Suspended Animation

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Suspended Animation

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

Yesterday was day number seven of gloomy skies and temperatures at least 15F degrees below normal. It stopped spring’s progress in its tracks and is making many flowers last a long time. At least it has not gotten cold enough to do much damage to any flowers or emerging vegetation.

You can see on this view from the trolley stop into the Perennial Garden that the early Daffodils are in full bloom. We have many thousands of daffodils and these should remain in phenomenal bloom through the predicted seasonal (warmer!) weekend.

Ice Follies Daffodil (Narcissus Large Cup Division II) has soft yellow center’s again this spring as the temperatures have been so cool — this makes three cool springs in a row! Often they are at best cream and sometimes look fully white during our warm springs.

Gold Tide Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia ‘Courtasol’) is in full bloom and a Plant of Merit because it is a low growing forsythia that won’t engulf an entire garden. Forsythia is always a blast of color in the early spring landscape.


More subtle are the fragrant clusters of pink flowers on the Dawn Viburnum (Viburnum x bodnantense) which often blooms by early February for us — only to be killed off by a harsh freeze. This is a big shrub (easily 8 feet tall): look for them on the south ramps of the Visitor Center.


Magnolias are always freeze tender and the buds of most are bursting forth from the warm spell a week ago. This is Magnolia ‘March ’til Frost,’ which is a rebloomer but its spring bloom is the fullest with deep burgundy goblet-shaped flowers. Only time will tell if these will all open OK– actually so far so good.

The delicate flowers of White-Forsythia (Abeliophyllum distichum) is related to Forsythia but is NOT a true Forsythia. The flower buds were depicted in an earlier blog but the delightful blooms really add early spring sparkle to the landscape. It forces very easy indoors in winter as do all these early spring flowering shrubs. This shrub takes more time than forsythia to become a nice landscape plant and also requires some pruning so it doesn’t become a disheveled mess (thinning older canes for forcing is a good thing!). It is a very rare shrub in the wilds of Korea.

The lichens are loving this weather and since “Alice algae and Freddy fungus took a like’n to each other” these symbiotic alive organisms prosper from each other and don’t harm the tree (hackberry shown). They are a good indicator of good air quality and such images cannot be found from Greater Kansas City’s more urban core.

 Japanese Cornelian-Cherry Dogwood (Cornus officinalis) is one of our earliest blooming small trees and its clusters of tiny yellow flowers cover it in a yellow haze. These will produce tart red fruit by late summer — edible but very tart. Look for these and their European relative (Cornus mas) throughout the grounds. The flowers of Cornelian-Cherry Dogwoods are very frost and freeze resistant.


The vivid red berries on the American Holly (Ilex opaca) on the north end of the Visitor Education Center also made me take a photo to share today. These beautiful berries have been colorful for almost 6 months now.

May you make plans to come visit Powell Gardens this weekend and enjoy the early spring landscape. After more than a week of gloom it will be a breath of spring and fresh air! Most of the spring beds are planted, including in the Heartland Harvest Garden. Our plant sale list is now on-line so start making your wish list for that event the first weekend in May. The spring flower and companion plant seeds available now in the Gift Shop are also on-line so be prepared to pick some of them up and get your garden for the 2011 season already underway. The sun will come out soon!