In April, Asian magnolias and their hybrids, can be a sight to behold. In the Sally Gries Entrance Beds on Sperry Road, the fuchsia-pink flowers of Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ are wonderfully fragrant. Other fragrant Loebner types in the gardens include ‘Encore’, ‘Merrill’ and ‘Spring Snow’, all with white flowers.
At Lantern Court the fragrance of the anise magnolia on the rise east of the drive is reminiscent of grape Kool-Aid (M. salicifolia ‘Grape Expectations’). Like a sentinel, the Kew magnolia, (M. x kewensis ‘Wada’s Memory’) stands guard by Lantern Court’s valley garden, in the Conifer Collection and the Display Garden, where the more diminutive Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’ and star magnolia hybrid ‘Betty’ are to be seen. Larger magnolia hybrids involving our native cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata) bloom later in the month. These include Magnolia ‘Yellow Bird’ and ‘Elizabeth’ in the Display Garden, ‘Butterflies’ at Lantern Court and in the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden, where ‘Jolly Roger’ and ‘Yellow Lantern’ are as well, and in the Conifer Collection ‘Daybreak’ and ‘Ivory Chalice’ are repeated in the Arthur S. Holden, Sr. Hedge Garden and the Display Garden.
At Lantern Court the pink flowered weeping Higan cherry (Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’) is not far from Prunus ‘Snow Fountains’ by the salamander pool. There is a grove of the magenta-pink Sargent cherry, Prunus sargentii in the Conifer Collection and the Display Garden. One of the earliest and largest of our flowering cherries is Prunus subhirtella ‘Whitcomb’, on the southeast downslope of the Conifer Collection. Serviceberries (Amelanchier arborea, A. laevis, A. x grandiflora) display their white flowers later in the month in all the gardens and also along the R. Henry Norweb Jr. Tree Alleé.
In the Layer Rhododendron Garden and the Eliot and Linda Paine Rhododendron Discovery Garden, a number of small-leaved rhododendron including Rhododendron dauricum, R. mucronulatum and a number of showy cultivars including ‘Cornell Pink’ are to be seen. Forsythia 'Meadowlark', 'Northern Sun', 'Northern Gold', and 'Sunrise' will brighten up the Display Garden and Lantern Court, along with daffodils (Narcissus) that bloom throughout the month.
In the Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden, see the bright yellow flowers of the marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) along the stream, and the early buttercup, (Ranunculus fascicularis) on the limestone rockery. Check out the small yellow flowers of leatherwood (Dirca palustris), a shrub related to Daphne. Other wildflowers of interest include the white-flowered bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), and the lavender-purple to white flowered sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) that are at Lantern Court and the Holden Wildflower Garden. Later in the month Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and great white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) start to bloom.
This year the crabapples (Malus) will bloom in April so visit the crabapple collection, the Display Garden, and Lantern Court where Greek windflower, Anemone x blanda, primroses (Primula x polyantha & other Primula vulgaris hybrids), moss-pink (Phlox subulata), leopard’s bane (Doronicum ‘Magnificum’) are also in bloom.