The Winter Garden began its life in 2011 as two teardrop-shape beds in a "yin/yang" juxtaposition in front of a curvilinear third bed. At right, the first garden with the Botanical Center in the distance. The garden is located a few hundred yards west of the Center near the park road that leads to Lake Drummond and more botanical gardens.
|An Ambitious Vision|
Master Gardener and designer Gail Wright, highly pleased with the very first stages of the Winter Garden, envisioned expanding it by at least six more beds and adding accompanying paths, a great many more plants, a pergola equipped with a swing, a new water feature, evergreen windbreaks on the west and north, entrance arbors, and decorative benches.
|The Folks Who Built the Garden|
The Winter Garden is truly a labor of love carried out by such industrious Friends of the Garden volunteers as those who did the first planting. From left, Bob Childress, Deanna Armstrong, Ed Miller, Ruby Miller, J.J. Averett, Yuriko Scott, Ann Gunion, Gail Wright, Tom Lakowske, and Avis Holloway. Our thanks to the Friends of the Garden for taking this photo and giving us permission to use it.
|Expanding the Garden|
In 2012 Gail and company moved quickly to make the Garden much larger. In mid-January, as shown at left, they had 14 truckloads of new dirt hauled in to create the new beds. Then the three remarkable men shown at right set to work: from left, Dr. Bill Roston, the designer of this and many other of the Springfield Botanical Gardens; Bob Childress, the garden chairman of the Friends of the Garden volunteer organization, who installs, maintains, and improves many of the gardens; and Dan Bigbee, farmer, produce vendor, and owner of Fassnight Creek Farm in Springfield, Missouri. Bill on this day was helping add to the Garden a water feature of his own design and Dan was generously volunteering his time, energy, and his own front loader to clear the space and spread the dirt. At left, the water feature at its initial construction, at right, the finished feature, along with its first plantings and, visible in the background, some of the newest beds.
The serene setting at left completed the new water feature environment, and at right, a new Water Garden sign provided the finishing touch.
|The Heart of the Gardens|
Volunteer help is not just an asset, but the very heart of the Springfield Botanical Gardens. All but one of the 36 botanical gardens are created, maintained, and improved by volunteers whose time and labor are entirely donated. Here, aspiring writer and Drury University student Megan Hasenmueller digs into the job of planting tulip and daffodil bulbs in December for color in the spring. It's a job that'll help her meet a 15-hour community service requirement for her degree and also move the Winter Garden expansion and improvement a big step forward. Gail was most grateful for Megan's help on this day.
|The Plants--'Red Sprite' Winterberry|
If it's winter color one wants, what could be cheerier than the 'Red Sprite' Winterberry? This engaging dwarf shrub, species and varietal name Ilex verticillata Nana 'Red Sprite', bears an enormous profusion of bright red berries that, if not eaten by birds, will provide color even into spring. (The summer flowers are whitish and inconspicuous.) Easy to grow, 'Red Sprite' thrives in full sun or part shade and will grow to 3 feet tall with a similar spread.
Witch Hazels are wonders for flowering in winter. The first planted in the garden were so young that no one expected them to bloom the first season, but the 'Harry' Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Harry') at left on January 15th displayed the tawny yellow flowers that make it a gardener's favorite. Very early to flower, 'Harry' will grow into a compact, rounded shrub 8 feet tall and as wide. At right, Gail leans to catch all the fragrance she can of what's said to be the most fragrant of all witch hazels, 'Rochester' (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Rochester'), which also copper-orange blossoms, grows as tall as 9 feet, has good fall color, and makes excellent hedges.
At left, 'Gingerbread' Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Gingerbread') is a lovely hybrid with deep orange, sweetly fragrant blossoms in late winter. In full sun to partial shade and moist soil grows slowly to 10 feet tall by 6 feet wide, but size is easily controlled by pruning. Foliage in spring is an attractive purple and gradually turns green. At right, Dwarf Ozark Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis 'Quasimodo') is a winter-blooming shrub that grows to 3 feet tall and as wide with a beautifully rounded, compact shape. The pale orange flowers appear in December and have a spicy scent. The smallest of all the witch hazel cultivars, its size gives it great versatility in the winter garden and landscape.
| ||'Color Guard' Yucca|
'Color Guard' Yucca (Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard') is said by many to be the most beautiful of the variegated yuccas. Its rigid, gold-centered, green-margined leaves grow into a picturesque spray 3 feet tall and as wide. In late spring it bears a flowering stalk up to 6 feet tall with panicles of fragrant white flowers. Easy to grow, it prefers full sun but takes part shade and poor soils. Colors are vivid throughout winter. Common names include Adam's Needle and Spanish Bayonet.
