on April 10th — so they are right on schedule and by far my favorite spring flowering tree on the grounds.

Wild Plum (Prunus americana) is also in full bloom with its accompanying fragrance. Oh the childhood memories flood back from my grandparents family farm in Iowa when this scent reaches my nose. The bloom of redbud and wild plums coincide and tell me it is time to hike the 3-mile Powell Gardens, Byron Shutz Nature Trail as their bloom signals the spring butterfly season. There are still some openings for Sunday’s in-depth, guided tour where you will see and learn about the unique butterflies of spring, learn about what “hilltopping” is and of course, see and smell these wonderful spring flowers.

The Flowering-Quinces (Chaenomeles spp.) are in bloom too: this particular beauty is a start from a seedling I planted as a young man back in Iowa. It has prolific vibrant vermilion flowers and is on public display on the Island Garden here! Look for several varieties of Flowering-Quinces in the Heartland Harvest Garden because if you have more than one variety they will cross pollinate and produce wonderful aromatic, yellowish fruit in the fall. Stop back in then and hopefully we will have some Flowering-Quince preserves for you to taste! We also have true Quinces (Cydonia oblonga) which are closely related but true quinces cook up into wonderful pink fruit for desserts as well as for preserves.

This shrub in the Heartland Harvest Garden might not look like much but when you walk by it will grab your attention with its marvelous, alluring clove scent! This is a Missouri native Clove Currant (Ribes odoratum) with small but intensely fragrant yellow flowers. The scent brings me back to my childhood walking home from school in spring as this shrub was once commonly planted in yards and is now back on the “hip” planting list for its fragrance and tasty black currants it produces in summer.

Flowering Dogwoods (Cornus florida) are beginning to expand their bracts and are still in small stage but should be in bloom in about a week — lasting for at least 10 days beyond that. This dogwood depicted has salmony young bracts that mature to a sweet pink blushed white.

Peaches are also in bloom and that is later than usual which is a good thing because they can also get nipped by a freeze. This is a Saturn Peach (Prunus persica) in the Missouri Star Orchard. It is one of the showiest in bloom but so far we have not been impressed with its flat, doughnut-shaped peaches. Hopefully this year it will produce an impressive crop of tasty peaches. There was winter kill to the flower buds of some of our peach trees. Almost every variety will have some bloom and hopefully peaches — there will be no need to thin the fruit this year. We are putting a list together of our hardiest peaches.

Blushing Belle Magnolia bloomed in our nursery and represents the next series of magnificent magnolias soon to be available at nurseries. It has very large flowers of heavy substance and a very compelling aroma. Try Klehm’s Song Sparrow Mailorder Nursery if you are interested in growing some of these new hybrids.

A closeup of Blushing Belle Magnolia really shows its alluring blend of coral, pink and white.

Flower buds of Butterflies Magnolia remain one of the most popular magnolias in Powell’s extensive magnolia collection. Look for this tree in full bloom at the Visitor Center trolley stop and in the Perennial Garden this weekend.

Here’s a closer look at an open Butterflies Magnolia flower taken at the Trolley Stop.

You will be amazed by the huge creamy buds of Gold Cup Magnolia also growing beside the Visitor Center Trolley Stop. This plant has flowers of very heavy substance but I sure would never call their flower color gold

Marilyn Magnolia is blooming along the walk to the Visitor Center Trolley Stop. The large upfacing lily-like flowers of this hybrid are quite striking and I was surprised to hear this is a favorite of many magnolia hybridizers. I am more partial to early flowering magnolias with more goblet shaped flowers.

Midseason Daffodils are now in full bloom! This nice clump of Ceylon Daffodils is part of a bigger planting in the Perennial Garden. There are still 1,000’s of mid and late season daffodils in bud and bloom. You will be wowed by their bright springtime colors throughout Powell Gardens.

The Guinea Hen Flower (Fritillaria meleagris) is a bulb that is difficult to establish in our zone but finds the perfect spot in wet, seepy clay around the Rock & Waterfall Garden. This clump between the garden’s bridges stopped several photographers in the beautiful sunshine today.

Look for marvelous Greek Anemones or Windflowers (Anemone blanda) blooming in drifts on the Island and Perennial Gardens. This spring bulb is starting to self-sow in these gardens, creating some varied shades of blue, pink and white.

The Island Gardens Living Wall is also coming alive with rock garden plants like this clump of Rock Cress (Aubretia gracilis).

Large masses of Cleft Phlox (Phlox bifida) cascade from the wall in a froth of sky blue. This Missouri native wildflower is a great choice for rock gardens and has bloomed a bit every month of the year! It is actually a little mini-evergreen shrublet perennial.

Woodland Wildflowers like this Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) are blooming along the walk to the chapel and in woods in the Perennial and Rock & Waterfall Gardens. This poppy relative is as pure white as a flower can get!

Old Fashioned Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis) are showing their pendant wands of pink hearts. This perennial is a Midwest gardeners classic plant and lives a very long time. Look for many clumps with other shade loving spring perennials in the Rock & Waterfall Garden.
Please put Powell Gardens on your weekend list of plans. You will be enriched by the flowers, colors and scents of springtime. Taste the various early greens harvested from the Heartland Harvest Garden outside Good Earth Gifts on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The recent warmth and rains have really greened up the landscape and it is laughing delightfully in flowers — sure to put anyone in a good mood.