What’s in Bloom Now? May Garden Updates


By Thea Hegland

It has been an incredible year for Tulips here at The Gardens but it seems now the shifting of seasons has begun and we must bid a fond farewell to the Tulip show for another year.


May is here with its emerald backdrop; showcasing all the jewels of the mid spring garden. Gorgeous deep red Paeonia, and stunning blue bearded Iris are among the garden’s gems. The first glimpse of our famous Meconopsis betonicifolia (Himalayan blue poppy) in the Japanese Garden have appeared and they are laden with promising buds!

The extensive Rhododendron collection here at The Gardens has reached the height of their blooming season; from the soft pale pinks, bold reds to shades of purple. Over 280 varieties are among the estimated 2000 shrubs. Many of the shrubs were planted over one hundred years ago by Jennie Butchart herself. Old handwritten nursery orders date back to the early 1900’s. Some of the oldest varieties that can be found throughout the grounds are beauties such as ‘Pink Pearl’ in soft pale pink fading to white and ‘Chevalier Felix de Sauvage’ a pretty pink bi -colour with burgundy markings both hybridized over 100 years ago in 1870 and 1892 respectively.

Rhododendron and Azalea

At its peak now is the magnificent Davidia involucrata (Dove tree, Ghost tree, Handkerchief tree) with creamy white bracts that simply cannot be ignored! The only members of its genus, this unusual tree derives from China. Legend has it, it was first discovered by a French missionary who sent the dried seed to France circa 1870. From there, it found its way into the hands of some of the most aspiring botanists in Europe. These can be found located along the Top Walk here at The Gardens and above the Sunken Garden as you approach The Concert Lawn.

High above The Sunken Garden, gorgeous yellow Laburnum anagyroides (Golden chain tree) adorn the hillside. You could almost miss them if you were only focused on the wonderment that lays down before you but the bright eye-catching glimpse of the pendent blossoms captures your attention. Softly scented, the fragrance adds yet another sweet layer to the air. And finally, “What would May be without the Mayflower?” Lining the exit road on either side of the drive the absolutely magical Crataegus (Mayflower, English Hawthorn) with blazing reddish-pink blossoms, are a perfect end to a great day spent in the garden!

The Sunken Garden

Plants that are currently blooming
  • Aesculus (Horse chesnut)
  • Allium
  • Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’
  • Aquilegia (Columbine)
  • Begonia
  • Centaurea montana
  • Cercis chinensis (Chinese redbud)
  • Convallaria (Lily- of-the-valley)
  • Cornus florida
  • Cornus kousa (Korean dogwood)
  • Crataegus (Hawthorn)
  • Davidia involucrata (Dove tree)
  • Delphinium
  • Deutzia
  • Dicentra (Bleeding heart)
  • Digitalis (Foxglove)
  • Disporum (Fairy bells)
  • Doronicum (Leopard’s bane)
  • Epimedium (Barren wort)
  • Eremurus (Foxtail lily)
  • Fuchsia
  • Fraxinus ornus (Flowering ash)
  • Gentiana (Gentain)
  • Geum
  • Globularia (Globe daisy)
  • Halesia (Snowdrop tree)
  • Hemerocallis (Daylily)
  • Hydrangea petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea)
  • Illicium
  • Iris
  • Laburnum (Golden chain tree)
  • Lantana
  • Matthiola (Stock)
  • Meconopsis (Blue poppy)
  • Nectaroscordum
  • Pachystachys lutea (Lollipop plant)
  • Paeonia (Peony)
  • Paeonia lutea (Tree peony)
  • Pelargonium (Geranium)
  • Pericallis (Painted daisy)
  • Petasites
  • Polemonium (Jacob’s ladder)
  • Podophyllum (Mayapple)
  • Poncirus trifoliata (Hardy orange)
  • Primula (Primrose)
  • Prostanthera rotundifolia (Mint bush)
  • Rheum
  • Rhododendron
  • Rosa (Rose)
  • Schizanthus (Butterfly flower)
  • Skimmia japonica
  • Spiraea (Spirea)
  • Smilacina (False Solomon’s seal)
  • Syringa (Lilac)
  • Tradescantia (Spiderwort)
  • Viola
  • Weigela
  • Wisteria