• Field Notes Blog from Garden Director Dan Hinkley
    & Taxonomist Ross Bayton

Dactylorhiza with Rhododendron macrosepalum

The Spotted Orchids of Heronswood

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A taste of the tropics

Orchid flowers evoke exotic locations – tropical trees bedecked with these glamorous blooms, standing above palm-lined beaches, a waiter brings a cocktail… While most orchids are indeed native to the tropics, a small number make …


Tales of Geum

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Tales from the Old Country

Geums – I love them! And if you’re uncertain how to pronounce this little Latin name, then split it in two: Gee-Umm. The genus Geum is a member of the massive rose family (Rosaceae), which …

A Dule of Doves

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The Dove Tree; Davidia involucrata

The near mythical Davidia is in full splendor this weekend at Heronswood. Its unique and fanciful floral display always draws commentary by those who see it for the first time. Hailing from the mountains of …

The Primitive Charms of Saruma henryi

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Primitive, yet pretty

Amongst the mass of spring flowers, some less showy perennials are easily overlooked. This is often the case with Asarum, or wild ginger, a genus of evergreen ground cover. Indeed, by calling it ground cover, I’ve …

Rues Rock

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The Rue Anemone; Anemonella thalictroides, or Whatever

First, always first, lets start with the name, shall we? A charming woodlander from much of eastern North America, its true place in the botanical kingdom continues to be in flux. First described …

Magnolia Season Begins

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Flowers before foliage

With Spring’s arrival, the beds and borders at Heronswood are awash with flowers. Carpets of corydalis, stately tufts of trilliums and hordes of hepaticas are an assault on the senses. But take a moment to glance upwards …

Hepatica transsilvanica "Elison Spence"

Hepaticas and More

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The Genus Hepatica

I have certainly said the same before as I am sure I will say the same again. Each year, in mid-March to early April, I note that the Hepaticas have never looked better. As they have now …

Abraham-Isaac and-Jacob

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Trachystemon orientalis

Found naturally occurring in southern Europe and western Eurasia where it has long been eaten as a spring vegetable, this member of the Borage Family (Boraginaceae) is known colloquially as Abraham-Isaac-Jacob. Over the centuries, the same name has …

Symphonic Symphyotrichum

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If I checked my archives, which I seldom do, I would probably see that I gush about Asters every year at about this time. And I have probably used the same adjectives and turns of phrase each time I have. …