This spring certainly will be a memorable one, won’t it? From a gardening standpoint, it has been absolutely terrific: just the way spring ought to be, with gradually milder days and no severe weather. Since many of us are stuck at home anyway, we have no reason for not getting outside and enjoying the daily changes.

It’s been a particularly marvelous year for the ornamental cherries, and magnolias as well. Most years, it seems, we get a frost or two just as they are coming into flower, which spoils their show before it starts. As you walk around your neighborhood, you may be noticing them in bloom where you never realized they even grew before. It’s a year like this that makes many of us decide to add one or more to our landscapes. You might choose saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) for its spectacle of huge, pink to purplish blooms, or star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) for its abundance of white-petaled blossoms. We’re particularly fond of the hybrid ‘Butterflies’ that grows behind our office, with its buttery yellow flowers.

Another wonderful woody with soft yellow flowers right now is winterhazel (Corylopsis). It’s an elegant alternative to the strong yellow blooms of most forsythias.

Shadbush (Amelanchier) is another excellent choice for a splendid spring bloom display. Besides being beautiful to look at, it provides a bounty of pollen and nectar for early-emerging native pollinators. This one just outside our office door is literally buzzing with activity!


There’s plenty going on at ground level to complement all three of these early-flowering woodies. It’s prime time for many primroses, including soft yellow oxlip (Primula elatior), bright yellow cowslip (P. veris), and several others.

New bulbs are coming along each day, it seems. These striped squill (Puschkinia scilloides), which Jerry planted in the Lilac Walk in October 2016, have multiplied well over the past few years and now provide a wonderful spring show. It’s worth getting down on your knees to admire their delicate markings up close.

For an even bluer blue–and some pretty pink too–be sure to add Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) to your garden palette. They’re just starting to bloom in our Metasequoia Allee and will look good for a few weeks, then disappear until next year. We suggest planting them among hybrid hellebores (Helleborus x hybridus), which will fill the space left as the bluebells go dormant.

Another nice choice for a woodland garden or partly shaded border is ‘May Breeze’ woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata). It usually “reads” white in bloom, but it can sometimes appear to be a very pale, icy blue.

Speaking of ‘May Breeze’…some of you eagle-eyed gardeners may have noticed it blooming in our office border on the front cover of the newest issue of Fine Gardening magazine.

We’re grateful to Carol Collins and the other good folks at Fine Gardening for the fabulous feature article in this issue, focusing on some of the many spring combinations in our display gardens here at Linden Hill.

If you haven’t gotten your issue yet, you can access the entire article on their website, at Spring into Summer. There’s a lot of other eye candy to enjoy there, along with virtual visits to other gardens and solid gardening how-to info as well. Check it out!