Ellwanger Garden is a remarkable place at any time of year, not just during the weekends of the Lilac Festival or the Rose and Peony weekend. Without a doubt the days between the middle of May and the middle of June are the best for color and variety of blooming bulbs, perennials, trees and shrubs. Yet the boxwood-lined pathways, and the sense of enclosure achieved by the hemlocks, yews and tall boxwood trees that line the garden’s perimeter can charm visitors in the absence of riotous color.
After the spring perennials and the bounty of peonies and roses there are late varieties of some of these same plants still in bloom. Then some of the roses like the hybrid teas, hybrid perpetuals, hybrid musks and some of the bourbons continue to flower into the late summer and fall.
Astilbes usually stand out in July although last season they were right on the heels of the peonies as were the lavender and daylilies. The vagaries of Rochester’s weather almost guarantee that the plants will have slightly different “ideas” about when they will bloom each year.
The deliberate sequence of bloom in the garden can be extended somewhat. Perennials like Geranium sanguineum var. striatum, creeping geranium, can be induced to bloom a second time if they are sheared to the ground after the first flush has faded. Many others can continue to flower if “deadheading” (removing spent flowers) is a regular practice. Platycodon grandiflorum, balloon flower, can be kept blooming among the astilbes for weeks.
The sequence of bloom continues to progress through late summer and fall. Look for seven-foot Actaea racemosa , Black Cohosh, in late July and August and the pinks and whites of Anemone x hybrida, Japanese anemones, in September. Sedum x ‘Autumn Joy’ will continue to change from its original light pink to a deep rose as the nights get cooler. And on more than one occasion it is not unusual to see rose buds with a light dusting of snow.
So, what is the best time to visit Ellwanger Garden? Stop by and enjoy it multiple times, to experience the highlights throughout the season.