Back home in DC this weekend, my family and I took a walk in the Palisades neighborhood where we saw this pussy willow and Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick in bloom. We also went to McCrillis Gardens in Bethesda and found camelias, Korean azaleas, stachyurus, and winterhazel in bloom.
The interns and I took a field trip over to Jenkins Arboretum a couple weeks ago to see their late spring display.
The Rhododendron collection is the reason most people come to Jenkins in the spring. I couldn’t believe how many varieties we saw - apparently over 5,000 rhododendrons, azaleas, and hybrids from around the world!
Other plants of interest included a great old specimen of Buttonbush down by the pond - covered in moss and contorted like some lurking swamp creature. Jenkins has beautiful stands of native plants - huge swaths of wild ginger, tiarella, golden ragwort (Packera aurea), mayapple, maidenhair fern, cedaline poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum), and native pachysandra. Plus, they’re all meticulously labeled, so it’s a great learning library of plants.
I was in peony heaven this afternoon during a tour the Scott Arboretum gave of their tree peony collection. Director of Grounds Jeff Jabco gave a thorough survey of the peonies currently flowering on campus - predominantly tree peonies in addition to some intersectional (Itoh) and herbaceous types. The Itoh peonies were robust with gorgeous green foliage, and some of the standouts were ‘Scarlet Heaven’ and ’Black Panther.’
My favorites of the tree peonies included ‘Nike,’ a Saunders hybrid with yellow crepe-paper petals with magenta flares and many bright yellow stamens. The Japanese tree peony ‘Rimbo’ held magenta-purple double flowers above its foliage. ‘Chinese Dragon’ had wonderful cut-leaf foliage; ‘Vesuvian’ was a deep, dark double burgundy; and the species Paeonia rockii was a bright white with deep magenta flares.
The collection was stunning - over 80 varieties of tree peonies! The recent cool, wet weather had prolonged their flowering, while many others were just in bud. It’s well worth more visits to view the next wave of blooms.