Written by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener
After one of the warmest winters on record, the March Shade Garden (pictured below) in Bon Air Park was awash in color with a parade of blooming bulbs, spring ephemerals, ornamental trees and native and non-native perennials. Virginia bluebells bloomed beneath the white flowers of the serviceberry tree. The brilliant purple/pink flowers of the redbud tree contrasted with golden ragwort grouped amidst the rocks. White spring starflowers and nodding, yellow bellwort (barely visible behind) stood on the west end of the upper oval while hellebores anchored the east. Yellow barrenwort blossomed in front of the Garden above the stone retaining wall. That was in 2012.
Fast forward to March 26, 2014 and the Shade Garden was awash in white — snow that is. After a winter of bitter cold temperatures, spring started on a frosty note with National Airport reporting almost 13” of snow for the month. The only flowers in the Shade Garden were snowdrops and hellebores.
When will the ephemerals and other spring flowers blossom this year? Some estimates put the blooming periods up to three weeks behind. However, you can discover what warmer weather promises by reading Spring Ephemerals in the Shade, Part 1 and Spring Ephemerals in the Shade, Part 2, originally posted in April 2012. Hopefully blooms will abound by the time the Shade Garden turns 25 years old. (It was dedicated during an Arbor Day celebration at Bon Air Park in 1989.)
To mark the Shade Garden’s 25th year, along with the coming 25th anniversary of the nearby demonstration Sunny Garden (started in 1990) and the 100th anniversary of the Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia (MGNV) will host a celebration in Bon Air Park on the first day of summer, during National Pollinator Week. So save the date — June 21st, from 10 am to 2 pm.
Plan to tour the gardens in Bon Air Park. Lift your spirits among the colors and newly designed beds in the Sunny Garden. Take a respite among the graceful ferns and flowers of the Shade Garden. Smell the roses in the Memorial Rose Garden. Stroll through the Ornamental Tree Garden.
Plan to visit the exhibits, including fun activities for children, sponsored by MGNV, Arlington Regional Master Naturalists, the Arlington 4-H Program/Junior Master Gardeners, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE), the Beekeepers Association of Northern Virginia and others.
See you in the Sun. See you in the Shade. See you at the June 21st celebration!
[NOTE: Leading up to this event, mgnv.org will post articles about the history of the Shade and Sunny Gardens, Master Gardeners who have been instrumental in their success, sustainability, pollinators and more. So, make sure to visit mgnv.org in April, May and June.]