What’s Blooming on The Greenway this June!

16, Jun, 2021

Written by Darrah Cole, Senior Horticulturist and Designer

We invite you to explore The Greenway by discovering what’s in bloom along the 17 acres of our organically maintained lawns and gardens! The Greenway Conservancy has a dedicated group of volunteers who walk the park and record phenological observations every week. They are helping us (and you!) find the best, most exciting, and interesting plants – right now!

What is phenology? How does a bear know when it’s time to hibernate? Why do April showers bring May flowers? Plants and animals don’t have calendars or watches, but many of them take cues from the changing seasons. Phenology is the study of the timing of the biological events in plants and animals such as flowering, leaf unfolding, hibernation, insect emergence, and bird, fish, and mammal migration. Phenology is literally “the science of appearance”.

June kicks off the summer season on The Greenway and this year it has come with a bang and a flash of hot steamy days. And what do we have? Roses, roses, and more roses! Our shrub landscape roses bring a splash and punch of red to many places on The Greenway. There are also a few corners sporting yellows and pinks – all framed by the bright green of newly minted leaves. While our recent heatwave has pushed some plants to ‘pass by’ quickly – losing their flush of flowers faster than usual – many of the roses are repeat bloomers that will continue to provide a show for months. In supporting our commitment to a diverse, vibrant plant ecology I want to share three North American natives that are at their height now: the genus Aruncus (goat’s beard), Penstemon (foxglove beardtongue), and Baptisia (false indigo and wild indigo).

Home Run Rose 

This single flame-red rose with its yellow center is a brilliant addition to The Greenway. Planted throughout areas in Auntie Kay and Uncle Frank Chin Park, it has dark, glossy green leaves and a steady show of flowers. Like the best of landscape shrub roses, it is disease resistant and has proved reliable and consistent for a number of years. 

Double Knock Out, Rainbow Knock Out, and Sunny Knock Rose

The Knock Out roses have a whole family, and most of them can be seen somewhere along The Greenway. The Double Red, or Radazz, are strutting their first flush of blooms right now and gearing up for the repeat bloom that will continue all the way into September. We use these tough roses because they are mostly disease resistant, and do not need a high level of attention mid-summer. We have limited time to coddle plants, and while there are many wonderful unique roses around the world, we rely on these carefully hybridized roses to provide ongoing blooms for the peak months.

Rosa virginiana

This rose is a native species rose, no fancy breeding required. Known as Virginia rose, or prairie rose, it is an arching woody shrub growing about 5 feet tall and equally as wide. Its pink, single, 5 petaled flowers bloom over a number of weeks beginning in June. While it turns quiet in the summer, producing small clusters of round shiny hips (or fruit), the leaves take on rich varied tones for the fall. This is a wonderful 3 season plant and even in winter, the red fruits stand out in snow and frost.

Aruncus dioicus

Commonly called goat’s beard, this tall, bold, herbaceous plant is what I call a beefy plant. With pinnately compound leaves it provides distinct texture on a large scale along with a feathery bloom from May to early June. It fits in well with shrubs, or at the back or center of deep borders and beds. While preferring a sunny location it will do well under a high tree canopy and part shade. And, a real plus for The Greenway, the rabbits don’t like it.

Baptisia ‘Solar Flare’, Baptisia australis

Baptisia is a member of the pea family (Fabaceae), with similarities you may notice – rounded leaflets, layered, fluted petals held on distinct calyxes. The stiff upright stems, up to 4’ in our gardens, hold these flower spikes in a showy fashion above the sturdy foliage. Two species are prevalent in the garden world, the yellow selections originating from the species “tinctoria“, and the blue versions predominantly in the “australis” species and hybrids. Once established these plants provide a unique visual look into the fall with dark, metallic seed pods and burnished leaves.

Looking for more phenology? The data our volunteers collect is available to you all year round through the Greenway Interactive Bloom Tracker, letting visitors locate and learn more about flowering perennials across the park. Visitors can see which Greenway flowers are typically in bloom during any time of the year, in addition to names of and details about each species. Created in partnership with WorkReduce, this interactive map graphs more than 300,000 data points and over 800 varieties of plants.