Bloom Report

We have moved to a new format this year for our regular bloom reports which allows posting of groups of images with each separate bloom report.

We hope you enjoy seeing Willowwood in bloom throughout the seasons.

Click a bloom report's title, below, to see the pictures within the report.

Bloomin at Willowwood 10.7.2020

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables The beauty of the autumn season has begun and visitors may now enjoy the arboreta during standard operating hours, daily from 8AM to dusk. The maples, dogwoods, and katsura are all changing color at the Willowwood Arboretum and the Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center. For those who are able to detect the sweet scent of yellowing katsura leaves (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), they will be delighted by the fragrance along the meadow near the Stone Cottage and on the Woodwalk path before the small stone bridge at. The late season perennials in the garden are still going strong despite the chilly evenings. Some favorites that are blooming include the Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia spp.) in the Cottage Garden, asters (Symphyotrichum spp.) in the meadows and cottage garden, and white and pink Japanese anemones (Anemone spp.) throughout the core gardens. One show stopping annual in particular has been delighting visitors in the Cottage Garden this season. Several stalks of red amaranth are towering over other plants in the garden at over 7 feet! The feathery plumes are a rich reddish purple and draw attention like a waving flag. It is also lovely to look at the leaves as the sun shines through them as they take on an appearance of pure red stained glass. In addition to being an attractive plant, amaranth leaves and seeds are edible! The Cottage Garden once served as a kitchen garden for the Tubbs family who lived at Willowwood. Although they would not have grown amaranth, as it was not introduced into the United States until the 1970’s, the tradition of including vegetables, fruits, and grains among ornamental plants carries on. The first hard frost will likely arrive in the next few weeks. The meadows have already evolved into shades of yellow, tan, brown, and purple and will offer movement and texture during the winter as the wind sweeps through the plants putting their seed heads into motion. Many shrubs and trees have also set fruit and birders will continue to see a variety of birds visiting the arboretum for sustenance during the months ahead. Meanwhile, the garden staff will continue to prepare for next spring and look forward to the next growing season. Zinnia Cheetham Plant Records Curator Specialist

Bloom Report August 4, 2020

WELCOME BACK to the Willowwood Arboretum! Willowwood is open Daily 8 am to Dusk. All Buildings are closed but most gardens and walking trails are open. A porta john is available. This quote by Minnie Aumonier seems apt for this moment in time- “When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden”. Welcome back to the garden. The summer bloom has just begun in the meadows. The waves of pastel purple wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) are attracting lots of pollinators. Recently, the joe-pye weed (Eutrochium) and early goldenrod (Solidago) have also begun to bloom. Visitors will likewise see ironweed (Vernonia) starting to bloom along the drive among the meadows in the upcoming weeks as well. The barns are similarly surrounded by pastel flowers this year. An assortment of white, purple, and pink Angelonia were planted by the Stone Barn for the season. These “summer snapdragons” are known for their fragrance and flower all summer! Lilies are currently blooming across the site and reaching peak bloom. Several that are in full bloom are the bright pink Lilium ‘Elodie’ is in bloom along the back of the propagation greenhouse, the yellow Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion’ blooming along the propagation greenhouse steps, and the many orange lilies blooming, such as Lilium lancifolium var. splendens in the cottage garden. Visitors should keep in mind that the coronavirus has had a significant impact on activities at the Willowwood Arboretum. This has led to the closure of the Rosarie for the season and impacted maintenance activities across the site. In addition, construction is currently underway to replace the cedar shingle roof on the Propagation Greenhouse. Thank you for your patience and support during this time. Zinnia Cheetham MCPC Plant Records Curator Specialist

Sedum 'Autumn  Fire'

