Spring 2023’s weather has certainly been a rollercoaster. The warmth has meant earlier blooms for most of our bulbs, and we’ve definitely seen the tulips cowering from our cold nights! At least we haven’t had to post any snow-covered spring flower pictures (yet) this year like we usually do. As we head in to May, the daffodils are starting to fade, and the tulips are finally starting to show their full beauty.
The last year has provided a number of challenges for our horticulture staff. Spring 2022 was wet, and the tulips became infected with tulip blight, Botrytis tulipae, sometimes called tulip fire, which can infect all parts of the plant. The fungus eventually infects the soil the bulbs are planted in. Because future tulips planted in the same area would become infected, more daffodils and grape hyacinths were planted to fill in our usual tulip beds. Luckily, the daffodils and grape hyacinths flourished and have put on a beautiful show this spring. In 2022, we had to reduce our tulip plantings by 40% due to our need to keep them out of certain areas so they wouldn’t get infected again.
The almost 17,000 bulbs flowering in the Annual Garden, English Cottage Garden, Bridge Garden, around the Visitors Cottage and front sign were planted in late October to early November by Wellfield staff and volunteers. Almost as fast as they were being planted, squirrels were digging them up and eating them! The ground was not frozen for most of the winter, giving squirrels even more time to dig them up. On several occasions, our staff could be seen chasing the furry little bandits-a little comedy show to accompany your walks in the Gardens!
To combat the hungry critters, we covered some beds with chicken wire, which allows the flowers to come up without giving access to the bulbs below. The sunrise design in our Annual Garden may have some pieces missing, but it is still showing nicely, and in less than a month, our summer season display will be in the ground and growing! In spite of the challenges nature presented us, we hope the blooms transport viewers to an enjoyable land of New Horizons.
Amy Myers, Horticulture & Facilities Manager