June at the Botanical Garden
At the beginning of the month enjoy the blooms of the tuliptrees (Liriodendron tulipifera). As the common name and specific epithet tulipifera imply, the blooms on this tree are reminiscent of the familiar spring bulb. Closer inspection of the flower reveals its true identity as a member of the Magnolia family. You may need binoculars for this endeavor as tuliptrees can reach heights well over 100ft., a veritable king amongst North American hardwoods. Even without binoculars the bright blooms can be marveled at as glints of gold among the leaves. The flowers sit upright on slender pedicels (flower stalks) with green to yellow petals splashed orange near the base. The treehouse in Hershey Children’s Garden is positioned around a tuliptree that clocked in at 105ft. in the spring of 2019 with a diameter of 42 inches (at breast height). Tuliptrees can also be found at CBG along White Oak Walk, in the Woodland Garden and on East Boulevard.
Playing gatekeepers to the Hershey Children’s Garden with their low hanging boughs, are two littleleaf linden trees (Tilia cordata ‘June Bride’). Creamy yellow starburst flowers open in mid-June and hang from beneath the hood of light green leaf-like structures. This bloom is more a treat for the nose than for the eyes. A common street tree in our region, littleleaf lindens mist the June air with perfume and bring pollinator parties to tree lawns city-wide. Tilia cordata can also be found in the Campsey-Stauffer Gateway Garden at the southwest end of the entrance drive and in the Woodland Garden.
Another tree in bloom this month is the Asian flowering dogwood (Cornus kousa). Their showy white bracts cover the branches and are not true petals, but modified leaves! Look closely within for their true, inconspicuous flowers. The profuse blooms and decorative bark are sure to catch your eye on these small trees in the Evans Restorative Garden, Inspiration Gardens, Western Reserve Herb Society (WRHS) Herb Garden and the Waterfall Garden.
The Mary Ann Sears Swetland Rose Garden is the place to be this month as roses (Rosa species & cultivars) make a welcomed comeback to the landscape. The collection of roses in the WRHS Herb Garden boasts historic cultivars some of which date back hundreds of years, as early as the 14th century! The date printed on the display labels in the bottom right corner is the earliest known date of cultivation for that variety. For those curious about native roses, head to the Rain Garden where swamp rose (Rosa palustris) will be in bloom later in the month.
Another member of the rose family, albeit inconspicuously so, in bloom this month is goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus). The tall, shaggy, astilbe-like white plumes of this herbaceous perennial can be found along White Oak Walk, in the C.K. Patrick Perennial Border Garden, and in the Woodland Garden. As the specific epithet dioicus implies, there are separate male and female plants for this species. See if you can discern the male inflorescences from the females (hint: the male flowers tend to be showier).
Mid-month Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica & cultivars) shrubs are in bloom along White Oak Walk, in Gateway Garden, and in Restorative Garden. Climbing high on the north and south walls of the Terrace Garden find Japanese hydrangeavine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides). Along East Boulevard is a large swath of false indigo (Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ and Baptisia x variicolor [Twilite Prairieblues]). More false indigos can be found in C.K. Patrick Perennial Border Garden, WRHS Herb Garden, and the Inspiration Garden in various shades of purples, yellows, and white. Look for the stately bloom of the oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia & cultivars) and the cascading spireas (Spiraea) found throughout the gardens along with astilbe (Astilbe), columbine (Aquilegia), and vining clematis (Clematis) varieties.