Bloomin' 8.29.19

Late summer is a wonderful time of year to enjoy the fullness of the gardens. The perennials throughout the grounds are large and lush. With only six or seven weeks until our first frost, now is a perfect time to enjoy the Rosarie, full of many cold-sensitive plants. Some interesting annuals are the Giant Castor Bean, Ricinus 'Zanzibar', which is growing over 6 feet tall and Ornamental Okra, Abelmoschus moschatus, which has hibiscus-like pale yellow blossoms. However, the entire Rosarie garden is overflowing with blooms, bright foliage, and interesting texture this time of year which makes it a big draw for pollinators, such as the bee in the attached image on our Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’. The weather will be warm tomorrow so it is a good day to sit under the shady pergola and just enjoy. The Cottage Garden is currently full of hot summer colors. A staff favorite, Hibiscus ‘Raspberry Rose’ just began blooming this past weekend. It is stunning as it grows above the Phlox and blossoms in large, bright magenta blooms. The Dahlias are still going strong in the gardens as well, such as Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, which has shocking pure red blossoms. The tubers of these Dahlias will be dug up at the end of the season and stored in the basement of the Tubbs House for use in future displays throughout the gardens. Pan’s Garden is a quiet retreat from the colorful bustle of the other garden areas. Pan’s Garden showcases white flowers and foliage. Some blooms you may currently see are Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’, Phlox ‘David’, and Lobelia siphilitica 'Alba'. Near the back corner of the Pergola is also a beautiful Carpinus betulus, a New Jersey Champion Tree, which, while not blooming, has stunning bark and was the backdrop for a recent wedding at Willowwood. While each visitor to Willowwood who enters through the Main Gate passes through the meadows, we highly recommend walking through the meadows as well. The meadows are currently entering their second colorful phase. Earlier this season they were full of Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa, and Early Goldenrod, Solidago juncea. Now the bronze seedheads of the grasses in the meadow are emerging, adding height and an autumnal color to the meadows. The meadows are also a wonderful place to watch for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife this time of year. However, please remember to keep a respectful distance from any wildlife you may encounter.


Blooming 6.7.19

The summer weather and blooms have arrived at Willowwood! Throughout the gardens, the flower beds are full of yellow flowers in such bold hues that one can nearly forget the pastel shades that filled the garden just a few weeks ago. Some of those flowers include Baptisia sphaerocarpa ‘Screamin’ Yellow’ in the Rosarie and Thermopsis villosa in the Cottage Garden, which have tall spikes of bright yellow flowers. The roses in the Cottage Garden are also in bloom. Most of the roses in this garden are Rosa 'Marie Pavie', a white double rose originally hybridized in 1888. Guests have a great spot to sit and enjoy a view of those blooms on a bench near the Deutzia. The Deutzia ‘Pink-a-boo’ is putting on a beautiful display with a proliferation of dark pink blossoms on long, curving stems. There are other varieties in bloom throughout the arboretum, such as the ‘Deutzia scabra ‘Candidissima’ behind the Rosarie. Be sure to wander up there since Willowwood’s new Agave collection is on display in the Rosarie with other interesting succulents and cacti for the summer season. Nearby, in the Orchard and the Rockery, guests can admire the blossoms on the Cornus kousa. One unusual kousa dogwood is Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’. This cultivar has attractive variegated leaves, which blend wonderfully with the prolific pale white flowers. One of the joys of gardening is admiring the beauty of season. Even though the spring flowers have faded, summer brings with it a new, fresh display that we welcome with open arms.

Aesculus 'Baumanii'

Lilacs + Lots more in Bloom 5.24.19

The lilac season is still underway at Willowwood! The late-blooming lilacs, such as Preston Lilac (Syringa x prestoniae), Henry Lilac (Syringa x henryi) and Yunnan Lilac (Syringa yunnanensis), are just starting to bloom and should peak this upcoming week. Many of the mid-season lilacs still have fragrant blooms as well so it is a pleasure to walk among them in Highland Park. Another plant we are anxiously awaiting to bloom, are the peonies, which have just begun to flower. This week at Willowwood, many purple and blue flowers have appeared throughout the gardens. In the Cottage garden, several Irises just came into bloom last week, including Iris sibirica 'Caesar's Brother'. A native favorite, Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis) has also come into bloom near the propagation greenhouse. Be sure to keep an eye on the Baptisia again later in the season when it’s musical seedpods form and jingle when they move. Nearby, there are drifts of Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) in Highland Park, adding pops of pastel blue among the white, purple, and pink lilacs. The gardens also have plenty of flowering trees and shrubs this time of year. Near the main parking lot, visitors can see the Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum 'Baumanii') and the Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum opulus 'Aureum') in full bloom. In addition, throughout the gardens the Dogwoods are in bloom. Last year our staff planted several ‘Scarlet Fire’ dogwoods (Cornus kousa ‘Rutpink’) with striking dark pink flowers. These dogwoods can be seen near the front entrance gate and in the woodlands behind the Tubbs House. The woods are also full of various azaleas in bloom, such as this Florida Flame Azalea (Rhododendron austrinum). The bright colors are so bold and warm that I am immediately reminded that summer is right around the corner.