|'Drops of Gold' Japanese Holly|
Exceptionally beautiful foliage makes the 'Drops of Gold' Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata aurea 'Drops of Gold') a star in the garden. The boxwood-like leaves on top turn bright golden yellow and the lower remain a rich medium green. At right, 'Drops of Gold' in all its glory. In full sun or partial shade the plant can grow to 3 1/2 feet tall and 6 feet wide, but size and shape are easily controllable with pruning. Bonus: This relatively new hybrid also makes a uniquely attractive hedge.
| ||'Spiraliter Falcata' Japanese Cedar|
'Spiraliter Falcata' Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica 'Spiraliter Falcata') is a unique dwarf cedar with a bizarre but highly attractive twisting, spiraling foliage of a very fine texture that gives the plant an overall softer effect. The plant grows slowly, 2-4 inches per year, into a mound normally reaching 3 feet tall with a similar spread.
| ||'Goshiki' Variegated False Holly|
'Goshiki' Variegated False Holly (Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki') features beautifully variegated leathery, spiny, holly-like leaves. The plant grows slowly to 4-5 feet tall with a similar spread. Eye-catching in the garden or landscape, it makes a superb foundation planting and is also excellent for hedging.
| ||'Welch's Pink' Beautyberry|
'Welch's Pink' Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana 'Welch's Pink') is named for the pink color of its midsummer flowers and very light pink of its autumn berries. A cultivar of the American Beautyberry, a plant native to Missouri and southeastern states, it likes full sun but will take partial shade and can grow to 6 feet tall with a similar spread.
| ||'Carol Mackie' Daphne|
'Carol Mackie' Daphne (Daphne x burkwoodii 'Carol Mackie') is an exceptionally lovely dwarf shrub that in features grayish-green leaves with golden margins and, in spring, beautiful clusters of fragrant pink flowers. It likes full sun or part shade and grows in a nicely rounded shape to 3 feet tall and as wide. Ideal as a specimen plant or foundation planting, it's a mutation named for the woman who discovered it in her New Jersey garden.
| ||'Red Rooster' Sedge|
'Red Rooster' Sedge (Carex buchananii 'Red Rooster') is a superb accent plant for its vigorous, sharply upright, fine-textured foliage and its color, which is considerably more intense than with other reddish brown sedges. It prefers full sun and grows 16-24 inches high with a 36-inch spread. Its distinctive habit and color makes it also in container mixes. Common names include Leatherleaf Sedge.
| ||Dwarf Himalayan Pine|
Dwarf Himalayan Pine (Pinus wallichiana 'Nana') is best known as a beautiful miniature version of Himalayan Pine. It likes full sun and well drained soil and grows slowly, about 6 inches per year, into an attractive conical shape that can reach 3 1/2 tall and 3 feet wide. Even better, its long, silky blue-green needles give it a lovely soft appearance in the garden or landscape.
| ||Little Devil Dwarf Ninebark|
Little Devil Dwarf Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Donna May') is a beautiful addition to garden or landscape for its small pale-pink clusters of flowers in June and rich, deep-burgundy foliage throughout the season. In full sun to partial shade it grows 3-4 feet tall and as wide. A Big Bonus: It keeps its neat, compact shape without pruning.
| ||'Gold Bar' Zebra Grass|
The virtually stunning 'Gold Bar' Zebra Grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Gold Bar') is a perfect specimen plant for smaller gardens and works beautiful even in the border. Given full sun, it grows quickly in a neat clump to 16-20 inches tall and features lovely green foliage with bright and beautiful bands of gold. As if that weren't enough, it's extremely easy to grow and also tolerates drought.
| ||Mr. Bowling Ball Thuja|
How can anyone not like the Mr. Bowling Ball Thuja? His official botanical name is Thuja occidentalis 'Bobozam', but he resembles nothing so much as a full-out evergreen bowling ball. A very slow grower, Mr. Ball can reach 24-30 inches tall and as wide, keeping his whimsical shape all along. He likes full sun or partial shade and needs regular watering weekly or, in dry weather, more frequently. Common names include Mr. Bowling Ball White Cedar and Mr. Bowling Ball Arborvitae. Whatever we call it, we think this plant is a strike.
| ||'Dixieland' Miscanthus|
'Dixieland' Miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis 'Dixieland') is a versatile variegated ornamental grass that goes well in the garden or the landscape. Easy to grow, it has a sprightly fountainlike habit and can reach 4-5 feet in height with a 3-foot spread. Colorful in winter, it also produces showy, silky pink blooms in late summer. Bonus: This grass also is a good choice for containers.
