The night frosts of early May have given way to an almost unseasonable heat, capping off the spring blooming period with a burst of warmth more typical of the summer months. The Morton Arboretum’s grounds are teeming with bountiful color and life, as birds, butterflies, and bees circle around the nourishment of red buckeye, dotted hawthorn, and the much-loved peony. Explore blooms near your home to discover what is new this week; safely savor your surroundings. In the coming weeks, the Arboretum gradually opens to visitors, ready to regale them with an abundance of vivid color and life.
To learn about the plans to reopen in June, please visit the Know Before You Go page. Stay connected with the Arboretum on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and share pictures of the blooms you see using the hashtags #springblooms and #MortonArboretum.
- Victoria Lincoln peony (Paeonia ‘Victoria Lincoln’). The peony garden along Joy Path dates back to the days when the Thornhill Education Center was the private home of Arboretum founder Joy Morton. Most garden peonies today are hybrids of Asian and European species. This pink cultivar was introduced in 1938.
- Dotted hawthorn (Crataegus punctata). Hawthorn trees, which are related to apples and roses, have white or pink flowers in May and small fruits called “haws” in fall that resemble crabapples or rose hips. The name “haw” comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word referring to hedges, probably because these thorny trees can be used to create a formidable barrier. Joy Morton named his mansion “Thornhill” for the nearby hawthorn trees that included this American native species.
- Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica). These spring-blooming bulbs from the Iberian peninsula come in white and blue forms. They do well in part shade and are more winter-hardy than English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta).
- Purple Sensation ornamental onion (Allium aflatunense ‘Purple Sensation’). The small flowers of this bulb plant are arranged in colorful orbs held on stiff stalks like huge lollipops. Deer and rabbits that eat some other spring-blooming bulbs tend to avoid ornamental onions like this one because of their smell and taste.
- Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia). Native to the southeastern United States, this large shrub has big bottlebrush-shaped clusters of red flowers in late spring. The individual flowers in each cluster are deep tubes, so only animals with long tongues, such as hummingbirds, butterflies, and some species of bees, can sip the nectar.