April 15th…just another spring day, right? The dogwoods and redbuds are blooming. Robins are scouring the ground for worms after a spring rainstorm. Morel mushroom hunters kneel down on the forest floor to spot the spring delicacy. However, April 15th is no ordinary day. This is the date that gardeners of Northwest Arkansas relish. This is the date where we grab our shovels, rakes, and hoes and head outside. This is the date where we head to local nurseries and pick out the next additions to our beloved gardens. April 15th is no ordinary date…it’s THE date; the date of our average last frost.
Crystal Bridges is no exception, but the Trails and Grounds team gets an even earlier start on the season. Shortly after the leaves have fallen off the trees, we begin plans for improvements, additions, or bed renovations for the next year.
After areas are identified, I begin researching plants and contacting plant vendors for availability. It seems so far in December and January to look over availability in the catalogs and see “Available 4/15/2015”; however, time flies by when you’re cutting back 32,000 perennials and grasses, spreading 400 yards of mulch and 110 bales of pine straw, and rearranging, renovating, and adding new beds. But the time has come. Plant orders began arriving in early April and will continue into late April. They come from West Virginia, North Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and of course, Arkansas.
We will be rearranging beds and adding new plants along the East Terrace and North Lawn. We will be renovating and adding to our current Monarch Waystation along the Art Trail, as well as expanding beds at the Tulip Tree Trail. Of course, we will also be installing and adding beds at the Bachman-Wilson House. When it’s all said and done, we will have installed over 6,600 native perennials, grasses, and ferns, as well as more than 230 native trees and shrubs. This includes 23 native species that will be new to our living collection!
Some of the new introductions will be Meadow Blazingstar (Liatris ligulistylis), Silver Gem Blue Violet (Viola walteri ‘Silver Gem’), Multiplex White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum ‘Multiplex’) and Ruby Slippers Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’). If you are planning a trip to Crystal Bridges, or just planning on visiting again, be sure to explore our trails and grounds. You never know what new plants you may discover!
NOTE: Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 9, 2015: Crystal Bridges will be celebration National Public Gardens Day with a Museum-wide Garden Party! You can learn a lot about the Trails and Grounds, and check out our new Outdoor app, which will include plant and art guides, maps, and more!