Monday, March 30, 2015

Cheekwood Botanical Garden in Spring - Flowering Quince, Cornelian Cherry, Hyacinths, Tulips, Winter Honeysuckle and More!

Chaenomeles x superba (C. japonica x speciosa) 'Jet Trail', flowering quince

'Jet Trail' quince looks like a good bee plant. I've never tried it, but I've read that ornamental quince (Chaenomeles spp.) produces a very hard fruit that can be used to perfume a room or even cooked to make jam.

The foliage emerges early (mid-March) on Heptacodium miconioides (seven-son flower), a Chinese tree that reportedly has fragrant late-summer flowers that attract bees and butterflies.

Beautiful peeling bark on the Heptacodium miconioides adds a lot of character and texture to the garden.

I confess I haven't had the courage to do much with bulbs (other than daffodils). I'm nervous that winter rains and heavy clay soil would be a death sentence for most bulbs. But since my wife was enamored with this hyacinth display, I guess I'll be digging holes and popping in hyacinth bulbs next autumn. Perhaps if I plant them on a hill they'll be OK?

There was something about these thick, twisting wisteria vines curled around a metal arbor that reminded me of the Elvish kingdom in Lord of the Rings. (FYI, Asian wisteria vines (Wisteria sinensis and Wisteria floribunda) are considered invasive in Eastern U.S. forests. And as you can see here, they can get massive over time. If you live in the Eastern U.S. and must have a wisteria, perhaps consider the American wisteria - W. frutescens - which is native primarily from Texas to Florida and Missouri to Kentucky.)

What a nice moss-covered rock. Gardeners in shady moist regions awash in moss would probably find this photo laughable, but in my moss-deprived garden, this would be a handsome sight. I have a few small patches of moss (including one shown in my last post) and am trying to encourage them to proliferate.

Cornus mas (cornelian cherry) flowers

Ribes odoratum (clove currant) leafed out nicely already in mid-March. Could the foliage withstand temperatures in the 20s? I'll have to make a return trip to find out... Primarily native to Western and Central North America from California to Arkansas and Washington to North Dakota, I think clove currant is supposed to be the only currant capable of surviving (or perhaps thriving?) in the heat and humidity of the Southeast.
There were bees (honeybees, I think) all over this blooming Lonicera fragrantissima (winter honeysuckle). Although some other exotic bush honeysuckles are considered highly invasive, winter honeysuckle apparently is much less of a problem from an invasiveness standpoint. For example, it has the lowest level rating (Alert) from the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council (TNEPPC). By contrast, the TNEPPC considers Japanese honeysucke - L. japonica - to be a Severe Threat to native plant communities. Given this relatively well-behaved reputation and its clear appeal for bees, I may have to consider adding L. frangrantissima to my garden. As the common name suggests, the flowers have a marvelous scent that can be detected from some distance away when the shrub is in full bloom.

Cheekwood has a remarkable tulip festival in the Spring. We visited too early to see most of the tulips, but these precocious 'Rosy Delight' bulbs were putting on a good show! :)