April at the Botanical Garden
With the knowledge that the Cleveland Botanical Garden is, at present, closed to the public, the plants highlighted in this document can all be enjoyed from the grounds surrounding the garden; no entrance required! We also encourage you to seek out these spectacles in your neighborhood, so let’s get started!
April is comparable to prom season for some of the seemingly familiar trees in our landscape. Most of the year trees such as apple serviceberries (Amelanchier x grandiflora), cherries (Prunus sp. & cultivars), and katsuras (Cercidiphyllum japonicum and cultivars) are clad in your typical shades of green. But rejoice! It’s April! It’s show out season! Before the leaves emerge these unquestionable spring beauties illuminate the canopy.
In the Campsey-Stauffer Gateway Garden cherries steal the show. Dripping lavishly over the entrance to the parking garage is Prunus [Snow Fountains]. The first flower on this mass planting was seen on the first of this month this year and it’s sure to go fast so get to it if you wish to enjoy the whimsy of this aptly named selection. Snow Fountains can also be enjoyed from East Boulevard near the southwest end of the Eleanor Smith Glasshouses. This grouping is ideal for an intimate close up and of course a flor-ific selfie.
Additionally, the fragrant blooms of snowflake Viburnums (Viburnum x carlecephalum ‘Cayuga’), the charming pinwheel-like blooms of creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) and the annual tulip display will all be able to be enjoyed later this month.
In the Gateway garden at the north end of McDog walk (entrance off of Wade Oval Dr. just west of the corner of East Blvd.) is an opportunity to enjoy the ephemeral blooms of the apple serviceberry. In the upcoming issue of Forests & Gardens this magnificent tree will be profiled but for now get a sneak peak of what all the fuss is about. But make haste; the peak bloom for this tree lasts only a handful of days in mid-April. A formidable 30-foot apple serviceberry on the northeast side of the Western Reserve Herb Society’s garden can be viewed from the circular drive. Behind a bench in the Gateway garden be sure to enjoy the subtle and compelling blooms of the weeping katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Morioka Weeping’). This tree never ceases to delight. Every season it adds such unique beauty to the garden. The diminutive male flowers (fun fact: all weeping katsuras are male clones) lack petals, and while individually these flowers are nothing to write home about, en masse they light up an early spring day.
If your neck is craned from admiration of our lignin-laden friends sink your eyes to the earth. Oh the yellows and blues! If you stroll the northern path of Wade Oval, just beyond the fence of White Oak Walk you can’t miss the dramatic yellows of daffodils (Narcissus cultivars) situated like golden curtains for an iridescent blue stage of Siberian squill (Scilla siberica and cultivars). Daffodil cultivars emerge throughout the month and oh the variety! The American Daffodil Society recognizes thirteen distinct divisions of daffodils, and each division has countless cultivars. A fun exercise is to learn characteristics of some of the divisions and use this knowledge to expand your appreciation for the ubiquitous daffodil. The Cleveland Botanical Garden may be closed to the public but nature carries on.