Primula japonica

Bloom Report May 10, 2019

(Mother Nature willing!) Many of our spring favorites will be in bloom just in time for Mother’s Day! Our wisteria arbor between the barns and in the Cottage Garden alongside the propagation greenhouse will be peaking this weekend. The arbors are covered in Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) which has gorgeous violet blooms. We also have a white-flowering Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis ‘Alba) on the arbor in Pan’s Garden. The lilacs are also looking and smelling wonderful. We have many different types of lilacs currently in bloom such as Syringa vulgaris ‘Vestale’ with white blooms, Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’ with multi-colored blooms, and Syringa vulgaris ‘Aucubaefolia’ with variegated foliage and light purple blooms. Other plants in the garden visitors can see flowering currently are the azaleas (pictured is Rhododendron yedoense var. poukhanense), Lady Slipper Orchids (Cypripedium ‘Gisela’) and Primula (Primula japonica). Many of our Viburnums are also flowering. The large Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Shoshoni’) is blooming near the Stone Barn and the wisteria arbor. There are also two Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium), which were planted in 1915, currently blooming behind the Tubb’s House in Pan’s Garden near the Clematis (Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’). Spring is a lovely time of year to visit Willowwood to see bright colorful flowers and smell the sweet fragrance of the lilacs. Be sure not to miss it!

Viburnum carlesii

Viburnums & Lilacs 4.25.19

Sunday, April 28, The Willowwood Foundation in partnership with the MCPC hosts the 5th annual Tubbs Lecture featuring well know speaker Vincent Simeone on ‘Versatile Viburnums’. This weekend we are fortunate to have a beautiful garden full of Spring blooms including our Viburnum carlesii and Viburnum farerri ‘Candissimum’. Tickets are still available at $30 each. Call 973 326 7601 to reserve. Starts at 1 pm in the Stone Barn at Willowwood and ends with a walk through the gardens. Wear sturdy shoes. Our annual spring display of tulips near the barns are also a stunning display in varying shades of apricot, pink, and red. The daffodils (Narcissus) are still blooming nearby in the meadows and gardens across from the stone barn. This week the mid-season and late-season daffodils, such as N. ‘Accent’ and N. ‘Actaea’, hit their peak bloom. Be sure to visit soon to see them before they fade! Although this wonderful warm, weather has been shortening our daffodil season, it is also bringing us closer to Lilac season. This week our first lilacs have begun to open! Syringa x hyacinthaflora ‘Lamartine’ and Syringa vulgaris ‘Charles Joly’ flowers were spotted today, officially starting off Lilac season! And don’t forget to get your tickets for the 24th Celebration of the Lilac Party on Sunday, May 19 at 4:30 pm under the tent at Willowwood. Wine tastings by Tewksbury Fine Wine, Oldwick, Two a cappella performances by the renown The Ten of Somerset Hills, silent plant auction of unusual plantings for both the newbie and seasoned gardener, plus hors d’oeuvres, open bar, and the wonderful scent of lilacs (one of which is our gift to each ticket holder). Tickets are $90 each, call 973 615 4841 for reservations or check the Event Page for an RSVP card.

Magnolia 'Roseanne'

First Spring blooms 4.11.19

The Willowwood Arboretum is enchanting in the Spring. Over the last few weeks, we have been watching the ephemerals bloom and bask in the sunshine as the days have gotten longer; an assortment of birds have been singing and heralding warmer weather throughout the gardens; and, our gardeners are more cheerful as we begin to prepare the garden beds for spring displays. This week in particular, it seems that everything has sprung to life in the garden! Everywhere you turn, there seems to be a new flower, fresh from its bud. Our early-blooming Daffodils (Narcissus) are beginning to bloom and the next few weeks should be the best time to view them. Be sure to visit behind the Rosarie to see our Magnolias, followed by the emergence of a new planting of Narcissus ‘Mount Hood’. In addition, we have many other bulbs and spring flowers emerging, including Siberian squill (Scilla siberica), Oxslip (Primula elatior), and Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa luciliae). These mass plantings of cheerful yellows and blues are lovely when combined, especially in the Rockery near the Tubbs house. We have been so excited to see that the Magnolias are beginning to flower this week. There are several beautiful white flowering Magnolias in the Cottage Garden (Magnolia ‘Alba Superba’ and Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’) and up the drive past the Dawn Redwood. There are also several stunning pink-flowering varieties, including Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’ currently flowering behind the Rosarie. Visitors will also likely see the two Magnolia ‘Willowwood’, the striking pyramidal Magnolia in the Winter Garden near the parking lot. John Beirne, our current Superintendent of Horticulture, is a Magnolia enthusiast and will be supervising an installation of several new varieties of Magnolia to our collection in 2019. We look forward to seeing them bloom in next year’s display. We have already heard from many of our visitors that they are excited for the lilacs to bloom. While they are not out yet, we are sure that this year’s display will be fabulous. This winter the horticulture team planted several dozen new lilacs into Highland Park, as well as new crabapples, which flower during the same time. Currently blooming in the lilac area in Highland Park are masses of Forsythia, fragrant Viburnum (Viburnum farreri ‘Candissimum’), and several cherries (Prunus), such as Prunus subhirtella ‘Shaka No Hisui’ and Prunus conadenia. We recommend visiting in early May to see the lilac collection in peak bloom but visit this weekend to see the Magnolias and Cherries .