| ||'Ruby Slippers' Dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea|
This scrubby start is a very special new dwarf shrub. Though quite small 'Ruby Slippers' Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers') bears tall, gorgeous flower clusters some nine inches long that first appear white then gradually turn pink and finally deep rose. In fall the leaves take on beautiful shades of scarlet and burgundy. Extremely easy to grow in sun or shade, this marvel of a plant reaches only 3 1/2 feet tall by 5 feet wide. Bonus: The flowers are extra-abundant and also make excellent cut or dried flowers, and the seeds attract birds.
| ||Satellite Bosnian Pine|
Satellite Bosnian Pine (Pinus leucodermis 'Satellite') is a handsome conifer with beautiful dark green foliage and needles that grow densely in upright clumps, giving it an engagingly soft appearance. In full sun to partial shade it grows very slowly, taking 20-25 years to reach 12-15 feet in height.
|'Flying Dragon' Hardy Orange|
Some folk say the 'Flying Dragon' Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon') is "the ultimate garden conversation piece." This dwarf cultivar of hardy orange certainly stands out for its highly twisted, contorted stems and menacing long, curved thorns.The foliage is an attractive green. In spring the plant produces slightly fragrant white flowers and in late summer bears lemon-scented. golf-ball-size fruit that is are basically inedible but can be used to make lemonade if sweetened. It prefers full sun and needs good drainage. In time it can grow to 6 feet tall and as wide, but size can be managed with pruning. Bonus: This dragon also makes an excellent container plant.
| ||'Solar Flare' Holly|
'Solar Flare' Holly (Ilex x 'Solar Flare') is a new variegated evergreen shrub discovered by Joann Currier of Unique Plant Inc. in North Carolina. It's said to be a "branch sport" of the popular Oak Leaf TM Holly (Ilex x 'Conaf'). It can grow 4-6 feet tall by 3-4 feet in a pyramidal or rounded shape. This photo in the extreme golden light just before dusk doesn't really show the plant's vivid variegation, but watch this space for better photos as the garden develops.
| ||'Gowdy' Oriental Spruce|
'Gowdy' Oriental Spruce (Picea orientalis 'Gowdy') is an unusually lovely conifer whose uniquely uniform, short, rich green needles and gently draping branches make it a superb accent plant. A slow grower, in time it can reach 12 feet tall by 8 feet wide. Bonus: It bears unusually pretty, small, pinkish cones. Common names include Spruce Oriental Gowdy and Oriental Spruce Gowdy.
| ||'Collin's Gold' Arborvitae|
'Collin's Gold' Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Collin's Gold') is a highly attractive, virtually carefree American evergreen with green-gold sprays of needles that are flattened and splayed, giving it most interesting color and texture. In autumn, the spray tips turn bronze. This remarkable plant in time grows in a beautiful narrow, pyramidal form to 10 feet tall, making it superb as a foundation planting or anywhere in the landscape.
| ||Plum Passion Nandina|
Plum Passion Nandina (Nandina domestica 'Monum') is said to have the most beautiful coloration of all Nandinas. New leaves in spring and summer are a very deep purple-red, turning slighty redder in winter. Small and finely cut, the leaves also give the plant a lovely texture. In full sun to part shade it grows 4-5 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Summer flowers are sprays of pinkish white and if cross-pollinated with others of its kind the plant will produce bright red berries in autumn. Common names include Plum Passion Heavenly Bamboo and Sacred Bamboo.
| ||'Erika the Blonde' Dogwood|
'Erika the Blonde' Dogwood (Cornus sericea 'Erika the Blonde'), so named for its beautiful golden yellow leaves in spring and summer, is also a standout in the winter garden and landscape for its bright red bark. In sun or part shade the gree grows to 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
| ||Bluebeard 'Sterling Silver'|
Caryopteris all carry the common name Bluebeard for their blue flowers, and Bluebeard 'Sterling Silver' (Caryopteris x clanodensis 'Sterling Silver') is a gorgeous example that stands out for its distinctive silvery foliage as well as its vivid blue-violet flowers. Given full sun this unique shrub can grow 2-3 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Common names include Sterling Silver Bluebeard.
| ||'Little Bunny' Dwarf Fountain Grass|
'Little Bunny' Dwarf Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Little Bunny') is the smallest of all the dwarf fountain grasses, growing slowly to only 10-12 inches tall and as wide. It likes full sun and once established will take some drought. Its small size and engagingly fluffy buff-white flowers in late summer and fall make it ideal for rock gardens, containers, and borders.
| ||'Adagio' Maiden Grass|
'Adagio' Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio') is an ornamental grass that features exceptionally beautiful white flowers in summer and fall. In full sun to partial shade and almost any soil it grows rather quickly in tight clump to 4 feet tall and as wide, with flower plumes extending another foot or so. An excellent plant for garden or landscape, its flowers are superb in dried arrangements.
