Monthly Archives: May 2011

Flowers Like Snowflakes

ericaceous garden

          At the URI Botanical Gardens we are fortunate to have a stunning collection of Ericaceous plants  — that’s the family which includes Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Mountain Laurel, and Blueberries. The Ericaceous Garden, between Upper College Road and the main garden, is at it’s best right now. One of my favorites is the ‘Geisha’ Azalea. It’s flowers are primarily white, but every one has a bit of pink on it. Some have pink speckles, some have large pink blotches, and some flowers are entirely pink. Not a pale, retiring pink either but a bold and delightful clear magenta. I love that no two flowers are alike!

Geisha Azalea

'Geisha' Azalea

geisha azalea

An all-pink flower

Geisha Azalea

More 'Geisha' Azalea

Along with the Azaleas, some of the Rhododendrons are beginning to open.  There are so many different gorgeous colors that it’s impossible to choose a favorite.



          The perfect time to see these beautiful plants will be this week end! On Saturday May 28th,  from 8 am to 2 pm, the Botanical Gardens will be holding it’s “Everything Must Go” plant sale, the last one of the spring. Enjoy a stroll through the gardens and bring home a plant too. Lots of bargains as we try to empty the Greenhouse!  Perennials, trees, shrubs, annuals, and compost for sale. Directions to the gardens and greenhouse are on our website,




plants for sale

plant sale greenhouseI face the Plant Sale Season with a mixture of anticipation and dread:

First, anticipation:  I dream big about the possibilities of the growing season. I might find that perfect plant for my home garden (but where would I put it? I couldn’t wedge another plant in with a shoe horn!)  I could buy that perfect plant for someone else who would love it.  It’s great to see all the enthusiasm for gardening… everyone is a potential gardener in May!

Next, dread: The amount of work and the logistics of holding a plant sale. Will people show up? Will we raise money for the Botanical Gardens? Will we have the plants people want? Do we have enough change, enough signs, enough advertising, enough help?

Regardless of all the above, the Botanical Gardens will be holding it’s 2nd Annual Plant Sale this Saturday May 14th. The Greenhouse will be open from 8 AM to 2 PM and we will be here offering annuals, perennials,  vegetables and more. Trees and shrubs from the Gardens and the Horticulture Program at URI will also be available. Screened compost can be purchased at this time as well. The greenhouse elves are busy bagging the compost right now!

compost bag

All proceeds from our sales go to the upkeep of the Botanical Gardens and Horridge Conservatory, free and open to the public year-round. That way, you can get a plant you love and donate to a good cause at the same time. While you’re here, take a walk around the gardens and maybe see how that special tree you just bought actually looks in the landscape. The Azaleas are blooming, the Dicentra in the shade garden is  at it’s peak, and the sweet fragrance of Viburnum carlesii  / Koreanspice Viburnum is around every corner.



Find directions to the Greenhouse on the calendar page of our website, (Click on the May 14th plant sale.)  See you Saturday!


halesia carolina

The Memory of Tulips

robinia pseudoacacia

Just as every spring brings forth, again,  the wonder of the emerging plants, every spring also brings a new observation about the gardens and our environment. The strange part is that these things have been there all along, yet somehow I never REALLY noticed them. For example, a few years ago, when the Black Locust  (Robinia pseudoacacia) bloomed, I saw it everywhere, for what felt like the first time. Of course I had  seen them before, these splendid old trees with huge drooping panicles of fragrant white flowers…. but there they were! so beautiful!

species tulip

This year, one of plants that has caught my attention are the little species tulips in the border near the rain garden. Species tulips are the tiny flowers native to the mountains of Central Asia, which are the parents of our familiar modern hybrids. I clearly remember all the large red hybrid tulips, especially for their great contrast with the yellow daffs and the euphorbia. But where did these delicate little pink tulips come from? I honestly don’t remember them, and yet, they must have been there.  Is it just failing memory?  (Oh no!) I prefer to think of it as a gentle nudge, to see things with fresh eyes, and to really see what is around me. Every “new ” plant I become aware of  contributes to  my knowledge and experience of the garden, and the more aware I am, the more I delight in being among the plants.

species tulip

species tulip