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Bloom Highlights

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Sources for "What's in Bloom: Bloom Highlights" listings include the Chicago Botanic Garden's staff and database, as well as the publications and records of other botanic gardens, institutions, and the scientific community.

Blushing Lady Jonquil

Narcissus ‘Blushing Lady’ is a late season bloomer in the Jonquil section of Narcissus with multiple flowers per stem and a delightful fragrance. The flowers open light yellow and over time the cups gradually age to a light pink blush. This species will thrive in most of the soils found in the Chicago area in full sun or under the canopy of deciduous trees. In addition to Chicago winters, it is also very tolerant of the hot humid summers of the Deep South that cause many daffodils down there to rot. Free of most insect and diseases, rabbits and deer avoid it because of chemicals within the plant sap. Other groups of chemicals within the sap can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals. Great for planting near a sidewalk, door or window where the fragrance can be appreciated.

Compact Korean Azalea

At 3 feet in height with a 6-foot spread, Compacta Korean azalea (Rhododendron yedoense var. poukhanense 'Compacta') makes a wonderful addition to the garden for azalea lovers working with smaller spaces. Early spring flowers range from rose to lilac-lavender and literally cover the entire surface of the shrub. The dark green, semievergreen foliage turns purple, then red, in the fall. To successfully grow rhododendrons in the Chicago area, gardeners must modify the soil to increase acidity and improve the moisture-retention capacity. This typically involves the addition of peat moss and powdered sulfur.

Like other plants native to Korea, this species is winter hardy in many parts of the Upper Midwest, including the Chicago region. The cultivar is a hybrid of the straight species (yedoense) and the naturally occurring regional variant (var. poukhanense).

Donald Wyman Crabapple

Reddish-pink buds open to white flowers on Donald Wyman crabapple. The fruit is glossy red and persistent into winter. This consistent performer and disease-resistant cultivar is extensively planted at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It was discovered as a chance seedling at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in the early 1950s and named in honor of Donald Wyman, Ph.D., who had recently retired as horticulturist at the Arboretum.

Crabapples are small flowering trees that provide a showy display in the spring landscape for one to two weeks. In addition to the eye-catching buds and flowers, their foliage, habit, and fruit make them attractive plants almost year round. They are actively hybridized for flower color, leaf color, fruit size/color, shape and, most importantly, disease resistance. Crabapple fruits are usually not eaten by humans but are beloved by birds. Most crabapples benefit from modest amounts of pruning to eliminate water sprouts and improve airflow.

Harmony Blue Poppy Anemone

Large, periwinkle blue-purple petals surround the navy blue center on this marginally hardy poppy anemone. The mounded habit is comprised of finely dissected leaves, with the flowers on sturdy stems held well above. This anemone is recommended as a cool season annual in Chicago-area gardens, in shaded to full sun locations. Adventurous gardeners might be able to have them return in following years, if they plant them in a sheltered microclimate, moisture-retentive, well-drained soil.

Spring Symphony Foamflower

This reblooming variety forms a clump 6 inches high and 12 inches wide. It blooms in spring, producing 15-inch stems densely packed with pale pink blossoms. It has deeply cut, compact foliage with black markings along the midrib. 'Spring Symphony' can be used as a groundcover or edger in a shady border or woodland garden. It prefers cool, moist, humus-rich soil in deep or partial shade and in an area protected from excessive winter moisture.