| ||Double Take 'Orange Storm' Quince|
Double Take 'Orange Storm' Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa 'Orange Storm') is an outstanding flowering quince introduced in 2010 that features large, double, vivid-orange flowers. In part sun to full sun it can grow in a mound to 3-4 feet tall and as wide. Thornless and deer-resistant, it's easy to grow, tolerates drought and heat, and can be pruned to shape after flowering. Spectacular in the early spring garden, the flowers also make superb cut flowers.
|'Tokyo Tower' Chionanthus|
'Tokyo Tower' Chionanthus (Chionanthus retusus 'Tokyo Tower') is marvelous tree originally brought to this country as 'Ivory Tower'. It grows in an exceedingly slender form as tall as 10 feet and features glossy deep-green leaves and in May and June is covered with beautiful clusters (panicles) of creamy white flowers. In the fall the tree bears dark blue berries that attract birds and its tan and gold bark exfoliates to provide additional interest. It likes sun but will do well in partial shade. Chionanthus retusus plants are also known as Chinese Fringe Tree, and indeed this plant is often referred to as 'Tokyo Tower' Chinese Fringe Tree.
| ||'Hollandia' Dwarf Cedar|
'Hollandia' Dwarf Cedar (Cedrus deodara 'Hollandia') is most notable for its attractive blue-green needles and a compact habit and small size that makes it ideal for garden borders and containers. A very slow grower, it may reach only 3 feet in 10 years. It prefers full sun.
| ||'Little Diamond' Dwarf Japanese Cedar|
'Little Diamond' Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica 'Little Diamond') is an exceptionally lovely dwarf conifer with a neat, rounded habit and very soft-appearing bright green foliage.With good drainage it does well in sun to partial shade and grows only to about 2 feet by 3 feet wide in 10 years. This one, we think, is a real winner.
|'Compacta' Korean Spice Viburnum|
'Compacta' Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii 'Compacta') is a deciduous shrub with beautiful clusters of very fragrant white flowers in spring. In sun or partial shade this dwarf hybrid can grow 4 feet tall with a nicely rounded shape. In fall the green foliage turns a lovely wine red and berries appear red at first, then gradually turn black. Said to be among the most fragrant of plants, its name refers to its rich, spicy scent. The photo at left is of the October planting in the Winter Garden. The photo at right is of a mature, larger Korean Spice Viburnum in another botanical garden. Common names for this shrub in either form include Koreanspice Viburnum and Korean Spicebush.
| ||'Winter Beauty' Honeysuckle|
'Winter Beauty' Honeysuckle (Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty') is a semi-evergreen shrub honeysuckle much loved for the beautiful, cream-white, highly fragrant flowers it brings to the garden in January, February and March. Related to climbing honeysuckles, in sun or partial shade it can grow to 6 feet tall and as wide. Bonus: Cut stems make short-lived but lovely cut flowers and it's said just one can perfume an entire room.
| ||'Bihou' Japanese Maple|
'Bihou' Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Bihou') is a small, remarkably lovely tree with very small, delicate light green leaves. In fall the foliage turns yellow and orange and in winter the bark transforms into a beautiful coral-orange. A slow grower, in sun or partial shade it can reach 7 feet by 3 feet in some 10 years.
| ||'Little Lime' Hydrangea|
'Little Lime' Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Little Lime') is a relatively new plant finding great favor with many gardeners. A dwarf version of the highly popular 'Limelight' Hydrangea, this deciduous shrub likes sun to partial shade and will grow 4-5 feet tall with a similar spread, making it perfect for smaller landscapes and gardens. It bears large, 8-inch-wide green flowers in summer that turn pinkish in fall. Bonus: The flower heads make excellent cut or dried flowers.
| ||Fanny's Aster|
Fanny's Aster (Aster oblongifolius 'Fanny') is a wildflower that's found great favor with gardeners for its late-season color. In full sun and average soil it grows in a neat clump to 1 1/2 feet tall and 3 feet wide (sometimes a little larger) and in late October and November bears an enormous abundance of lovely inch-wide, light blue flowers. Bonus: It tolerates heat and drought.
| ||'Professor Anton Kippenberg' Hardy Aster|
'Professor Anton Kippenberg' Hardy Aster (Aster novii-belgii 'Professor Anton Kippenberg') is an outstanding dwarf Aster ideal for small gardens and borders. Given full sun to partial shade, it grows to 15 inches tall and as wide and is bursting with small blue-violet flowers. Depending upon the region, gardeners may know this plant as Michaelmas Daisy.Note: This plant often appears on the market with the spelling "Kippenburg."