Harbingers Of Spring Delight Visitors At The Morton Arboretum
Witch-Hazel, Snowdrops, Magnolias Awakening From Winter Slumber
LISLE, IL (March 9, 2006) – Like film in a darkroom that slowly develops into a gorgeous color picture, the “harbingers of spring” are starting to turn dormant trees and plants into a springtime burst of colorful blooms. Nature is waking up the earliest “rising” spring flora at The Morton Arboretum.
Witch-hazel is leading off the spring show. Autumn Embers vernal witch-hazel (Hamamelis vernalis ‘Autumn Embers’) is in full bloom, throwing a hint of orange. The stunning, red-flowered vernal witch-hazel (Hamamelis vernalis f. carnea) adds a spicy, ginger-like scent to the air. The yellows of Brevipetala Chinese witch-hazel (Hamamelis mollis ‘Brevipetala’) are also peeking out.
“It’s exciting to experience this – seeing these blooms open-up while other plants are dormant,” said Kunso Kim, Arboretum Curator of Living Collections, who adds that he looks forward to seeing these harbingers of spring every year.
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) at the Arboretum are also in full bloom – with their stark white outer petals hiding the green-tipped inner petals.
Magnolia trees, especially northern Japanese magnolia (Magnolia kobus var. borealis) feature very swollen buds that “could pop anytime,” Kim said. These will produce ivory-colored, pleasantly fragrant flowers. American elms (Ulmus americana) and Cornelian-cherry dogwood (Cornus mas), and some maple species are also exhibiting very swollen buds. In the next few days, high temperatures will be flirting with the 60s, and will likely usher-in even more blooms.
In spite of the ongoing drought, the plants blooming now “are right on schedule,” Kim said. The ongoing drought continues to concern experts at The Morton Arboretum. From March 1, 2005 through February 28th, 2006, the precipitation deficit is 11.88 inches at the Arboretum.
Trees and plants weakened by the drought lose some defense mechanisms to ward off attacking pests and diseases. “Stress can leave trees susceptible to cankers and borers,” said Kris Bachtell, Arboretum Director of Collections and Grounds, who adds “we need rain.” However, if 2006 brings sufficient rainfall, “trees will be better able to cope with the stresses they experienced,” he said.
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized 1,700-acre outdoor museum with collections of more than 3,700 kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world. The Arboretum's beautiful natural landscapes, gardens, research and education programs, and year-round family activities support its mission – the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Conveniently located at I-88 and Rte. 53 in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (CDT) and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CST). The Children's Garden is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CDT) and 9:30 to 4 p.m. (CST). Visit www.mortonarb.org or call 630/968-0074 to learn more.
Media Contact: Gina Tedesco, 630-725-2103,