I am lucky enough to get to spend some of my time working and volunteering at Mission Oaks Gardens in my home town of Zanesville, Ohio. This 5 acre botanical garden is a local treasure and open to the public everyday. If you haven’t gotten a chance to come visit, here is just a little of what you are missing:
This gorgeous, rare cup and saucer Magnolia named ‘Joe McDaniels’ was gifted to the original owner of the gardens years ago by a friend of the breeder.
I think Magnolia ‘Big Dude’ below is my favorite. The immense size of the flowers, often exceeding 12 inches in diameter, remind of me of the prehistoric nature of the magnolia and its need to have large tough flower parts to survive pollination in a time when large beetles were the pollinators instead of some of the delicate species of insects that exist today.
Magnolia ‘Butterflies’ never fails to cheer me up with the sheer mass of creamy yellow flowers that seem to fill the sky.
Here is ‘Coral Lake’ in beautiful muted tones on a cloudy day.
And here it is transformed on a bright, sunny, spring day!
I love these little ‘Autumn Maple’ irises both because of the warm spring color they offer and because they bloom just as heavily a second time in October.
Strolling through the gardens in spring is like walking through a real life fairy garden. There are over 100 different species of Rhododendron and Azaleas throughout the gardens with more being planted everyday!
May is the month that the Perennial Garden begins to make itself known.
Who can resist the Itoh Peony ‘Bartzella’.
Evening light is making its way out of the garden lighting up the white flower masses of the Fringe Tree in the distance and Baptisias ‘Australis’ and ‘Screamin Yellow’ are making a last statement before dark.
Baptisia ‘Screamin Yellow’ the next morning.
Echinacea ‘Solar Flare’ has surprised me with its hardiness these past couple years and has come back stronger each season.Unfortunately one can not say that about many of the new varieties of echinacea these days.
Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’ is best up close and personal.
Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’ is my favorite beebalm. It does so well in shade and is just a gorgeous, eccentric looking flower.
For you chartreuse lovers out there variegated Comfrey is a must have!
I love all the different foliage and textures that came together in this corner of the garden. The purple heart shaped leaves of Katsura, the delicate leaflets of Wild Senna, the red shade dwelling Spygellia, a little Mukdenia, and the bright orange flowers of Milkweed tuberosa.
The Oriental lilies over near our volunteer building have really outdone themselves this year.
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Strawberry Sunday’ has finally earned my respect. I think it may have the prettiest and most delicate flower form of all the paniculatas.
The lovely Dahlia ‘Elise’ is just beginning to bloom.
The less showy but very sweet little Dahlia ‘Gala’ is blending nicely with some variegated coleus here.
Last but not least for the mid-season highlights is my favorite angle of the perennial garden at the moment.
The new Hydrangea paniculata ‘Passionate’ that frames the above picture on the left side has astounded me with the massive size of its flowers. They are well over a foot long!! Unfortunately the deer ate most of the blooms off of this tree so we can;’t get the full effect that his new variety has to offer but wow, just wow! I will be sure to cover this with netting next year so we get to see what it really has to offer. This lovely tree was planted by the Nashport, OH Girl Scouts troop when they came to the gardens to learn and obtain their Tree Badge. Thanks girls!!
Stay tuned for highlights from the second half of the season!