Anemone 'Bressingham Glow'

Late Summer Blooms 9.21.18

Willowwood’s annuals are still putting on a show for the finale of the growing season! If you need some cheery colors to brighten your day, you can visit the Rosarie to see the Cosmos sulphureus. These bright naturalizing annuals put on a gorgeous display of bright oranges and yellows. The cottage garden also has some late-season yellow blooms. The Senna alata have bright yellow candlestick shaped flowers. These plants are hard to miss at nearly eight feet tall but be sure to look up through the foliage to admire the fresh blooms! Our cannas are also still blooming throughout the gardens. One striking specimen this Canna ‘Red Futurity’ near the propagation greenhouse. It has brilliant red blossoms that are quite eye-catching. Keep an eye out as you walk around the property for these colorful blossoms before we store them away for winter! Some perennials worth looking for in the cottage garden are the Anemones and Asters. Near the wrought iron gate is Anemone hupehensis var. japonica 'Pamina' and along the back of the propagation greenhouse are Anemone hupehensis var. japonica 'Bressingham Glow'. Both varieties feature deep rose pink semi-double flowers that are classic Cottage Garden style. These perennials are long-blooming performers and will likely bloom until frost. While they are not native plants, I did see some bees happily pollinating them! For those who prefer native plants, the Symphyotrichum oblongifolium 'Raydon's Favorite' is also in bloom. New England Asters are a great late-season flower for pollinators and ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ is a shorter cultivar that makes a great addition to a home garden.


September 2018 blooms

Autumn is in the air! Today we heard the first rustling of dry leaves as our Gleditsia are losing their leaves already and blowing in the breeze. Summer always seems to fly by but at least the gardens are still lush with summer blooming flowers. For those planning a visit soon, the trip up the drive to the parking lot is delightful as the road winds along the meadows. The first meadows are reaching their Fall peak now as the grasses are producing tall brown seedheads and the goldenrods are continuing to bloom a bright, warm, yellow. The seed from the wildflowers in the meadow has been especially attractive to Eastern Goldfinches this year and we’ve had record numbers using the meadow as habitat. (Photo of goldenrod) Further up the drive, the Vernonia is in bloom! Another classic native plant that provides nectar for pollinators late in the season. Our newly established pollinator plants near the stone cottage are currently home to hungry monarch caterpillars on Asclepias incarnata. Soon they’ll begin their migration and use late-blooming plants like Vernonia for fuel. (Photo of Monarch Caterpillar). This week we saw both Monarch and Viceroy butterflies on the Vernonia. The viceroy was kind enough to rest with his wings open we were able to see the distinct horizontal black line across its wings. Another popular plant has been our cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis. In the Cornus mas bed near the Tubbs House is a large clump of these flowers that have been in bloom for several weeks. Most days we can spot a hummingbird visiting the flowers then darting away to rest in the branches of the Cornus mas. They are drawn to the tubular red flowers, which perform beautifully in the garden once established (Cardinal Flower photo) Nearby in the Cottage Garden, we have a show-stopping Hibiscus on display. Hibiscus ‘Raspberry Rose’ is a stunning shade of deep pink and gracefully towers over the sweeping masses of Phlox paniculata below. Annual flowers, such as our Zinnias, are still in full bloom as well, blissfully ignorant of impending frosts. Our panicle hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’ is also showing off spectacular blooms around the corner in front of the propagation greenhouse. The Rosarie has been through significant changes this season as we’ve introduced an array of new plantings. One such new feature is Lagerstroemia ‘Lipan’, one of three crape myrtles planted in the Mediterranean Garden. It has prolific soft pink blooms that are doing exceptionally well during its first season in the garden. Throughout the Rosarie are also seasonal installations of Agave and Dahlias which will be on display until the cold weather forces them indoors for the winter. Be sure to take a look before the first frost! (Crape Myrtle photo, Dahlia photo)

Agave americana

Bloom Report 6.29.18

As the heat settles in here at Willowwood, be sure to stop by our vibrant ‘hot’ garden in front of the greenhouse. It is full of dark, black foliaged plants such as Lagerstoemia ‘Red Hot’ and various black sweet potato vines. It also has interesting textures from the fuzzy, sharp Solanum quitoense and vibrant flowers such as the Dahlia ‘Fascination’ and red flowering Canna. It is a bold annual display so be sure to see it during this season as it will change next year!

The other gardens are thriving from the wet spring we have had. In Pan’s Garden, behind the Tubbs house, the Astilbe ‘Deutschland’ is in full bloom. Notice how the graceful white flowers zigzag through the center of the garden and gently rustle in the breeze. Feel free to stop and sit on the back porch to enjoy the relaxing white and green garden.

White flowers are also on display in other nearby gardens. The two Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ are in full bloom outside the propagation greenhouse and the last of the lilacs to flower, our tree lilacs (Syringa reticulata) are still showcasing pale white flowers in the grassy lilac area.

The Cottage Garden (in front of the Tubbs House) is the most colorful garden now as the roses, poppies, and summer perennials are flowering. One native perennial, bee balm, is flowering in mass and attracting pollinators such as hummingbirds. Our bright red variety is Monarda didyma ‘Gardenview Scarlet’. One of my new favorites in the cottage garden is a poppy called Papaver somniferum var. ‘Pink Dawn’. It is stunning with its delicate shades of soft pink and lavender petals on silvery foliage.

Finally, we highly recommend that guests take time to visit the Rosarie behind the wooden barn. Staff have spent many days re-planting the garden and adding in new Mediterranean plants. This includes a large grouping of Agave, mostly Agave Americana. In addition, there are colorful Geranium, Salvia, Dracaena, and succulents such as Senecio, Echeveria, and Aeonium. Be sure to go early in the morning before it gets hot and take time to look at the many plants growing there.

Blooming 5/18/18

Willowwood is beginning to burst with lush foliage and colorful flowers from the plentiful rains the last few weeks. Visitors this week will see the Wisteria floribunda in peak bloom growing on rustic arbors throughout the gardens. The cottage garden is also beginning its display of alliums, cheerfully busting from the ground in explosions of color. The large purple orbs currently in bloom are Allium ‘Sensation’. These flowers in the onion family are a favorite!

Some other classic spring flowering shrubs and perennials are heralding Spring. Near the greenhouse, the blue star-shaped flowers of Amsonia tabernaemontana are in bloom and across the grounds, trees and shrubs in the Aesculus genus are beginning to bloom. One great location to see these is near the intersection of Patriot’s Path and the main drive. Here you can see a large Aesculus flava, yellow buckeye, and several Aesculus pavia, red buckeye, in full bloom. Aesculus parviflora, bottlebrush buckeye, is a butterfly magnet so keep an eye out for those long white flowers in the garden soon.

Finally, we all know what season it really is at Willowwood… Lilac Season! Our lilacs have been at their peak bloom this week. I recommend a walk through Highland Park (the grassy area across from the Stone Barn) to smell their sweet fragrance. Their cotton candy like groups of flowers are blooming in subtle shades of white, blue, purple, and pink. Here are a few to whet your appetite: Syringa ‘President Grevy’ (French lilac) and Syringa ‘Wedgwood Blue’ (Common Lilac). Come visit Willowwood soon to view the other beautiful lilacs in our collection!

Cherry Tree

Daffodils at WW 4.20.18

Despite the persistent snowfall and cold nights these past few weeks, Spring has (we think!) arrived at Willowwood. Leaves are beginning to unfurl, blooms to burst, and floral fragrance to waft among the trees. Visitors will be welcomed by masses of bright daffodils near the parking area and can wander behind the welcome kiosk to see the blooms of the hybrid Magnolia ‘Willowwood’ nearby. Magnolia x. loebneri ‘Willowood’ The Winter Garden, the area around the grass parking lot, is now full of hardy early blooming daffodils in cheerful, bold yellows and oranges. Be careful where you step- more daffodils are still emerging! Nearby in the grassy paths of Highland Park, our cherries and Forsythia are beginning to bloom. In addition, the Viburnum farreri ‘Candissimum’, fragrant viburnum, is not to be missed! Its soft white petals and sweet fragrance are sure to cheer anyone who still has the winter blues. We hope you enjoy these beautiful blooms as much as we do and come out to explore soon!

Witch Hazel in Snow

Early Signs of Spring

While it may not feel like SPRING (and we heard there is more snow predicted…), wonderful signs of Spring are already evident at the Willowwood Arboretum! In small patches of sun, the Hamamelis (witch-hazel), Eranthis( winter aconite) and Galanthus (snow drops) are in bloom and I saw a small patch of purple crocus as well. They warm the heart and the soul. We are on high alert for the first signs of daffodils and will let you know as soon as we see the first one. The Blue Birds have not arrived yet. Several of their boxes were blown down in the storms and these will be repaired and put back up as soon as our staff can reach them in the snow.